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Visa's Ribbon Box

Visa’s Corner

My heart horse passed unexpectedly on April 17, 2012. He was my first horse and I owned him for seven years — the best seven years of my equestrian life to date. The day he died I felt like a fish out of water for many reasons: one being what, exactly to do. Visa was no small pony: at only 15.1, he wore a size 80 blanket and I’ve never met a horse (excluding drafts) with a broader chest, bigger shoulders and more well-sprung ribs. It’s not a joke when I tell people I used different leg muscles to ride Visa than any other horse.

We grew up together in a different city, at a different barn. My parents live in the suburbs 140 miles away: we couldn’t bury him the backyard like we did with our cat. So I did the only thing that felt right: I brought Visa home.

Thus began Visa’s Corner. Sam and I have a small apartment, but we do have a second bedroom for his office. We re-arranged a few things, and I got a while corner just for Visa. It took me a really long time to decide exactly what I wanted to do, and honestly, it was a lot more painful to try to fit our whole lives together into a corner than I thought it would be. But now that it’s done, I’m so glad I did it.

It started out with Visa’s box. When I decided to cremate my heart horse, I didn’t really think about the practicalities. The only experience I had previously was with small dogs. Those boxes you can fit onto a shelf or a mantle. Visa’s box is probably 50 lbs and decidedly not going to fit on a small shelf. So I did what any sane horsewoman would do: I bought him an end table. Just for his box.

Visa's Box
But the end table looked sparse with just his box on it, so I added a few accessories: his leather nameplate halter, a huge year-end championship ribbon and one of his shoes. The end stable still had a shelf on the bottom, and I didn’t want it to just accumulate junk (because that’s what all available surfaces in my house seem to do). So I made a ribbon box. Which is super awesome because my mom is the craftiest person on the planet and helped me make it. It’s the perfect size for the end table shelf and fits all of the most important ribbons in it, plus a bunch of extras to hold them in place.

Visa's Ribbon Box

So I made my project bigger and decided to add photos and do a registration paper/photo collage. Except the photos I wanted to use were professionals… from horse shows in 2007. But with some help from friends I tracked down the photographer who dug up his CD archive and re-printed a few copies and shipped them to me. Ron Schwane, you are a god.Finally, I knew I wanted to display Visa’s registration papers: they have my name on them and they are old and crinkly… and I love them. When Visa was around, I don’t think I looked twice at them; but now that he’s gone, they seem like a really big deal to me. So I set upon an adventure to find a frame… which didn’t exist. Apparently AQHA made odd-sized registration papers in the 90’s that are not 8″ x 10″ nor 8 1/2″ x 11″… thus no frame in existence worked.

So on Saturday, Sam and I cleaned up the office, hung the collage and added a few extra touches to complete Visa’s corner: county fair high-point over fences trophy, 4-H state fair qualifier plaque, 4H collage poster and our third place state fair win photo. Not too shabby of a resting place, if I do say so myself.


Jan. 31, 1993 – April 17, 2013
Collage of Visa photos

“Some horses come in and out of our lives without a second glance, but others leave hoof prints on our hearts.” 

vinnie's skull saddle pad


Last night was my weekly lesson on Vinnie and I am so happy and relieved that it went really well. With all the craziness that went on before and during Trial Horse, I was glad to get back to basics and just have a plain old good ride.

Trainer split the normally very large Thursday night lesson up into two groups (huzzah!), so I just rode with J, which was really nice. I’ve been feeling like I need some more focused attention lately, and I was very grateful to get it last night. The entire lesson was all various gymnastics, focusing on position — exactly what I needed.

We started out with the longest line (two fences set at 5-6 strides), and my first few times through weren’t that great. Vinnie popped way up over the box the first time and, of course, I looked like a monkey going over and I’m pretty sure not a single inch of my body was touching my tack. Great. But as we got going, it got better. We did all of the gymnastics the rest of the time without issue (at least on Vinnie’s part), which included three jumps at two strides and three jumps at one stride.

Trainer explained two-point in a different way, which I think helped a little bit. She talked about how my joints need to move and I need to fold like an accordion. At no point during riding can my entire body be stiff — there always has to be a part that moves. I need to change thinking about two-point as a picture to thinking of it as a video.

As we went through the various gymnastics focusing on position, we also added some tighter turns each direction at the end. This was probably my shining moment. Most of our turns were great. I struggled all winter with turns and to have some really nice ones last night felt fabulous. Best of all? My pony without lead changes gave me TWO — one each direction!!