Cino was a big, grey Selle Francais gelding who was born in France in 1991.  From his beginning in France Cino ended up leading a long life with a lot of horse show wins to his credit. Early in his career Cino boarded a plane and moved to the states, and somehow he made his way to Beacon Hill Stables. For those that are not familiar with Beacon Hill, their name is synonymous with winning at the elite levels of the hunter, jumper and equitation divisions. Their riders have won every major equitation final and prestigious class many times.

One of my favorite pictures of any of our residents from their pre-retirement lives. Cino and his mom were both all smiles at a horse show together.

Cino and his mom displaying their winning ways at a horse show

Once Cino was settled into the program at Beacon Hill, he quickly rose to the top and became an equitation specialist. His list of equitation wins and placings are too numerous to list, but I will share a few of his highlights just 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 with Beezie Madden after winning the 2004 Equus Medal

Cino tacked up and ready to go for a ride at Never Green Farm, his home with his mom until he retired with us

After several years of competing at the top level and traveling extensively for shows, at 18 years old it became apparent that Cino needed 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 being 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, Art and Duesy

Bruno and Cino

Merlin, Bruno, Duesy and Cino

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.

Cino, Bruno, Remmy, Duesy and Merlin

Cino

Merlin, Cino and Lightning

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 so she spoke up 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 making silly faces

Cino, Remmy, Merlin and Bruno

Baner and Cino grooming

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 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. Cino 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.

Baner and Cino playing

Cino and friends on the run (Hesse, Remmy, Baner, Walden, Fabrizzio, Merlin, Bruno)

Cino, Havana and Remmy

Cino’s mom showed him very sparingly in the 3′ Adult Hunters and they were always champion of their division. However, his mom felt guilty continuing to show him after he’d already showed for so many years at a high level. She decided to let him step down and take his lesson riders to occasional shows in the crossrails division. True to form, Cino was always the champion of the crossrail division and won his novice riders year end awards.

Cino and Hesse

Cino and Merlin being silly

Cino and Merlin grooming

In 2012, at the age of 22, Cino’s mom decided to ride him in a big charity hunter derby in her area. She said the class is a lot of fun and also very competitive. She 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.

Cino and Walden being silly

Cino and friends grazing (Remmy, Taylor, Alfie and Art)

Duesy, Cino and Merlin

After the first round of the derby, Cino and his mom were leading with an impressive 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 a horse of a lifetime in a special class.

the grey genes in Cino were strong

Havana and Cino

Cino and Art

After seven years of enjoying Cino and also allowing beginning riders to have their first winning show experiences on him, 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.

Cino (front right) and friends having a lazy day; Remmy, Bruno, Lightning and Fabrizzio

Cino, Art and Alfie on a snow day

Merlin and Cino

Three years ago on Halloween day we greeted Cino as he walked off the trailer from New Jersey. The horse that his mom was told when she “bought” him was aggressive and hated turnout, settled beautifully into retirement. Much of Cino’s easy transition was thanks to the seven years he spent with his mom at Never Green Farm where he had several hours of turnout per day with other horses.

Bruno, Remmy, Merlin and Cino

Havana and Cino

Remmy and Cino

Cino seemed to aim for perfection in retirement just as he had once done in the show ring. Cino loved to do all the things horses living a self directed life enjoy doing. Of course he loved to graze and eat hay. He also loved to groom with other horses, play, hang out, and take naps. He was fast friends with all of the horses in his group. He wasn’t particularly submissive, but nor did he feel the need to boss other horses around all the time.

handsome Cino

Bruno and Cino knee deep in grass

Cino and Fabrizzio

What always amazed me about Cino was despite his attachment to his herd, he never lost an ounce of his ground manners. Cino had Cushing’s and needed to be clipped a couple of times every year. Cino always stood like a gentleman for his bath and his clipping, even if we didn’t bring one of his friends in the barn. We could put Cino in a stall to wait for the farrier and he would wait quietly, either eating hay or watching the activity in the barn with his head over the door. We normally associate a horse in a stall with a spinning, screaming, stressed out horse, but Cino never acted like anything other than his perfect self. He was perfect for the vet, farrier and dentist. He always let you walk right up to him to catch him, no bribery with a feedbag or treats were required. He was literally perfect at all times, in every way.

Walden and Cino grooming

Cino showing why he was such a fancy show horse

Merlin and Cino grooming

Cino’s mom once told me that she didn’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.

Cino (far left) and friends galloping through the pasture

Cino, Merlin, Walden and Fabrizzio having a quiet day

Havana, Cino and Remmy

I told his mom this summer that it seemed like Cino was aging in reverse at our farm. He required less body clipping for his Cushing’s each year instead of more. He became an easier keeper instead of a harder one. This is not what we normally see with horses in their late 20s. Cino was the picture of health as he pulled off his reverse aging. Thus, it was quite a shock when we found him deceased in the pasture on Christmas morning. When Carter handed out Christmas eve treats in the late afternoon Cino was happily munching on every treat handed to him. Some time in the night he left this world. We’ve had heavy rain this month and the ground is saturated, and there was no disturbed ground around him. He was in such a natural position we think he was simply laying down and enjoying a nap when he most likely had a massive heart attack and instantly died. It is the passing we wish for every horse, but one that rarely happens.

Merlin and Cino

Cino

Cino and Merlin

Cino was just shy of 29 years old when he passed. He leaves behind a legacy of perfection. He was perfect as a show horse, a lesson horse, a very first horse show horse, a retired horse, and a friend to all. There is a reason why so many who knew him describe him as a once in a lifetime horse.

I will miss Cino’s soft eyes and perfect manners, but am thankful for the privilege of having played a small role in his life for his last three years. Rest in peace Cino, we really miss you.

Cino napping, complete with eyes closed

Havana and Cino

rest in peace Cino, we miss you