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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Snap Dancer Memorial Race

I have attended the Cornish Horsemen's Day at the local trotting park since 2005, marshaling races with my now 26 year old retired Standardbred, Dreamy.  I have written about it a few times here: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 (this is when I won my RUS race with Snappy!), 2013, and 2014.  I was pregnant in 2015 and too busy in 2016 to attend.


This year was a bit different.  The organizer, Diann, asked me if I could marshal just after I had to put Snappy down, so of course I had to decline.  Then I got thinking about it and wondered if she might allow me to make a donation in order to have a race named after Snappy.  She was happy to do so!

Race #2 ended up being the Snap Dancer Memorial.  Though Snappy raced as a trotter, it ended up being a pace.  Ah well.  Technically, Snappy was pacing bred despite the fact she raced on the trot, so it was all good haha.  


I didn't think I would feel as overwhelmed as I was, getting teary as soon as I pulled into the fairgrounds.  The gate attendant (who is also the gym teacher at the high school in the district I teach), asked where my horse was.  She didn't realize she had passed away so of course, it made me start bawling.  Oh perfect.

I was also asked to do a write-up about her for the program.
Once the race was over, Freddie (her former trainer) and I held up the cooler in the winner's circle together, which made me pretty happy.  Freddie hugged me and said, "We really loved her, huh?" and I started crying all over again.  Then Diann hugged me, which made me blubber, "I just really MISS her!" Uggg I hate being all emotional in public.


I had only planned to stay until her race was over and I immediately want to bolt once it was done, especially since I was bawling, but I made myself walk over to the paddock area to talk with Sharon, Freddie's wife.  She gave me Snappy's retirement cooler, which she had been holding for me since 2014.  Every year, Scarborough Downs does a retirement ceremony for all fourteen year olds, since it is their mandatory retirement age.  The December 2014 ceremony had been postponed and I couldn't make it to the new date, so Sharon held her cooler for me.  Special horses deserve special recognition and the day filled my heart despite my tears.

I just miss this mare so much.  As happy as I am to have Ellie in my life, it is not lost on me that I have her because Snappy is gone.  Early in the week when it became apparent that I was going to have to make a decision about Snappy was the same week my husband had a vacation from work, so he encouraged me to go look at what was for sale at the Kennebec Morgan Farm.  I didn't want to at first because I didn't feel ready for a new horse AT ALL, but once I knew they only had two horses left for sale (Ellie being one of them), I felt I would regret not at least looking into it.  He went with me to KMF and was completely supportive about buying Ellie. I wanted to wait until spring, but what if both Ellie and the other horse sold before then; I really didn't want to regret waiting and missing out on my childhood dream horse.

I waited a few days after Snappy died before I made my decision about Ellie and waited until the long Labor Day weekend to bring her home.  It was hard putting her into Snappy's old stall.  It is tough to look at Snappy's name plate on her door (I did order one for Ellie, but it will take a few weeks to arrive.  I figured Snappy's plate would be better than an obviously empty spot.)  My husband thought I was slightly foolish for having to buy Ellie her own halter and flymask (no way I could have put Snappy's on her and thanks to Smartpak's super fast shipping, I had the halter and flymask in hand within two days of ordering).  

Even the day I brought Ellie home it felt too soon, even though being alone with just Dreamy for a week and a half felt really sad, too.  Our hearts are complicated and I cannot claim to always make the best decisions when I am emotional.  Sometimes when Ellie is being her developmentally appropriate silly self, I feel a pang of sadness, thinking how easy everything was with Snappy.  But then I remember that Snappy had her own limitations and even if she were still alive now, she would still be retired.  But then I think, at least I would have her in my barn even though she would be unridable!  And then I think, right, I'd own her and another 26 year old retired horse and have nothing to ride...  Can you tell I am still a bit of a wreck and second guessing myself??

Snappy's grave marker.  I will put it out on her grave in the spring once the grass has had a chance to grow back in.  She is buried next to Sparky.  
But, despite the fact that my heart is still in that weird place of simultaneous happiness and sorrow, I know rationally that owning Ellie in no way diminishes my memory of Snappy.  And maybe having the race in her honor helped me heal just a bit.  

Horses, man.  They break your heart and fill it overflowing, sometimes all at the same time. And I wouldn't change any of it because even just the short five years I owned Snappy were wonderful in many ways.  

Comments

  1. Oh, this is so beautifully and lovingly written and oh, how it's making me tear up! *Hugs*. My Fox and my new girl had some time of overlap; though they never seemed to be close, in her last week, Arya spent a lot of time interacting with Fox, and was the only one who seemed to notice when we put her down. I'm sentimentally telling myself that Fox was telling Arya to take care of me. It feels wrong to be happy, to laugh, to enjoy another horse... and I have no wise words to make it better. I'm right there with you, and I'm so, so sorry about Snappy.

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  2. what a perfect commemoration of Snappy in naming the race for her! i love that they used that picture of you two too, and that your friend was able to hold the retirement cooler for you. Snappy seemed like such a wonderful mare for so so many people.

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  3. oh my...my allergies just flared up. Yeah that is what it is, not tears, allergies :) I love love love all that this post has in it. Hugs to you for still missing her but hugs too for giving Ellie a chance. And I love the cooler too.....:) great post!!

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  4. This makes me teary eyed again, I can't imagine how emotional it was for you. What a beautiful commemoration for her though!

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  5. That's so cool you had a race named after her. I really like how much her trainers cared for her. There are so many horror stories about racehorses being abused or neglected, but Snappy seems like a shining example of how well it can go for a racehorse. She was loved.

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  6. Being retired from the racing world, I was very touched by this post. My last Standardbred is now gone, but we still have a little band of 3 Morgan horses to ride & enjoy; we seem to have the love of these breeds in common.

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