Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lofty

Lofty is a bay warmblood who joined us for retirement from California in April. We have known Lofty's family for awhile as they also own Cuff Links the pony.  Before he ever hit the ground Lofty was destined to be a great hunter. His sire is Aristos B, one of the most famous hunter sires in North America. Aristos B also sired Rox Dene, the horse that many people consider to be the show hunter of the century.

Lofty and his mom at a show

Lofty and his mom hanging out

Lofty came into his mom's life almost six years ago. She had been riding an "interim horse" for a few months after outgrowing her first and only pony while she and her trainer searched for the perfect horse to buy.  Her trainer had known Lofty a few years earlier when he was very young and green. He first met Lofty as a three year old, and then won the Founder's Cup at the famous Upperville Horse & Pony Show with Lofty as a four year old. As they were searching for the right horse her trainer remembered Lofty and called his owners in Virginia and asked if they still had Lofty and if they would consider selling him.  Lofty was still there but he was not for sale, however his owners finally consented for them to come and try Lofty thanks to her trainer's persistence.  

Lofty and his mom getting some last minute instructions from their trainer. Their trainer knew Lofty as a young horse and thought they would  make a good match. He was right.

Lofty's mom and her trainer flew to Maryland where Lofty was competing in the high performance hunters. The plan was to try Lofty and one other mare while they were at the show. They tried Lofty first and it was such a perfect match that his mom did not even end up trying the mare, and Lofty and his mom became a team. Apparently there were several people who were very upset that Lofty was sold without ever actually being on the market, they were upset that they never even had the chance to buy him.

in the show ring


Lofty checking out the showgrounds


Lofty is a big horse and he also has a very big stride, yet he covers the ground in a very elegant and graceful way. His mom's mom told me that although Lofty was such a big horse, she never worried about her daughter when she was riding him. She knew that he would always take good care of her daughter over the jumps, and he always did. Lofty liked to live up to his name over the jumps, and always jumped in a beautiful style.

Lofty living up to his name over a jump

showing off his beautiful jump on a grass field

touching his knees to his nose over a jump

Although Lofty was generally all business in the show ring, the rest of the time when you were riding him he tended to be on high alert and on the lookout for monsters and other things that might get him and his mom. He was sometimes called Scooby-Doo because of his tendency to peek at everything. It was almost like Lofty would look for things to scare him, but at the same time with a little bit of encouragement he would be brave and eventually face the scary things as long as his mom told him it was ok. His mom learned that as long as she had a lot of patience and stayed focused on Lofty he could handle almost anything.

Lofty looking around on high alert at a horse show

One thing that Lofty always disliked were hot walkers. He was convinced that they were horse eating monsters and no amount of coaxing through the years would ever convince him otherwise. One time a new groom ignored the instructions not to lead Lofty past the hot walker. The groom was going to lead Lofty to the ring and their trainer made the comment "see you in a minute." The groom went the wrong way and everyone heard a big commotion, and a few seconds later Lofty came trotting around the corner alone and put himself back in his stall. Lofty was serious about disliking hot walkers!

Lofty and his mom after their last show together


My favorite picture of Lofty and his mom together

Lofty and his mom had a very successful show career together. The original plan was for Lofty to get his mom very solid and confident over three foot fences. Once that goal had been accomplished they would either sell Lofty or lease another horse for her to move up to the junior hunters at 3'6". However once his mom formed a partnership with Lofty she didn't want to sell him and get another horse, or even to get a second horse and keep Lofty. He was the perfect partner for her and she didn't want a different horse or another horse, she simply wanted to enjoy Lofty. 

 Being presented the trophy for winning the Bit o' Straw Hunter Classic at Thermal. They had a first round score of 93. For those of you not familiar with the hunters that is a really good score at a big, competitive show.

Loft and his mom were a winning partnership in and out of the show ring for almost six years. When it came time for his mom to go off to college she had a lot of discussions with her parents and trainer about whether Lofty should be leased to someone else or retired. Lofty ended up answering that question for them. He started having an occasional stop at a jump which was completely uncharacteristic of him. Instead of trying to work him through things or patch him together they decided it was time to let him enjoy being a horse, he had definitely earned it.

Lofty and his buddy Donneur grazing and hanging out


Lofty has taken well to retirement


His mom told me that in their last class at their last show together they were showing out on a big grass field. The field was huge and everyone was cutting in quite a way off the rail to keep the rounds from taking too long and to keep from over tiring their horses. As she landed from the last jump she was thinking about cutting in off the rail, doing her finishing circle and ending the round. But instead of hurrying to end her round she decided to let Lofty carry her all the way across the grass, making their finishing circle much bigger than necessary. She said she remembers really savoring the feeling that it was, at the end of the day, just the two of them out on the grass, having a really great time.  I love the fact that his mom didn't even tell me that she and Lofty were champions of their division at their last show together, her mom told me that. Instead her favorite memory from that last show was of simply savoring the moment with her horse.

Lofty leading the way in for breakfast one morning


Lofty with his friend Donneur


His mom summed up her time with Lofty by saying her relationship with him was one of the most rewarding experiences she has had in her life thus far. They learned how to be partners together, and he taught her how to be brave, to love, to be patient, and to be kind, even when it was the opposite of what she wanted to do. And she also thinks she taught him the same.  As she said they grew up together in a way, after all they are only a couple of years apart in age.

Lofty going for a run around the pasture with Donneur

Lofty grazing with friends Gibson and Donneur

Lofty made the trip to our farm in April. He had no issues leaving behind his California show horse lifestyle. Well, he had one issue, he would not drink from a water trough. This was not a problem when he was still in a stall part of the time as he would simply drink from the buckets in his stall when he came in. Jason and I spent a couple of weeks begging and pleading Lofty to drink from a trough, any trough. We would sit on the trough, we would splash our hands in the water, we would cup water in our hands and touch it to his nose. Once Jason even tried to pull Lofty's head down to the trough. 

Lofty was having none of it, and we would eventually give in and water him from a bucket. As soon as we lugged the water out to him in a bucket he would happily drink. One day Jason had done everything short of climbing into the water trough himself trying to get Lofty to drink. In an exasperated voice he told me to go get a bucket. I went to get a bucket and when I came out Lofty had his nose in the trough, drinking. Jason and I each did our own version of a victory dance, and Lofty has been happily drinking water from a trough since that day. Other than having to be convinced that a water trough was not a horse eating monster Lofty had an easy transition to retirement. His best buddies are Donneur and Gibson and he spends his days grazing, playing, grooming and napping. 

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Lofty!

5 comments:

Kate said...

What a great story - and what a great owner to be sure her boy was given the retirement he deserved.

Semi Feral Equestrian said...

Wow, I have met a few nervous horses that didn't adjust to automatic waterers and such, but not to a trough. What wonderful dedication to a very special guy. How old is he?

raphycassens said...

We love you Lofty!!!!!

SmartAlex said...

What a great name! And he proved the old adage: you can lead a horse to water....

RuckusButt said...

Great to read Lofty's story. I've had a little thing for him since he started appearing on the blog ;-)