A few weeks ago Boot City and I were cooking dinner together and chatting about the things going on in our world right now. New LQ trailer. Lots (so much really) of fencing projects to do. A never-ending stream of cars for Boot City to fix. Not much fun travel in the near future. Somehow we go to talking about bucket list things. Boot City has a project car that we hope to take on a long road trip to stay at Blackberry Farm when it’s done. He’s got a super fancy motor for it and is going to have it repainted and put new seats and such in it. His bucket list is mostly wrapped up in that car. However, I’ve never been much of a “bucket list” person. I feel like wishing for more than I have is disingenuous and a bit selfish. But we all have things we’d love to have or do. So, during this conversation I mentioned that one of the very few things on my list would be to own a Chincoteague Pony.
I (oddly) didn’t read the Marguerite Henry books as a child, but I did have them all and I pretty well knew what the stories were about. I knew about the pony swim and the auction. I started listening to the Horses In The Morning (HITM) podcast a few years ago and every year they interview someone who is at the pony swim so I’ve learned more about it there every year. This winter Costco had a boxed set of the most popular Marguerite Henry books that I bought and started reading. Thus far I’ve read Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind, and Justin Morgan had a Horse and LOVED all of them!
This year, because of Coronapocolypse, the swim and associated events were canceled. The pony auction is a significant fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company so the loss of the events could have been quite significant for the organisation. However, the pony auction was moved online for the first time ever this year! I briefly pulled up the website where the ponies were being sold after listening to the HITM podcast interview, but didn’t really think much of it at the time. Fast forward a few days and a friend and I got to chatting about the Chincoteague pony auction and an idea was sprung. This friend has two young daughters, one of whom has shown an interest in riding (I may have helped find and picked up a pony for said child earlier this year….). The friend grew up riding, much like I did and now has a lovely OTTB she rides for trail rides and does some jumping with. We thought it would be SO fun to buy a Chincoteague pony together! I could keep it until it was old enough to be trained to ride, then she would keep it for her girls to ride. When they grew out of the pony or for whatever reason the pony could come back to live with me.
We started stalking the auction page. Color. Parentage. Bids. We established a list of our favourites and we set ourselves a budget. The auction opened on July 23rd (my Mom’s birthday!) and concluded on July 30. We could tell fairly quickly which ponies on our list were going to be out of our budget before auction day and eliminated a few. Then came auction day. Prices started really going up on a lot of the more colourful ponies. Many more were struck off the list by midday. We texted and decided that if at least our two favorites were still within budget at noon, one of us would register to bid. I was working from home and checked the auction again in the late afternoon. The lots started closing around 3p my time. They were set to close in 3 minute increments, not all at once. We really liked the first pony, but my friend still hadn’t gotten a bidder number, so we missed that one. Then came our favourite, #12. Still no bidder number and he was above our budget. Another colt came up that looked like he might be in our budget, but alas no bidder number. We again had high hopes for Lot 24, but (again) no bidder number.
My friend finally got frustrated and called the auction company as their website said qualified bidders would get a number within an hour of registering on auction days and it had been nearly 2 hours. It turned out a tiny bit of contact information was wrong, they fixed it and she had the number! Just in time for #31! He was in the final 3 minutes of bidding and was below our budget. She texted and asked if she should bid. I texted back; “Yes!”. She placed our bid. 3 minutes to wait. The price stayed the same. 2 minutes. No change. Less than 1 minute. In fewer than 5 minutes we went from having a not having a bidder number to winning our pony!
Everyone, meet Ginuwine Lefty II!!!!
It was SO exciting! And then it became a bit overwhelming! We had bought a pony foal. A pony foal that was in Virginia! HOW were we going to get a pony foal from Virginia to Texas?! As it turns out, owning a Chincoteague Pony allows you into an exclusive group of horse/pony loving people who are the nicest and most helpful group of horse people I’ve ever encountered! So, over the course of the next few weeks, months and years I will be chronicling Gene’s journey from Virginia, to Pennsylvania (where he’s headed tomorrow) to Texas and beyond. On an upcoming post I’ll explain how he got his name. For now, just know his barn name is Gene.
Part of being in the CPOC (Chincoteague Pony Owner’s Club, I made that up myself) is getting connected to the photographer who goes to the island it seems like every day and documents the first sighting of the pony foals and makes those photos available to pony buyers. All the photos below are from DSC Photography and we are SO grateful to have them!
A quite young baby Gene. He was first seen on May 4, 2020.
Grazing with his Mom. It looks like so far all the foals from this mare have been solid chestnuts, like Gene.
Part of what we loved about him is his kind eye. He really reminds me a lot of Jaguar!
Gene walking on the beach with his Mom, Lefty’s Checkmark. I love the fog behind them.
Last, but not least, this one is our favorite of Gene!
Gene and his reflection in the water.
I’d love to hear if you own or have owned a Chincoteague Pony! Gene will start his journey to Texas at the end of August and I promise to provide updates! Please send him good thoughts that he makes all his trips safe and sound.
Happy Friday the 13th y’all! Boot City has a “13” tattoo and Coco has a “13” brand, so the number 13 is near and dear to us. It has been cooler and stormy this week in North Texas, which has been AMAZING, but sadly we haven’t gotten very much of the rain. Only .15″, but as long as the hay fields got it I’m happy.
The goats like to clean up the hay that the horses spill in the trailer. They are so helpful!
Introducing Nellie and her babies! The puppies were born on June 30. She had 8, but we sadly lost the runt at day 11. The rest appear to be doing fantastically!
Samson is the hungriest pony you’ve ever met. He is always trying to steal food at every opportunity. It helps that he’s so cute.
This puppy has the cutest nose spots. I’m hoping to have a name theme for them by the end of this weekend. I’m taking suggestions (but Game of Thrones is not an option. That has been suggested to me a lot and I don’t watch the show!).
Have a fantastic weekend!
This week FLEW by! Boot City and my 13th Anniversary was on Monday. We celebrated with an AMAZING dinner at B&B Butchers. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough! I was initially skeptical of yet another steak place in Fort Worth, but this one is it’s very own. The food and the service were second-to-none! As per usual we didn’t take any pics, but it was lovely.
We also got some more rain.
Muddy horse exhibit #1: Coco Chanel
Muddy horse exhibit #2: Simon
Muddy horse exhibit #3: Sterling
Clearly the horses are enjoying the mud. Good grief.
Patches got spayed on Monday. She was a great patient and enjoyed her trip home, basking in the sunlight.
Because you can never have too many pony pics.
Jaguar’s hay gets soaked for multiple reasons and Murtagh LOVES to sit on the hay as the tank fills with water and drink it when it gets high enough in the tank. He is so weird.
Lily has a meet and greet and will potentially be adopted this weekend. She has been a joy to have, but I’m very excited for her potential new family!
The upcoming weekend is the annual Hunt Ball! Boot City and I get to get all dressed up with our horsey friends and have a nice dinner with our favorite people. I also have a super fun delivery this afternoon that I am excited to share next week!
What are you getting up to this weekend?
I first read a “30 Things….” post on 900 Facebook Pony and she got the idea from May As Well Event so I’m joining in the fun blog sharing. I feel like anyone who knows me may already know many of these things, but thought it would still be fun to share!
1. I like most any food, but I really do NOT like barbecue. Especially Texas BBQ. If it is smoked I really really don’t like it. Give me whatever sushi and I’ll at least try it. Asian. Thai. Indian. I have a low spice tolerance (I call this my Montana taste buds), but I don’t want anything to do with BBQ.
2. I went to Carroll College in Helena, Montana for my undergraduate degree and in many ways consider those four years to be the BEST years of my life! Everything was sponsored by my parents (to whom I am forever grateful), I had freedom, I had amazing friends, I learned every single day, and I lived in the most beautiful area of the country. What is not to love?!
3. I moved to Texas and the only person I knew was my friends’ grandmother (whom I lived with for a few months) in Fort Worth. People often think I moved here to go to grad school, but I moved to Fort Worth because I love the town and the people. 16 years later I think I still like it here.
4. I sew. Not quilts and such. I prefer to make clothes. I don’t give myself nearly enough time to sew, but I have three fancy schmancy Bernina machines and when I put my mind to it can make some beautiful clothing. When I got my colors with the hunt I ride with I made my own frock coat. Sadly, I left that coat at the cleaners just a little too long after changing jobs and they got rid of it. The saddest part of the story is that it had over $100 worth of buttons on it. You see, custom hunt buttons are like $8 each. SO SAD!
5. I have a ginormous family. My immediate family is normal sized, but my extended family is huge. I have 12 cousins on my Mom’s side. My Mom has about 75 first cousins and I’ve met nearly all of them and know some of them very well. I don’t know my Dad’s side as well, but he had 3 siblings and I have 7 cousins on my Dad’s side. My Grandpa’s side of the family on Mom’s side has a reunion every 4 years and there are usually close to 200 people in attendance. We always go somewhere awesome (Bend, OR; Glacier Park; Black Hills in SD; Jackson Hole WY. etc) and we spend 4 or 5 days together. We joke that we could drive from coast to coast of the U.S. and stay with family the entire way. I’m grateful for ALL of my family!
6. I’m obsessed with planners and I have been since at least middle school. Like right now I have 3 planners in action. 1 for work, 1 for “life” and 1 for horses. It is ironic because I’m not very good at actually planning, but I sure do like writing stuff down with fancy pens on nice paper.
7. I have a fancy pen collection. Pelikan. Montblanc. Waterford. Waterman. TBSI. I LOVE writing with fountain pens or even just nice rollerball or ballpoint pens.
8. When I was a kid and would go with my parents to cuttings (horse shows) I would find every dog on the property and make friends with the owner. I loved taking them on walks and just petting them. It’s not wonder I grew up to be a crazy dog lady.
9. Before I met Boot City he had never really owned a pet. He had had a cat and his dad had a dog, but he had never really had his very own pet. My family continues to be astonished at our current pet collection and how tolerant he is of my obsession with animals. Clearly he likes them, too.
10. I played the piano for 9 years. I never got very good at it and really just continued to make my Mom happy, but I’m glad I learned how to play. I haven’t sat down and played in at least 20 years, though.
11. I don’t watch TV. In the recent 10 years the only shows I’ve watched were Downton Abbey and Outlander. I didn’t watch much TV as a kid so never really got into it. In college we would watch the Bachelor and Friends sometimes, but I can’t follow most TV convos to save my life.
12. I was a rodeo princess when I was in grade school. I was the Bucking Horse Sale Princess in 1991 or 1992. I had to model, answer some questions from judges, maybe give a speech and I think there was a horsemanship portion. My Mom made all my outfits and I was hands down the best dressed kid. The clothes my Mom made for me when I was growing up should be in a museum collection someday. I thought for sure I would run for Miss Rodeo Montana when I was old enough, but by then I had completely abandoned rodeo in favor of showing Quarter Horses so it seemed weird to be a rodeo queen.
13. I hate and am terrible at cooking. My dad told me for years that no man would marry me because I can’t cook. I showed him when I married Boot City because Boot City is the most amazing cook I’ve ever met. He makes things with recipes that start with “day 1” instead of “step 1”.
14. I’m pretty religious, but like to mostly keep it to myself. I grew up Presbyterian and I went to a Catholic college. My Mom grew up Catholic, too. I consider myself a Christian and was a member of a Methodist church by my house for a few years, but didn’t feel very connected to Methodism. I’ve gone to a few other churches since then, but am pretty lazy about actually leaving my house on Sunday mornings. I read the Bible every day and I pray a lot, though.
15. My first vehicle was a 1993 2500 Diesel Chevrolet regular cab, long bed. My second (after I totaled the first one, oopsy) was a 1996 2500 Chevrolet extended cab, long bed (and a manual transmission). I only drove a pickup until I was in my mid-20s (I did have a brief interval with an Impala that my parents got me to drive when I lived in Minneapolis for a summer). I am, and always will be, a truck girl. The pickup we have now is a 2002 Ford F-350 with 4 doors and a long bed, so Boot City drives that more than I do. I have to suffer with whatever Lexus lease vehicle we have at the time. I’m on my sixth or seventh Lexus and love the brand. Boot City works for Lexus so we get a sweet deal on them.
16. I never had a best friend when I was a kid. I had lots of great friends, but never a best friend. It really bothered me sometimes, but I had oodles of cousins who were (and are) my friends and I’ve actually gotten closer to a lot of people I grew up with now that we are adults.
17. I’m really outgoing and for many years didn’t have a very good filter before spewing my opinions on a subject. I like to think that my filter has gotten better, but I still tend to be pretty direct. I’ve just learned when I should keep me mouth shut. Most of the time.
18. I hate appointments. This is the primary reason I very seldom get haircuts, manicures, massages or any other similar thing that requires me to drive to some service provider at a specific time. I would MUCH rather spend that time and effort with my horses/dogs/husband/friends.
19. I’ve ridden horses my entire life, but have only been jumping for about 6 years. I started taking Sterling to “A” shows in 2014 and we have both come a REALLY long way in those four years! It was asking quite a lot for a green horse to teach a green rider how to jump, but he’s been fabulous. We have been lucky to get some really great instruction along the way, too.
20. When my horsey bestie and I go places together people ALWAYS think we are sisters. She has been showing hunters quite a bit longer than I have and when I am at shows and she isn’t there people will start talking to me as though I’m her. We both find it hilarious. We went to France together a few years ago and got more or less the same reaction there. We assumed people would think we were a couple, but they assumed we were sisters.
21. My dad owned the auction market in my hometown until I was in middle school. He would often buy horses (and sometimes ponies) in the horse sales for me to ride for a few months then he would sell them at a later sale. I enjoyed working with them and increasing their value. And now I know that I may have saved many of them from a pretty dire fate. The one I remember best was a black pony we called Inky. He was a bit of a holy terror and liked to gallop everywhere. I got him slowed down and responsive to specific cues for each gait. I sure hope he went on to be a good pony for some kids!
22. The Budweiser Clydesdales came to our county fair around the time of Montana’s centennial in 1989. They were stabled close to where our 4-H horses were stabled so after we got our morning chores done we would go over to help out with the Clydesdales. I even talked my way into “riding” one of them! I really just sat on it and the handler led it to the wash rack, but somewhere there exists a photo and it was truly an amazing experience. I highly doubt they are able to let little horse crazy girls sit on them these days.
23. Today is Boot City and my 13th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to us! We didn’t have a fancy wedding, but it was a really FUN wedding! Definitely one of my very favorite memories.
24. I kept a diary from the time I could write (like, 1st grade!) until a few years after I got married. i don’t really know why I quit keeping a diary, but now I tend to write diary-esque things in my planner. I do keep a horse journal to record horse things. I find it can often help refer back to my horse journal when one of the horses turns up lame or ill or something. If I write things down I am more apt to notice a change.
25. I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in Communication, with an undergraduate dual major in PR and a minor in Business. Not like telephone communication, but human communication. I would go to college forever if someone would pay for it and support my horse habit at the same time. Hardly a moment in my life goes by when I’m not using some aspect of what I learned from my degrees. From everyday life, to work, to horsing, to general interactions. I’m so glad that I made the choice to change from biology to communication studies my sophomore year at Carroll. I always tested strong for math and science, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Some days I wish I had a career more horse-oriented, but I’m grateful that my career allows me to support my love of horses and showing.
26. I took Spanish for six years and can understand quite a lot, but am not very good at speaking Spanish. I would LOVE to someday live abroad and be immersed in a language, but it stresses me out to think about what I’d have to do with all my animals were that to happen.
27. I read a lot and my favorite author is Ayn Rand. I LOVED The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I also love pretty much everything I’ve read that Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy wrote. I like modern literature as well, but it doesn’t seem to stick with me as much as the older tomes. It took me 6 months to read Anna Karenina, but it was so worth it.
28. My Mom got me my first subscription to Vogue when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I would read it cover to cover and drool over the beautiful clothing. She made all of my formal dresses in high school and we would usually pick out a style we like from a Vogue magazine, find a pattern that was similar (usually a Vogue pattern), then she would make the dress. The best one was a black pigskin dress she made for my Junior year Winter Formal. I think I still have it and it fit well into my late 20’s!
29. I mostly went to horse shows by myself the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and the summer after my senior year. I showed three horses those summers and I would haul them, get them situated in their stalls, enter my classes, braid or band manes, bath/clip/groom them and usually start showing on Friday morning by myself. We had lots of friends at the shows and I never felt like there wasn’t someone there to help me if I needed it. Mom would usually come on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I loved every second of it and was grateful my parents let me go. I would usually stay with a good friend whom I showed with or a trainer so I also had a blast hanging out with them. I can’t imagine any parent I know today letting their 17/18 year old daughter do that by herself!
30. This list was WAY harder to make than Amanda said it would be!
Happy Friday y’all! It is COLD here in Texas! It was in the 20’s overnight, but thankfully should be getting in the 40’s today. Life is much easier when it gets above freezing during the day. Much time is being spent blanketing and unblanketing horses, hauling hay, turning heaters on and off. All things I never had to do in Montana! The irony! As I write this it is -2F in my hometown.
Pablo the nuzzler. He’s such a weirdo!
Pablo’s left front foot has been sore for the past few weeks and when his feet hurt he WILL NOT let me catch him. I guess he knows I want to mess with the hurt foot and he just isn’t into that. I feel like a bad donkey parent, but I also don’t want to wrangle a donkey. Now that the ground has dried up he seems sound again. And now that he’s sound he is super snuggly. He likes to stand behind me and rest his chin on my shoulder, then ever so slowly he starts nuzzling my coat, hat and ear before he tries to bite. This donkey. He should write a book about himself.
Murtagh the cat and Dickens the Whippet are best buds. Murtagh LOVES to play with the sighthounds and often can be heard terrorizing them in the middle of the night.
I was trying to snap a photo of Samson in the snowflakes that we had for about 45 minutes yesterday, but he was not into the photo op!
Super hairy ponies have to be the cutest thing ever! Samson is still difficult to catch in the field, but he loves to come in the barn to steal hay and is easy peasy to catch then. He desperately wants to be with the big horses, but the one time we tried that Sterling chased him endlessly to the point I was worried about Samson. We will try it again one of these weekends and let Samson out with a smaller group of the big horses. He has been out with Jaguar once and that went really well. Jaguar ignored him the whole time.
These two are non-stop wrestlers!
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!
A few weeks ago we were gifted the world’s cutest pony. He has been all over social media in the ensuing days.
Samson. The world’s cutest paint bay pony.
We housed Samson with the goats when he arrived. This would allow us to get to know him in smaller quarters, prevent him from having to be turned out with the big horses until we are able to supervise them together and see how he did with the goats. We don’t know much about Samson prior to when he was purchased from the kill pen about a year ago, but based on his behavior after arriving at our house I would venture to guess he was either mistreated or neglected in his past life. Try as I might I could NOT catch him! He would eat treats out of my hand over the fence, but if I went in the pen with him he would just run away from me. It drove me CRAZY because his little legs were covered with botfly eggs and I NEEDED to scrape them off. His eyes were a bit runny and NEEDED to be cleaned. He just needed some TLC!
I posted in a horsey Facebook group for advice and the in-a-nutshell advice was to have patience. Spend as much time as possible in his pen with him, but not forcing him to interact. I continued to give him treats over the fence anytime I had something in my pockets so he started coming to the fence pretty much anytime he saw me. Progress. A friend came over to ride with me the week of Thanksgiving and he ate cookies out of her hand when she was in his pen!
If I made any hand movement towards his face or his halter he would get away from me as fast as he could. I started giving him treats with one hand and petting his forehead with the other hand when I could. Sometimes he was OK with it, and sometimes he would back away. His reactions were getting less and less dramatic, but he still looked pretty darn skeptical of me.
Last week one of the goats had a kid. I always try to touch and handle the kids as much as possible when they are tiny so they are easier to work with when they get big and have horns. This was a surprise kid and I don’t think Samson knew she existed until I “showed” her to him and then he was FASCINATED.
“What is this tiny creature?! I must touch it with my nose!”
I think it helped for Samson to see me handling the baby goat. He was very curious about it the first couple days it was in the goat pen and would come as close as he felt safe and stare at it when I pet and held it.
Our big turning point happened on Sunday this past weekend. I kept the horses in their pens all day and we let Samson out into the big pasture with the goats for the first time ever. I was a bit worried I would never catch him again since he was now out in about 6 acres. He toodled around and grazed and followed the big horses around some while I rode, but he generally kept his distance. He did seem fascinated by the barn, the runs and the big horses in general. I was cleaning tack in my tack room with the big barn doors open when I saw something in the corner of my eye that was small and brown sneak down the barn aisle behind me. I walked slowly and quietly out of the tack room to find Samson happily munching hay from the wheelbarrow in the barn aisle. I hurried over and closed the big barn doors so he was confined to the barn. I didn’t want to fight with him, but oftentimes if a horse has been caught before they know when they are completely confined and can’t get away. Well, it worked. I was able to walk up and give him some carrots and snap the halter rope onto his halter.
AT LAST! I caught my little buddy!
He was extremely tense at first, but I gave him a few more carrot pieces and let him continue to munch hay and he slowly relaxed. I got to work with my bot knife on his legs, then combed his mane, cleaned his eyes, picked up his feet and scratched him all over. He was apprehensive, but not scared. I was SO excited to finally get my hands on the little guy! He was pretty much nonreactive and let me do all the grooming I wanted.
We even went outside and did some selfies. He was way into the phone/camera.
I didn’t keep him contained for very long and after I removed his halter he got a final cookie. He came in the barn again later in the afternoon to steal more hay and he pretty easily let me catch him again. The more times I can catch him and provide a good experience, then hopefully he will become easy to catch even in the largest pasture! Hard-to-catch horses are one of my pet peeves and can be dangerous so I’m happy this is progressing so quickly.
Wide-eyed pony face! HE IS SO CUTE!