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 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
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.
Hemi, Tony and Thomas
Baby and Tony
Tony, Convey and Chance
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
Homer, Tony, Grand and Ritchie waiting for breakfast
Trigger, Baby, Tony and Thomas
Chance and Tony