Monday, November 30, 2009

Let's go living in the past

Above is a picture of my mom jumping the horse "Prize List" on the outside course at a local horse show sometime around 1959. Below is Mom and Dan, a friend from the barn where she rode. Dig Dan's cigarette! Very James Dean in the days before smoking was passé. Poor horsey pie - hot ashes - ouch!
Mom had a circle of friends from the barn she would see often over the years. As a kid, I remember spending a ton of time hanging out with them and hearing all their old horse stories. Every October, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show was held in Harrisburg and my mom's whole barn gang would reassemble for a week of horse watching, and like old army buddies, would tell their "war stories". Ann, Joyce, Mary, Terry (Mary's daughter), Dolly, Maxine and my mom would laugh and tell me about all the horses they rode and loved. Understandably, Maxine could only pop in occasionally, because she was busy schooling her son, Greg, who went on to become the Greg Best, (two-silver-medals-at-Seoul-Greg-Best). It was a rowdy bunch with many funny stories of their time with horses. All these years later, Mary, Terry, Dolly and Mom are the ones left telling the tales, and now, Mom has new adventures to share about her rides on Sovereign.
On Saturday Mary and Terry came to our farm to meet Pie and Sovereign and Terry and I had an amazing ride all over the farm! Terry is a wonderful rider and I was so excited for her to see the boys and ride with me. Terry's passion is jumping out of airplanes - she is a certified instructor - so I knew she wouldn't hesitate to join me for a ride! It had been so windy in the morning, but the wind quieted just as we started out. We had such a great time. The trails were golden and the sun was shining. Pie and Sovey were two characters. I think Terry liked their personalities. We enjoyed our barstool apples which Terry thought was adorable. A neighbor was cutting the grass and Sovey jumped and cantered a few strides. Pie jumped and I was hanging off the side, laughing, thinking, "oh well, here I go", but I managed to stay on. I was on bareback and was lucky Pie didn't throw in a buck for good measure or I would have been off for sure! That was the only ripple in our perfect November ride. Even so, we agreed that, for Thoroughbreds, Pie and Sovereign are fairly bombproof. I told her that I always dreamed of having a police horse, like Mike, the retired police horse that her mom, Mary, had as a girl. "He wasn't afraid of anything," I said, and then we said, in unison, "except for ELEPHANTS!" We both started laughing as we remembered the "Mike and the elephant" story we had heard a thousand times. Apparently, our moms would ride Mike all over the town double bareback because Mike was so trustworthy. As a retired police horse he never shied at anything - until the infamous day when he saw an elephant at the ballfield when a traveling circus had come to town! He took off with the two of them hanging on for their lives. They somehow got Mike to stop, and they still tell that story as if it was yesterday.
As we were grazing, Terry remarked that as she was driving up for Thanksgiving from northern Virginia she saw horses in the fields and wondered if she would ever ride again. Never did she imagine that she would ride on the weekend! She mused how much fun it was just to groom and tack up and ride through the woods and fields rather than all the other "stuff" we used to do as horse show people. This is my experience and opinion exactly. I spent so many years lunging and schooling and jumping, and honestly, I was always waiting for the time when the lesson was over and I was free to do the cool down on the cross-country course. At 42 years old, I am so thankful that I am no longer in that old "horse show" routine. I ride now to share the light, the trees, the trails with my horse. Everybody has to do what thrills them, and that thrills me.


  1. Love the story about the elephant! I agree, it's a lot more fun now that I no longer show!

  2. Love the vintage photos and what a horse rider your Mom was/is!! What a fence! Doesn't look like it would roll off if hit! Yipes!
    A bombproof TB..what is that?! ;) Somedays I have that, and some days..not so much! I like to hear your stories of your 'characters' too! What fun they are!

  3. I just love reading your stories! Great pictures!!

  4. Love the elephant story, that totally cracked me up! I'm so glad Terry got to enjoy a ride. I am like interest in the show ring. It's too competitive, too "you gotta have the best" and I don't like most of the methods used to train show horses. Put me horseback on the open trail and I'm the happiest camper ever!!
    p.s. glad you stayed on during the horsie November sillies! ;)

  5. Loved the blast from the past! It's great that you still have that bond with those people. Horse friends are amazing, and those friendships transcend time.
    Interesting, but I guess I'm a bit different in that I miss my horse showing days SO much! Guess me and Tiny are a bit competitive, we both love to run so much! =)

  6. Those are great stories and pictures. Funny about the elephant; glad they hung on through that.

  7. Sometimes I think I would like to show Lilly but I know I am too much of a nervous nelly and it wouldn't end up being any fun. But it sure is fun to hear old horse show stories and see your mom vaulting over that fence! WOW! That is so fun.
    I wonder how I would fare on Pie or Sovey? Would they tolerate a western saddle? hah!! I better stick with my ambly paint!!
    So nice that you had a good ride. Kinda makes you feel on top o' the world, doesn't it?

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Kristen - I agree - that fence looks solid like a rail wouldn't fall if you hit it - she sure was gutsy!

    baystatebrumby - You would be totally fine on Sovey. I am not kidding. He is an ambly paint in Thoroughbred clothes.

  9. Fantastic chronicles!!! Loved the old time photo's and wow... you're mom looks like my sissy with the fence jumping! really cool.

    Mike had it right...I would forgive any horse for spooking at-an elephant!A bit unusual these days... I am so glad!

    I am so with you...I wish to achieve for me and the mare not for the ribbons! We love the already knew that!

  10. I loved your post Julie - the picture of your Mom jumping is awsome! Reading the story of Mike and the elephant, even tho I've heard it many times, still makes me chuckle...and so happy I was introduced to the horse world and the wonderful people in it - like you and your Mother. And, of course all the wonderful horses I've known over the years.

    And, yes, I was one of those who, shall we say, distrusted thoroughbred, but Pie and Sovey made a believer of me. They were very well behaved and I can't wait to ride with you again!

    Thank you Julie.

    Darn, I no longer have a google account,


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