Now and then: A lifetime with our horses

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How long have you and your horse been together? We asked the SmartPakers how long they’ve been with their horse(s), and asked them to share their fondest memories and photos together over the years. As you can see, our horses truly are our family members. How long have you been with yours? Leave us a note in the comments!

EllenB_Final

SmartPaker: Ellen B., Accounting
Horse/Pony: Lego
How long have you two been together? “I’ve owned Lego for 13 years.”
Tell us how you met: “I’d grown up taking riding lessons for years, and when I was 12, my parents bought both my sister and I horses. We found out about Lego through a 4-H friend. On the last day of 7th grade, my dad took me to test him out. I had a great ride on him, and fell in love with his smooth gaits and spunky personality right away. I jumped my first 3’ fence with him on that test ride and knew I wanted him more than anything at that moment.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Lego and I have had many happy memories, from horse showing, spending many summers at 4-H camp, to trail riding. I even set up a tent in my parent’s barn to “camp” with Lego as a kid. I have two fondest memories of him. The first one took place the summer I was the Barn Manager at 4-H camp, when I was 17. We were doing a staff riding demonstration and decided to do a “jump off.” Lego is a small, 15hh Connemara x Arabian, and his true passion is jumping. The fences kept getting higher; much higher than I’d ever jumped before. We actually ended up clearing the highest hole on the standards, which I believe ended up being just under 5’. It was such a great feeling to accomplish that with him, and know that he truly enjoyed it and smiled in the air. My second fondest memory took place this past summer. I took him on a camping trip with Gina in Rhode Island. Seeing as Lego is now almost 26 years old, I mostly take him on easy trail rides and do flatwork and Dressage with him. We had a great weekend, and explored some really neat trails. This is a special memory for me, because I was able to experience something completely new that we’d never done together, and Lego seems to love his new “niche”: horse camping.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Spunky. Lego is a blast to ride. It’s very hard to not smile when riding him. He keeps me on my toes and can jump out from under me faster than I can blink. It’s this trait that makes him so fun, and has definitely helped me develop a strong seat.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Partner-in-crime. – He’s been my best friend for 13 years, and will continue to be for many more.”


LaraF_Final

SmartPaker: Lara F., Merchandising
Horse/Pony: Stormy
How long have you two been together? “Just about 15 years.”
Tell us how you met: “Stormy was my “reward” for working so hard – I’ll never forget when I was told I could start riding her- I was filling up water buckets when the barn owner came to me and said “you have been working so hard – I am going to let you have a project, you can start riding Stormy” I was so excited I almost flooded the stall.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “After so many years together it’s hard to pick just one! I think my favorite is our time spent together in totality- it amazes me that we have gone through middle school, high school, college, my wedding and everything in between together- I couldn’t ask for a better friend!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Dependable.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Dedicated.”


Annie_Final

SmartPaker: Annie C., Marketing
Horse/Pony: Erik
How long have you two been together? “We’ve been together 12 years.”
Tell us how you met: “I was at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in 2001 and was trying Erik to be my Junior Hunter. I wasn’t a big fan of him upon our initial meeting but as always, my trainer, Mitch knew best! Erik was supposed to stay on with us for one year as a “practice horse” but 12 years later, he’s the only horse.” :)
Tell us your fondest memory: “While Erik and I have had a lot of success together, one of the best testaments to his character is this: He had an entire summer off due to an injury and came back into work just in time for the Ariat Adult Medal Finals, jumping his first oxer only a week before the show. I was a nervous mess, I had spent all summer qualifying on borrowed horses and it’s nerve wracking enough to show a horse after time off, let alone walk into the indoor at Capital Challenge on a regular day! With minimal prep work and fingers crossed, I had to put a whole lot of faith in my horse. Erik was just amazing, he didn’t bat an eye at anything and carried us to 3rd in the Finals. What a horse.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Honest.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Devoted.”


KristinaSimmons_Final

SmartPaker: Kristina S., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Star With A Story “Cocoa”
How long have you two been together? “I have owned Cocoa for about 5 ½ years but have known her for almost 8 years.”
Tell us how you met: “When I was a freshman in high school our class had to do a certain amount of community service hours each year, so I volunteered at a local Therapeutic Riding Center, since I loved horses. I was so excited to meet the horse I was going to be working with and once I saw the name of the horse next to mine, I remember running over to my mom shouting: “Mom, my horse’s name is Cocoa!” Little did I know how true that would become. I worked with her at the program for about three years and then when they were retiring her from the program I was able to buy her.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I have so many I don’t even know how to pick one. Cocoa is a very easy going horse and she just always seems to know when something is bothering me. I remember one time I was sitting in her stall venting to her since I had had a bad day. She stood there listening to me the whole time. Then after a while she must have gotten board listening to me complain about the same things over and over again. So she dunked her nose in her water bucket and splashed me. I was so shocked I just jumped to my feet and gasped at her. She gave me this silly look and nickered at me as if laughing. I guess that was her way of telling me to chill out.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Weirdo. She doesn’t like apples. (I mean, come on!) And she sticks her tongue out for mostly every picture I take.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Weirdo. (Mom, do I really need to wear all the Back on Track products…at the same time? I mean, come on!)”


SarahP_Final

SmartPaker: Sarah P., Branding
Horse/Pony: Cody
How long have you two been together? “Cody and I have been together since September 6th, 1995 – that’s over 17 years ago, which makes me feel like I’m 100 years old.”
Tell us how you met: “Cody was the fourth horse I tried when I was shopping for a partner after I outgrew my first pony. I thought I’d never find a horse who was as wonderful as little Cocoa Puff (the aforementioned pony), but the first time I saw Cody, I knew he was something really special. When he first nuzzled my hand, I’d already made up my mind. My first ride on him was better than I could’ve ever dreamed. He is such a rock star, I’ve never met a more perfect horse.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Probably going to the All American Quarter Horse Congress for the first time. I was so nervous and Cody was so calm, cool and collected, that is, until we got in the schooling ring. Then his ears pricked up, his steps quickened and he was peeking at every shadow and light. But by then I was in the zone and was able to give his antics a quick laugh and a pat and he was right back to normal. That’s probably my favorite thing about us – we pick each other up!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Soulmate.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “TREATS.”


MarthaB_Final

SmartPaker: Martha B., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Hale
How long have you two been together? “8 years.”
Tell us how you met: “Online! I saw Hale’s ad and the next day drove over 8 hours to see him!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “My fondest memory is our first summer together that was spent trying to get to know each other. There were a lot of ups and downs but by the end we had (and still have) the most amazing connection as horse and rider.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Loving, Hale is always there to give hugs when needed!”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “I’m sure Hale thinks (knows) how much of a “worrier” I am when it comes to his care! I always want to do the right things for him!”


AshleyD_Final

SmartPaker: Ashley D., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Rocki
How long have you two been together? “I have owned my APHA gelding, Rocki, for 15 years. We have basically grown up together.” :)
Tell us how you met: “I met Rocki at the end of his yearling year at a barn in Vermont.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I have too many to count, but if I have to choose one it would have to be winning the worlds with him in both open and amateur western pleasure in 2005 on the same day.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Mischievous!”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Driven…at least I hope he would say something like that!”


EmilyD_Final

SmartPaker: Emily D., Accounting
Horse/Pony: Ax
How long have you two been together? “12 years.”
Tell us how you met: “Ax was a rescue horse at a barn where I took lessons when I was in middle school. I half-leased her during the summer before 8th grade with money I earned cleaning stalls. At the end of the summer, her owner told me I could have her. She has been mine ever since. The first picture is from one of our first horse shows together, about 10 years ago. The second is from just a couple months ago at a hunter pace.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Ax and I have had so many great times that it’s hard to choose just one, but one of my favorite memories is the summer in high school that we took up team penning. Every Saturday night, we would sort cattle with Ax’s mane braided so that I could take her to hunter shows the next morning. That’s some serious versatility (especially for an off the track thoroughbred)!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Faithful. She has never let me down!”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Minty. I always have peppermints in my pocket for her.”


Lydia_Final

SmartPaker: Dr. Lydia Gray, Staff Veterinarian
Horse/Pony: Newman
How long have you two been together? “Since August 2005.”
Tell us how you met: “After I retired my thoroughbred, I spent two years looking for a new horse. To be able to afford a warmblood I had to buy young, so I went and checked out everything a local breeding farm had for sale at the time. When they brought Newman into the indoor arena to show us his gaits, he chose to spend more time behind the video camera with me rather than strutting his stuff and that was all she wrote!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “There are so many, where to begin? Most recently it was competing him in his first combined driving event with a marathon phase. Being a hefty dressage horse, I had no idea what he would think of a 4km cross-country trek at a trot. I mean, I’d conditioned him at home around our pasture the best I could but still. He surprised me by actually wanting to go FASTER than the necessary pace and the veterinarian who evaluated him at the end said: “He’s not breathing hard, his heart rate isn’t elevated and he barely broke a sweat. You should go do it again!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Jack-of-all-trades.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Gone-A-Lot!”


KristinaS_Trigger_Final

SmartPaker: Kristina S., Creative
Horse/Pony: Trigger
How long have you two been together? “21 years.”
Tell us how you met: “My parents bought him for me when I was 4. I remember going to someone’s backyard and he was in this huge field with one other pony.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I used to dress Trigger up and would always take my reins off of his bridle and clip cotton lead ropes on to make reins. I’m really not sure why, but I would ride him around the yard with my ‘new’ cotton reins. One day I outfitted him in a purple saddle pad that I had made for him. Our entire outfit that day was really too much for words.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Trouble (it is VERY hard to keep him in a paddock…he always gets out!)”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Loyal (he has been there to see me grow from 4 years to 25 years).”

KristinaS_Harri_Final

Horse/Pony: Harri
How long have you two been together? “11 years.”
Tell us how you met: “My parents and I traveled to NY to meet him as a just broke 2.5 year old.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Would have to be just this past summer when I took him to our first rated horse show in a couple of years. Harri is known to be a bit of a handful when taken off the farm after a long time at home so I anticipated him being a bit much his first time back in the show ring. While his warm up consisted of a bit of silliness, he settled down much quicker than anticipated and we ended up jumping the best courses of his life. He was focused, steady and listened to every move I made. I was VERY proud of my boy that day.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Playful.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “MOM!”


JessR_Final

SmartPaker: Jessica R., IT
Horse/Pony: Dia
How long have you two been together? “I bought Dia January 2010, so we have been together for 3 years.”
Tell us how you met: “My trainer found an ad for her on bigeq.com. We tried her out twice, once at her home barn, and once at a local indoor. She was so round over the jumps that she kept jumping me out of the tack. I was like ‘I need to learn how to ride this’.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “There are a few. Like winning 3rd in the RIHA Adult mini-medal the first year I had her. Or the first horse show back after a few months off recovering from an injury, Dia DRAGGED me onto the trailer, like she was saying “LET’S GO – I’m ready to show!” Or the way she’ll buck after a fence when I make a big mistake, but will be perfect for a more novice person riding her who makes the same mistake. Or the first time she took me around the New England finals, so confident and so loving her job.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Worldly.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Amateur!”


LauraC_Final

SmartPaker: Laura C., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Sonny
How long have you two been together? “This year is lucky 13.”
Tell us how you met: “Sonny came to the barn to be a school horse. As it turns out, green beans who don’t steer, jump, or own brakes aren’t really school horse material. I took a lesson and survived so the barn manager offered him to me as a lease instead. We have been inseparable ever since (oh and we now steer, jump, and have a nice set of brakes!).”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Winter of 2002 my parents officially bought him for me and I got my “pony” for Christmas.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Neurotic.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Neurotic.”


EmilyJ_Final

SmartPaker: Emily J., Marketing
Horse/Pony: JZ
How long have you two been together? “12 years.”
Tell us how you met: “JZ came into my life by chance. I owned a (very challenging) TB mare and was starting to consider the idea of a new horse, but was not actively looking. During that time my trainer happened to bring two new horses to the barn on trial, Ivan and JZ. Both my trainer and mom thought I would fall in love with Ivan, but it was JZ who I connected with. My amazing parents bought him for me and we’ve been together ever since!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “One of my favorite memories is my first show with JZ. It was a dressage schooling show and we did the Intro. A and B tests. The judge wrote on the test “Your horse is a star-give him a big carrot!”. Since then we’ve moved up the levels and competed in many more shows together, but I’ll always remember how special that day was and how proud I was of JZ.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Perfectionist. Everyone at my barn jokes about how JZ is the golden child-even a light tap with the whip is considered an extreme offense-as if he could do anything wrong!”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “If asked this question I think JZ would shake his head rather than say a word. He has been with me through high school, college, the big move to Massachusetts to work at SmartPak and all of the growing up in between. He has been my rock and now gets to enjoy the perks of me being a SmartPaker (which includes daily access to copious amounts of treats)!”


KaitlinT_Final

SmartPaker: Kaitlin T., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Samurai
How long have you two been together? “Five and a half years!”
Tell us how you met: “His farrier knew me from a different barn and when he heard I was looking for my first horse he brought us together!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Sam and I had only known each other for 48 hours, he was in isolation for the first week because he was new to the property, and I was sitting inside his pen just watching him. He walked up to me just to say hello and then grazed while I read a book. That was the moment when it hit me that he was truly mine-MY horse. It was the start of an adventure and our story that is still being written.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Aloof, he tolerates most things and people, but doesn’t particularly like anyone or enjoy much besides treats and a good ride. He is really more of a cat then a horse.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Sam would probably call me dumb!”


JessicaB_Final

SmartPaker: Jessica B., Returns
Horse/Pony: Chandler
How long have you two been together? “I have owned Chandler for only about 3 years but I have been riding him for about 8 years.”
Tell us how you met: “I met him in high school (I was 16) when my trainer got him, and it was just love at first sight!! About 3 years ago due to financial reasons she had to find him a home rather quickly and while I couldn’t pay for him I could give him a home with someone my trainer knew would love and care for him as he aged (he was 19 then-22 now and still acts like he’s 6 :D). So, I took him home to live with me!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I have to say that I think my fondest memory to date ( I have many, we do so many fun things together) has to be when I took him on our first ever beach ride this October! He had the time of his life running up and down the beach like a wild man!! He even went into the ocean and went swimming!!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “A big goof ball. (That may be a couple words.)” :)
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Absolutely insane for all the things I do to him.”


Molly_Final

SmartPaker: Molly H., Merchandising
Horse/Pony: Danny
How long have you two been together? “Danny and I have been together 24 years. We are one year apart in age and have literally grown up together.”
Tell us how you met: “Danny is the first horse I ever took a lesson on. He was assigned to my sister, and I was assigned a Pinto. I of course wanted the black horse (I was obsessed with The Black Stallion at the time) and my sister luckily wanted the Pinto, so we swapped our mounts before the lesson started.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “One of the best days of my life was the day my parents surprised me with Danny. I had recently moved lesson barns because Danny’s barn was turning private and discontinuing their lesson program. I hadn’t seen Danny in a few months when my parents took me to the new barn and lead me to a stall door. They handed me a card that simply said ‘I’m Yours’. I saw Danny in the stall and of course started bawling uncontrollably with joy (I still have that card)! We have since tackled many things over the years, including 4-H shows, trail class, First Level dressage, hunter paces, and he even lets me swing a polo mallet when I want to practice my latest passion. Our all-time favorite activity is trail riding- we are both happiest outside of the ring and have spent countless hours exploring woods, bogs, and fields.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Pisspot. Danny can be such a (loveable) grump! He’s commonly found with ears back and is known to show his displeasure by bucking or simply jumping out of the paddock. If it doesn’t involve grain, he’s usually not interested. Part of me enjoys seeing him still bucking today, at nearly 30 years old.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Family. He’s been in the family for as long as I can remember, and I think he feels pretty much the same way.”


KerriV_Final

SmartPaker: Kerri V., Marketing
Horse/Pony: Riker
How long have you two been together? “16 years.”
Tell us how you met: “My parents gave him to me for Christmas.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “When we were both younger, we used to go to the beach during the off season and gallop along the sand. I still smile when I think about how invincible and free we felt in that moment.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Prankster.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Dedicated.”

Horse/Pony: Luna
How long have you two been together? “8 years.”
Tell us how you met: “Luna arrived at my boarding barn as a consignment horse and I fell in love.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “When Luna and I went to our first away-from-home horse show, we won our class. Then the judge put the blue ribbon on her, and she had a meltdown until it was removed. Proud and embarrassed all at the same time!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Diva.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Stubborn.”


JessicaF_Final

SmartPaker: Jessica F., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Gracie
How long have you two been together? “My parents surprised me with Gracie 5 years ago.”
Tell us how you met: “After going through a very short time period without a horse during my first year of college, I was going through withdrawals and was seriously interested in taking my riding to a more competitive level. I wasn’t expecting a new horse when I came home for summer break but I was oh so happily surprised to see her in our barn. She hardly knew anything and neither did I. It has been what feels like an up-hill battle most of the way but thanks to my awesome trainer, Lauren Romanelli, we both came out the other side alive!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I was never able to bring Gracie to college, which was about 500 miles from my home, so every time I came home or left for college Gracie was always my top priority. If I was about to start the drive back to college, you would always find me in her stall or her field hanging around her neck and crying. She has definitely helped me through plenty of tough times over the years.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Brat! She knows what she is doing at this point but she sure makes me work for it.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Incompetent. I know she definitely gets sick of me not getting the whole riding thing right 100 percent of the time.”


BeckiC_Final

SmartPaker: Becki C., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Digby
How long have you two been together? “I’ve known him since 2006, but I’ve owned him for three years come February 13th!”
Tell us how you met: “We met in college! He was donated to the college at the end of my freshman year.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “After I graduated, Digby was living in my front yard because I worked at the barn! I used to love going out and giving him his supplements every day. He always came running over to see if I had anything to give him. It was very cute and always a good photo shoot.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Quirky.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Treat-dispenser. (That’s one word because he’s mumbling it through a mouthful of treats/supplements.)”


SaraR_Final

SmartPaker: Sara R., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Storm
How long have you two been together? “My horse, Storm, and I have been together for 10 years this April.”
Tell us how you met: “Storm and I met on a Friday night in April 2003, during my senior year of high school, at a tack and equipment auction. My parents, sister, and I were going just to pick up some barn supplies for our three horses and had no intention of looking for another horse. We were actually shocked to see three horses at the auction because the grounds were decrepit and quite hazardous for animals. The poor horses were terribly neglected, skin and bones, and kept in pens without food, water, or shavings to cover the cement ground. Needless to say, we couldn’t leave without knowing what would happen to these horses. After the other two found caring homes, at 11:00 p.m. Storm (then called “Lucky Charm”) was the last “item” to be bid on. He was covered in rain rot, his skin growing over his leather halter, looking 30 years older than he was—and did I mention, he was a cryptorchid? The people in the crowd laughed at him. Nobody made a bid and the asking price continued to drop until my parents looked at each other and my Mom nearly dove out of the stands to make a bid. We picked him up the next morning in a thunderstorm, brought him home to our barn, and nursed him back to health. One year later I was able to start putting him to work and his off-the-track life as a care-free trail/pleasure/dressage pony began.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “It is so difficult to choose just one fond memory because I have so many, but I’ll share one of the first that came to mind. We had trailered Storm and my sister’s Thoroughbred mare to our cousin’s house about 2-3 miles away to go riding with her and her mare. Storm fell in love with my cousin’s horse and refused to load back into the trailer to go home! We attempted every tried and true method to load him but that stubborn grey horse planted his feet and called for Bali. You should never lose your cool, but I was so frustrated and it had been an hour when I finally decided my sister should just start driving and I would walk Storm home. Well, the field boots I was wearing definitely weren’t made for walking and I grumbled the whole way while he happily plodded along at my side, curious about what we were doing. About half way home, a woman came out of her house and asked me if she could give him a treat. She keeps Horse Nibbles in her car because she will stop with her granddaughter if they pass by a field or paddock with a horse. I was honestly thinking that there couldn’t be any horse at the moment who deserved a treat less, but the woman was so kind and Storm had heard the rustle of the plastic bag and was standing so politely and looking so handsome that of course I couldn’t say no. He took a treat and then stretched his neck towards me and turned his head sideways to brush his soft muzzle against my face which is the silliest, most charming thing he does. Of course in that instant I didn’t care about the blisters on my feet and how embarrassing it was to be hiking through the neighborhood with my puppy-dog of a Thoroughbred. I just love that horse!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Loveable!”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Sappy!”


EmilieM_Final

SmartPaker: Emilie M., Pharmacy
Horse/Pony: Jammer
How long have you two been together? “17 years (since August 25, 1995!).”
Tell us how you met: “I remember the first time I saw Jammer like it was yesterday. I was 19 and my mum and I had driven out to see him after seeing his ad in the Want Ad (I don’t even know if that paper exists anymore!). As soon as I saw his little face looking out of the stall, I was sold. I brought him home the next week, and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “When I was little, I went to riding camp each summer. A few years back, I was lucky enough to be able to bring Jammer to the adult version of the camp. It was so much fun! We slept in the same bunkhouses I slept in as a kid. We took the horses swimming and just had a blast. I had to retire him soon after, so I look back on the memories of that week quite fondly.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Mischievous. He fits the definition to a T, behaving or likely to behave in a naughty or troublesome way, but in fun and not meaning serious harm.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Forgiving (as in I forgive him each time I have to cancel plans because he gets sick/hurt/etc).”


BrettP_Final

SmartPaker: Brett P., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: The Ebony Jet (a.k.a EJ)
How long have you two been together? “EJ and I have been together for 19 years.”
Tell us how you met: “When I was 7, my Father and trainer decided that I needed to have a more competitive horse as I was moving through the ranks of the Appaloosa Horse Circuit. I was running for my Superior Title, so I needed an all-around horse. On a cold February morning, my trainer and my father drove me to Maine, and as we pulled on this massive farm I see this all-black horse with a white star running alongside the car. I will never forget the way he looked—he had to be mine.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “When I was 13, I won my Appaloosa Youth Superior. Not only was I the youngest candidate to ever win the award, but I was also the only candidate that ever won the award entirely on one horse. The held a huge banquet in Oklahoma City where a slide show of just me and EJ over the years was shown to over 300 competitors. The announcer and President of the Appaloosa Horse Club talked about my wins and how we got to where we were. I was honored with the most amazing Belt Buckle that had red rubies (EJ and my western color) and a statue of EJ that was created by Montana Silver Smith in his honor. EJ had his first beer that night! I will never forget it.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Extraordinary.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Mumsy. (I think he is secretly British.)”


DeliaL_Final

SmartPaker: Delia L., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Nordic
How long have you two been together? “10 years.”
Tell us how you met: “I saw a sale ad for him online and went to this little barn to see him. He came ambling over to me in the field, covered in mud of course. The seller was tacking him up and his ears were pinned back and she said, “He’s always just kind of like this.” (Still true.) Then we jumped some jumps and I felt like I could FLY!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Many trail rides in the countryside, hauling butt up the steep hill that he NEVER wanted to merely walk up, endless lessons, showing in the low jumpers, hearing him whinny when I get to the barn and haven’t even seen him yet.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Loyal.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Smoochy.”


JessRoss_Final

SmartPaker: Jessica R., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Khann Do
How long have you two been together? “I have been with Khann Do for eight years.”
Tell us how you met: “He came to the farm where I was working at for semi-retirement from showing. He was a Top Ten Country Pleasure horse. I rode and showed him for a few years as a hunter before he was sent to a farm in New York to be leased out for lessons. He ended up coming back to the farm in Rochester, MA, after a year or so. That is when we were reconnected. When I started dating my fiancé, he showed some interest in riding. He had asked me if he could come to the farm for some lessons. My boss kindly allowed me to use Khann Do to teach Pete how to ride. My boss was thinking about donating Khann Do to a college riding program. He was not being used as much as she would have liked. When she told me about this I decided I had to have him. He has been in and out of my life for years, but was always so special to me. He felt like mine even though I never owned him. After talking to Pete, he decided to buy him. He was a perfect match for him as he was newer to riding. Although Khann Do is now 20 years old, he still has so much life in him. He is safe enough for Pete yet challenging enough for me to ride. He is such a special part of both of our lives now.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “My fondest memory is when I brought Khann Do home. It was so nice to see him running around, kicking up his heels with my other horse. He seemed so free and full of life. There is nothing better than looking out your kitchen window and seeing your horses!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Versatile.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Dedicated.”


SaraF_Final

SmartPaker: Sara F., Creative
Horse/Pony: Carpe Diem (“Diem”)
How long have you two been together? “6 years.”
Tell us how you met: “In 2007, I was taking lessons at a barn on the North Shore of Massachusetts that frequently had sale horses coming through. When Diem came through in January, my trainer really liked him and had me ride him in lessons all winter. He was a 6-year-old OTTB without a lot of schooling, but he was bold, athletic, and a fast learner. My trainer always joked around asking if I wanted to buy him, but I didn’t think I had the time or money. Spring rolled around, and the moment my trainer started taking pictures to sell him, I said, ‘I’ll take him!'”
Tell us your fondest memory: “In six years, Diem and I have covered a lot of ground as we both learned to event together. We’ve jumped some very imposing fences on fox hunts, hunter paces, and cross-country courses. At the barn where I keep him now, we have a full XC course, and there is a maxed-out Training level oxer at the top of our biggest hill. I spent several summers doing trot sets next to it thinking, ‘When we can jump that, we’ll be able to jump anything!’ During a lesson last summer, my trainer had us jump the big oxer at the end of a course, and we sailed over like it was nothing!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Athletic.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Tense. (I really need to chill out sometimes!)”


GinaF_Final

SmartPaker: Gina F., Finance
Horse/Pony: Merry Spartan
How long have you two been together? “I was blessed to have had my Morgan horse, Merry Spartan, for 23 years. I have had other horses during this time, but none that have captured my heart the way he did. He was 36 years old when he passed.”
Tell us how you met: “We met on a Morgan horse farm in Vermont. I went to this farm to study and learn everything I could about horses, and he was a new resident there. Before he came to that farm, he was in a bad situation and lost trust in people. Together, over time, we formed a bond that went far beyond horse and rider.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I have many fond memories of Spartan over the years, but looking back, this one really makes me giggle. I didn’t exactly live in a town that was known to have many horses. One early morning I awoke to do my chores and I headed out to the barn in my pajamas as I always did only to find an empty paddock and barn. My horse had disappeared! I looked around to see that he had pulled down a rail and walked himself right out of his paddock. Fear overwhelmed me. I ran all around my house and couldn’t find him anywhere. I even searched some of my neighbor’s yards and I didn’t see him. I panicked! I ran into my house and woke up my mother to tell her Spartan was missing. She advised me to call the local police to report him missing.
Well, that didn’t go as smoothly as I had thought it would. It was about 6:30 in the morning and the officer who answered the phone thought I was making a prank call. I couldn’t believe his reaction. I told him what had happened and he said, ‘Wait, you gotta be kidding me. Is this a joke? You’re pulling my leg, right?’ as he started to roar in laughter. I told him I was telling the truth and I wasn’t playing any games with him. He then advised me that he was going to hang up and call back my number and wanted to speak with an adult. I couldn’t believe it! Now I’m just a kid playing a trick on the local police, come on! Precious time was passing and we were playing phone tag. Sure enough he hung up on me and called back my house. My mom spoke with him and assured him this was all true and we needed their help. In between his laughter he advised he would send out a patrol car to search the area. Now slightly annoyed at what just transpired and still very anxious, I grabbed the first thing I could find to wear and it was a pair of barn overalls. I threw them on over my pajamas and I was just about to take off my slippers and put on my boots when the phone rang. It was the Police calling back to tell us they found my horse. They told us where they were and asked that we come right away. I was so happy that I rushed out the door to find them. I ran down the driveway and continued down the street to where I saw the cruiser blocking one side of the road. There were two male officers with flashlights fixed on Spartan, and they were staring at my horse. They kept their distance from Spartan and looked very tense. It struck me odd that they looked so nervous.
Spartan lifted his head when he saw me coming over the hill and he whinnied, as if he was giving me his normal morning greeting, and then lowered his head again and continued to munch on the long green grass on the side of the road. My eyes filled with tears when I saw and heard him, and I knew that he was okay. A sense of relief washed over me and I felt like I could breathe again. Since he was no longer missing, I became very much aware that I was about to approach two male officers and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth! You know how teenagers are all about their looks and trying to be cool, well I surely was the complete opposite that morning. In my haste I ran out of the house in pajamas, with overalls on and slippers!! I was horrified with my appearance and became very self conscious. This was not an outfit I would ever let my high school friends see me in, and now there were not one, but two handsome officers in front of me. Just my luck! I remember thinking to myself, ‘Spartan I can’t believe you did this to me!’ Then I thought to myself just don’t make eye contact and get home as quickly as possible.
I was right beside the patrol car when one of the officers said to me, ‘Are you able to catch him? I replied ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘will he attack you?’ I was so confused that I had to look at him. I said ‘No.’ He then said to me that he was told by the dispatcher that the horse was dangerous and would attack any person who approached him. I was so puzzled. I never said that to the officer on the phone. I put on his halter and started to turn him back towards home. I thanked them both very much for finding him and we headed home. Along the way I kept thinking about what he just said and it dawned on me that the dispatcher decided to play a little joke of his on these two officers. I started to laugh myself as I shuffled along in my slippers with the love of my life right beside me.”

If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Legendary.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “His-girl.” :)


Lucy_Final

SmartPaker: Lucy B., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Tennessee Tuxedo (“Vinnie”).
How long have you two been together? “Vinnie and I have been together for 19 years. He is now 22 but does not know that!”
Tell us how you met: “I meet Vinnie was I was eleven years old and he was three. He arrived all shaggy and with very limited training in the middle of the winter. After a few days on trial, we found his heart was huge and his personality curious, so my trainer was confident he was a fit for me. I just fell in love, and we have never looked back!”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Oh my there are so many! I would have to say my fondest memory with Vinnie was the day he come home after 2 colic surgeries and a month at the hospital a few years ago. It was a very emotional moment to see him back in his stall munching away at hay and happy as a clam. It was almost as nothing had happened and he was wondering why all of us where standing there staring at him!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Mayor (he has an opinion on everything and makes sure that we all know it!)”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Treat-lady.”


NicoleS_Final

SmartPaker: Nicole S., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Abbee
How long have you two been together? “I got her when I was ten years. Old. I am 25 now. Abbee will be turning 33 this February and she is still my best bud. I have had Abbee for 15 years.”
Tell us how you met: “Abbee belonged to my very first trainer, and when I moved barns I never thought I would see her again. As fate would have it, Abbee showed up about four years later and she was for sale. I had been begging my parents for years for a horse of my own and had fallen in love with my spotted buddy. My parents surprised me, and I came home from school one day and my parents told me to get ready to go out to the barn. I was confused because that day was not my lesson day, so I asked why we were going out to the barn. They so nonchalantly stated, ‘To go see your horse Abbee.’ (Needless to say, I lost it!)”
Tell us your fondest memory: “My fondest memory is when Abbee and I qualified for our first Jump Start, which are the eventing regional finals held at the Kentucky Horse Park. I was 13, and we were competing in beginner novice. Abbee and I placed seventh in the region against 32 other competitors in our division. You could not have asked for a happier kid, or a better horse.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Irreplaceable.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Loving.”


CaitlinM_Final

SmartPaker: Caitlin M., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Lass
How long have you two been together? “19 years.”
Tell us how you met: “Lass has been part of the family for 19 years now, and she was actually my mom’s horse first. We got Lass when she was four, and I was seven or eight. At the time, I hated riding her because I was absolutely smitten with the Appaloosa pony I had at the time. I think I was also a little resentful because everyone absolutely loved Lass, and I felt like my pony was underappreciated. Eventually, the pony and I parted ways and I started riding Lass instead. Obviously, I have since seen the error of my ways.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Honestly, I can’t even count the number of time I’ve thought to myself ‘I have the best horse in the world.’ She’s just been so consistently generous, thoughtful, and an absolute joy to be around. I love that I can always trust her in the ridiculous situations I put us in, whether it’s sneaking under a tarp on the trail, chasing down a runaway cow, or standing our ground in the face of some absolutely terrifying deer. (For real. Deer are a little scary.) Plus, I absolutely love that even though she’s closing in on 20, she’s still got enough spunk and personality to keep me on my toes.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Sassy (partially because it rhymes and partially because it really is her personality. I may call her Sassy Lassy all the time.)”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “I’d like to think genuine. I do my best to be as honest and hard-working as she is and to let her know I’ve always got her back. Even when deer are involved.”


WhitneyF_Final

SmartPaker: Whitney F., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Ritchie
How long have you two been together? “Ritchie and I have been together for three and a half years.”
Tell us how you met: “I had recently lost my beloved mare to colic surgery and wasn’t even beginning to toy with the idea of getting another horse. Then my trainer heard of a sweet Hanoverian for sale at a barn that we work closely with. We decided just to go ‘look.’ He was 17.3 hh of mush! He was such a sweetie, so without much hesitation Ritchie joined our barn just a few days later. He has been so beneficial to me in my grieving process of losing my first horse— I don’t know what I would do without him. Another perk to Ritchie joining my family is that he belonged to a fellow SmartPaker. She and I kept in contact with over the years, and connecting with her about Ritchie eventually led me to my job at SmartPak. So Ritchie is an invaluable member of my family and has completely redirected my life in an immensely positive way.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “There are so many fond memories that include Ritchie. However, the one that strikes a chord with me the most is actually a recent memory where we went to the beach for the first time. Saying Ritchie isn’t the bravest horse is a huge understatement! Each year since I have owned Ritchie, it has been on my yearly bucket list to take him to the beach. I live on Cape Cod, thus nullifying any excuses I had for why I never went. We have horse-friendly beaches and beautiful scenery to take in, so finally I decided to go. This fall my trainer and I loaded up our two horses and off we went. Once we arrived, we unloaded the horses—hers is a trail master with a ‘been there, done that’ attitude and was ready to go! Then there is Ritchie who was stomping impatiently and seemed to have a weary attitude toward this new experience. As we got out onto the beach, an amazing transformation happened—Ritchie seemed to suddenly be overcome with this new sense of confidence in himself. We went on an almost two hour ride and Ritchie overcame obstacles that I never thought he would even approach; he went into the water, walked through waves, and didn’t bat an eye at the kite surfer in the distance. I was so proud of him and by the end he was marching along like he had been doing it every day for years. I look forward to taking him again and creating more special memories like this one.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Remarkable.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Compassionate.”


AmandaB_Final

SmartPaker: Amanda B., Store
Horse/Pony: Hershey
How long have you two been together? “This year will be my ten-year anniversary with Hershey.”
Tell us how you met: “I bought Hersh when he was four months old and I was 16 years old at the annual Chincoteague Pony Penning.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “I think my fondest memory was when we put in the winning bid on him—it was just absolutely magical knowing that the little baby in the ring was ours!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Inquisitive.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Amusing.”


AutumnI_Final

SmartPaker: Autumn I., Merchandising
Horse/Pony: Molly
How long have you two been together? “Molly and I were together for ten years when she passed away.”
Tell us how you met: “I got her when I was 13—every teenage girl’s dream. She came to my barn on trial for one of my friends to buy, and it wasn’t working out between them. In the time she was there I was able to take a lesson on her, and I really connected with her sensitive soul and motherly nature. After a lot of begging and pleading, she was all mine. I can still remember the excitement I felt.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “Molly was such an awesome horse because we could be in the ring practicing dressage and jumping courses and the next minute we would be out on little adventures just wandering through the wood, looking for a new trails, splashing in rivers, and exploring new things all by ourselves. One afternoon, a few baby cows got out of a fence at our old barn. Always up for a new adventure, we decided to try to round them up. You would have through this thoroughbred had been herding cattle her whole life. She was like an old cow horse in a thoroughbred body with a dressage saddle on. After a day spent together I could be found sitting in the pile of hay in her stall with her eating around me just hanging out together. She knew all my secrets.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Princess MoMo.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Servant/Friend.” :)


MaryC_Final

SmartPaker: Mary C., Customer Care
Horse/Pony: Harley
How long have you two been together? “This is my OTTB Harley, who will be 17 this March. We have been together for almost 8 years, and what a journey it has been!”
Tell us how you met: “When we first met Harley was definitely a poor thing; grossly underweight and with shoes on his feet that had been there for months, not weeks! I should have walked away but he had the kindest brown eye that told me that he was worth the risk. OTTB horses come with a lot of baggage, and he had plenty. We have formed a strong bond, with trust at the core.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “My most favorite time with Harley is at night when I go out to the barn and find him laying down resting. I will sit on the floor of his stall with him, sharing in the peace and quiet. Life on a farm can be pretty hectic, and when you are at the top of the herd AND a TB, there is not a lot of down time! It is nice to see him so at peace.”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Royalty.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “Servant”


SmartPaker: Becki G., Western Marketing
Horse/Pony: Fred
How long have you two been together? “21 years!”
Tell us how you met: “I was actually in the process of buying another horse that I had been trying out, when the barn got in Fred. When I saw him being longed I really liked him and asked the trainer if I could try him out. The rest is history. I got on, took him for a spin and fell in love with him. We bought him that very day.”
Tell us your fondest memory: “After 21 years I have so many wonderful memories, but one of my fondest is when we were at a Quarter Horse show up in Maine. I hadn’t had Fred for very long at that point and was still getting to know his personality and all of his little quirks. It was a multi-day show so the horses were stabled on the grounds and we were staying in our camper. My little sister woke me up early one morning to say that Fred wasn’t in his stall (the stalls at this particular facility were outside shed rows). Thinking she was trying to pull a practical joke on me (not uncommon for her) I didn’t believe her. When she wouldn’t let up about it, I finally went out to the stalls and discovered that he was in fact missing! Little did I know, he had a knack for getting stall latches open. I panicked – the show grounds were very close to a main highway! We had half the show grounds running around searching for Fred when we finally ran into a lady who said she’d found him wandering around in the middle of night. She had caught him and put him in an empty stall near her horses because she didn’t know who he belonged to. I found him happily munching on some hay next to some new friends. In typical Fred fashion, he wasn’t running acting like a crazy loose horse, he was simply walking around checking things out. Needless to say from that point forward, I made sure he had an escape proof latch on his stall doors!”
If you could describe your horse in one word, what would it be? “Trustworthy.”
If your horse could describe you in one word, what would it be? “A perfectionist. :)”


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7 comments on “Now and then: A lifetime with our horses
  1. Carolyn Shaffer says:

    I have had my palomino, Sassy since she was born on 4/4/88 she willbe 25 this year, when she was a foal she would lay down in my lap for her daily scratches and she still would if she could fit. Lol

  2. Sonya Gangstead says:

    Thomas Horn aka Tom has been with me for 18 years. I bought him the year he turned 13. He won many endurance races of up to 100 miles in a day. At 30 he completed 25 miles of the ANCER in 3 hours. Over the years he has received various smartpak supplements and I was always pleased with the price and the quality. email me and I will send an awesome photo of Tom at 30 galloping down the trail.

  3. Sean P says:

    Beautiful. I don’t know much about horses firsthand. I would like to. Instead I’ve spent my life playing video games when the real game is out there. Well, in here. I mean out there. :)

  4. Tracy Wilson says:

    Apache has “Owned” Me for 20 years! I drove past him every day for months, then 1 day I stopped to ask if any of the horses there were for sale, they said that the Appaloosa was the Only 1 “For Sale”. I said, Thats great, cuz he’s the “only” 1 I’m interested in!!! He’s been in my L:ife Ever since! He was 6 when I bought him, he’s 26 now, & I hope he’ll be around for at least another 10 years at least!

  5. Allison Dunn says:

    I have had Nite Moves (Nahdi) for seven years now. I found her in a run down field in Arkansas, pregnant (that’s another story though!), and in poor shape. Then I saw her trot and I knew I had to have her. While not my first horse, or even the horse I have owned the longest, she is my sister. Nahdi means “sister” in Hindu btw. She is my therapist, friend, partner in crime, and absolutely evil to ride. Nahdi has never been easy to ride, has a complicated personality, and has no problem fighting you to the death if she thinks she is right about something. She is WAY to smart for her own good and sighs with long suffering patience when I try the latest and greatest hair-brained riding program. I get the “Oh crap, mom is reading another book again, ” look very often. :) I used to do upper level eventing but an accident prevents that now, and Nahdi hates dressage, so we are doing endurance now. She is a little 13.2hh mut of a pony that proves every time we do endurance that pony’s are only small in stature. I love her to death and as difficult as my little mare is I hope she NEVER changes! P.s. We are loyal smart pack customers! Love you guys and love your products!!

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Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

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