Notes from a Jersey Girl

by Lisa G Westheimer


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All is Now Right with the World: Buddy and Missy Return

Buddy

The magical bond between a girl and her horse…

Every since I was 4 I wanted to be a cowgirl and a potter.   My grandmother used to dress me in a cowgirl outfit.  It was green and white fake leather with tooling and fringe, and I had a matching pair of white cowgirl boots, a little straw cowboy hat with elastic under the chin, even a matching white gun belt with little plastic six shooters.  I had a Mister Ed talking puppet and in the summer I had an inflatable ring in the shape of a horse to “ride” around the shallow end of the salt water pool in Spring Lake where my aunt and uncle had a membership.

Next to Mr. Ed, Gumby and Pokey was my second favorite TV show at the time, “He was once a little green ball of clay” was the opening line of the theme song AND Gumby’s side kick was Pokey, a HORSE!  I think it was watching those episodes that caused me to put an lp record on top of my mother’s juicer and try to use it as a pottery wheel (boy did I catch hell for THAT!)

Anyway, it took this Jersey Girl 43 years to live her dream of having a pottery studio on premises and a horse in the yard, but better late than never.  Aside from being perpetually sore, there’s something about having a horse on site I find very calming.  My husband says he likes me better when the horse is around.

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It doesn’t get better than this for me: raku firing next to the manure dumpster while the horses eat their breakfast

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Are you done firing yet Mom? I want to go for a ride!

I own neither Buddy nor Missy.  Both are on “free lease” which is sort of like leasing a car- I have to pay for everything in terms of their care and maintenance but my name isn’t on the title of either of them.  Acquiring Buddy is a story left to another post as it’s a long one.  In short form I got him when someone inherited him unexpectedly and didn’t have room for him.  I got Missy because I sent Buddy away for the winter the first year I had him and they put him with Missy and they are now so herd bound they are like an old married couple: they bicker all day long but go to pieces if separated.

When I first got Buddy I had more money than brains and could have been manager of the Clueless Department of Equine Care, but I managed.  We’ve been together 8 years now.  He and Missy split their time between here and Hunters Little Farm in Frankford, NJ, about 50 miles northwest of here.

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Missy with her “real” Mommy, Sheila Hunter of Hunter’s Little Farm in Frankford, NJ

It’s easy to decide when to send them to Sheila’s for winter:  when the water hose freezes.  I’m a Jersey Girl, not Gunga Din and it’s a long walk from the house to the barns, especially lugging a the 5 buckets full of water it takes to fill the horse tub.  It’s not hard on the horse to endure winter in my yard, but it sure is hard on this human.  I may be horse crazy, but I’m not stupid.

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Waiting a little too long to ship Buddy off. The look on my face says it all.

It’s hard to figure out exactly when it’s the right time for them to come home.  Too early and I might get caught out lugging water in a spring snow.  Too late and the summer’s half gone.  Then there’s mud season and it’s Siamese twin- shedding season to slog through.  The only thing worse than being rolled in mud is being rolled in mud then coated in horse hair.  Last year we traveled so much in spring they didn’t return until after the 4th of July.  THAT made the human stir crazy.

But this year the stars aligned enough for them to come home the first week of May- that sweet spot just after the mud/shed season and the hot noisy 4th of July.  I try to have them here so they’re settled in well before the 4th of July or just after, as it seems that every single town around our house is hell bent on blowing up the sky with fireworks that night in sequential order so they last for hours and seem to come from all directions.  The 2 of them have heart attacks and I’m out there in the paddocks having one with them as they run around.

But pyrotechnics aside, it’s lovely having them here.  I love to feed them, manage their care, clean up after them, brush them, graze them, and tinker around in the barn.  The barn seems to have taken the place of my office, I love organizing it.

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Step into my office where everything is neat and tidy

Riding him here is fantastic.  We go for rides in the field and bumble along over poles and jumps (neither of us are any good at it.)  On weekends we hack down the street and across the lawn of Thomas and Mina Edison’s home, Glenmont, to get to the woods.  Glenmont is part of the National Park Service.  We do a loop that takes about an hour, through the woods, around the pond, across a creek then a tiny canter up a steep hill (look out for the bush at the top!)  Along the way we meet many people.  Buddy is a self appointed ambassador of Glenmont, as he will always stop and bat his eyes charmingly, pose for photos and put his nose down (even through car windows!) for a pat.  I love this as many of the children who visit the park have never seen a horse up close and to see their faces light up when they touch his ultra soft nose delights me to no end.  Yes, life is good here at home, but even better now that Buddy and Missy are here.

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Buddy is a shameless poser

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Out for a hack on the road at Glenmont

 


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Adventures with Good Friends and Horses, NYC & NJ

It has been an amazing couple of weeks.  First off, Harriet came to spend the weekend, first time she’s been to our house, mainly so we could attend the Rolex Central Park Horse Show‘s dressage semi finals on Friday Sept. 24.  This date may stick in your mind as it was the same day as the meeting of the UN General Assembly and a visit by Pope Francis all in the same general area as the horse show.  We were mightily worried about ever getting in or out of the City on that auspicious day of Papal, Political and expensive horse flesh extravaganza convergence, but we took mass transit and got to and from just fine.

The weather was just perfect and we had a grand time.

We couldn't have asked for a prettier day and a more beautiful spot to be!

We couldn’t have asked for a prettier day and a more beautiful spot to be!

 

Harriet and I almost broke into a trot to get to the entrance to Wollman Rink in Central Park, which had been converted into an equitation arena complete with grandstands, dining area and retail venues.

Harriet and I almost broke into a trot to get to the entrance to Wollman Rink in Central Park, which had been converted into an equitation arena complete with grandstands, dining area and retail venues.

 

We couldn't have asked for better weather or a more amazing backdrop to the festivities.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more amazing backdrop to the festivities.

A competitor strutting her stuff.

A competitor strutting her stuff.

In addition to viewing horses and riders we did a little of our own in a very big way:  We rode Clydesdale horses at Willow Grove Farm in Longvalley, NJ.  I rode Cade, my second time on him.  A 7 year old gelding, 19.1 hands and still growing!  Needed a 5 step mounting block to get on him but he is gentle and somewhat well behaved even though he doesn’t like to pick up his canter in a timely manner.  Harriet rode Molly, a spirited 5 year old mare who liked to race which put a damper on our visions of long controlled canters on the cinder bike path.  But we had a ball!

My trusty steed Cade, note his head is as long as my torso.

My trusty steed Cade, note his head is as long as my torso.

What could equal such a grand weekend?  Why, how about a visit by friends Christine and Harry McLaren, their Arabian Extreme and his Victorian driving cart to lead the children’s race on the grounds of Thomas Edison’s home Glenmont as part of the Llewellyn Park 5K footrace on Sunday October 4?  Harry and Chris keep their horse where Buddy and Missy winter, at Hunters Little Farm in Frankford, NJ.  Chris competes Extreme in driving competitions all over our area and as far as Virginia.  They are pretty good at it too, top 10 finishers in a couple of finals, very impressive.

Harry and Chris brought Extreme to spend the day, and after dressing him and ourselves up we headed off to the lawn of Glenmont to cheer in the adult finishers and lead the children’s race.  It was great fun!  Everyone got a mimosa after the festivities and we all repaired to the lovely home of race organizer Julie Song for a wonderful brunch.  Extreme stayed at our house and had a nice horsie visit with Buddy and Missy who seemed a little perplexed to find themselves together and not at Hunters Little Farm!

Christine dressing Extreme for his big event.

Christine dressing Extreme for his big event.

Harry preparing the wagon.

Harry preparing the wagon.

On the lawn of Glenmont feeling like a million bucks.

On the lawn of Glenmont feeling like a million bucks.

 

Post race mimosa in front of Mina Edison's greenhouse.

Post race mimosa in front of Mina Edison’s greenhouse.

Oh what a wonderful life I have full of amazing things to do with incredible friends.  I am very blessed indeed!