I was very sad to hear of Karen Crossley's passing. I did not know her well, but I read her blog, Dust Ponies: Musings about the Model Horse Hobby. Her last post was about me, my dolls and my last live sale. That has been super hard on me. It is a very strange feeling to be chatting with someone and within a couple of weeks, out of nowhere, they are gone. Life is fleeting and when we get reminders like this, it sucks a lot.
As you may know, Jennifer Buxton (Braymere Custom Saddlery) and Lynn Isenbarger (Horsiemama) have started working on finishing something Karen started. Once in awhile, Karen would take a letter of the alphabet and write a post about one of her horses that had a name that started with that letter. Jennifer, Lynn and I are going to continue with the alphabet in Karen's honor.
My letter today is "L". L is for Lady. This post is about 2 horses named Lady. Lady Intrigue and Lady Liberty. As an even more fitting tribute to Karen, they are 2 of a very small number of OF horses I own. They both have been extensively live shown and are very important to me. This one's for you Karen.
Let's go in a weird direction and start with the event. Therapeutic riding is very important to me. Other than trail riding, it is one of the only real life horse things I have actual real-life experience with. When Travis was little, maybe 5 or 6, he started in therapeutic riding. "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man" (Churchill). That is also true for little boys with disabilities.
I started showing Lady Intrigue, who is my side-saddle Strapless model, in therapeutic riding at every show. It quickly became my go-to Other English class. It was not super easy to set up but it was not overly challenging. It evolved a lot over time. Sometimes I used it on other horses, but usually Lady Intrigue was my therapeutic riding horse. And she was good at it. Eventually she was close to a Superior event horse award. She had been an excellent all-around show horse for me for years, but she was semi-retired as she chased that award.
While this was happening I was also having fun showing Lady Liberty. Lady Liberty was mostly a prize. There was trivia at one of the shows and I won a gift certificate to Anne's Rockin' horse (no clue if I got the name right or not). That was Anne Giles' store when she was a Breyer dealer. The gift certificate I won was just about the price of Lady Liberty.
Showmanship is the other live show class that is really important to me. I also have real-life experience with showmanship, but not at all in the same way that I have experience with therapeutic riding. I used to go down to visit and work with Liesl Dalpe about once a week in her studio. Sometimes I would prep, sometimes I would work on dolls, half the time I would just watch her paint. It was a good time. One of the times I was there I told her my concerns with an upcoming show I had agreed to judge. One of the classes was showmanship, and I knew nothing about showmanship. Liesl, being the awesome friend that she is, and excellent at showmanship, brought me out to the barn and taught me showmanship. On a real horse. In the snow. The snow was not important, it just proves the level of dedication and awesomeness. It is amazing how much you can learn about something when a knowledgeable person not only shows you how it's done, but answers all of your questions. So I learned and then I went home and studied. I was amazed at this class that was so deceptively simple. And I set out to master it.
Lady Liberty is an excellent OF horse for showmanship as she is standing squarely, which is important for the inspection portion of the pattern. Showmanship is another class that I worked to improve over the years. Like I said, it is deceptively simple. You just need a horse, halter and a doll. But then you need to not mess up the details. I have a lot of practice with showmanship. I still will sometimes mess up the details.
In 2013 Lady Intrigue finally earned the last card in therapeutic riding that she needed for her superior event horse award. I was incredibly proud when I got this in the mail. I showed Lady Intrigue for a lot of years to earn this award. Near the end it got rough. No matter how correct my entry was, often there was something newer and more interesting that the judges would pin above my therapeutic riding entry. Eventually we got there.
By the time I was trying to get the last few cards Lady Liberty needed for her superior event horse award in showmanship, I had pretty much completely switched from OF performance to AR/CM performance. Some people consistently show in both. I don't actually like having super hectic show days so I usually show only a couple of horses, and just in one division. So for a bit Lady Liberty was coming to shows JUST to show in showmanship (or other western, wherever I could put the entry).
In October of 2015 Lady Liberty earned the last card she needed for her superior event horse award in showmanship at NEPC. And not just a card, but she got a blue ribbon. After several thirds it was an amazing end to her showing career. But I gave her another shot and showed her again at TRXC that year, where she again got first place again.
These days Lady Intrigue is totally retired and has hung out happily on the shelf for years. Lady Liberty came out of retirement to do a vintage performance division at Medieval Madness. She has also started to occasionally do a therapeutic riding scene and she showed in the Breyerfest Virtual show this year. Even after all these years, she's still a pretty great show horse.
I don't know how much I can contribute to this series, as I don't own a lot of horses. Karen also made it through most of the alphabet where my horse's names would fall. But I will figure out a way. It was a really cool idea and I am glad that Jennifer, Lynn and I are going to keep going with it.