Last week we said goodbye to Tony. It was a hard day for us as Tony had been a part of our lives for almost nine years. Tony was a horse that had worked very hard during his earlier years and he earned every day of his nine year retirement.
We don’t know a lot about Tony’s younger years. The trainer his family was working with had had Tony in her barn for several years when they met him. He had been owned by one of her clients and showed in the Amateur Owner (3’6″) hunters for a couple of years, and then the trainer bought him herself and leased him out to her clients. Tony showed in the junior hunters and the equitation with several different riders.
Tony’s family was looking for a horse for their daughter to make the move from riding and showing ponies to a horse. At first glance Tony didn’t look like he would be the right horse for this job. For one thing he measured a solid 17 hands, so he was a very tall horse. On top of that he was never going to win any conformation classes thanks to his very long back, pigeon toes, and being over at the knees. Since he was both very tall and very long he was quite a horse to make the move from ponies to horses. However, when the family’s younger daughter rode Tony she clicked with him immediately, and he found his permanent home.
The first order of business for Tony’s new family was showing him that life could be good again. As mentioned above Tony had spent a few years showing extensively in the 3’6″ hunters. He went to a lot of shows, he was on the road extensively, and he was ridden by a lot of different people. His family told us when they bought Tony he was so unfriendly and grumpy towards people that he would often turn his rump to you and kick out when you came in his stall. They kept Tony at their own farm and gave him a completely different lifestyle. He got a lot of turnout, he got a lot of treats and attention, and most importantly his show schedule was cut back significantly. Over time Tony transformed from kicking out at people to being engaged and friendly.
Tony repaid his new family’s kindness by being a wonderful horse for them. With the younger daughter he helped her make the leap from ponies to horses. She said that despite Tony’s long back he was an incredibly adjustable horse to ride, and that he could lengthen and shorten his canter stride like an accordian. She and Tony focused on the equitation ring and thanks to Tony’s rideability and adjustability they won more than their share of equitation classes. When it became time for Tony to step down to an easier job he became the mom’s riding partner for a few years.
As happens to often on a retirement farm, last week everything changed very quickly with Tony. He went from perfectly healthy and happy to not in the blink of an eye, and we found ourselves saying goodbye to Tony last week. As Tony did with everything else in life, he left this world with his ever present quiet confidence. All of Tony’s people, including us and his family, were left with a giant hole in our lives. Tony meant the world to his family, and after nine years together he was a fixture in our family. I’m still trying to feed him his supplements every morning before I remember that he is gone.
Rest in peace Tony, you made your little part of the world a better place.