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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Saintly Ponies

I apologize for the delay (technical difficulties), but as promised, I'm going to talk about some of the wonderful school ponies at Tricorne Farm. Here I am with Little John, the Chincoteague Pony:

Nice straight line from bit to elbow, I like it! Toes out past the maximum angle.... THAT only got worse.
Nice outfit, too (remember this).
This was taken at a Tricorne schooling show, which they held twice a year, spring and fall. I'm so glad that they did because outside showing was not in our budget. That was competition enough for this Nervous Nellie, anyway! I had a particularly successful day here in 1971, winning a first place that came with a gorgeous trophy - still the nicest one I ever won, and on display to this day - and something else that was good enough to make me Reserve Champion (don't remember the color).
After the show, at home. My dad made me a display board with the ribbons and I took them to school for Show-n-Tell.
GREAT day!
Little John was, to put it simply, the World's Best Pony (A). Oh, I know there have been/are others out there with the same claim, but believe me when I tell you, that pony Was. Just. Amazing. Never nappy, never sour, never evil, never lame, never mean, never nippy, never anything but just an angel in a pinto coat. EVERYONE adored him. Everyone wanted to ride him, too, all the time, so I really have no idea when the poor thing ever got the day off!

I have just one memory of riding Little John, and it could be from this show, but I'm not sure. All I know is it was a Beginner Crossrails class. This consisted of trotting two times around four evenly-spaced very low fences. I distinctly remember that I knew to give LJ a good yank on the left rein just in front of Fence 3 on the circuit, because I'd watched him neatly avoid jumping that one with a couple other riders by ducking right (yes, I know I said he was the World's Best Pony, but hey, nobody's perfect! :-). We made it safely over that fence and all the rest, and I know I placed well purely because of my mad steering skillz.

The other fabulous pony of my young years (let's call him World's Best Pony B), is this very unusually-marked fellow, Captain Hook.

I have never seen another Palomino Pinto in person ...
Known to all as "Hooky," this guy is legendary to a couple generations of Monmouth County, NJ riders. Between him and Little John, they probably taught at least 500 kids the ropes of hunter seat equitation. I'm a bit puzzled as to how I was able to ride him, though; he was privately owned, and not a Tricorne school horse. In fact, he belonged to a gentleman who became the Tricorne trainer a few years later. At the time his own children were small and Hooky was boarded there, as their pony. Maybe they allowed him to be used by lesson students in lieu of some of their board? At any rate, I sure am I glad I got to ride him in that particular show, because you can see the results in my header above: a blue ribbon and a HUGE smile!

I'm so pleased to tell you that I know what became of these two phenomenal ponies. Around 1989, I had occasion to drive by the Tricorne Farm propery. It was no longer a riding stable, and I think some of the buildings were gone, but there was still pasture. And grazing there, instantly recognizable, was none other than... Little John. How I wish I had stopped to try and call him over and say hello! The dear pony had to have been ancient by then. Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, I have a photo of him with another young rider from the mid-80s:

You can see he's definitely older here, with the distinguished white eyebrows. I'm certain he lived to his mid-30s, at least. How Little John put up with so many years of little hands yanking on his mouth and little boots whacking him in the ribs, I'll never know. Maybe he knew that the millions of little kisses bestowed on his sweet nose were worth it. He surely had a piece of my heart, and still does.

In 1992, I went to see a young friend ride at a horse show in NJ. Her trainer at the time was Hooky's owner, my old trainer. I went up to him and asked with some trepidation, "What ever happened to Captain Hook?" He replied, and you could have knocked me down with a feather, "He's standing in that trailer right over there. We don't ride him any more but he still likes to come along to shows." My husband, poor man, had no idea why I had tears pouring down my face when I went around the side of that trailer and sure enough, there was my old friend.  A lot older but still the same bald-faced pony. I'm not sure how much longer he lived after that, but it gives me tremendous comfort to know Hooky was loved and cared for by the same family until the end of his days.

I'll leave you with this photo of me and my buddy. You've all heard the expression "riding off into the sunset" - if I'm doing it again some day on Little John, well, that would be my kind of heaven.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, great pictures. There's nothing nicer than horsey nostalgia. Somewhere I have a picture of a very dorky looking 13 year old version of me hugging her very first lesson horse. LOL :)


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