My name is Zoe, I'm originally from San Diego California and I lived there for 15 years, and 3 years ago I moved to Loudoun County Virginia. I have been riding since before I can remember starting out as an infant on the lead ponies at the fair, to riding with my cousins bareback on her Arabs until I turned 6 which was the youngest age to get lessons. I took private dressage lessons for 2 years from ages 6-8 at an all Arabian horse farm, and won my first show in an all Arabian horse show in a lead line class (you know they all win, but I got the biggest blue ribbon there!) When I turned 8 my lesson mare had to be put down, I don't know why. After that I went back to my cousin's to ride before I could find out another way to get back into the world of horses.
When I turned 10 I took a few friends to go for a guided trail ride for my birthday in Escondido, Ca about an hour from my house and I was offered an opportunity to become a volunteer there, I immediately accepted! I went through the dramas and joys of Happy Trails Horse Rentals where I was surrounded by good horses and learned every step of the way. It's where I met Reggie, a retired 18 year old quarter pony barrel racer sorrel in color and a windy narrow strip on his face. He had a kind adventurous personality and floppy ears. I was in love! I was not allowed to ride him because he was considered a high strung horse, but one day on a trail ride my friend switched me horses and I rode Reggie bareback and we flew together! He would whinnie to me and gave me kisses every time I said hello and goodbye. I asked many times to buy him and was refused. Then one day Reggie was sent to a riding camp and I never saw him again. He was sold behind my back to an in-experienced girl my age who would seldom visit Happy Trails and tell me how much they love him in front of my face as they didn't know how much I hated them for stealing my horse away from me. He was later put down after his irresponsible owner took advice from a "cowboy" and put straight bleach in his feet for a simple thrush infection which painfully ate his soles and made him lame. I was devastated and infuriated, and still am to this day. I will never forget Reggie and our bond together.
After a few months of recovering from what felt like my loss, Dan Whinnie, the owner of Happy Trails felt bad for the terrible outcome of selling Reggie. He wanted to let me know that he cared about how much I loved him and said thereâs a new horse arriving the next day, and that I was in charge of the horse until he was able to be ridden by customers. My heart lifted and I felt a sense of hope and extreme excitement! I woke up early the next morning and arrived at Happy Trails at 6am and went on my search for the new horse. I checked in the waiting pen by the office, no horse, I walked up to the two pastures, no new faces; and as I was walking back to the office I noticed a horse in a 12x12 pipe corral away from all the other horses next to the mules jack and Jill and the two pot belly pigs. It was the new horse awaiting his welcome to his new home. I walked briefly up to the stall and laid my eyes on the most handsome appaloosa gelding with a grulla body color and a blanket with perfect spots on his rump. I pulled out the jumbo bag of carrots I had in my coat and he was in heaven munching on the carrots while giving me a thankful, kind eye. It was the beginning of another incredible friendship, he was Reggie reincarnated all over again. I loved him so much, and I still do, my Romeo. After two years of being at Happy Trails making money off of pony rides once bringing home $100 in one day, and all the good times learning how to ride western and improve my bareback riding skills, fly to the waterfall on Reggie for my birthday, and driving the mini pony Maverick, and mules with the stage coach on the hundreds of miles of trails in the west. It was the time of my life.
One day as my dad picked me up from Happy Trails he said to me "We're going to look at a horse to buy" I was overwhelmed with excitement! We drove back to our house in Ramona and turned into the driveway directly across the street from ours and drove up a long uphill driveway. We came to a horse farm owned by a friend of my dad's named Sue. Sue was a Rocky Mountain horse breeder who bought a few Rocky horses from Kentucky and had them shipped out by train to start her breeding farm. She had the farm for many years breeding and selling success to success. Then one day she had a stroke while riding and fell hitting her head on a rock which made her completely brain damaged. The devastating injury caused her to close the breeding farm and sell all of her horses. I did not know Sue's horse farm was just across the street from my house, and I was wondering why I had never been up to the farm before. Sue's husband took my dad and I over to two pastures, one had two rocky mountain mares one 10 years old and the other 5 years, and an Andalusian/Percheron cross mare, 5 years old. The other pasture had a rocky gelding that was 7 years old and a rocky/paint cross stud 2 year old. And I was able to choose between those 5 horses for my very own first horse!
To be continued...
Zoe's Riding Style
Hunter / Jumper