Skip to main content
Chuck circa 2001

FOO Chronicles: Experiencing Loss

As a weedy pre-teen, I outgrew my first show pony pretty quickly. So after the show season was over, I started riding a new horse: Chuck. Chuck was an older [probably mid-twenties?] Quarter Horse Gelding who had been there, done that; And by “done that,” I mean he’d done it all. He took me from a nervous walk/trot rider to a confident equestrian in just one summer. It’s amazing what an old schoolmaster can do for one’s confidence! He’s the first horse I really, truly bonded with and as you know, it’s not an experience you ever forget. My partnership with this wonderfully tolerant and special gelding is what set me on the path I’m on today and showed me that the thing I absolutely love most about horses is the bond you create and cherish with them.

Together, Chuck and I showed in local 4-H, and we tried our hands at everything: hunt seat equitation, western pleasure, showmanship, jumping and even barrel racing [Chuck’s favorite]. Even though we only shared a very short time together, we made a lot of memories I’ll never forget — like how he would never walk into the ring for a barrels class unless he was escorted directly up to the in-gate by his girlfriend, Joker [a mare my best friend rode]. Any other class? Sure, he’d walk right in, cool as a cucumber; but not for barrels! He was the first horse I tried to qualify for State Fair on, and even though we didn’t make the cut, I still remember looking over the comments the judge made to try to get better so we could qualify the following year. [For those unfamiliar with 4-H, in order to show at State Fair you have to qualify by receiving enough points in at least two classes. In a qualifying class instead of being placed against the other riders, you are judged against a “standard” and then receive “points against standard.” Each class has a minimum score you must receive to qualify.]

Second place ribbon with Chuck in 2001

I also remember County Fair with Chuck: holding him outside the barn for hours on end because his owner wouldn’t let us stable there overnight. My most memorable ribbon with Chuck was at County Fair: 8th Place in Working Hunter Over Fences. My mom even managed to snap an awesome photo of us on course [which, now is uber-embarrassing because my equitation is literally non-existent] but I framed it and it’s hung on the wall of my room ever since. And aside from the show memories, I have so many of his sweet, grayed face. He might have been a bit of a goober sometimes, but he really was a great kid’s horse.

Jumping Chuck circa 2001
What a saint of a horse!

Unfortunately, what Chuck gave me most of all was my first experience of true, devastating loss. The following winter, I went through a phase where I wasn’t as motivated to go out to the barn. So I skipped a few lessons, and didn’t think anything of it. But after a few weeks, I finally got my act together and headed out to the barn with my BFF for a riding lesson… but Chuck wasn’t there. The barn owner told us he had gotten sick earlier in the week, and they took him to the vet hospital. I was pretty upset, but she didn’t make it sound that serious so I rode a different horse in my lesson, and then went to the hospital to visit. But the staff wouldn’t let us in, because we weren’t the owners. Sure, I was upset. But I figured I would just see him next week.

When next week came around, and we showed up at the barn the BO told us Chuck had passed away.

I was devastated. I never got to say goodbye, or say thank you. And it was all because I didn’t bother to go out to the barn for a few weeks in the dead of winter. I felt guilty, selfish and miserable for weeks on end. For a 12-year-old, it was a pretty dramatic experience and I kept a “shrine” in the corner of room to Chuck until the day I moved to college. So even though I’ve said it before, and it was so very long ago, I want to say thank you to the horse that showed me what love was really like, and what it means to be a horse owner: some of the best highs and the worst lows you can experience in life. But no matter how bad or how tough it gets, the good times are always worth the struggle.

Chuck 2001

Equestrian Art Printables from FlyOnOverEq.com

Equestrian Artwork

Ever since Miles started feeling not quite right [all the way back on July 5] I’ve obviously been spending less time in the saddle, which means I’m not at the barn for hours on end and thus leaves me time to *gasp* do other things. It’s really a tremendous notion. I mean, what do normal non-horseback riding people do in the evenings and on weekends? I can only eat so much sushi and watch so many TV shows on Netflix before I get an itch to get up off my butt and get something done. And I’m not talking about being motivated to do chores around the house and run errands; I’ve been getting the itch to do fun stuff. So since Hubby and I resigned our apartment lease for another year, I thought I’d spruce the place up and change some of our decor. We’ve been in the place for almost four years, so I think a change of scenery is well over-due.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details about how I bought a new shower curtain and moved a lamp in living room, but one thing I did do [that I know you’ll like] is design some new artwork. Sure, I bought a few pieces from Etsy.com and Amazon.com, but wall decor gets expensive fast and I’m not looking to break the bank here. So I decided to make a few pieces of my own that turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. But once I was done, I still had all this creative mojo going on… so I kept designing. Lo and behold I created a set of four equestrian artwork pieces that I thought I’d share with all of you, au gratis. I tried to include a few different disciplines in my equestrian artwork designing endeavor, so hopefully there’s something for at least a few of you. Each equestrian artwork piece is design in black and white, size 10″ x 8″, but if you’re really in love and want them in a color, just send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

Personally, I think they’d look so cute with a black frame, maybe as a set with a few photos of you and your horse. I could see them in an office [especially a barn office] or even in the tack room, if you like to decorate in there. Anyways, I hope you enjoy! To download, click the blue button below the design you like best. A PDF will pop-up [or download, I’m not sure which since I’ve never done this before], and voila!

Hunter Jumper Equestrian Artwork Thumbnail

Download ButtonDownload Button

Eventer Dressage Equestrian Artwork Thumbnail

Download ButtonDownload Button

Friday Five Equestrian Necklaces

Friday Five: Equestrian Necklaces

I have a confession to make: necklaces are not my favorite piece of jewelry. I own a handful of necklaces, some gold, some silver, some small and simple, some large and chunky. But every day I find myself wearing the exact same one: a silver chain with a heart charm on it. My husband got it for me when we dating, so it certainly has a lot of special meaning… but I don’t think he’ll love me any less if I don’t wear it every single day. Moral of the story? I really need to get out of my comfort zone and buy a few more necklaces. So here are a few equestrian necklaces I’ve been drooling over. I have a bunch more listed on my Equestrian Style Pinterest Board, so if you’re looking for one that’s not on my list, go check there. I have a about a bazillion equestrian necklaces pinned, and even though some are a bit out of my price range currently, I promise they are all absolutely drool-worthy.

#1 Gold Snaffle Bit Equestrian Necklace

$38 on Etsy.com

There are a plethora of variations of the snaffle bit necklace out there; in fact it’s probably the single-most popular equestrian necklace… but for some reason this one really caught my eye. It’s a bit bigger and even though gold isn’t my favorite… I just love this one. I think it would be perfect for the fall, with a chunky brown sweater. Plus at $38 it’s not outrageously expensive, thank goodness.

#2 Silver Heart in Horseshoe Equestrian Necklace

$44.95 from BackintheSaddle.com

This necklace is right in my wheelhouse: a simple silver pendant on a silver chain. It might not be the most exciting piece of jewelry ever crafted, but it will go with every single outfit I own, and add an equestrian detail for anyone looking closely. Plus, I do think how the heart dangles inside the horseshoe makes it a little bit unique, and not just like every other horseshoe equestrian necklace.

#3 Initial and Horseshoe Equestrian Necklace

$18 on Etsy.com

This piece spoke to my inner pre-teen, horse-crazy self. With the little charms, and my initial… it was just too cute to now put on my list for under $20. For the charm, you can pick your birthstone or your favorite color and rejoice in a moment of pure teenage indulgence. Go ahead — I know you want to!

#4 Silver Warmblood Brand Equestrian Necklace

$84 from Loriece

So… obviously the theme here is silver pendants. But I guess I know what I like? Regardless, these warmblood brand pendants are really cool. The designer has DutchHanoverian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, Swedish, Trakehner and Westphalian brand necklaces available. If I owned a horse of one of those breeds, you better bet I’d own one of these necklaces to go along with him.

#5 Gold Stirrup Equestrian Necklace

$18 Massimo Dutti

Finally, I’m branching out! Here’s a long, dangle gold statement piece that I absolutely adore. Again, I’m getting a fall vibe mostly, but I also think this would be super cute with a black flowing tank top during the summer or even a chunky sweater when it’s snowing.

Friday Five Equestrian Necklaces