It's been a very controversial week and emotions have been running high. With all the hate and nasty posts I have been seeing on social media, I'd like to take the time and express how thankful I am for my life and my family. Enjoy these pictures and hopefully they warm your heart as much as they warm mine everyday.
Hector has a history as a western pleasure horse, a polo pony, a family horse
with young children, and a trail horse. The greater portion of Hector’s life was
as a polo pony. He was used as a polo mount in Pennsylvania and New York.
He first came to Lititz as part of a string of polo ponies when he was about
10. After several years, he was sold to a polo-playing family in New York,
where he was renamed Baxter. At the age of 24, the family decided to retire
him from the game and contacted his previous owner in Lititz, who took him
back. It was shortly after his return to Lititz that Deb started leasing Hector
for trail riding. At 25 Deb purchased him. Within a couple of months of
purchase, squamous cell cancer showed up in his right eye. Rather than put
Hector down, Deb decided to give Hector every opportunity for as long a life
as possible. Seven eye surgeries were done over the years with the result of
loss of vision in his right eye. Hector was able to make the adjustment and
continued on as a reliable, safe trail mount. Last year he moved to
Brownstone Farm. Today, at 33 1/2 he is still being ridden lightly, four to five
days a week, around the farm. His trail days are over due to his age and the
start of a cataract in his left eye, but in spite of vision problems and a loss of
some of his hearing, he still has a zest for life i.e flirting with the mares and
being the boss in the pasture.
The day is finally here, the one all 4-Hers prep for.. States. As I walk in the barn the smell that all horse people love, a mixture of horses, bedding, and hay fills my lungs.. But it's different this morning. The electricity of tension from nerves is in the air. This is Lizzie, Piper, Ashley, and Kaitlyn's time to shine. As we arrive, the State building is full of the hustle and bustle of children, friends, and family. The stalls are decorated with different themes, from Christmas to Halloween, and candy is being dished out at every corner. The wash stalls are full of horses being readied like going to a spa, and rings are full of animals large and small. The lunge pens are full of horses going round in an effort to get rid of the nervousness, not just for the horses but for the individual themselves (.. mostly themselves) all in anticipation of that class.
In all my years doing this, it never gets old watching all this take place. Climbing through the ranks to this position to be in the top 30 in the state in their divisions is an accomplishment on its own. All the individual victories, whether you win a class, place, or just have a great time.. They are all winners. From the one who the year before was just starting to ride, to the last years member who looks back on all they learned, the friends they made, and the experiences they had.. They will never forget these things.
We came home with Reserve Champion and other individual placings. Once again, thinking about what we can improve, change, and fix. Looking forward to next year. I cannot say enough about the wonderful behavior of our horses and the children. Their class, manners, and sportsmanship was something to be proud of. I am so proud to have them members of Brownstone Farm.
GREAT JOB! Thanks for the memories!
With States rapidly approaching it brings to mind memories of years of States gone by. At times, there would be as many as 12+ students (plus their families!) traveling to Harrisburg with us. With 10 people staying in one motor-home together, it was pretty crowded! Of that crowd, one of my mom's was so prepared she had three of everything! Her minivan was so jam-packed that she couldn't see out the back. This same woman one evening fell out of bed (in the motorhome!) and got herself wedged between the bed and the wall. Laughing too hard to get herself out, it took two of us to take her by her feet and pull her out. Meanwhile... Another one of the mom's and her daughter were sleeping up front, only to wake up to another her son's feet in their face because he didn't want to sleep on the floor. The floor was cold and his overly prepared mom with three of everything could not find a sleeping bag for him to sleep in. Actually on that note.. She couldn't find anything all weekend. Not her three coats, not her three mittens, her hats, and spent the whole weekend borrowing things for her and her son because everything was lost in the abyss that was her car.
Mornings were the time for working the horses. One particular morning, this mom wanted to take the pressure off of her son and let him sleep in so she got up to go work the horse. While I was out to feed, I sent her out the door to lunge the horse, with a borrowed lunge line. She trodded back inside, horse in tow, and I told her that she needed to go back out and lunge more. Unbeknownst to me, it was pouring down rain. Well, off she went to lunge in the rain.. without a rain coat since she couldn't find it.. Half an hour later they came back looking like drowned rats. Off to the wash stall they go. A little bit later, I come upon her and the horse walking around with a bright yellow cooler with a huge tie-dyed peace sign in the middle of it. Of course she could find that..
This weekend at States was definitely a great one. There was plenty of food, laughs, and friends. And as for the show, we came home with numerous State and Top Ten champions. The placings were great, but the love that was felt for each other that weekend is irreplaceable.
One last thing.. When we got home and were unloading and unpacking, this prepared mom was just about to leave for home when that abyss of a van that she could not see out of, backed right into the wheel well of my six horse trailer. The minivan had minimal damage.. My trailer, however, needed a whole new fender. She then blamed her son for not watching where SHE was backing up to. To this day, I still love them both dearly.
I look back on these times and miss the bonds that were shown between students and families. We were one big family. And we still strive to be one big family.
One of my students had written this piece as a school project.. I wish more people would have this sort of insight on the ups and downs of life. Over the years I have learned so much watching my children grow. Not only am I teaching them, but they continue to teach me.
"I could feel the adrenaline racing through my veins as I trotted into the final line-up. It was my last chance to advance to the district level, my last chance at victory. My trusty, steady-eddie gelding and I had a flawless ride; we were destined to win. The loudspeaker abruptly came on, and I waited anxiously for my number to be announced. It was never called. Seeing my competitors pick up their ribbons broke my nine-year-old heart. After all the preparation, the lessons, and the nerves, how could I not have qualified?
As a young child, I found it difficult to grasp the idea of failure. What did I do to deserve the rejection and the inferior feelings? As I grew older, I realized the answer to this question was non-existent. We did have an exceptional ride, but so did my competition. From that point on, I knew there was only one solution. Keep my helmet on straight and keep trotting on.
My failures gave me incentive. If I had never failed, what would I have to work for? Hours upon hours were spent at the barn, in the dreaded heat and frigid temperatures, just to perfect my riding skills and to better my horse and me as a team. Each show season we progressed, as our hard work was paying off. The next year I advanced to districts, and I continued to stay motivated. Another year passed and I qualified for states, leading to a shocking state championship.
Reminiscing on that day of failure when I was just a nine-year-old girl could not be sweeter. Advancing from the tears of rejection to the viewpoint of my failure as a triumph instilled a great feeling. I understood that I was growing as an individual. I understood the cause and effect of my actions. In fact, my riding instructor once said to me, "These are not just horse lessons, these are life lessons." She was 100 percent correct. Participating in a 4-H club, competing in horse shows, and working with a large animal taught me so many lessons that I apply to my life everyday. The key lesson I learned, however, deals strictly with failure. No matter what I do in life, I will fail. Failure is inevitable, a necessary evil. But failure does not need to be a negative element. Failure can transpire into a success, depending on how it is received. One can give up in the eye of defeat or continue to trot on, to use that failure as inspiration. I believe that mindset is a success in itself. I will fail, and I will sometimes succeed, but through the failures I will remain invincible."
Everyone, just trot on..
Meet Laura and her mare, Sassy! Laura and Sassy have been with us a long time. Laura is currently going back to school to become a vet, and Sassy is living the good life.
Meet Emily and BabaGanoush! Em has been with us for a long time. She flits from Florida to PA enjoying her dream job working in journalism. Baba enjoys eating in the pasture 24/7 - not a bad deal!!
Meet Elizabeth and her mini - Tic Tac! Lizzie is very busy right now going to school to be a vet. And Tic Tac is enjoying many hours munching on hay out in her paddock.
Meet Pam and George. What a love affair! Trail riding and hugs and kisses are their activities along with going to horse shows with her daughter Siera.
Meet Jamie and her horse, Houdini. Houdini is a very lucky boy being rescued from the Standardbred racing community to a loving home where he gets trail riding on the weekends and hugs and kisses during the week.