Saturday, February 5, 2011


As we entered our first winter on the farm, I got a call one day from a friend saying she knew of a “really cool” horse that needed a new home and that I should consider him.  He belonged to a friend of hers who was getting divorced and selling the small farm where they lived, and she and her kids had sort of lost interest in the single horse they owned.  My first thought was, “I don’t really want to take on a new horse as we go into winter”, but when she told me he was a 17 hand Dutch Warmblood retired dressage show horse, I knew I had to check him out.  I have always loved big horses and had wanted to learn dressage for a long time.  So, I called his owner and arranged to meet him.

When I first saw Chummie, he sure wasn’t much to look at.  He was a flea bitten gray – probably my least favorite horse color - and was pretty muddy with a long, snarled mane that hadn’t been brushed for quite a while.  He was big, though, and as I stood next to him grooming him and picking his hooves, I couldn’t stop commenting on his enormous stature.  His feet seemed like dinner plates compared to the dainty hooves of our mare, Belle and the tiny Shetland feet of Spirit the pony.  But he was gentle and mellow and pretty easy-going when I rode him even though his owner said he hadn’t been ridden for months.  So, in spite of being underwhelmed with his general appearance, I asked if I could bring him to the farm for a few days to see how he got along with the others and to get to know him better.

He arrived at our farm the week before Christmas, and ambled into the paddock like he’d been there all his life.  He immediately befriended Belle and Spirit and seemed completely at ease in the new setting.  I discovered that he was extremely affectionate and loved nothing better that a good hard scratch on his forehead and between his ears. By the second day that he was at the farm, I had fallen madly in love with him!  Then my brother and his family arrived from Ohio for a holiday visit, and they each took a turn riding the big guy.  Now, not one of them has any horse experience whatsoever, but Chummie was a complete gentleman and as cooperative with my 6 year old niece as he had been with me.  That clinched it, he was here to stay!

Over the next few months, Chummie and I continued to get to know each other and as he got in better physical shape, I realized just what a great horse he was.  He was really well trained and had an awesome trot and canter.  But beyond the relationship he and I were developing, I started to notice that he and Belle seemed to be forming a special bond, too.  By spring, we had a couple more horses on the property and Chummie seemed to have taken on the role of Belle’s protector.  If she was in her stall eating hay with the stall door open, he would stand at the entrance so the other horses wouldn’t go in and bother her.  If she walked out to the pasture during a big snow storm, he would loyally follow behind while the other horses stayed near the warm barn.  When she took a nap out in the field, he would stand over her and keep the others from disturbing her.  They were pretty much inseparable.

When the next summer rolled around and we hosted our first summer camp for kids, the campers noticed this special bond and insisted that Belle and Chummie should get married.  So, with Spirit as the “flower boy”, our newest horse, Jazz,  as the “ring bearer” and Chummie and Belle dressed in bow tie and veil, I officiated in a silly, equine nuptial ceremony during our end-of-camp horse show.  And the happy couple continues living happily ever after!

Life Lesson: Know a Good Thing When it Comes Along


Melissa said...

oh Kate... it is fun to read your words... I can hear you speaking them and it makes me miss you! I look forward to catching up with you soon... love, Melissa

Mindy said...