…Fauquier County, with its wealth of…horse farms, is a paradise on earth. Virginia, generally speaking, is horse country, and Fauquier is in the heart of it all. The state is home to the fifth largest horse population in the nation and Fauquier is second only to neighboring Loudoun County when it comes to number of head.
We really are surrounded by gorgeous countryside. And horse-related events, such as point-to-point (steeplechase) races, horse shows, and fox hunting, are the norm, not the exception. Yet I know little about horses.
Which is amazing, really, when you consider all of the horse stories I read as a kid. The Black Stallion was my favorite. And Misty of Chincoteague.
But I thought that stuff was all fiction. I mean, I grew up in Baltimore City. I really had no clue.
This past weekend, I took yet another tiny little step.
Hubby had plans to do some closet work this weekend. I’m sure I probably could have found something productive to do. I just haven’t been very motivated lately. I’d rather do something fun. Something that didn’t require a whole lot of effort or brain power. So on Sunday morning when I saw there was a horse show nearby, I decided to go.
It was a horse and pony show, really. See that picture above? That’s a pony, by the way. Not a horse.
A pony is not a small horse. A pony is a pony. And a horse is a horse, of course. Just ask Misted Ed!
The definition/distinction between ponies and horses is not simple or straightforward, so if you REALLY want details, start here. Otherwise, just keep reading and enjoying the pics.
The thing was billed as a hunter series event. I’m not sure exactly what that means. I think it’s a certain type of riding. Doing jumps and stuff in a smallish (when compared to steeplechase course), enclosed ring (that’s really an oval), as opposed to just racing. Both ponies and horses were competing. There were no critters being hunted.
I only stayed for about an hour as the riders on ponies did their thing. I had no idea what was happening.
I made my way around the ring, looking for the right camera angle. I was careful not to get too close to the riding area. For a couple of reasons. First was the mud. Ponies walking/cantering/trotting past do make splashes. Second, I know horses can be startled. I didn’t want to cause any mishaps. Third, I have no idea what the etiquette is for such events.
Most of the people there were with horses and/or ponies. And, because it was HOT, they were all far from the ring in what little shade there was to be found.
I thought about strolling over to the shaded areas where the folks were hanging out. But I wouldn’t have been able to see much. And there wasn’t much shade, which meant they were packed kind of close. With their equine companions.
Is it safe for a strange person to approach someone that’s hanging out with their horse? I didn’t want to find out. I mean, I can just see me starting a chain reaction stampede, wreaking complete havoc at the horse and pony show.
So I just perched atop a picnic table about ten feet or so from the rails. Roasting in the sun, watching, and taking pictures.
There was a girl of about 14 sitting at the opposite end of the table. She was holding her pony by a lead. I asked her how they score these events.
“What is it? Equitation?” she asked. When I told her I had no idea, she just mumbled something about rider positions and then commenced flirting with a boy who’d walked over during that very brief conversation.
There I sat with a bazillion questions and no one to ask. I could have found someone, I guess, had I been in a more-social mood. But I wasn’t. So I just continued watching, clueless as to what was happening.
Now that little pony is what I think of when I hear the term “pony.” That and the wild ponies on Assateague Island.
Those larger, regal-looking creatures look more like horses to me.
Especially when they are doing stuff like that.
That little girl on her pony intrigued me. First, you don’t see many African American horse people. At least in my limited experience. The various stuff I’ve been reading and the various web sites and photos I’ve seen have not included many people of color.
Second, I thought she made a striking image sitting on that pony as she watched others in the ring.
Look how focused she is. She did a practice lap, which went off without a hitch. She was clearly in command of that pony.
Then, when she was riding her first real (as in judged/scored) lap, something scared her pony and he started bucking. Literally, bucking. He actually threw her over his head!
She landed on the ground, right in front of him. I gasped. Loudly.
I thought for sure she’d get trampled.
There were a few tense seconds before the announcer said she was fine. Smiling, even.
Remember that mud picture from earlier? That’s pretty much the sort of ground she landed on. Maybe not quite as wet, but muddy nonetheless.
Her name is Morgan. I’m guessing she’s 12 or 13.
Morgan got cleaned up, climbed back onto the pony, and hurried back into the ring for some more competition.
You go, girl!
I just love the intensity on her face in that shot. Think I should hunt down her Mom so I can send her that picture? Or is it just so-so? You know, not worth the effort.
That may “just” be a pony. And most ponies are smaller than horses. But that’s a big animal. That takes guts.
Maybe that sort of things happens all the time. Who knows. Certainly not me, seeing as how that was my first hunter series event and all.
Now, there’s a girl obviously at ease on a pony.
She made it look easy. I think her name was Taylor.
That lost shot is my favorite one of her. She and her pony are flying. How cool is that?
I could have watched for hours. I probably would have stayed a bit long had I not been sitting in the sun on a very humid 93-degree day.
Oh, and did I mention that I’d ridden my motorcycle? That was a hot, sweaty ride home…