Friday, November 4, 2011

A Tribute to Laddie ♥

Some horses come into our lives and quickly go, but others leave hoof prints on our hearts that will never fade. . . 
June 2010
In the later half of 2009, my 4H leader aquired Ladd, a ~17hh thoroughbred gelding of 7 years. Ladd had successfully evented up to Training level all over the country, from New York to Florida, until he suffered a suspensory injury and ended up at Jean's.
She began riding him in October of that year after he'd rehabbed. I remember the first time I saw her ride him, and she let me get on and take him for a short cool-down spin. Whoa was my first impression. He's *so* big! And his strides were huge and long and smooth.
June 2010
In spring of 2010, I rode Ladd a few times a week to get him started for Jean. I rode him in the arena and on trails. Most rides gave me something to 'write home about'. 

In September of that year, I took Ladd to a show; probably his first open show. After getting it together, he won first in two of the three classes we rode in.
First Show together; September 2010

Hunter Hack in the rain; first place. 9/10

June 2011
Jean said I could take him to fair for English day this year. I was pretty excited. :) 
Prepping for county fair!
I spent five weeks riding him about five days a week, sometimes more. 
I'm not saying every ride was wonderful . . . We had one ride where I got off at the end and could only think What. Was that all about?!
And then those road rides where we found ourselves backing into a ditch because 'we' couldn't handle walking back to the farm?. . . 
But he was my first experience with a typical thoroughbred. And holy cow! Do I have respect for people who ride them. He's sooo incredibly talented, but it's completely different to ride them. Their minds! So opposite everything I was used to up until him. 
I had such fun riding Ladd; I love my Daisy, but Ladd is different. Taller, more leggy, more dressagy, more flowing, more forward, and he makes jumping so easy. Some videos from this summer as we prepped for county fair:
We had a jump lesson the week before fair. What I said about him being opposite? I learned how to jump him. Want to slow down after a jump? Go ahead, pull back on your reins, but he'll only go faster. And he's likely to take off and jump a standard. Which yes, he did. We didn't clear it ;) I was completely humiliated, but I got it through my head, that the only way to slow him was essentially not to try.... the only way was to sit up straight and tall and quiet. Once I slowed all the motion of my body, he was a different horse and slowed down. Crazy! 
And then it was fair. The first class after showmanship I don't think we placed, he was getting used to it all, but after that we were in top placings all day. 
The last jump

Ladd and I with Jean during the schooling portion

Yep. I'm destined to jump off-center.
I was very happy with our class over-fences. Despite his eventing background, the judge loved him as a hunter horse. And we placed first! It wasn't a perfect course, but watching the video of it, I feel like it was pretty close :)
For some reason the jump below made all the horses antsy. Many refused during the schooling. As for Ladd, he handled it like an ex-eventer. I could feel him start to slow but as soon as I felt it I urged him on and he never refused. He was such a good boy!
The jump they all looked at.

Jump courses. . . wow. So invigorating to do. Such a high!


Our 'Working Hunter to Jump' trophy
Working Hunter to Jump on Ladd (the video compilation of the course)
He even surprised me by getting us a blue in trail class. He walked over the bridge, trotted poles, and backed through barrels. I unfortunately don't remember the rest of the course, but I have the trophy to prove it :)

Since fair, I admit I haven't been to ride Ladd. He's a horse that is best in a consistent riding program. He wasn't getting it, and so to go out once a week to ride him would be torture for both of us I think. But the fact that he was there on the farm to be visited and ridden if and whenever I wanted to was what mattered.

Jean has decided to place Ladd in a new home. She's moving on from eventing, which I totally understand. Ladd is never going to be an all-around pleasure horse; no way. He loves to jump. So Jean found him a home where he's going to do what he loves.

She offered him to me multiple times, but I had to say no. I don't have an adequate barn to keep him in, and no arena to ride in. I'm taking college classes next year(and hopefully doing some training in Canada to become a natural trimmer; but that's another story), so my time will be even more limited, and I already have Daisy, whom I love dearly and can never part with. And I'm not looking to event. I have no horse trailer, and the costs and stress involved with eventing are not something I really want to pursue.
Today he left for his new home, a college about 45 minutes away to be a mount for the equestrian team. I'm ecstatic for him and the great opportunity, but that didn't make it any easier to say good-bye when I went to see him one last time yesterday. 
He's such a lovable horse. He adores people. He's so sweet. No matter how bad he is when you ride him, as soon as you hit the ground and see his face, you can't stay angry.
He will always always always have a place in my heart. Taking back out to the pasture and letting him go made tears stream down my face. Writing about it now is hard too. I never knew I could love a horse I didn't even own so much.
How lucky I was to have known someone who was so hard to say good-bye to. 

I'm hoping to visit him at a show sometime. And maybe...who knows. In ten years, when he goes to be retired, maybe I can get him back as a pleasure horse. But for now, he's out of my life.
I love you Laddie boy. Whoever rides you and takes care of you now is going to adore you. Maybe this isn't 'farewell'. Maybe it's just 'see you later'. 

The song has ended, but the melody lingers on.


Ruffles said...

Ladd sounds like an amazing horse. I remember when I got my first TB (my current one lol) he was 16.3hh! Gosh did it take awhile to get used to his massive strides. I have totally fallen in love with the breed now, they are amazing horses.

Wishing all the best for Ladd at his new home. Sounds like you guys had some awesome experinces together.

Gudl said...


Bella said...

Ladd was a very lovable pony. :) You definitely seemed to have a lot of fun with him, despite his brain at times. ;) I love the quotes. :)

Melisende Joy said...

Hi! You have a really wonderful blog. Ladd sounds like such a great horse. I love horses; I ride Western. This may not sound like much to you, but I just today learned how to mount bareback without a person helping me or stepping onto a step, and I'm quite proud of myself. ;-) I've only been riding two and a half years.

Mellimaus said...

Hey Melisende! Thanks for visiting my blog. That's cool that you know how to mount bareback! I can do it as well, but I'm not sure if I know the 'proper' way to do it, if there is one. And yeyy for western! I like both a lot.

Deanna said...

Beautiful post. (sniff sniff)

allhorsestuff said...

Oh he was a terrific first TB for you to get to know...willing, able and sweet.
I'm.sad for you yet, so happy he and you met and rode and did so well together!
Sniff :'( that was a really neat tribute Mellie!

samihob said...

Great equestrian blog! Why not come along and post this at Haynet an Equine Social Blogging Network - Hope to see you there!


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