Monday, June 04, 2012

Horses in May

With two daughters who both loooove horses, every month has a fair amount of horse madness involved. But May seemed to be even more horse-themed than usual.

Montana by Rachel Dubber
I started off the month with a visit to the studio of equine artist, Rachel Dubber. She paints gorgeous portraits of ponies and horses, some in motion, some close up studies, but all showing oodles of character and life. It was wonderful to get an insight into how she works and the amount of time and intense focus that goes into each canvas. Her studio walls are edge to edge with paintings and drawings, some complete, others in progress, the real life originals of the images on her website (which we’ve been working on for her) and so much more alive than any photographic image can convey.

I saw this painting of Montana in its early stages and have been following its progress ever since on Rachel’s Facebook page – love how it turned out now it’s finished. I was thrilled to come home with a gorgeous oil study called Connemara Princess, and the girls were just as thrilled , so thank you again for that Rachel!

Youngest on Violet   Middle Daughter on Flink

Youngest with trophy from last pony show
The next big event on the equine calendar was the pony show at the stables where the girls ride. These are practise shows, not as formal as the official round of shows, lots of fun but still with  proper dressage and equitation events. It was a beautiful day for this one, so no fear of standing holding ponies in the rain, as happened at a couple of previous ones. Youngest had graduated to a bigger pony for most of the events but was still down to ride the characterful Peanuts in the jumping at the end.

He has a will of his own usually matched by the determination of Youngest; in the last show she won one of the floating trophies for her persistence and determination in the face of his insistence on departing from the prescribed dressage programme. Violet, her new love, is far more biddable, though still no pushover, and Youngest picked up a rosette or two, as did Middle Daughter on the reliable and gentlemanly Flink.

I meanwhile am left holding Peanuts who has a wide gap in his schedule. All my video footage of the girls’ events is interspersed with sudden jerks as he drags me off to find a fresher clump of grass. By the time the jumping class is about to start his nose is thoroughly out of joint at having had to watch all the events from the sidelines. When Youngest mounts to give him a warm up ride in the side arena, he declines and trots off determinedly in the opposite direction at a fast pace, hauling Youngest right into the middle of the equitation prize giving. There is no persuading him after this. Usually Youngest can get some measure of co-operation out of him, but she hasn’t ridden him for a few lessons now and he is making her pay for her disloyalty. He kicks up his heels like a nursery rocking horse on amphetamines and heads out of the arena repeatedly as she tries to get him over the jumps. In the end her teacher puts him on the lead rein and runs him round the course. Youngest takes all this with remarkable composure, though I am exhausted! They are all pleased with their day and it was a great show altogether.

The girls have been building up a herd of Schleich horses for the last few years and these horses are the raw materials of endless games and ongoing stories and dramas. Each time they go to their friends’ house the horses are all carefully packed up, wrapped so as not to get scratched. The friends’ herd returns the visit. Sometimes individual horses stay for sleepovers with the other herd, but always everyone knows the name and owner of each individual.

There was much anticipation this month as the shop in Cape Town that stocks the Schleich range was rumoured to be getting in new stock. Between the two families the girls possess almost every previous model of horse (at least all the ones that they consider desirable), so this was exciting. Unfortunately their savings had been depleted by some acquisitions at the crystal shop, so they had to negotiate terms with their aunt. They set to work cleaning windows and booked in for further work. For the first time we permitted a credit arrangement, whereby they would work off the costs over the following two weeks, as they hadn’t saved enough by the time that the trip in to town was scheduled with their aunt. We had a long discussion about credit, credit cards and the fact that the bought goods could be repossessed by the creditor if the debt wasn’t paid in time! The girls came back triumphant with the horses they were wanting to add to their herd and now just have another two hours work still to do to own them in full!


  1. Loved this post, horses were my life for so many years. I miss them a lot now but we have stables near by if I really feel the longing. Take care.
    See Diane

  2. Oh, Kit - you've hit on my earliest passion! I was so horse crazy my mom had to seriously consider which stores she could take me into, for fear of me falling in love with ANY item that depicted a horse! I've never heard of Schleich horses... for us the "gold standard" was always Breyer. I had an entire stable full of those, plus some off-brand, crazy sized ones. Tiny china ones, and enormous plastic horses that were supposed to go along with action figures. Regardless of size or provenance, they were all included in the dramas played out on our bedroom floor.

    I also took lessons and rode, but here on L.I. owning a horse is much too expensive for the likes of us, so after a while the lessons dwindled off, as the instructors said there was no point going on if I was not going to "show".

    Still, the memories of those years bring back a smile. Thanks for sharing your wee horse fiends with us!

  3. My girls will be thrilled that my blog has readers also passionate about horses!
    The Schleich horses are a German make - you can look at them on Amazon if you want. They have families of horses in practically every breed known to a nine year old, so of course you have to collect mare, stallion and foal...! Very canny marketing strategy!
    Can't believe that your instructors said there was no point if you're not going to show, Marcheline. What about just riding for fun?!

  4. Kit - regarding riding for "fun"... here on Long Island, riding lessons and even just trail riding are fairly expensive propositions. I was going every week, and the strain on my family's budget must have just been too high. I think the stable owner was telling my mom that I had reached the highest level of lessons that they had at the school, and unless I was going to buy a horse and show it, I'd just be going around in the same ring doing the same thing... which would have been fine with me, of course, but my mom decided to keep on with the piano lessons instead, as I think she harbored secret hopes of me being a concert pianist later in life. Sorry, Mom!

  5. Kit, Thank you, I am so flattered by your comments on my work. It was so good that you were able to visit and see the work in real life. Delighted to hear that the girls love the painting too. All the best, Rachel

  6. Oh how terrible, flattered is not the right word, humbled is much more appropriate. Thank you again, Rachel

    1. You're extremely welcome, Rachel. We love all your drawings and paintings.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!