When MY BROTHER GARY: [photo upper left corner riding "Suzie-Q"] got Eclipse we took our first trail ride together. He on Eclipse, me on Shetan we rode for a couple hours through hunt country. Coming out of the woods heading home we jumped the last coup only to find ourselves in an impromptu race for the roses. Neither one of us asked for it! In fact, it took both of us by surprise but hey! It'd been a magically wonderful day so we let the horses have their heads and enjoyed whatever would come next.
Shetan was giving it his all but no matter how much heart & uumph he threw into this race Eclipse was always just a ˝ length ahead; running effortlessly; for the pure joy of running and staying close to Shetan for the pure joy of Shetan’s company.
It was so obvious Eclipse could have, by a long shot, left us in the dust. All my brother had to do was ask him nicely and in a blink of an eye they'd be in the next state with energy to spare. Gary felt so proud of his new horse. He was smitten. It was written all over his face.
It was also clear this was the first time I'd witness Shetan working hard to keep up with another horse. Shetan has an ego the size of the state of Texas so I knew this wasn't sitting well with HRH. I didn't know what to expect next but I kept my eyes open anyway.
Two weeks later I called Gary and asked him to race again; but, this time I asked to please let Shetan win. All I heard was a big sigh followed by “only my sister”
I had to explain since our race Shetan was making life miserable for Eclipse. He went out of his way to keep Eclipse out of the run-in shed. The shed was long enough to hold 20 horses & there were only 6-8 horses in that pasture,so there was plenty of room for everyone, but Shetan would push and bogart his way through the other horses [all bigger then him] to get from one end to the other just to keep Eclipse from getting in the run-in and out of the sun!
I don't think he believed me but, Gary reluctantly agreed to a repeat race.
We raced again; we let Shetan win and all was well in the kingdom of the pasture! Shetan gave Eclipse free access to the run-in shed.
They lived happily ever after from that day forward,
2 years later My brother died after being in a coma for 6 months. He had a heart of gold just like Eclipse and was solely responsible for my interest in horses & learning to have confidence, but That's another story for another time,
ECLIPSE: THE RIDER-LESS HORSE:
January 1990 ~ I began riding Eclipse after Gary passed away in body, but not spirit. It literally took me 2 years to teach him he could “walk” calmly. Now Eclipse has two gears: 1st & 5th!! Hehe But Shetan was making Eclipse's life miserable after every ride and it was my fault.
I stopped riding Eclipse to give him a break from Shetan's living hell.
By ‘92 I couldn’t stand leaving Eclipse behind when we went out on trail rides. so I started training him to come along; first on a tow rope, and then at liberty [where there were no streets to cross of course]
Friends would lecture me non-stop on all the potential dangers until they finally saw for themselves Eclipse acted like a rider-less horse on the trails. Maybe he appreciated being part of the group adventure so much He was thrilled to do anything & EVERYTHING I asked. It sure was a pleasure..
If he started to stray ... I only had to say in a soft voice "Eclipse, if you want to come again you have to listen." To everyone's amazement he'd turn around and re-join the group, either side by side or behind, follow the leader style.
Eclipse was as fast as the wind and so smooth to ride. You couldn’t even feel his feet hit the ground. His speed was intimidating! If you remained calm you’d remember he had working power brakes and all was well!
Eclipse had a heart of gold. Kids were attracted to him like magnets. As fast and as high spirited as he was you'd never expect the way he acted with kids. Little girls especially; If we placed an 8 yr old girl on his back and lead him around, he would keep tugging on the lead rope as if to say, Everything's OK, you don't need to worry. Sure enough, soon as I let go, he would walk the little girl anywhere she
wanted to go. Her wish was his command! AMAZING! He loved taking care of little girls.
Now, little boys were a different story! If they stepped on the gas just a little
they got a lot!
As for adults: If anyone was in a sad mood, even a stranger, Eclipse would leave the herd, walk over to that person and mush his nose in their hair or tug on their shirt collar; not stopping until he got you to giggle. he wouldn't leave
until you said "I'm Ok Eclipse!" ... as if on cue, he'd turn and canter back to the herd.
The other day I was reminded of the time we rode and left Eclipse back at the barn. Well, the next day as we opened the barn door, Eclipse pushed his way into the barn aisle; walked right up to the cross ties & stood stock still as if to say "It's my turn!" Soon as you clipped the cross ties to his halter, he'd be so happy he
would twirl the cross ties by tossing his head. First one side, then the other! What a clown!
At the barn, Eclipse decided he wasn't’t staying home again today! On our arrival he walked directly to the middle of the aisle; stood at the cross ties where Wulffe was yesterday and waited to be groomed. I was amazed. He made it very clear we were riding him today!!!. No if ands or buts!! I swear these horses are half human.
Sharon talks to them as if they are her children and they understand what she says. Eclipse certainly let us know how he felt. He was sweet and calm and kept closing his eyes while I brushed him. What an absolute darling pony. He really enjoys being fussed over and talked to. I love the way he peeps over his stall rope and bangs the rubber mat thing at the front of the rope to let you know he’s there.
My cousin Louis visited from New York and we were going riding. Living in Manhattan her whole life she rode at the Claremont Riding Academy, in nearby Central Park, the last riding stable in Manhattan. It’s an institution: dating from 1892 and the oldest continuously operated stable in the United States. It's a small building in Manhattan with an elevator to move horses & carriages. A trial ride is a quiet walk through Manhattan to Central Park. Nothing at all like the trail ride she was going to experience.
On the drive to the barn I explained to her I wanted this to be a fun experience she would always remember so I was giving her my main horse "Shetan" to ride because I trusted him the most. I also forewarned her when she sees Shetan in the stall: tossing his head; screaming and acting up she'll think I'm out to kill her. Hehe Then she’ll look outside in the pasture and see a very cute Gray Arabian quietly grazing & she is going to think she wants to ride THAT horse'. We hadn't even gotten to the barn yet, but I knew I couldn't stress this point enough:
“YOU DON'T WANT TO RIDE THAT GREY HORSE!!!
Eclipse was not as quiet as he looked and Shetan was not as wild as he was acting in the stall. Eclipse was fast as the win with power brakes but, back then, he had only ONE gear: 5th!!!!
The minute we got to the barn Lois took one look at Shetan’s behaviour in the stall and panicked. She refused to ride Shetan. She took one look outside, saw the cute gray Arabian grazing and became adamant about wanting to ride that cute quiet horse in the pasture "Eclipse". I couldn't believe it! Lois completely forgot everything I said in the car. She'd made up her mind she wanted to ride that quiet gray horse in the pasture and nothing was going
to change her mind. She was unyielding!
You can’t imagine how long it took to convince her how dangerous it was and how scared she'd be riding Eclipse. Of course, seeing Shetan's wild antics of twirling his head, spinning in the stall, and screaming didn't do much to help my credibility one bit! ha-ha!
To my relief, she finally yielded, trusted me and agreed to ride Shetan. To prove she made the right decision I rode Eclipse. After she watched Eclipse under saddle, no more words were necessary; Louis knew she'd made the right decision and we had a ball!
Of course Eclipse paid dearly for all that fun! Shetan was so jealous he made Eclipse's life miserable for the next 2 weeks. It broke my heart, but I couldn't do anything. That's the nature of the herd. But that day I decided not to ride Eclipse again; and I didn't for years.