Harry is the self-proclaimed leader of my herd--just ask him. He is 17 hands of intelligence, opinions, enthusiasm and a sense of humor. Bred in England, he is by a French Thoroughbred stallion out of a Cleveland Bay mare. I purchased him from a Canadian event rider. Harry has definitely been around! I evented Harry through advanced level until metabolic trouble caused his retirement. I nursed him through EPM and Lyme disease and then had a blast foxhunting him. For many years Harry’s favorite thing was to jump bridleless to music in front of large crowds. You can read more about this by clicking on “Bridleless Jumping Exhibitions.” These days, at 30 years old, Harry has embraced a slower life style with frequent hacks through the countryside and, of course, playing in the creek! I often employ him to impart his vast wisdom on the young horses I train. I strive to keep Harry active and interested because the worst thing you can do to Harry is to bore him!
"Rocket" is a wonderful soul. He is by a Belgian Warmblood grand prix show jumper out of a Thoroughbred mare. He enjoyed lower level eventing. I hunted him a bit which he absolutely loved. A very handsome, sweet gentleman of a horse, he did not deserve to be struck by the West Nile Virus on September 11, 2003 especially after having been vaccinated against it two years in a row. But vaccines are not 100 percent effective. He spent two weeks at a veterinary hospital but made a full recovery. Rocket very much likes bridleless riding-probably because it is easier for him to sneak mouthfuls of grass! He spent about three years leased as a school horse but returned home in 2013 at age 20. Rocket plays the part of the highly valued “quiet older horse” in my training program and always looks very handsome!
"What a cute face!" is the normal reaction out of just about everyone who meets Xcel. He is incredibly cute! And incredibly smart, sensitive, over-reactive, emotional, jealous, opinionated and quick. He occasionally suffers from hiccups. He keeps me laughing and also very sharp. He has had more hoof trouble than any horse deserves but is sound most of the time now. Because of the problems in his hooves, Xcel was never able to compete in eventing so I have explored "Liberty Training." We are both learning this wonderful type of training developed by Carolyn Resnick in California. Xcel is by Miner’s Mark out of a Sovereign Dancer mare. Please read all about him by clicking on "Reschooling The Thoroughbred."
Tommy is a tall, striking, very nice moving off-the-track-Thoroughbred with a sweet disposition. So what was he doing at a local slaughter sale on a snowy February Saturday in 2006? I sure did wonder so I bought him. Tommy really needed to learn to trust people, to become relaxed and to learn how not to be a race horse and he is well on his way. He was going nicely and learning to jump in 2008 when he started having problems somewhere in his body. He spent several years perplexing both me and the vets as to what, exactly, was wrong. He then took a detour into some severe eye problems which came close to costing him his eyesight. He recovered well but continued with body issues until 2013. Tommy is finally on his way into being a nice, sound horse to ride. Tommy is a1999 foal by Haymaker out of Any Old Charger.
Rollie (Sloopy’s Rolex) is a wonderful retired TB gelding. Purchased as an eventing prospect Rollie later developed arthritis in his neck. These days he is a great turn-out buddy and gets along particularly well with mares. He is a real lady’s man. For that, he is an important member of my herd.
Buttercup (Buddy) is a 10-hand mule who brings a smile to everyone who sees him. That’s his job. His other job is learning to trust people. He came to me many years ago through the Middleburg Humane Foundation, a local organization I do volunteer work for. Buttercup has very, very good reasons for being very afraid of people. But he has made tremendous progress since I have owned him. I have discovered that mules are quite different than horses. He has taught me a lot and he is a joy to have. To find out more about the Middleburg Humane Foundation, visit their web site.
Merlin is Buttercup’s best friend and sometimes arch enemy. I suppose you might say the two get along like brothers. I found Merlin at an auction in Front Royal, Virginia where he was enormously overweight, foundered and had long, curling up hooves. I suppose it was love at first sight. Merlin is a real treasure! He is very sweet and incredibly cute though I think he missed his calling as a lap dog. He lives in a small pasture with Buttercup but when I bring him into the barn for grooming or to have his hooves trimmed or whatever, it is quite a chore to get him out of the barn again! He loves attention! You can read more about these two wonderful mules by clicking on "Love Horses-Two Mule Stories"
Life is funny. I always knew I would own horses. I never dreamed I would own mules. As it happens, I now have two.
The beautiful little gray mule pictured on the left is Buttercup. He was purchased by the Middleburg Humane Foundation three years ago from the New Holland, PA sale. Just 10 hands high, his small body was covered with welts, there were rope burns on his legs and scars in the corners of his mouth. After he was purchased at the sale, he attacked with teeth and hooves one of the MHF volunteers. Despite this behavior, he soon found himself at the MHF shelter where he refused to let any human near him.
Concerned about his future adoptability if he continued to be unapproachable, Hilleary Bogley, president and founder of the MHF, called me. He has now been mine for almost two years. He has made enormous strides but is still quite frightened of people. Last winter, Buttercup lost his friend, my old horse, Jackie. So I began a quest to find another little mule.
It was November before I found one. "Merlin" was in a pen by himself at the Virginia Livestock sale in Front Royal, VA. Just a couple inches taller than Buttercup, Merlin was horribly overweight. As a result, he had foundered. His feet had not been trimmed-possibly ever. They were very long and curling up at the tips.
Though a little wary of me at first, he seemed to enjoy being petted. I marveled at his appaloosa coloring, then left him to himself and wandered around the sale thinking. When I headed back toward his pen, I saw him peering between the boards. Then he saw me and visibly brightened. $240 later, he was mine.
Buttercup and Merlin have become great friends. Merlin has had his hooves trimmed twice now and he has lost nearly 50 pounds with only 100 or so more to go.
It is my hope that Merlin will help Buttercup overcome his fears. Regardless, they are my friends for life. My vet, Dr. Jeannie Waldron tells me they should live to be 40 years old. That will make me. . . ah. . . .Yea, life's funny all right!