Dumpling a.k.a “Dumpy”
Dumpling or “Dumpy” as we fondly called her was a dark bay pony mare. I don’t recall that she had any white markings on her at all.
We got her on lease with another family. It turned out they weren’t interested after all, and the pony I thought I was going to have to share, suddenly I didn’t.
She Needed A Retirement Job
Dumpy had been a great little show hunter pony. Winning lots of ribbons for her original owners. At the time they had moved on to big young thoroughbreds. That being said, they couldn’t bear to sell Dumpy but were okay with leasing her out.
She came to live at the farm across the street from our farm. Which at the time was owned by our dear family friend. I still remember which stall she was in and everything.
What I don’t remember was if I had a test ride on her before we got her on lease. I don’t think I did. My mom knew the ponies and owners reputation and trusted them. I don’t remember any test rides on Dumpy.
First Real Lease
I do remember the day that she came to the barn and was standing in that end stall. That was the first time I really leased a pony” of my own”. Obviously, I had help from my mom and instructor, but this was the first time I could feel like I had a pony of my own.
I had leased other ponies and horses before at a lesson stable. It wasn’t quite the same as the lease with Dumpy. Many people leased each one of those school horses. It didn’t really feel like a horse of my own. I loved it none the less. Dumpy though felt like she was mine.
She was a large pony, or maybe a small horse, I honestly can’t remember off hand. She was a quarter horse sort of build with a big barrel that took up my long spidery legs better than you would have thought.
I Couldn’t Have Asked For A Safer Pony
When Dumpy first came to the farm she was a really fun pony to ride. Ideal really for a first time leaser. Her ground manners and under saddle manners were both great. You really couldn’t ask for any better behavior for a kids horse.
She was basically a push button pony. I rode her around the field at the walk and trot. We also did some cantering some toward the end of our time together. I had just started learning how to canter. We would practice trotting on the long sides of the field. Then I would get brave and ask her for the canter on the short sides of the field. I remember being nervous but Dumpy would easily step up into the canter and easily come back down to trot when I asked.
I gained a lot of confidence in her. Bringing her in and out of the field on my own, spending time on the ground with her, and of course, riding. In the time period that I had Dumpy, I had started going over small jumps at the lesson farm I was still attending as well as leasing at the other farm.
My First Experience With Navicular
From the beginning when Dumpy came I was told that she couldn’t jump because of the navicular disease in her front feet. I didn’t care I rode her on the flat, rode her bareback, I just rode her and had a blast. I was content riding her like a “horse of my own” and then going to the lesson barn and working on little jumps.
Dumpy always seemed to trip a lot. Not like dangerously in the beginning, but I guess because the navicular disease was progressing, over time the tripping became more and more of a problem.
She was seen by the vet, who said that she was in the proper shoes she should be in and her feet looked good. She just explained that this sometimes happened with this disease, there wasn’t really anything to be done about it because it is a degenerative condition. The vet said that eventually, she might not be safe to ride because of it.
I really don’t know how much time passed or when it happened. The tripping got a lot worse though. A few times she tripped and went down on her knees. Almost falling all the way down. That was pretty scary for me as a young inexperienced rider.
For a while, I just didn’t canter anymore. Then when that wasn’t helping with the tripping I decided to stick to trot. She got to the point where even at the walk she was doing these lurching forward trips. Bringing her to her knees. Sometimes bringing me halfway up her neck or sometimes I ended up on the ground.
It Was Time For Her To Be Fully Retired
We realized that her riding days needed to be done. To prevent her from hurting herself or anyone else. We kept her as I began the search for a horse of my own. I still brushed her and loved on her just as much. To me, a kid at the time, I felt like she was mine.
The time came for Dumpy to be returned to her owners. It was a good home and it was the same people that had her for years before I leased her. It’s not like I needed to worry about her. She would be just fine.
This though was the first time I can remember saying goodbye and seeing a horse go. One that I was attached to. Being a little kid in my mind I did understand what leasing meant, that it wasn’t permanent. Dumpy was not in fact mine. In my heart, though it was a different story.
I honestly don’t remember the exact circumstances of her being returned to her owners. In my mind, it seemed like it all happened really quickly. It could have been just because I was so young though..who knows!
Falling In Love With Other People’s Horses
Anyway, seeing her go after being attached to her was like a punch in the gut to me at that age. I was horse crazy and I loved that pony even when I couldn’t ride her anymore. It was like a rude awakening. The first time that it hit me that maybe it isn’t such a great idea to get attached to horses that aren’t yours.
Of course over the years that is a lesson I never really learned. I can’t tell you how many tears I have shed over saying goodbye to horses I loved that weren’t even mine.
She Was Well Worth The Tears
If you are a horse person even if in your logical mind you know you should not get attached to a horse you don’t own. When you are horse crazy, it is next to impossible. When you a horse crazy kid I basically think it is impossible.
Dumpy was special because she taught me it is well worth the tears to know a good horse or pony, even if it is for a little while. She also taught me that horse crazy peoples feelings for horses can’t be subdued just because the horse belongs to someone else.
Dumpy was the first horse I loved that I had to see go on to somewhere else. There are many, many more of them. You just never forget the feeling of seeing a horse you love leave when you are young. I still remember how sad I was.
The time I had with her was well worth the tears!