Thursday, August 25, 2016

In Memory of Tony

Last week we said goodbye to Tony. It was a hard day for us as Tony had been a part of our lives for almost nine years. Tony was a horse that had worked very hard during his earlier years and he earned every day of his nine year retirement.

Tony




We don't know a lot about Tony's younger years. The trainer his family was working with had had Tony in her barn for several years when they met him. He had been owned by one of her clients and showed in the Amateur Owner (3'6") hunters for a couple of years, and then the trainer bought him herself and leased him out to her clients. Tony showed in the junior hunters and the equitation with several different riders.

Homer and Tony

Trigger, Tony and Baby

Tony showing his silly side with Baby


Tony's family was looking for a horse for their daughter to make the move from riding and showing ponies to a horse. At first glance Tony didn't look like he would be the right horse for this job. For one thing he measured a solid 17 hands, so he was a very tall horse. On top of that he was never going to win any conformation classes thanks to his very long back, pigeon toes, and being over at the knees. Since he was both very tall and very long he was quite a horse to make the move from ponies to horses. However, when the family's younger daughter rode Tony she clicked with him immediately, and he found his permanent home.

Baby and Tony waiting for breakfast on a foggy morning

Tony and Ritchie

Tony and Trigger


The first order of business for Tony's new family was showing him that life could be good again. As mentioned above Tony had spent a few years showing extensively in the 3'6" hunters. He went to a lot of shows, he was on the road extensively, and he was ridden by a lot of different people. His family told us when they bought Tony he was so unfriendly and grumpy towards people that he would often turn his rump to you and kick out when you came in his stall. They kept Tony at their own farm and gave him a completely different lifestyle. He got a lot of turnout, he got a lot of treats and attention, and most importantly his show schedule was cut back significantly. Over time Tony transformed from kicking out at people to being engaged and friendly.

Homer and Tony

Tony and Cisco

Levendi, Moe, Homer and Tony with halters on while waiting for the farrier; none of them look very thrilled.


Tony repaid his new family's kindness by being a wonderful horse for them. With the younger daughter he helped her make the leap from ponies to horses. She said that despite Tony's long back he was an incredibly adjustable horse to ride, and that he could lengthen and shorten his canter stride like an accordian. She and Tony focused on the equitation ring and thanks to Tony's rideability and adjustability they won more than their share of equitation classes. When it became time for Tony to step down to an easier job he became the mom's riding partner for a few years.

Homer, Tony and Baby

Tony

Tony and Thomas


Eventually the time came for Tony to move to full retirement, and that was when we met him nine years ago. Thanks to his years with his family the Tony we met was nothing like the Tony they first met. Tony was friendly, outgoing and nothing but a pleasure to live with. 

Tony and Rip

Tony

Baby, Tony and Elfin


Tony was the type of horse that was friends with everybody, people and horses. He didn't care if you were a Democrat or a Republican, he didn't care if you liked rock and roll or country music, he was welcoming to all. The only things Tony didn't like in life were flies. He hated flies. You knew if a fly of any type had dared to be within five feet of Tony's presence as he did acrobatics and generally acted as if his death was imminent. 



Tony and Homer


Apollo and Tony



New horses in his group were often drawn to Tony during their early days. Tony's welcoming personality and quiet, laid back nature - unless there was a fly near him - was very comforting to newcomers and gave them confidence.  Through Tony's quiet confidence and welcoming manner newcomers learned quickly that life was good and retirement was even better. 

Levendi, Tony, Thomas and Baby

 Trigger, Moe and Tony

Tony and Levendi


As happens to often on a retirement farm, last week everything changed very quickly with Tony. He went from perfectly healthy and happy to not in the blink of an eye, and we found ourselves saying goodbye to Tony last week. As Tony did with everything else in life, he left this world with his ever present quiet confidence. All of Tony's people, including us and his family, were left with a giant hole in our lives. Tony meant the world to his family, and after nine years together he was a fixture in our family. I'm still trying to feed him his supplements every morning before I remember that he is gone.

Rest in peace Tony, you made your little part of the world a better place.

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Hemi, Tony and Thomas

Baby and Tony

Tony, Convey and Chance

Tony

Ritchie and Tony

Leo and Tony playing on a rare snow day

Hemi, Thomas, Trigger, Rip and Tony were all at attention staring at something

Tony and Trigger

Tony


Homer, Tony, Grand and Ritchie waiting for breakfast

Trigger, Baby, Tony and Thomas

Chance and Tony


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Being Horses

I enjoy following Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester on Facebook. If you haven't heard of them, Carl Hester is essentially the driving force behind the British dressage team, and in addition to be an impressive rider and international competitor himself, he is also the trainer/mentor of Charlotte Dujardin and owner of Valegro. Valegro and Charlotte have smashed every record there is to break. He has carried Charlotte to two individual Olympic gold medals, he's contributed to Olympic team gold and team silver medals, he and Charlotte have won the World Cup, the European Championships and the World Championships. They own every high score record in dressage. There is a lot to love about Valegro and of course Charlotte and Carl as well. 

My favorite thing about following Charlotte and Carl on Facebook is seeing that they allow their international superstars to simply be horses. Their horses go out every day regardless of weather and are allowed to run, rear, buck and play. They aren't drugged to keep them from playing, nor are they brought back in if they dare to play. All of their horses in training, including superstar Valegro and Olympic team member Nip Tuck, are regularly trail ridden and hacked out on the roads. 

Valegro, aka "Blueberry," having a romp out in the field


Valegro (left) and Nip Tuck (right) out for a hack in the rain after returning home from the Rio Olympics


Valegro has had a long career at the pinnacle of his sport, and Carl's horses in general tend to have long careers despite competing at the international level. I can't help but think the fact that they are allowed to spend much of their time simply being horses contributes to their longevity. It's nice to see people at the top of the sport showing us all how great horseman manage their horses, which is by letting them act like horses.

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Murphy and Taco

Levendi and Revy

Charlotte and Renatta

Fabrizzio and Lightning


Elfin, Grand and Rip

Dawn and Dolly

Maisie and Lily

Flyer and Asterik eating breakfast under the morning sun

the Pony Power Club hanging out; Cuffie, Norman and Traveller