Cino is a grey, Selle Francais gelding who was born in France in 1991. At some point fairly early in his career, the big, grey gelding boarded a plane and moved to the United States from France. Once in the states, Cino showed as a jumper a for awhile. His mom isn’t sure how it came about, but someone decided that Cino would make an excellent equitation horse, and Cino was purchased by one of the riders showing with Beacon Hill Stables. For those that are not familiar with Beacon Hill they are a true powerhouse in the equitation world. Their riders have won every major equitation final and prestigious equitation class many, many times.
Cino and his mom; I love his mom’s smile in this picture
Once in the program at Beacon Hill Cino rose to the top. His list of equitation wins and placings are too numerous to list, but I will share a few of his highlights from the national finals. His best placings in the USEF Medal were 2nd and 5th. In the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Final his best placing was 2nd. He won the USET Talent Search at Devon. He was 2nd in the North American Equitation Championship. In perhaps one of the biggest compliments to Cino’s talent, he was selected by Beezie Madden to be her mount one year for the Equus Medal Charity Class, and of course Beezie and Cino won the class. For those not familiar with the name Beezie Madden she has won 2 team gold medals, a team silver and an individual bronze medal at the Olympics. She has won the World Cup Finals. Beezie has won two silver and two bronze medals at the World Championships, and also won two gold medals and a silver medal at the Pan Am Games. In other words, she is an amazing rider and a living legend, and she chose Cino to be her mount for an equitation class.
Cino in his earlier “big equitation” showing days; photo credit Randi Muster
Cino and Beezie Madden after winning the 2004 Equus Medal
After several years of competing at the top level and traveling extensively for shows, at 18 years old it was time for him to step down into a less demanding life. His owners brought him to their farm for some let down time, and after he had been there a few weeks the staff began to ride Cino. The plan was that he would transition from a big time show horse to being a trail riding horse for the family’s guests that stayed at their farm. His future mom was one of the staff members that began to ride Cino.
Cino and his mom
While Cino was great in the ring, he was tense and nervous out on the trails. His mom said that if Cino heard anything rustling in the leaves, or saw a squirrel scampering by, he would show off an excellent stop and spin. It was decided that Cino was not going to be suitable to transition to a trail horse for the family’s friends and guests and his future was up in the air. There was talk of donating Cino to a college equestrian team or giving him to a trainer to be a lesson horse. His future mom became more and more upset and concerned about where Cino would go. He had worked hard for a lot of years and taken many junior riders to the top, and she hated the thought of him getting lost in a lesson program or riding team. She reached a point where she couldn’t listen to the discussions anymore and she spoke and said she would like to have him. She spoke up despite the fact that she was on a limited income and was in no way looking for or expecting to own a horse. However, she was excited and relieved when it was agreed that she could purchase Cino for $1, and she became the owner of an 18 year old Selle Francais.
Cino and his mom
Cino ready to go for a ride with his mom
Cino’s mom moved him to her trainer’s farm, Never Green Farm, and this was Cino’s home for the next seven years. His mom rode him and did some limited showing in the 3′ Adult Hunters, and Cino taught 2 or 3 lessons per week to help pay his board. When you were riding Cino on the flat his mom said he really made you work for it. You had to create all the momentum and he gave your thighs and glutes a great workout. He was a completely different ride over fences, and would pick up a metronome steady canter and stay perfectly balanced as he went around the course. His mom said it felt like you could sit on Cino and read a magazine while jumping a course on him because he did everything while you just went along for the ride. He had a huge stride so you never had to run down a line, and his canter was so rhythmical and balanced the distances simply came up perfectly.
Cino checking things out on his first day with us
Cino quickly learned to love retirement
Cino’s mom showed him very sparingly in the Adult Hunters and they were always champion of their division. However, his mom felt guilty keeping him showing after he had had such a long career at a high level. She let him step down and just take his lesson riders to occasional shows to ride in the crossrails division. True to form, he was always the champion of the crossrail division and won his novice riders year end awards.
Cino on the move
grazing with friends Merlin and Lightning
grazing with Havana
In 2012, at the age of 22, Cino’s mom decided to ride him in a big charity hunter derby in her area. The class is a lot of fun and very competitive, and his mom decided to take Cino just to see what it would be like to ride in the class. She had the vet give Cino a complete physical and give her approval of his participation, and then Cino and his mom started training. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say his mom started training and Cino just fell back into show mode.
After the first round of the derby, Cino and his mom were leading with a score of 86. Their second round was going even better than their first round until the very last jump. Cino’s mom decided to get involved instead of just going along for the ride, and she pulled all the way to the final oxer. Cino had no choice but take the super short distance and chip in to the oxer, and they fell from first to tenth out of 56 entries. If she had only stayed out of Cino’s way to the last fence he and his mom would have won, but she still had a great time and made great memories riding the horse of a lifetime in a special class.
Cino and Bruno
Cino and Hesse having a lazy day
Cino grooming with Havana
After seven years of enjoying Cino herself and allowing beginning riders to have their first (winning) show experiences on Cino, his mom decided it was time for him to fully retire. He had started to slow down, she wanted him to stop giving lessons, and she didn’t want him to have to deal with the cold New Jersey winters anymore. She wanted Cino to have a chance to simply be a horse.
One year ago we greeted Cino as he walked off the trailer from New Jersey. The horse that she was told when she “bought” him was aggressive and hated turnout, settled beautifully into retirement. Much of this was thanks to the last seven years with his mom at Never Green Farm where he had several hours of turnout per day with other horses. Cino has spent the past year grazing, hanging out and grooming with his friends, acting as if he does not have a care in the world.
Cino with Merlin and Duesy
Havana and Cino
Cino and Havana
Cino’s mom told me that she doesn’t think of herself as Cino’s mom, but rather as his caretaker, rescuer and protector. I told her that I agreed she was all of those things to Cino, but I think you will all agree with me that she is also very much his mom. She is undoubtedly the first person in his life to really get to know him as an individual, and to make decisions based on his wants and happiness and not simply on her riding goals. She has more than earned the title of “Mom” to Cino.
I hope you have all enjoyed getting to know Cino as much as we have!
Cino and Bruno grooming
Cino and Bruno
Duesy, Cino and Merlin
Havana and Cino
Cino and Havana grooming
Walden and Cino
Cino and Baner grooming
Cino and Merlin
Remmy and Cino grooming
Cino showing off for his new friends last year
Walden, Cino and Bruno
Cino and Bruno
Lightning and Cino
Cino and Remmy
Cino, Duesy and Merlin
Walden and Cino
Cino and Lightning
Hesse, Remmy, Cino, Havana and Banner on the run
Cino, Bruno, Duesy, Lightning and Merlin
Havana, Cino and Remmy
Merlin, Duesy, Bruno, Havana and Cino
Walden and Cino playing
Duesy and Cino
Cino and Lucky being kind of playful and kind of grumpy old men
a lazy day in retirement