In which we participate in Jane's Valentine's Day Love Festival

One of my favorite bloggers in the horseblogworld is Jane at The Literary Horse. She is always willing to explore the less-graceful and glamorous (and thus more interesting) side of riding and riders; she asks the questions that non-horsepeople don't think to ask. She also has a very skewed view of the world, which has caused tea-spew on my computer monitor more than once. Uh, more than once this week.

Jane asked in this post about how we came to love the horses we love. And since we celebrate the horses' birthdays on February 14th every year, it's a good time to tell this story!

Lemme tell ya, it's been a long journey to get to this:

It started with this: Pony Camp, circa 1976. I was about 12 years old, and finally deemed old enough by my parents and the Whatcom County Parks Department Summer Programs division to attend Pony Camp. Midnight was a fabulous pony (according to me): she would canter all day. On the last day of camp, we went on a trail ride--two hours in the woods on horseback. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

My parents were sure that I'd grow out of it. Grownups, in their experience, didn't spend most of their waking hours either on a horse or wanting to be on a horse.

Nearly twenty years later, I finally bought a horse of my own:
My friend Trish took me up to the Standardbred track in Canada, where one of the trainers was selling off some horses. Most would end up on the meat truck. Trish looked at Story and said, "That one won't leave you broken and dead on the side of a mountain." High praise, from Trish. The next week, we brought her home.

Story stayed with me for the remainder of her life, about 12 years. (Part of her end-of-life story is here; have a hankie ready if you go to the link!)

Less than a week after she died, I got a call from Greener Pastures, the standardbred adoption agency in Canada.

They had heard about Story. They said they were proud, they said I was brave, they said I did the right thing.

They said they noticed I now had an empty stall.

They said that they had a mare who needed a place--a foster home, or a forever home. Could I take this mare for a few months? I could send her back in the spring if I didn't want to keep her.

They didn't say that the mare was huge, clumsy, and still growing.

They didn't say that the mare was a biter, and a kicker, and had enough powerful anger issues to light the city of Seattle for a month in winter.

They didn't tell me a lot of things that I learned about Fiddle in our first year together.
They didn't know that while I thought I wanted a short, sweet, sensible mare, what I actually needed was a gigantic mare with a need for calm leadership and strong, consistant boundaries. Well, hell. I've been training weird, neurotic dogs for most of my adult life. I've worked with teenagers for even longer. I have calm leadership and strong consistant boundaries.

And I have no skills whatsoever for turning away a challenge.

Fiddle learned to walk on trails--and later, to mark them with ribbons for endurance rides.

She learned that every stupid outfit comes with at least one cookie. She learned that games are fun.
She learned that endurance rides are fun.
She still isn't short. Most people think she still isn't sweet.

But she is.

Shhhh. Don't tell everyone. It's a secret.


  1. So why did you decide not to send her back? Was she a project that you fell in love with, or did she win you over with her hateful snarky ways?

  2. That mare is so lucky she ended up with you. Kudos to you for taking her on and giving her a brain. <3 I should really type Ozzy's story up some time.

  3. Great story! Love all the pictures and tales - sometimes mares that aren't traditionally sweet can be very sweet indeed - my Dawn comes to mind.

  4. Happy Valentine's Day to you and Fiddle. Yours and hers is a nice story and I'm going to get the hankie to read about Story...

    Ya think Fiddle remembers monitoring a R&T on our gnarly Sequim trails with Steph and me and your loaner girls? I think she does...

  5. Love love love the history of Fiddle and Story!
    Geeze, my mascara's been running for days. I scared the crap out of my family, who thought I was deathly ill.

    My first thought after seeing the pictures of Midnight and Story? Wow, Story looks like that pony!

    Happy Valentines day to the whole crew!

    (Oh. The skewed shows, huh? Dang. I thought I was so good at hiding it. :)

  6. Thanks for sharing! I wondered how you found Fiddle...or how she found you! :-D

  7. Wow- that trot is to die for!!

    And, the pics of Story are lovely- what a good idea to get some nice photos when she was out having a fun day, its comforting to have those good memories.


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