Lofty was a bay dutch warmblood gelding who was bred and raised in Virginia. Lofty was destined to be an outstanding hunter as his sire was Aristos B. Aristos B sired many famous hunters including Rox Dene, a horse that many people consider to be the best show hunter of all time.

Lofty and his mom 

Lofty

Lofty living up to his name over a jump

Lofty and his mom hanging out together

Lofty and his mom

Lofty came into his mom’s life almost thirteen years ago.  After outgrowing her first and only pony, Lofty’s mom had been riding an interim horse while looking for a new horse. Her trainer had ridden Lofty as a young horse, first as a green three year old. He then won the Founder’s Cup at the prestigious Upperville Colt and Horse Show with Lofty as a four year old.

Lofty and his mom waiting for their turn at a horse show

Lofty and his mom showing off some of their winnings

Lofty and his mom being silly together

Lofty touching his knees to his nose over a jump

Lofty and his mom being presented their trophy for winning a hunter classic

During the course of their horse search the trainer remembered Lofty, and contacted his owners in Virginia to see if they still owned him and would consider selling him. As it turned out they did still own Lofty but they were not interested in selling him. After some persistent requests by her trainer, Lofty’s owners finally agreed to let them come and try Lofty.

Donneur, Lofty and Asterik

Gibson wanted Lofty to play

Lofty, Romeo and Lotus

Lofty’s mom and her trainer flew to Maryland where Lofty was at a horse show competing in the high performance hunters. The plan was to try Lofty and one other mare while they were at the show. They tried Lofty first and it was such a perfect match that his mom did not even end up trying the mare, and Lofty and his mom became a team. Lofty’s sale caused several people to be unhappy. Apparently several other people had expressed interest in purchasing him but had always been told he wasn’t for sale. Lofty then traveled from Virginia to California to join his new mom.

Lofty and Donneur

Lofty and Cocomo

Lofty and Asterik being wild

Lofty was a big horse, especially for a kid moving up to her first horse from a pony. However, his mom’s mom told me that although Lofty was such a big horse, she never worried about her daughter when she was riding him. She knew that Lofty would always take good care of her daughter over the jumps, and he always did. Lofty liked to live up to his name over the jumps, and always jumped in a beautiful style.

Lofty and Donneur

Gus, Donneur and Lofty

Lofty and Cocomo

Lofty and Cocomo

Lofty and his mom had a very successful show career together. The original plan was for Lofty to get his mom very solid and confident over three foot fences. Once that goal had been accomplished they would either sell Lofty or lease another horse for her to move up to the junior hunters at 3’6″. However, once his mom formed a partnership with Lofty she didn’t want to sell him and get another horse. In fact she declined the offer to keep him and get a second horse. Lofty was the perfect partner for her and she didn’t want a different horse or another horse, she simply wanted to enjoy Lofty.

Silver, Cocomo and Lofty

Faune and Lofty

Donneur and Lofty

Lofty, Donneur and Cocomo

Although Lofty was generally all business in the show ring, the rest of the time when you were riding him he tended to be on high alert and on the lookout for monsters and other things that might get him and his mom. He was sometimes called Scooby-Doo because of his tendency to peek at everything. It was almost as if Lofty would look for things to scare him, but at the same time with a little bit of encouragement he would be brave and eventually face the scary things as long as his mom told him it was ok. His mom learned that as long as she had a lot of patience and stayed focused on Lofty he could handle almost anything.

nap time

Faune and Lofty

Lofty and George

One of the few things in life Lofty decided he could not handle was any hot walker. He was convinced that they were horse eating monsters and no amount of coaxing through the years would ever convince him otherwise. One time a new groom ignored the instructions not to lead Lofty past the hot walker. The groom was going to lead Lofty to the ring and their trainer made the comment “see you in a minute.” The groom went the wrong way and everyone heard a big commotion, and a few seconds later Lofty came trotting around the corner alone and put himself back in his stall. The groom didn’t try to lead Lofty past the hot walker again.

Lofty and Donneur

Gibson and Lofty

Lofty and Donneur

Donneur and Lofty

His mom told me that in their last class at their last show together they were showing out on a big grass field. The field was huge and everyone was cutting in quite a way off the rail to keep the rounds from taking too long and to keep from over tiring their horses. As she landed from the last jump she was thinking about cutting in off the rail, doing her finishing circle and ending the round. But instead of hurrying to end her round she decided to let Lofty carry her all the way across the grass, making their finishing circle much bigger than necessary. She said she remembers really savoring the feeling that it was, at the end of the day, just the two of them out on the grass, having a really great time.  I love the fact that Lofty’s mom didn’t even tell me that she and Lofty were champions of their division at their last show together, her mom told me that. Instead her favorite memory from that last show was of simply savoring the moment with her horse.

Lofty (center) enjoying a lazy day with Flyer, Faune and Romeo

Lotus, Romeo, Lofty and Donneur

Lofty, Romeo and Lotus

Lotus, Romeo and Lofty

Lofty and his mom were a winning partnership in and out of the show ring for almost six years. When it came time for Lofty’s mom to go off to college she had a lot of discussions with her mom and trainer about whether Lofty should be leased to someone else or retired. Lofty ended up answering that question for them. He started having an occasional stop at a jump which was completely uncharacteristic of him. Instead of trying to work him through things or patch him together they decided it was time to let him enjoy being a horse, he had definitely earned it.

Lofty and Flyer

Lofty and Gibson

Lofty, Silver and Romeo

Flyer, Lofty, Romeo and Lotus

Lofty made the trip from California to retire at Paradigm Farms in April 2013. He had no issues leaving behind his California show horse lifestyle.  However, just as he thought hot walkers were horse eating monsters in California he decided that water troughs were horse eating monsters in Tennessee. He absolutely would not drink from a water trough, and he brought to life the saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Jason and I spent a couple of weeks begging and pleading Lofty to drink from a trough, any trough. We would sit on the trough, we would splash our hands in the water, we would cup water in our hands and touch it to his nose. One time Jason even tried to pull Lofty’s head down to the trough. Jason ending up putting all 220 pounds of his weight on Lofty’s halter trying to make him lower his head down towards the trough. Jason only succeeded in breaking the halter while Lofty never lowered his head at all. Two weeks into this routine Jason and I were starting to think that we were going to have to lug water to Lofty in buckets forever. Then, one day, we walked out of the barn to see Lofty drinking from the water trough and we both did a victory dance.

Lofty and Cocomo

Lofty

Lofty and Cocomo

Donneur and Lofty

Lofty spent almost seven years with us enjoying retirement. He loved to play, he loved to run, he loved to graze, and he loved to just hang out with his friends. Lofty was remarkably healthy during all of his retirement until his last day. He was only a little bit off at feeding time in the morning, but since we’d never seen Lofty be anything but one hundred percent we called the vet right away. A vet exam, rectal palpation, and bloodwork initially indicated that not much was wrong with Lofty so we were expecting some pain meds to have him back to rights in no time. Lofty did not regress, nor did he ever act very uncomfortable, but he never acted completely himself either. That afternoon we decided to take him to the clinic for an abdominal ultrasound and further diagnostics. It turned out that a small section of Lofty’s intestines was in the early stages of dying, most likely due to a strangulating lipoma. We made the decision to let him go before he got truly painful over the next few days. He was 27 years old.

Lofty and Donneur

Lofty, Donneur, Gibson and Cocomo

Lofty and Donneur

Gibson and Lofty

I miss Lofty’s self assurance and quiet leadership in his pasture. I know he is resting in peace in a place where no horse eating hot walkers or water troughs exist.