There were several horses after Spot. Joe was the one I had the longest. He was too fast and too hot for the camera to capture him, so I'm not going to show any photos. He was out of a mare who won the South West championship as a polo pony. Joe was fast and agile like his mother and was being trained to be a polo pony (and had already been sold) when they got to the final stage where they actually used a mallet.
Nothing doing. No mallets for Joe. No nothing for Joe. You couldn't even move in an unexpected way while on him. So they trained him to jump and I ended up with him. My father loved him. Joe was athletic and crazy. I didn't know enough to know I should have said, "This horse isn't working." Instead, I rode him for the next 15 years. I got him when he was five and I think I was in ninth grade. Even when he was 24 he was still hot. When I was young, I would lie in bed the night before fox hunts and shows, wondering if I would be killed that day. Why I never told my father I don't know. Joe would go nuts if I had a cold and had to pull a Kleenex out of my pocket. You couldn't do anything on his back. He couldn't walk. Jig jig jiggity jig. I tried every bit known to man on him; the twisted wire snaffle bloodied his mouth but didn't slow him down. I finally settled on a plain snaffle because it seemed to upset him the least and the others didn't work. I just relaxed as much as possible, chose my battles, and realized that though he rushed like a maniac, had no brakes and might do anything at anytime, he was going to stay upright. Great athlete. Terrifying ride.
One thing that Joe taught me was that there are times when it doesn't do any good to fight. You may as well relax, realize that this is the best it's going to get, you lived through it last time and to enjoy what you can. I learned how to survive. I think that lesson about relaxing when my horse was not relaxed really helped me later, with the best horse I ever, ever had: Jack.
When Joe got too old to hunt (but was still too hot to enjoy) I rented a yellowish, long-haired, compact "grey" horse to fox hunt. It was a random thing. You call up the hunter barn, say you want to hunt and they've got a horse for you when you get there. It was like a blind date. He was also hot and a rusher and couldn't stand still. There was some jig jig jiggity jigging going on with him, but it wasn't out of craziness -- he was out having fun. And so was I! I had the best time I'd had in years with this strange little speedy, bold jumper. I asked if he was for sale and he was. I think everything was for sale. Since I'd expressed an interest in him, the next time I rented him he was clipped and bright white. We wheeler-dealered and I bought him. I changed his name from Popcorn to Ivan. (Please notice I was back to using saddle pads.)
About that same time I became interested in dressage. Ivan didn't take to dressage. His tests were very forward, he was smallish (around 15.1 hands) and his movements were average. But here's the funny thing -- at shows and events people would ask me if there were other Lipizzaners that I knew of in the area. I almost fell over. The German Bereiter I was riding with at the time didn't like Ivan. He wasn't a fancy big warmblood. (He greatly offended her with his habit of pooping in his bucket and rolling in the mud. She called me one day at work to complain, "Your pony is a PIG." She wanted to charge me for daily cleaning. I told her it didn't bother me if he was dirty. It bothered her so much that she cleaned him every day for free.) Anyway, here's a photo of us in the show jumping phase of an event. Notice the duct tape. I always ended up using duct tape with those boots. I think the buckles were cursed, even when I replaced them I ended up with duct tape. (You'll notice them in Jack's photo tomorrow. I can't quite seem to get it all together. There's always something taped or jerry-rigged.)
This is one of my favorite pictures and memories of Ivan. I had worried myself into a stew over the cross-country jump before this one. Ivan didn't even notice it, we sailed over flawlessly and by the time we got to this jump, I was full of joy and relief. During these years the eventing rules only had time penalties for being too slow. That was never a problem. Ivan would jump banks, ditches, water, the moon, whatever. He just wouldn't jump them slowly. Three strides before the jump I had to give up whatever control I thought I had and let him do it. He was great fun if excessively thrilling. But I got really tired of fighting with him in dressage and we weren't going anywhere, so I sold him and found Jack.
To my credit, I never claimed he was a Lipizzaner though the temptation was there. His next owner also enjoyed him. He died several years ago. I would not clone him for Lily, but I have fond memories. He was a great gentleman on the ground.