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Meet Calimba

Calimba is a beautifully bred Holsteiner mare who was born in central Germany in 1996. Her hometown, Sulingen, is famous for their knives. Calimba’s pedigree reads like a Who’s Who of Holsteiner breeding – Coronado/Lenz/Calypso I. She has both of the foundation sires Cor de la Breyere and Ladykiller in her pedigree. Calimba was bred to jump, and she lived up to her pedigree.

Calimba and her mom

In Germany Calimba had a very successful young horse career. She was ridden for much of her early career by the girlfriend of the German Junior Team coach, so she was in excellent hands from the start. During her seven year old year she had made her way to some one star Grand Prix classes. She was a winner at every level during her young horse career.

Calimba clearing this jump with her mom with plenty of room to spare

Calimba’s mom has ridden her entire life. She grew up riding in Pony Club, attending local shows, and competing in endurance and eventing. By the time she was in college she had settled into the hunter/jumper world. She ended up taking a 10 year break from riding for medical school and then residency, but came back to riding as soon as she could. She bought a very young and green thoroughbred for her first jumper, and as her career progressed she was able to sell that horse that she had made into a nice jumper and upgrade to a more talented model. The year before she met Calimba she had bought a really nice young jumper, and she decided it was finally the right time to have a second horse.


Calimba’s mom was working with a German trainer at the time, so she found herself in Germany looking at horses. Since her budget was limited she was looking at young horses, mostly five year olds. The trainer asked Calimba’s mom to ride the 7 year old Calimba, who was priced well out of her budget, so he could evaluate Calimba as a potential Grand Prix horse for another buyer. From the moment she sat on Calimba her mom was in love and she was determined to have her.

Calimba and Norman

Calimba grooming with MyLight

Calimba had been previously purchased by an American investor in a package deal with 6 other horses. After the initial deposit was paid, the German family began building a new indoor riding arena. However the remainder of the payments were never made, and they had an unfinished indoor arena with no funds to complete construction. Calimba’s mom and her trainer made an offer to the German family. It was well below Calimba’s asking price, but the family would have immediate cash to use towards the completion of their indoor. They told the family it was a one time offer, and they could take it or leave it. They took it.

Calimba (2nd from right) on the move with MyLight, Cinnamon, Dolly and Maisie

Calimba (center) with Dolly and MyLight

After the family had agreed to her offer, Calimba’s mom and her trainer went to a nearby pub to have a beer and figure out what they had actually paid for their new horse. They converted the euros to dollars. They also looked at her entire competition record since her five year old classes and they celebrated the lovely horse they had just bought.

MyLight and Calimba

MyLight and Calimba

When Calimba arrived in the United States her mom arranged for her to do her mare quarantine in Lexington, Kentucky. Her plan was to pick Calimba up while she was in Lexington for a horse show. When she visited Calimba at the quarantine facility early in the horse show week she was surprised to see a farm full of Llamas and peacocks, however Calimba didn’t seem to mind.

Calimba (front) and MyLight

Calimba (rear) hanging out with MyLight and Cinnamon

At the end of the week when she was done showing, Calimba’s mom pulled in to the farm with her other jumper already loaded on her trailer to pick up Calimba and take her home. Much to her surprise Calimba refused to get on the trailer, and no amount of convincing would change her mind. It was raining, and she was there with her 82 year old father trying to convince Calimba to load on the trailer. The farm owner got out her broom in an attempt to convince Calimba to get on the trailer. When Calimba’s hoof when flying within millimeters of her head, her mom said enough. Her mom called a commercial shipper and a few days later Calimba arrived in Memphis as the only occupant on an 18-wheeler semi-trailer. Calimba proudly and calmly walked off the trailer as if to say the queen had arrived once she had a proper conveyance. Calimba never gave her mom another moment of trouble about loading on a trailer, and always happily loaded on the very trailer she had refused to get on.

Calimba (far right) with Maisie and MyLight on a foggy morning

Dolly, Calimba and Cinnamon

Calimba was a dream horse for her amateur mom with a very demanding career. Calimba was brave and smart, and everything you think of when you hear about a great mare. She was built very correctly and had typical Holsteiner gates, with very active and engaged hind legs. Calimba and her mom started showing in the low Amateur Owner jumpers, and within six months had moved up to the high A/O jumpers. Her mom also rode in her one and only Grand Prix class with Calimba, and also showed her in a mini prix where they were double clean. Calimba’s mom was the only person to show her once she came to the states, she never had a professional ride at a show.

Calimba waiting for breakfast under a pretty morning sky

Traveller and Calimba

Calimba’s mom said that Calimba was always a fighter for you at a show. She understood the game and new she needed to jump high and clean, and to go fast in the jump-offs. Her trainer always said that if he was at the in-gate waiting to jump a tough course, Calimba was the horse he would want to be riding. One time her mom was riding Calimba in a clinic, and the clinician set a tough double combination of two liverpools. While the other horses were spooking and acting silly about it, Calimba jumped it the first time and acted like it was nothing but plain rails.

MyLight and Calimba

Calimba and Dolly

Melanie Smith Taylor, famous for her team gold medal with Calypso in the 1984 Olympics, lived close to the barn where Calimba’s mom kept her horses. She often came by to work with Calimba and her mom. Melanie loved Calimba and appreciated how she always gave 100% to her rider with every ride. Calimba was the type of horse that always had her head out of the stall when her mom came to the barn. She was always ready to go to work.

Calimba napping with Norman, MyLight and Dolly

Dolly, Calimba and MyLight

After Calimba and her mom had a fabulous year and a half of showing, Calimba was inexplicably lame upon arrival at a horse show. She had foundered in one front hoof. Calimba’s farrier worked tirelessly for her to have a full recovery. Once she was able to have some turnout, Calimba jumped out of the paddock on her first day out. She was ready to do things again! After a year of rest and recovery Calimba returned to showing in the high A/O jumpers, and she and her mom had another wonderful two years at that level.

Calimba enjoying a nap

Calimba and MyLight grooming, Cinnamon grazing

One day when Calimba was 13 years old, her mom was riding her in a lesson at home when Calimba uncharacteristically refused a jump. The distance had gotten a bit long and the refusal could have easily been dismissed. But Calimba had never refused a jump the entire time her mom had owned her, so she knew something was wrong. X-rays revealed some arthritic changes in ankles.

Cinnamon and Calimba (with Norman and Cuffie in the background)

Calimba and Maisie

Calimba’s mom immediately changed her job description. She went from showing 4’6″ jumps in the jumper ring to jumping 3’6″ jumps in the Amateur Owner hunters. Calimba made the transition from the jumper ring to the hunter ring almost seamlessly. They even showed in an International Hunter Derby and her mom really got to show off with Calimba and take all of the high options as Calimba could do them so easily. They continued to have fun showing in the A/O hunters for a year, until eventually Calimba’s mom knew it was time to retire her horse that had always given her so much.

Calimba and Dolly

Norman, Calimba and Cuffie

That day came a little over four years ago when we met Calimba. I remember the first time we turned Calimba out in a paddock by herself she kept getting more and more worked up as she saw all of the other horses outside with friends. Just as she had jumped out of her paddock after her rehab with her mom, Jason and I were pretty convinced she was going to jump out of her paddock in search of friends. We abandoned our plans to give Calimba a slow transition to our farm, and instead let her join her future friends in the pasture right away.

Calimba (center) grazing with Maisie and Cuffie under a beautiful sunrise

Calimba and Norman grazing under a pretty morning sky

For a day and a half she acted very shy and always stayed well away from the other horses. Sometime during her second day she fell in love with Norman the pony. Apparently Norman facilitated Calimba’s transition into her group at that point, because from that day forward Calimba has been heavily bonded with her group. Like most of the mares, separation is not something that Calimba considers a reasonable option, and she is convinced death might follow if she has to be away from her group more than 5 or 10 minutes. This is a huge improvement over the 3 seconds of separation that she would initially tolerate.

Calimba and Norman

Calimba and Norman the pony have continued to have an on again, off again relationship. If it were up to Calimba it would be 100% on. However in true pony style Norman likes to play the field. He loves Calimba as long as they are in the fun dating phase. When she wants to get engaged or move in together, Norman suggests it is time for them to start seeing other people. Why Calimba has put up with this for four years, I will never understand. In her defense, she is not the only mare that puts up with Norman’s antics. Almost all of them would happily be in love with him 100% of the time if Norman would go along with it. When not in a relationship with Norman, Calimba spends her days with her girlfriends grazing, grooming, playing and having a grand time. As she did when she was ridden, Calimba puts 100% of herself into enjoying her retirement.

Calimba and Norman

We hope you have enjoyed meeting this special mare as much as we have!

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