When we moved to Vermont in 1971 my affections and passion for horses were well establish: But my love of them needed direction. Sharing my love with children new to the equine world became a obvious starting point.
I had collected 5 pleasant horses and ponies that behaved well with kid. Max the magnificent, a quarter horse whose mom had probably gotten mixed up with and Appi as his sorrel body was covered with distinctive white spots. He came from a backyard in Powell, Ohio where i paid a mere $250 for him in the 1969; He was the second horse i ever bought. I bought him to take to the fox hunts as my Thoroughbred has proven ill suited to being a follower in the pack. Max was a lazy guy with a rather hard mouth so often needed a kimberwick bit on those wild windy days.He was a luv bug with big soft eyes and big feet. He packed many a kid and chicken moms around for many years. He successfully navigated young riders around 4-H clinics and also many trail rides in Taylor Valley. He lived well into his 20's toting both of my youngsters around the driveway.
We acquired Jake a 13.3 blackish gelding who had long ago forgot he was a pulling pony in Vermont. I can not find any pictures of him but he is etched in my memory as the trickster who,when i was in attentive, would sidestep the drive way puddles and dump me at least once a mud season. He was a favorite with the little kids as they could hide their hands in his thick black coat. He too was with us for a long time
Our favorite was a bay and white pony gelding who was just called Pony. He did it all.Perhaps he was the one who started my love of paints. Or maybe it was just watching too many Long Ranger shows?.
Completing the line up was a pair of small ponies who the kids had married on a rainy day in the barn. Amos, jet black and Star, a piebald were always together so it was a suitable ceremony complete with a white bridal veil and horseshoes for rings. Sorry i can not find any pictures of Amos but that was a long time ago before digital cameras and cell phones. .
Thinking that I needed a few more horses, we went to visit our new neighbor who had 2 larger ones for sale. After being introduced to maple sugaring, sampling his maple syrup and gorging on his fabulous maple cream we negotiated on Major, a saddlebred type red chestnut and his mother, a very long back brown mutt. Ralph wanted to throw in his air gun. It seemed he would shoot it out the window when Major decided the grass was better on the other side of fence. We declined and installed electric fence instead.
As odd a group as this was, all were patient and kind with the kids and adults who wanted to learn what this horse stuff was all about.These horses thrived on the attention and never took a bad turn with their riders. They were the best spokespersons for horses and our partnerships with them. I often wonder how many of the folks that groomed and rode them have horses today????? Did any get the horse fever in their blood like me. How many have become horse whisperers and found life long friends?
By the 80's I was divorced with 2 young kids and a larger group of assorted equines. The local camp was coming for lessons as well as a few local kids. The horse bills were however adding up so it was time to take a new direction. Yuppers camp horse leasing. The local camp liked the idea of having horses in camp and hired me to run the program as well.
Following their lead the local Girl Scout camp called to lease 15 horses. And the rest is history. At one point we were juggling 125 horses!!! To say it was getting a bit crazy was an understatement. Today it is quieter and slower, thank goodness. I still lease those kind sweet horses for camps, although they are more talented now. Many find a forever home after camps end in August. It is bittersweet to see them move on to new families but I know they can not be camp horses for ever. .But I always winter a large herd for the next summer.