Can you believe that it's already fall? Here in the Ohio farm-lands we are starting to see the winds blow, the leaves changing color and the days getting darker earlier! Yesterday was one of those beautiful partly cloudy warm fall days. The shadows seem to be different now. it makes everything look a bit more like its time to get "tucked in" before the snow flies. It was Sunday, a day to rest and take time to be with my horses. So much to do, yet one day that I could choose to just take a break that was so badly needed.
When I think about all of the horses that we have had in the past, it's such a mix.
Our barn, located on Ramm Road would be full of large hunter jumpers, a few ponies and our beloved draft. Boarding horses would come in and be passage, western and trail horses. At one time we had a horse named "Kangaroo", lovingly - 'Roo' that belonged to a family whose girls rode the hunter jumper circuit. Roo was a light cream and white Paint that jumped from pasture to pasture just because he could! We never knew what pasture Roo would be in, it always was a surprise! Another horse was named Solar, he was a high level dressage horse that was semi-retired. His owner would do pishages and other high level dressage moves that were amazing. One day one of the 'boarders' said that they found a horse that would be great for one of us...he was a black quarter horse with white socks, at nearly 16 hands.
I had recently lost my horse that I loved and had ridden for years. This black horse just did not 'do it for me'. So my father-in-law decided he liked the horse and started to ride him...This horse was out of a racing quarter horse named "Go Man Go"...so you guessed it...the match was not made in heaven! The "black" horse, after a bit of time, 'became ours' because my father-in -law stopped coming to the barn to ride. The horse had no name....he was a black horse that was spooky all the time, but once you got a saddle on him, he looked beautiful, could go on a ride alone, not calling or acting up, and he had the smallest 'parade trot' which just always made me laugh. We assumed that something had happened to him, as we could never get 'the Black horse" to let us touch the top of his head. He would jump in the air and start going backwards...Well after many, many hours of touching his ears quickly, he finally let me begin to touch his poll. You can only imagine what it was like to bridle this horse!
Finally, I earned his trust enough to let me touch him between his ears. Then we started the "head down" que. I would put the slightest amount of pressure on his head, saying "Head down" and the second that he flinched a bit, I moved my hand and praised him. We did this, it seemed, like forever! More and more 'the Black" horse put his head down. That horse walked in and out of the barn with his head down, put his head down for his bridle...He was the best with the head down que! Our office had a humble beginning, we started in a 'dog kennel' right next to the barn on Ramm Rd . This was a big move up from the dining room table and the basement. As we hired in people to work with our family (these people were friends) they became attached to the horses in the barn. For some reason the name "the Black horse", did not sit well with them...They started to call him "Black Jack" and the name caught on....The black horse officially became, to me, "Jack'. Jack saw a lot of action in our barn. He saw the transformation from old traditional broken, repaired-re-repaired fence to our beautiful Ramm Flex Fence. He saw boarders increase to a waiting list because we could not take in more than the 26 horses (and we only had 16 stalls)! He watched them come and go for over 8 years.
Then we moved to a new house. He saw a small open barn turn into a real barn with six RAMM portable stalls and stall mats over a concrete floor (not to mention the 3 reindeer that shared the barn and lived in a round pen with stall mats on the floor!). It became a comfortable temporary barn until the 'other' barn could be built. That open barn was the beginning of what would become the 'RAMM Research and Development' farm. More than six years ago Jack saw the construction of the 'barn of our dreams'. He would now live in a 12 stall barn with 2 grooming areas, a feed room, hay room, and tack room totally built with RAMM custom stalls, ThuroBed stall mat systems, automatic waters, windows in each stall with RAMM window grills, Ramm dutch doors with a custom interior, inside mesh half door, and Orion lighting! Jack thought he had really moved up in the world, so did the other horses and the 2 miniature Jerusalem donkeys! The reindeer had a new 'barn home' facing the beautiful Ramm 5.25", 4 rail white flex fence pasture. All animals could see each other!
This Sunday was a beautiful day. I knew that all the horses were fed and out in pasture. I weighed 'take the day off, or go out and ride'. As life would have it, I made the right choice I decided to take the day off. Sometime during Sunday Jack went to the farthest end of the clover and grass pasture and laid down one last time. Jack never had needed a vet, and as for Sunday, well it was just his time to go. He lived a long good life. I can't imagine what would have happened to him if he would have gotten into the wrong hands - but he didn't. He lived his life with us. With all of our horses and ponies, the donkeys, as well as the boarders. There are so many memories that we make in having our horses! I am thankful to have had that 'black horse.'
Jack will always be a special to me, as well as our family and our 'friends' that work with us at RAMM.
Debbie has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She is a certified fence installer, has given balanced riding lessons, and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials, Dressage and driving classes. Debbie has been involved in foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible, and she welcomes your questions and comments. If you are interested in using any articles by Debbie, please send her an email.