The team at Dianne’s circa 2005-2006? Who do you recognize?

Everyone talks about not being able to go home again. That returning home never meets expectations or gives us the closure we need.

I discovered, quite by chance, that sometimes our home not a place we lived, not necessarily a time and place but it is that  feeling of belonging, of peace and of family.  So what am I rattling on about this time?  Well, I took a visit “home” and was stunned by the depth of emotion I felt.


A couple of Sundays ago, we had agreed to take some of boarders and their horses to a little local show at the barn where Lauren really began riding.

In the days before Lauren trained with men with one syllable names, Dianne and her farm were where Lauren first headed once we arrived in Texas for riding lessons. Lauren had gotten Mickey in 2003 and it wasn’t long before we looked for a place for them to learn and show.

We spent several years there as Lauren made her way up from walk-trot through the Junior-Adult division. Lauren along with girls who are still her friends, including Caitlyn, Libby, Alex and Arianna, all rode here first.

We boarded horses there, Snowboy and Mickey. We also kept my horse Kid and big Cupid there. My mare Mariah, now owned by Caroline, started out with us there.
Lauren had her very first job while in junior high at this farm. On cold, dark winter nights and stifling hot summer days, Lauren helped other riders tack up. She was responsible for feeding and watering over 60 horses that resided there. It give some insight into the glamorous (not) horse industry.
Lessons were a big deal, both from the social aspect of what you were wearing versus your friends to the status of which lesson group were you in (i.e. how high did you get to jump). From my standpoint, firm, long standing friendships were built while watching hours of lessons go by.


In the pattern not unlike that of a panic attack, I cannot tell you what hit me first as I returned to Dianne’s farm. My feelings built slowly as I took in so much that was seemingly the same as the day I had left. Then the feelings multiplied rapidly as I saw, hugged and recognized my dear friends.

What took me tottering over the edge of emotional restraint and left me bordering on tears was walking into the farmhouse to discover pictures of Lauren and her friends, while faded and a little tattered, still adorning the walls. I held back emotional tears as I led our new riders around to see young Lauren and Caitlyn, mini Libby, Alex so tiny, and  fragile looking Arianna- yet so mighty.

As I walked around the farm, revisiting my old horse Mac, still so well cared for and looking great in his late 20’s, tears caught in my throat several times.  Memories danced behind my eyes, seeing little Lauren grooming Mickey, tied to the big trees, Desi-her first ride on Mac, Alex so focused-on Buzzy, winning her class.  Then the next time Arianna taking the win on Crunchy. And remembering specifically the day Snowboy came back to the farm from his time at the SPCA.

Caitlyn took a Morgan to Pin Oak the first time.  Seriously.  What were we thinking? -But she did well and it was the first Pin Oak of so many to come.

wtf picThe Six Meadow Farm Team-Allyson, Amanda, Isabel, Lauren, Libby and Alex

When the girls from our Six Meadow Farm entered the ring, it was a real time of throwback memories.  The hunter course of outside, inside, outside, inside was just the same.  When my girls (and my boy Snow) all came back with Champion or Reserve ribbons it was super sweet!

I did not even know I missed the farm.  My life is full.  But it is Dianne that started it all for so many of us.  I felt almost physically assaulted and totally exhausted as I left the farm that day.  Emotionally drained is an apt expression.

Thank you Dianne for the days we spent in your tutelage, kindness and friendship.  I will be richer all my life for my days spent with you!

Shout out to my old friends with whom I have recently reunited…it was so wonderful to see you all again—Dianne, Carol, Kim, Deanna, Rachel, Danny, Rebecca, Chelsie and Diane.


Thank you for riding along.  You are my family.


Horse Camp-Rewind

Lauren's camp with Dianne in 2005.  Who can name everyone in the picture?

Lauren’s camp with Dianne in 2005. Who can name everyone in the picture?

When we moved to Texas, Lauren was just a youngster.  She had ridden in Florida but was not very accomplished.  Ally had taken lessons for several years, been away to horse camp and had her own horses.  Lauren hadn’t quite found her place in the world and had struggled with the move, me working so much and just being the new kid.  I got the great idea that horse camp, like Ally had attended in North Carolina would be a great thing for her.

The only thing was money was very tight and the type of high dollar overnight sleep away camp that Ally had attended during better times in my marriage was not an option for this new to Texas little girl.  We had just gotten our horse, Kid for Ally and I.  Lauren was ten that summer.  We were at a feed store and saw a flyer for a camp at Whipple Tree Farm.  It had great pictures of girls and horses having fun.  It was 15 miles from our house (in case things didn’t go well) and it was amazingly inexpensive (at least compared to the NC camp).

That first week at Whipple Tree literally changed Lauren’s life.  Mickey came soon after as an extension of what she learned in that first week of overnight camp.  The fancy camp that Ally attended in North Carolina had horseback riding.  But there were scores of other activities as well.  It had horses, but was not a horse camp.  WTF (Whipple Tree Farm-what were you thinking?)was first and only a horse camp.  The kids rode maybe six or seven hours a day and went back out at night to ride bareback under the stars.  Maybe on Wednesdays, there might be a swimming excursion, but it was total immersion horses from start to finish.

I remember Lauren returning to our boarding barn after her week at camp.  I had never seen any rider improve so dramatically.  While she was barely trotting before, she cantered off with ease on Kid, who has never been a beginner’s horse.  She was more confident working around the horses and told me new things about riding English that I had not known.

She went to camp in July, we bought Mickey from the rescue in September and all the two of them did was continue to climb the ranks of the equestrian world.

I think it is also worth noting that every single girl in the picture above, some now wives and mothers, are still in our circle of life (kind of Lion Kingish, but oh, well!)  At the very least we are all friends on Facebook and I can tell you pretty accurately what they are doing now.  I think that says something about these special girls who were part of the days at Whipple Tree.

I contacted Dianne about accepting Jordyn into the day camp program this summer although she was only five years-old.  Seven is the usual starting point.  But Dianne knew Jo had grown up with horses, was mature for her age and could handle the rigors of camp-or I convinced her all that was true.

When we told Jo about going to camp at Miss Dianne’s-she told us it would be the best week of her life.  Pretty high expectations.  Jordyn had taken some of her first horse rides at Dianne’s and was just about six months-old in this picture bareback on pony Dusty.

Jordyn totally at home on pony Dusty.

Jordyn totally at home on pony Dusty.

First day of camp, Jordyn was nervous.  Lauren was going to spend the day her but Ally texted me to call her and give her a pep talk.  She was assigned to ride Dusty again, who we all remembered but of course, meant nothing to her.  When Jo was two she would eagerly trot around on her Snowney pony.  She spent a lot of time at the farm then and rode consistently.  She has not trotted by herself in years (and she is only five).  Dianne did not know about the trotting apprehension and in the moments Lauren walked away from the ring the first morning, Dianne had Jordyn trotting along.  She had to tell me she used a crop, too!

The second day Ally got there, Jo told her, just go on mom, my best friend is over there.  Ally was excused.

So, in our rewind Whipple Tree Farm (and total deja-vu for me) a week at the WTF riding camp has also changed Jordyn as a rider.  She has trotted long and hard each day.  She has unsaddled her own pony, washed him down and put away her gear.  She just wants more!  She told me some the of girls “were CANTERING, granny!!”  which is what she aspires to do next.

Tomorrow is the last day.  But Jo is already planning lessons and shows. Not sure what we will do with her Snow pony yet, but am so glad she LOVES to ride.  I do not know if it was the greatest week of her life or not, but it served as a pretty good one for me.  Thank you Dianne for all you relentlessly do for these young riders, day in, day out, year after year, to teach them that a horse is their most special companion and their barn friends truly are forever friends.

Jordyn with Dusty today-handling him like a pro!

Jordyn with Dusty today-handling him like a pro!