Settling In …

A quick update …

In spite of -20C temperatures Bear is settling in nicely at his new, cosy digs.

Perhaps the most astonishing development is how quickly he’s managed to make new friends.

Bear has a sociable nature, but never could I have imagined just how easy going he was going to be with this major transition in his life.

When introducing horses to each other for the first time it’s important to be mindful. Like people, horses either get along, or they don’t. When horses don’t get along it can be pretty distressing. So, that first morning, while figuring out what would work best for all concerned, the barn manager held Bear back in the barn. Her first inclination, as is common practice, was to put him out in a small paddock by himself so he could get a sense of his surroundings. He would go out on second rotation keep a sick and unhappy horse on stall rest with a sore leg some company.

But Bear wasn’t having it. He wanted to go out.

So, he was turned out with two horses who just happen to be two of his closest neighbours in the barn so he would have had all that first night to start getting acquainted. Out in the paddock and after some initial squealing, which is typical of newly introduced horses, they were right as rain.

I could hardly believe it when she told me. Bear’s not even in the barn 24 hours and he’s already made friends.

His new paddock pals are lovely.

The first is ZuZu who, you may recall, was mentioned in my previous post. She’s a young mare of the Canadian breed. (Has Bear ever been turned out with a mare before? Certainly not while I’ve had him. Of course, there was his mother … ;-)) She’s a feisty, self-assured young lady quite able, it appears, to hold her own among the boys. Bear is mighty fond of her already, and looks for her when she isn’t nearby. I’ve also caught them making eyes at each other across the aisle.

Oh, my! My boy has a girlfriend!!!

He also has a new buddy.

Jerome is an international show jumper in early retirement due to injury, and has been ZuZu’s paddock pal for a while already. He’s a real sweetheart and it’s clear he simply wants to be Bear’s buddy. I spied them grooming each other as I drove by their paddock and into the farm that first day. A good sign.

Needless to say I am thrilled at how quickly Bear has settled in.

So, proud of my boy. 🙂

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Horse Crazy After All These Years …

It occurred to me this morning, for some reason, that I don’t have a single photograph from my childhood of me with a favourite pony. Not a one!

My mother, a single-parent earning her living as an opera singer, rehearsed and performed odd hours during the week. She was too busy, too tired, too distracted providing for my brother and I (including paying for riding lessons) to attend too closely my equestrian exploits.

My father (rather a deadbeat), and the rest of the extended family, lived thousands of miles away in Canada. Thus, there was no one around to capture my moments of triumph or my sheer joy of being with the ponies.

All I have are memories.

I don’t feel sorry for myself … just sad, in a way.

I suppose that’s why this image, that I’ve posted in this blog many times before, is so important to me. My first official portrait, as a “mature” horse crazy girl, with a horse; my horse.

I revisit my memories fondly. Learning to ride in England was a special experience. Britain’s culture is steeped in the horse and I was rapt by it.

The other day a good friend forwarded a link to a comedy sketch poking fun at the culture of the horse crazy girl. It features brilliant British comedic actresses Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, and is called simply “Ponies.”

If you haven’t seen it before, please check it out via the link below. It’s a lark laced with the truth and innocence of a young girl’s love of horses. When I view it I laugh so hard it brings tears to my eyes.

It brings back so many memories — of the old stable yard (a little more sophisticated than depicted here) where I first learned to ride; the frustrations of trying to catch ponies that just won’t be caught; and yes, playing “show jumping” over the jumps while the horses are otherwise occupied (usually eating.)

The memories are so thick around me it feels like just yesterday I was a young girl lost in pony novels, immersed in Follyfoot Farm on the television and galloping across a huge field and jumping ditches while on the back of a dark bay pony called Bimbo. Never mind the fact I have nothing on photo paper to confirm any of it.

Girls and ponies. Women and horses. Nothing changes. I am just as delighted to be spending time with Bear now as I was as a little girl with all the other ponies and horses that captured my heart. Only now, of course, I am that horse crazy girl with one to call my own.

Please enjoy …


Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom


Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

Musings around the loss of Hickstead

Top of mind for many equestrians this past week has been the tragic loss of one of Canada’s, and the world’s, top equine athletes — 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, Hickstead.

In partnership with Canadian show jumping sensation, Eric Lamaze, Hickstead was at the top of his game and competing in Verona, Italy when he collapsed in the wake of an aortic rupture. He was a fit and able athlete. According to reports there had been no indication during myriad vet checks administered on a regular basis that such a catastrophic event was pending. And, as death is wont to do, it pounced in the blink of an eye with no regard to environment or circumstances — in this case in a public arena in front of thousands of fans.

Some people might wonder: “It’s just a horse … what’s the big deal?”

The connection between a horse and his rider, such as the one experienced by Hickstead and Lamaze, is a special one akin to any relationship where trust is the primary ingredient. Seventy-two hours following his horse’s death Lamaze, back in Toronto to compete at the Royal Winter Fair and accompanied by his lawyer and friend, Tim Danson, donned a brave face and spoke about the incident at a press conference. Without a prepared statement he simply spoke from his heart, answering reporters’ inquiries with dignity and grace. He responded openly; his emotions close to the surface and barely reined in. His distress was evident.

In one of his first statements he noted how Hickstead was like a member of the family.

As a horse mom, I understand this sentiment.

Bear and I have shared our lives for the past five and a half years. As we have journeyed he, as only horses can, has forced me to look in the proverbial mirror and make changes to my life so together we can grow to our potential. Every aspect of my life — mind, body and spirit — has undergone a transformation. His influence, just like the influence of anyone with whom I share a positive connection, has made me a better, stronger, happier person and brought unfathomable joy to my life. I believe it would be safe to say that HIckstead, in his own way, did the same for Lamaze.

At the conference Eric was not lamenting the potential millions of dollars lost from the horse’s future competitions or breeding schedule, nor was he hung up on missing the 2012 London Olympics which he had hoped to attend with Hickstead. No, it seemed to me that the horse himself and all that he represented in the transformation of Eric’s own life and career during the past eight years was stirring him the most. And this, in my opinion, is Hickstead’s greatest legacy.

My condolences to Hickstead’s family and friends at this sad time.

Nurture what you love.

Horse Mom

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2011