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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Success Stories

((Quelle horreur!! You say I haven't done my End of June Analysis yet?? Nor have I finished my next post on Gogo's feet?? O what a world!! Don't worry, it will be soon!))

(Sunday Success Stories are a new series here at Eventing-A-Gogo. Each week, we feature a reader's own personal journey through overcoming difficulty and adversity, sometimes against all odds, and pulling through no matter what. These stories are about those who never gave up, and who made a difference in the life of an animal who just needed a little love and care in order to turn around and really bloom again. Send your success stories, past or present, to!)

This week's Sunday Success Story comes from our Abbie, who blogs over at The Chronicles of Ernest. Ernie is an elderly ex-racehorse who sounds like he can't be told his real age! Through their ten years of companionship, they've experiences all the ups and downs you could think of, including a day in winter when Ernie went missing! Like Abbie, I too got the giveaway throw-away beast that nobody wanted (Quincy), and it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I'm definitely looking forward to spending some time reading and getting to know Ernie a little more.

The Chronicles of Ernest

Were you to ask your typical horse-crazy kid what their first horse was, the answer is usually one of three things: a pony, a former school/lesson horse or a dead-broke packer. The answer is rarely (OK, never) "that crazy old Thoroughbred gelding from the back pasture". Take a guess at which one I ended up with.

Ernie is a 29-going-on-4 year old former TB racehorse. When I say former racehorse, I mean he was an absolute racing fail. If his racing name, "Crohn of My Own" isn't bad enough, try this one: of a whopping three races entered, he was DQ'ed from one for busting through the gate, walked off the trailer lame and scratched from another, and acted so wired at the other that the trainer threw in the towel and retired him altogether. From there he went to a big H/J training farm in Maryland where he was to be turned into a jumper, which turned out to be another miserable fail when the trainer found out he hated to jump. From there spans a period of over a decade years during which I know nothing about where he was, what he was used for, or who owned him. All attempts to contact former owners listed on the back of his Jockey registrations papers have failed. I met him in the fall of 2000 after I began taking lessons at a H/J barn a few miles from my house. The barn owner had bought him thinking he'd be a good modified equitation lesson horse, and had gotten an old, angry, beat up horse with no real trust in people.

I was never really supposed to buy a horse, especially being a kid and not terribly learned in the saddle. However, Ernie was the perfect price: free. After leasing him for two years, I was in love. He was (and still is) everything most people hate about Thoroughbreds: nervous, anxiety-prone, terribly herd-bound, a chronic weaver when stalled or upset, and with a questionable history, the combination of which make for a horrible sale possibility. I told Wanda, the barn owner at the time (who is now my boss and dear friend) to make up a contract. The sale agreement said the price was $1: to this day Wanda jokes that she never did get her dollar.

As for the riding, it was always interesting, and still is. I started as a green rider on a highly strung and unhappy animal. Ernie came with an extremely cold back, all sorts of cervical/vertebral issues in his neck, hips that went out with the slightest jump sideways and no real muscle tone to speak of. He rode with his head up, back out, ears pinned and short strides. I began work with a dressage instructor, and slowly but surely we convinced him that it was okay to relax, and began the slow, long journey towards a proper rehab. We've had our ups and downs since then: in the ten years or so I've known/owned Ernie, he's torn his RH suspensory twice, faced full retirement once, gone missing for nearly a full day in early winter, put the barn through his head (quite literally: he drove a shard of wood into the fat pad above his eye, and somehow suffered no damage to anything), and pulled countless shoes. However, he's still in work 3-4 days a week playing lightly with 1st and 2nd level dressage.

At almost 30, Ernie is as feisty as he was when I first met him, but he's learned to trust me and my judgment. We've grown like an old married couple; we know what buttons to push (and which ones not to), we put up with each others bad habits, and I am humbly reminded every day that I am only human. Ernie has in every way earned his status as my life-er horse; I made a promise to him when we found him after he'd busted through a barbed wire fence last November and gone missing that he would be with me until the day he decided to leave this world. I pray every day that he stays with me many more years.

(Send your submissions and stories to! This series is new and can't get underway without YOU! Gogo wants you to!)

1 comment:

Meghan said...

Cool story! I will have to check out their blog.