It is hard to imagine Paradigm Farms without Norman. His adorable looks and endless pony antics had ingrained themselves into the fabric of our daily lives.  We have sadly found ourselves trying to adjust to life without Norman the last couple of weeks.

Norman and his mom

Although Norman’s exact breeding is unknown, he was bred in the Chicago area and stayed in that area for many years. He was a champagne and white pinto with amber eyes, and his striking looks were part of a very fancy package. Norman didn’t just look cute, he was a fancy mover and fancy jumper. Norman was a medium pony who showed under the name 14 Karat. Norman showed extensively and successfully in the Chicago area for a few years, and fortuitously found himself for sale when a new little girl was looking for a pony.

Norman and Traveller

Norman and Calimba

the Pony Power Club; Cuffie, Norman and Traveller

In February of 1998 when Norman was eleven years old, a little girl was looking for her first pony after a year of taking riding lessons. She had tried several ponies but none of them had been quite the right fit for her.  When Norman came to the barn to be tried by the little girl it was a perfect match under saddle. However, his future family was still uncertain if he was the right pony for their youngest daughter as Norman bit  her on the head during their trial period.  Since Norman was so wonderful under saddle they decided they could work on his ground manners.  Norman didn’t know it at the time, but not only had he acquired a new little girl he has also joined his forever family.

Norman and Cuffie

Norman and Cuffie

Calimba loved Norman

Norman lived life to its fullest every day

Norman and his young mom started showing in the cross rails and short stirrup division and won everything in sight. Norman and his mom had four show seasons together before she physically outgrew him.  Norman moved his mom up from crossrails to the children’s pony hunters to the 2’6″ hunter divisions. They were almost unbeatable regardless of the division they showed in, and were equal opportunity winners. Whether they were showing against ponies or horses, Norman and his mom won over fences and in the hacks. In Norman’s last year of showing with him mom they won year-end champion awards in three different divisions and Norman was reserve high point horse of the year for their circuit. Norman won a gorgeous bridle for his reserve high point horse of the year award, but of course the bridle was horse sized so he was never able to wear it.

Norman and Cuffie

the Pony Power Club; Cuffie, Norman and Traveller

Norman and Dawn

Norman and Cuffie

After four wonderful years together Norman’s mom had gotten too tall for him. The decision was made to sell Norman to another lucky kid and to get his mom a bigger horse. Norman ended up going to a barn in Ohio to be tried, but he came back a few days later.  It is assumed that the prospective family was put off by Norman attempting to bite their child, thus he came back to Chicago. Norman’s family was so excited to have him back they decided they didn’t want to sell him, and Norman had his forever home.

Norman and Calimba

Norman’s mom visiting him a few years ago

Norman and Traveller

Norman showing off his cuteness

Norman’s family spent the next few years continuing to enjoy him. In addition to being a superstar under saddle Norman had also been trained to drive.  His family bought a pony cart and harness and enjoyed driving him instead of riding him. They said they routinely spooked all the other horses on the farm when they went zipping around the farm with Norman and his pony cart. They also made fun memories by driving him in a 4th of July parade one year.

Norman and his pony cart ready for the 4th of July parade

Traveller and Norman

Norman with Cuffie and Silky

Dolly and Norman

As life moved on and kids went off to university, Norman’s family made the difficult decision to send him to our farm.  Due to the set-up of the barn he was boarded at he mostly went out alone, and they decided it was time for Norman to have more horse friends and more turnout. In June 2009, more than ten years ago, Norman made the trip from Chicago to middle Tennessee.

Norman and Cuffie

Norman, Traveller and Lily

Calimba and Norman

Norman, Calimba and MyLight

We knew that we were going to be living with an adorable pony when we met Norman so many years ago. However, we had know idea how much of a powerhouse personality we were going to be living with. Norman owned us and the farm from day one. Norman came to us so long ago we were still based at my parents’ farm at that time. My parents instantly fell in love with Norman and my dad insisted that Norman be allowed to have the run of the farm. Norman thought this was a fantastic arrangement and went wherever he felt like going. He would hang out with the horses at various pastures, he would go in the barn and hang out with our fainting goats, he would stroll into the barn when I was tacking up my horse, my mom and dad would run out to feed him carrots whenever he strolled by their house. To say that it was a charmed life would be an understatement. After a few weeks Norman started spending most of his time by the same pasture, the one with the mares and a couple of other ponies, and Norman transitioned into his family group at Paradigm Farms.

Norman surveying his kingdom from the barn

Norman and Mina

Norman came strolling by to express his condolences, or maybe poke fun at, my horse Bonnie as I tacked her up for a ride

Norman having a grooming session with Faune

Norman let us know when he had chosen his pasture

I have written several blogs about the “Pony Wars” that went on with the mares and ponies. All of the mares wanted to claim a pony for their very own. Their weren’t enough ponies to go around so there was frequent jockeying by the mares to claim their own pony.  The mares all thought Norman was the most attractive equine they had ever seen. Norman took full advantage of this and played the field. All of the mares fell for him and Norman never lacked for a date.

Norman, MyLight, Calimba and Cinnamon

Norman and Traveller

Dolly and Norman

MyLight and Norman

After awhile I realized that Norman had a very distinct pattern, and I told Jason all the mares needed to read the book He’s Just Not That In To You. Norman was never going to get engaged, nor he was he ever going to move in with someone, and as soon as his current mare of choice started getting too clingy he would dump them and go back to spending most of his time with Cuffie and Traveller. We called the three of them the Pony Power Club.  Although it took several years, most of the mares eventually read He’s Just Not That In To You and caught on to Norman’s bachelor ways. Norman’s most steady mare was Calimba, and she remained faithful to him. When Calimba would get too clingy Norman would end things and move on. When Calimba would decide they didn’t have to get engaged or move in together, their romance would resume.

Norman and Calimba

Norman and Traveller

fall grazing with MyLight

Norman and Renatta

Norman took full advantage of his more than ten years of retirement, and he truly lived his best life. I’ve often said that I wanted to come back in my next life and be Norman. After spending more than a decade with Norman it was easy to start to think that he might live forever. Despite the fact that he was 32 and had some normal health issues that come with a horse of that age, we all wanted to believe that Norman would be immortal.

Norman and Cuffie

Norman and Traveller

Norman and Cuffie

Cuffie and Norman

Thus, it was quite a shock a couple of weeks ago when I watched Norman go from impatiently waiting to be fed to deceased almost instantly. Norman was in his normal position, right at the gate, waiting to be fed one morning. As I was walking towards Norman’s pasture with feedbags in hand, Norman turned and walked away from the gate.  Not realizing anything was wrong I said, “hey Norman, where are you going?” The first few steps were normal, then he started staggering, then he bumped into the back wall of the run-in shed, fell over, and never got up again. He was 32 years old when he passed.

Norman and Traveller

Norman and Charlotte

Norman surrounded by some of his admirers; Renatta, Cuffie and Traveller

Norman stayed with Calimba while I gave her a bath one day

To say that Norman’s passing feels like the end of an era would be an understatement. From the moment Norman came to Paradigm Farms he owned us, the farm and all of the residents. His charm and charisma were legendary, and his antics with the mares provided us with endless laughs and sweet memories. Some of the mares he had romanced had preceded him in passing, as did my dad. I know that Norman had a huge fan club waiting to meet him when he crossed the rainbow bridge, and there is probably another copy of He’s Just Not That In To You following him around.

Norman showing off his big trot

Norman and Calimba under a pretty morning sky

Norman (center) waiting for breakfast with his friends

Cuffie and Norman playing

Rest in peace Norman, we miss you.