For our equine friends who have moved on from TRI.
Sugar – Foaled in about 2000, Sugar was rescued by the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) in July 2012. She came to TRI in November 2012 and, after many months of TLC, she joined the other horses in the arena May 2013. Even though people in her previous life were not very kind to her, Sugar lives up to her name and has a truly sweet and gentle nature.
In the 15 years that she worked with us, Amy – “Willowcreek Amy” officially – served as a lesson in never underestimating a horse. She was responsible for caring for our most fragile riders with her Cadillac smooth gaits. Yet she was also capable of keeping our gelding herd in line, ruling it as Queen to Wabash’s King. We had to be choosy about who shared Her Majesty’s paddock as she would not tolerate riff raff.
Many people were POSITIVE that Amy was pregnant – for the record, paddock fences and cameras add on at least 10, um, 100 pounds!
We gradually reduced her work load over the last few years, saving her for those riders who truly needed her smoothness. However, at the end, her legs could no longer keep up with her heart and she was losing her ability to walk and even to stand very well. We buried her on the property in the fall. Fittingly for such a beautiful horse, her grave was quickly covered in colorful leaves. After all, a Queen should always be regally attired.
I knew you would be the right horse for the program when, shortly after you arrived, you carried David (a non-rider) around the arena as carefully as a mother carries her newborn infant.
Never quite trusting adults, you knew children were safe and would lower your head for them to pet you.
What did you do before you came to us? You had a lot of good training. Jan always said we could put the lead rope in our pockets and you would do exactly what you were supposed to.
When a child fell into your stall, you quietly put your head down and nuzzled him.
Did you knew Beth was a beginning jumper? Is that why, on her first jump, you stopped first, then walked over one foot at a time, checking back with each step to make sure she was OK?
You never did agree to trot around corners in classes. You knew your job, no matter what us silly humans tried to get you to do.
Cisco 1983 -2004 Diagnosed with Cushings. Did not recover from founder in all four feet, despite the heroic efforts of Jeremy Sintic, Dr. Romine and John Sweet.
When you joined us, we used to say, only partially joking, that, when jumping, you would take off from the parking lot and your riders had time to clean the rafters while in mid air.
Your patience and gentle nature gave Jeremy the confidence to learn how to ride.
We trusted you with beginning riders and with those advanced enough to “go it alone” with a bridle.
Was it a case of Napoleonic Complex that caused you to take such a dislike to Sympatico? We will always remember you, ears back, charging up the hill full throttle as Symmy lightly floated away from you at an easy lope.
Your handsome paint coat was a welcome breath of variety in our barn of mainly red heads.
It’s always sad to say goodbye to a friend. Cochise, one of our wonderful horses, retired from TRI on May 27, 2009. He had been a hard working member of our equine staff for two years and decided that he was ready to retire and go home.
However, this is a “good news, bad news” situation. While the bad news is that he has retired from TRI, the good news is that he went home to his former owners who had always said they would welcome him home when it was time for him to retire. He got on the trailer with them for the short ride back to the west side of Ann Arbor. There he has a little boy to love him and bring him treats, a horsey buddy to hang out with, and trails to wander on.
Our heartfelt thank you’s to LaDean English and Dale and Andrew Rose for sharing Cochise with us, and for taking him home with you for a well earned retirement. Thank you for everything, Cochise. You were wonderful and we will miss your colorful, handsome face.
On Thursday 10/23/08, we bid a sad farewell to our wonderful Dee Jay. Dee Jay came to TRI March 18, 2000, and for the next eight years he served as a faithful part of our equine team.
Dee Jay was donated to TRI by Paula Bishop and came to us with more dressage skills than any of his human co-workers could ever hope to have. Yet he didn’t hold our ignorance against us. His easy going, relaxed attitude was obvious whether he was in the paddock, in his stall, or in the arena. He was rock solid and reliable with fragile riders, and trustworthy with timid riders making their first steps into independent riding. Dee Jay was one of those horses that you could lead “with the rope in your pocket”. He knew his job and was quite comfortable doing it.
In recent months, Dee Jay had become quite visually impaired. This made him increasingly nervous and jumpy so we reluctantly retired him from working in classes at the end of Session 1. He spent the fall in relaxed retirement, keeping George company in their private paddock. However, other health issues forced us to make the painful decision to let our sweet friend go to his peaceful reward.
Dee Jay is buried here at TRI with his old friends Wabash and Brutus. I bet he’s up there right now, catching them up on all the things that have happened here since they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Thanks for everything, Dee Jay. You were a gentleman to the end and we’ll miss you.
Fable NTF – 1986 – 2013
TRI Equine Staff Member 2002 – 2012
Hi everyone – if you will permit this old mare one terrible cliché – if you are reading this, then I am gone. This abscess is just not going away and now the founder; well, I’m 27 and parts don’t last forever. So, I wanted to say goodbye and share some memories with you.
I wasn’t always at TRI, although for many of you, I’ve always been here. I was born and raised on Joel and Carol Greenisen’s farm. I spent 15 very happy years there, as a broodmare and as a driving companion for Carol. Carol was TRI’s Development Director for many years, and, after she passed away (much much too soon), Joel asked me if I would continue her work at the program. I agreed, both in honor of Carol and because I already knew and liked Jeremy and Jan. See, when the other horses went to shows, I didn’t like to be alone (I was a silly young thing), so I would come to visit at the TRI barn. So when I moved in, in 2002, I already knew everyone and the routines and happily settled into my new role.
And oh, it was a happy time. I have truly enjoyed watching all of my riders grow – many of my wee littles are now strapping teenagers and young adults. I always tried my best and took very good care of everyone. Tracy often said that if I ever made a mistake, it wasn’t because I was being ornery; it was because I just didn’t understand, and she’s right. Initially, I was, to quote Jan, the world’s oldest green horse. While I had lots of experience in driving, well, let’s just say my time in a saddle was very limited. At first, Tracy rode me and she and Jan could only talk in whispers. See, I thought loud voices meant I had to go faster. But I was determined to live up to Carol’s example and make Joel proud of me and soon Jan was entrusting me with some of her most fragile riders.
For 12 years now, I have taught many children how to ride, gave confidence to those who were nervous, and made sure the rest of the horses were well trained and well behaved. I even helped Jan and Tracy train new instructors and new volunteers. This may be hard to believe now but in the early days, I had so much energy that they would turn me out in the indoor arena to run about before classes. In true Haflinger fashion, I NEVER cantered, but, in my day, I had the most amazing road trot. I can still remember it – my knees snapping proudly forward with each step, cutting the daisies, my mane flying in the breeze, and my strides covering the length of the arena in lightning speed. I was something to see.
As I began to cut back my teaching time, I joined Tracy as co-editor of the newsletter, writing my “TRI Tales” article for each issue. It was a labor of love and I promise it won’t be going away. I won’t spill the beans, but Tracy and I have talked and we have chosen my successor. Speaking of Tracy, I do owe her an apology. Shortly after I arrived, she was riding me bareback, cooling off after a training session. My old friend George was jumping some little cross rails and it looked like fun. So I gave it a try. Well, it was so much fun, I forgot myself and quickly turned around to head back and do it again. Unfortunately, Tracy didn’t turn quite as quickly and ended up on the ground. I was sooo embarrassed; to lose a rider is unacceptable. But she and Jan were laughing so hard, I knew all was forgiven.
So, I’m on my way to that Rainbow Bridge. Tracy and Jan have promised me that they and Jeremy will be there when I pass on, and then it’s off to be reunited with Star, and my beloved Joel and Carol. I wish you all the best, and thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life.
Fabulous Fable, your Field Reporter
A “gent”le soul left us Spring 2006. Graham’s Bay, affectionately, and appropriately known as “Gent”, passed away in March at the age of 28.
Gent was truly an all-around horse: strong enough to carry our adult riders, steady enough to be tested with our beginning independent riders, sensible enough not to overreact to anything he encountered in his carrier as a TR horse.
Never a slacker, Gent did not like being in his stall. He wanted to be either working, or outside supervising the geldings. Tracy would frequently hear his “opinions” on the subject if he was in his stall on a Saturday morning waiting for his class. He would paw vigorously at the ground, digging quite the hole at his doorway, or banging on the door. One time he banged it so hard, he knocked it off the track! Then he figured out that, if he got his leg over his stall guard (quite the feat for an old guy), Tracy would come out of the office and take care of it for him, giving him some attention. She finally realized she was being conned when he did it three times in a row one morning, each time quietly standing there, watching the office door for her to come out!
Gent was alpha horse in the “Boys Paddock” from Day 1. He simply walked out there and the geldings accepted him as their leader. Gent is buried so that he can continue to supervise the gelding paddock and keep the boys in line.
George left TRI on 10/22/08 to retire home with his former owner, Marilyn Johnston. George’s AQHA registered name was “Georgio Tardy” but around here, he was known as Mr. Perfect.
In his former life, George was an all-around show horse; he won several Championships at Michigan State University in Showmanship! He put those skills to good use here at TRI. He was the easiest horse to lead as he knew how to do it himself. Even if his leaders didn’t keep him straight or stop him squared up, he knew his job and did it well. He was the perfect horse for training new leaders. He had the ability to “read” them the second they went in his stall. If he gave someone a hard time walking down the aisle, I knew that was his way of saying, “Not this one, Tracy!”
George was as close to bomb-proof as they come. We trusted him to take care of our independent riders and he never put a foot wrong. He taught several riders how to canter – his slow, rocking canter was a perfect introduction to the gait.
Jeremy takes care of all the horses seven days a week and knows them better than anyone. George was his favorite, his special horse, and it was a sad day for him when George left on that trailer. Still, he was proud of his boy. He said George stepped right up on that trailer like he’d done it every day, instead of not having seen one since our last Ride-A-Thon!
George, you were one of a kind and we’ll never have another horse like you. We wish you a happy retirement with Marilyn. Thank you, dear friend.
Hannah joined TRI on a chilly February 28, 2001, and quickly became known as our Cadillac girl. For the next nine and a half years, if we had a fragile rider, a rider who needed a smooth as silk ride, we knew just which horse to call on – Hannah.
Hannah was donated to TRI by Renee Pat and wasn’t just a super smooth horse for our TRI riders. She also had that fire and energy in her that made her a delight for riders learning to jump or canter. Her delicate hop into her canter, her habit of flicking her hooves as she trotted, all these things made her so much fun to ride and to watch her move. She may have become a therapeutic riding horse but she never lost her competitive nature or zest.
In the last year, Hannah began to have increasing issues with arthritis pain due to her relatively advanced age – 28. We lightened her work load, saving her for the smallest, most fragile of our riders while letting her enjoy her semi-retirement. Then, in late Spring 2010, we decided she should be able to rest on her accomplishments and be fully retired. She enjoyed the rest of Spring and Summer with “her girls”, Ella and April, grazing in the paddock all day, and being loved on and groomed by grateful volunteers each evening.
In July 2010, it became apparent that our efforts to keep Hannah’s pain manageable were no longer being successful and we had to face the sad reality that we needed to say goodbye and free her from her pain.
As with the equine friends that went before her, Hannah is buried here at TRI. If I know Hannah, she’s already caught up with them and is enjoying being able to run and jump without pain anymore. And, knowing her, she’s already bossing them around and taking back her role as alpha mare.
We could always count on you to be a lady and we thank you for taking care of so many riders over the years. Hannah, we miss you.
Henry 1988 – October 13, 2011 Henry had been with us just a few months but while he was with us he touched so many hearts with his handsome looks, gentle eye, and sweet nature. Clearly a sign of how he much he was loved by everyone is the fact that he came in third in the 2011 TRI-FECTA, quite a feat for a brand new horse.
At 23, he wasn’t a youngster, but we hoped that with good care and lots of love we could enjoy his company for many years. That was not to be however. We found tumors on Henry, and the vet determined them to be squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer with a particularly grave prognosis. Henry’s vision was also rapidly deteriorating, possibly linked to the cancer. Dr. Romine advised us to euthanize Henry before the rapidly advancing cancer caused him to be in great pain. So with much sadness we said goodbye, taking comfort in the knowledge that he is with Star and, knowing that bossy little pony, she will take good care of him. Where he is now, the cancer and blindness won’t bother him and he can be comfortable once again.
Thank you for trusting us and bringing smiles to our riders’ faces, Henry. We wish we had more time with you but we are grateful for the time we had.
Licorice the barn cat: 1996 (?) – 2008 On Thursday, June 5, 2008, we lost a very special member of the TRI family. Licorice, our beloved little black cat, died that morning. She is buried on our property along with the horses and dogs that went before her. Licorice was a bonus feature when we moved into this property in 1997 – she was already here and adopted us as her new (very large) family.
For the last 11 years, she has served as our official greeter, appearing like clockwork at the beginning of classes and making her rounds among all the riders, volunteers, and families, with that powerful purr of hers going nonstop. Ever patient, she never seemed to get upset when riders would pick her up and hug her, or pass her around, each rider wanting to make sure to get their turn with Licorice before getting called up to the ramp to get on their horse.
Tracy will dearly miss her “office mate” once the weather turns cold. All winter long, as soon as Tracy arrived at the office, Licorice would appear at the door, demanding to be let in. She would check out everything on the desks (hence those muddy footprints=2 0that were sometimes on your papers!), then curl up and sleep on her horse pad behind Tracy’s desk.
At least 12 years old, Licorice had a good long life and was loved by everyone – even those who were allergic to cats had a soft spot in their hearts for her. Thank you for all the laps and love you gave her. She will be missed.
Star 1978 – 10/13/2011 On Thursday, October 13, 2011, a new Star joined the constellations above Ann Arbor. With heavy, but oh so grateful hearts, we said goodbye to our wonderful Star Pony. Star was foaled in 1978 and joined TRI in 1997 after retiring from the MHJA (Michigan Hunter/Jumper Association) Pony Circuit. She spent the next 14 years carrying some of our most fragile, some of our youngest, and some of our smallest riders. Star was an amazing pony, and she was all PONY! She was full of energy and sass right up to the last few months of her life. As recently as December 2010, we had to lunge Star before classes to give her chance to burn off some of that incredible zest of hers before she was ready to settle down and carry her riders with care.
We even had to have a special warning sign on her stall door to let her tack people know they were dealing with a professional escape artist. Carrie, how many times did she escape from her stall? Not that she ever went far – just down to the arena to show off to the other horses. “Look! I did it again!!!”
Her patience with wearing her special “plume” on her halter and the many costumes we created will keep her in the memories of those of us lucky enough to have worked with her. Dr. Romine, our amazing vet, often commented that Star would outlive us all. She certainly tried to make his prediction come true, living to the ripe old age of 33. In 2011, she had two episodes of seizure activity and we retired her with full honors. She spent this year bossing Fable around in the paddock, eating as many carrots as she could get her lips on, and being loved and groomed by every tack person on every night. After a summer of no seizures, Star had two prolonged ones in close succession in October. We couldn’t bear to have her keep going through the seizures even though we also couldn’t bear to lose her but we had to make the decision to let her go. As volunteer Rusty Towers said when she heard the news, “Star is part of the TRI legend now. Her influence on and contributions to TRI over the years of her service were so much bigger than her small frame would suggest.”
Thank you for 14 wonderful years, Star. You memory will live on in the hearts of your many riders and loyal volunteers.
Sympatico joined TRI in 2003, retired from TRI in 2007. Sympatico, or “Symmy” to his friends, was our tallest horse at 16.3 hands. Foaled in 1986, he was a handsome chestnut Thoroughbred gelding. While jokes about “riding high” and “how’s the weather up there?” were often heard, his narrower body shape and exceptionally smooth, gliding gaits were a delight for our riders who found wide-backed horses a challenge for their leg muscles. Sympatico had a long career in hunter/jumper and advanced dressage before he joined us in 2003.
On October 21, 2007, Sympatico officially retired from life as a therapeutic riding horse. Declining health and arthritis troubles were making this job too hard with him. Katherine Stimson, his owner, found a lovely retirement farm for him in Kalamazoo. We will miss you, Symmy. Thanks for everything.
Truly the senior member of our equine staff, you carried our most fragile riders.
How many leaders and sidewalkers stopped breathless and frustrated at the end of the arena, panting, “It’s no good. I CAN’T get Wabash to trot”?
You could play “Red Light Green Light” on your own, needing no cues from rider or leader. This caused some trouble when we tried to play “Simon Says Red Light Green Light.”
We tried to retire you once, but you were having nothing of it. You knew you had a job to do, so we brought you back and let you do it.
Your fly mask earned you the name of the Masked Avenger – or was that your habit of periodically leaving teeth marks on other horses?
You and Brutus were a longtime pair – stalled opposite each other, paddocked together – now you are together for eternity.