Saturday, April 27, 2013


Today is Ryan's thirteenth birthday.
It's been a long time since I turned thirteen, but I still have very specific memories of that day.  One of my gifts was an additional riding lesson on my birthday.  Riding twice in one week was a rare treat, and I was very excited about the prospect of spending the afternoon at the barn.  

Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan.  I had a bad day at school and came home to discover that my sister, who'd had tonsil surgery earlier that week,  had developed complications and needed to be taken to the hospital.  I was left home alone and had to find my own way to the barn.  It wasn't a long walk, but I resented every minute of it.  Intellectually, I knew Erin hadn't planned to ruin my birthday, but still...  It was my birthday!  I was supposed to be the center of attention!

I arrived at the barn late, fully expecting to be stuck with my least to favorite school horse, Fred.  Instead, a miracle happened--for the first time ever, I was allowed to ride the Filly.
Filly, who's registered name was Native Cher, was a privately owned Thoroughbred ex-race horse who was temporarily filling in as a school horse in lieu of her board bill.  I had been obsessed with her since her arrival at Eaton Canyon Riding Club mostly because she was related to my all time favorite race horse,  Affirmed.  
Exclusive Native, sire of Affirmed, Genuine Risk and Native Cher.
I wish I could tell you that we had a great lesson, but that would be overstating things.  I was riding at an advanced beginner/low intermediate level, and Filly was hot, green and very track-y.  She was way too much horse for me, but I just didn't care.  All I could think was, "I'm riding Affirmed's little sister!  I'm riding Affirmed's little sister!"
I rode Filly on an off for the next several months.  Most of our lessons were fairly disastrous, but that did nothing to diminish my love for her.
Eventually, I was allowed to ride Filly in a schooling show.  It was not an impressive outing.  Filly ran away with me while cantering on the wrong lead in the flat class, and we were disqualified for having three refusals at the first jump in Hunter Hack.  Looking back, I don't know why my instructor allowed me to ride her.  It's a miracle no one got hurt.
Filly left ECRC shortly after our schooling show misadventure.  I don't know what became of her, but I hope she had a good life.  She may not have been the Exclusive Native's most impressive offspring, but she meant the world to me when I was thirteen.


  1. Congrats to the fella getting BIG!! ;-D Hope he had a fabulous day!

    Quickie question, may I borrow 2 images of the Barrelracing drafthorses? I am starting a lovely old cm Clyde Stallion in a Liveshow on saturday as... a barrelracer. No one will belive me unless I get your help to prove even the "big uns" can do cool stuff. ;-)

    1. It's ALWAYS ok to use my photos for live show reference. Good luck with your entry and take lots of pictures!


  2. I love your history photos, both personal and thoroughbred. Timely for Derby! What catches my eye are the mountains in the background. Where are you? California? And yes, lucky not hurt. :)

  3. That stable was located just half a mile from my parents' house in Pasadena, CA. As you can see, it's right on the base of the San Gabriel mountains. Not what most people expect when I tell them I grew up in Los Angeles County.


  4. Yeah... last week I decided to ride a horse at my barn named Zameal and he's one of those horses who is VERY sensitive to emotion. Even if you're the littlest bit tense he'll bolt thinking that there's something behind him. Well, I kinda fell of twice in less than two minutes because of course I was excited to be riding a new horse and he took that as being scared. But then my trainer, Mary, lunged me so that calmed my nerves a little. And no one got hurt!