March 27, 2011

The Early Years, Part III

When Fox Hollow Sport Horses came to town, I couldn’t believe it.  Who would want to breed eventing warmbloods in rural southern Illinois, population: next to nothing?  I would love to say I took regular lessons from Laura, but for some reason it was more sporadic than it should have been.  I don’t know why.  She was a good trainer and had so much to teach me, so what I did get from her was fantastic.

What I did get from her was my first taste of Dressage.  She never called what we did Dressage, but looking back now, I realize that she was giving me a firm foundation in it, and much of it is coming back to me now.

Calvin, the 18hh+ Oldenburg.  Photo from summer of 2007.
It was my first taste of being a pony jockey: at 5’0 and just over 100lbs, (Hey, I’m still 5’0 and 100lbs, if anyone wants an adult pony jockey, give me a call!) I looked enough like a little kid that she asked me to ride her ponies in sales videos.  That’s how I met Venice, but we’re not there yet.  

 I also rode an 18hh Oldenburg, my first warmblood ride, who rode like a dump truck and I needed a stepladder to bridle him.  I rode Mustang Sally, and I’m still not sure what breed she was.  I got experience, for the first time, honing my skills on a variety of horses and body types.

Mustang Sally.  Not a Mustang.

By far, the most magical ride I ever had occurred while I was home for the summer from college and Laura had an imported Hanoverian mare there to foal out.  She was showing third level, trained through fourth, and my God.  To a kid who’d only ever ridden your run of the mill Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, that was breathtaking.  Her movement, especially her canter, was more up than forward.  I remember being amazed that I could see her knees in front of her chest at the canter, and asking why it felt like she was going up with each stride.    

Although I didn’t have all of the buttons I needed to ride her well, what I got was life changing.  I finally knew what it felt like to ride something well-bred and well-trained, and I began to understand why some people spent thousands of dollars on horses instead of searching for diamonds in the rough.  I also felt total control over a ride for the first time, and I began to fall in love with Dressage.


  1. Just had to comment that I was at the Hoosier Horse Expo yesterday at the IN state fairgrounds and there was a Castleberry Cob on stallion row. My family thinks I am crazy - but I said 'I know that horse!'. Well,,,just because of your blog.
    Enjoy reading your blog!

  2. Kelly, that is awesome! Did you stop and say hi? That's Castleberry Protege's sire. I was there yesterday and took a ton of pictures, but can't post them until the breeder gives the okay, hopefully I'll have some to share soon. Glad to hear you got some good stuff, my shopping was pretty limited yesterday.

  3. Looking forward to seeing the pics you took while there. I did not stop to talk - but he is lovely!