This might be a long one, so you might want to grab yourself a cuppa.
Last week I had a last minute cancellation and I put a little note up on my Facebook page to see if anybody would like to fill it. Joanna jumped at the chance and on Saturday I travelled over to Pepper’s Farm, in Sible Hedingham to meet her and her gang.
Joanna collects matching Quarter Horses. Ok, so not quite, lol. She actually breeds them. And when I turned up and realised I had a family of matchy, related American Quarter Horses to play with, I might have got a little excited! Can we just take a second to appreciate that even Crumble the Labrador, matches!! Talk about coordination.
Cally is the matriach of the family. ‘Peppers Calanthe’ is the mummy of Jo’s three other horses and has been with Jo since 1998, when she was an unbroken six year old. Jo had been out in America, teaching children at a horse-riding summer camp and had fallen in love with the Quarter Horse breed.
So when she stumbled across Cally’s add in Horse and Hound and noticed that the phone number was local, it was like fate had placed this horse into her lap. Cally was literally round the corner from Jo!
Over the years, Cally has suffered from a number of unfortunate accidents and it was this that made Jo’s decision to keep her a broodmare. And she seems to really have taken to this role.
Her firstborn was ‘Red Peppers Maisie’ and she is Cally’s shadow. Both Maisie and Cally are registered with the Foundation Quarter Horse Association and the International Champagne Horse Registry (ICHR) because the are both a rare ‘gold champagne’ colour.
However, sadly, Maisie was diagnosed with suspensory ligament problems at a fairly young age, so at fourteen she is now just a happy hacker. Jo tells me that she wasn’t cut out for being ridden western, due to her very stubborn streak, so she is just ridden in English tack, but is quite content plodding around the countryside, surround Pepper’s Farm.
Second to join the family was Tilly, or ‘Peppered Matilda’. Tilly is twelve years-old and was broken by a western trainer. Jo describes Tilly as the most ‘precious’, because she can be a bit of a diva. She has competed at AQHA shows and the occasional WES (Western Equestrian Society) event, with some success, over the years. And Tilly also enjoys pleasure riding.
And last but not least, the man of the house, we have Pepper. (The darkest in colour, of all the horses) Nine year-old ‘Peppered Mantovani’ plays his role as a typical cheeky younger brother very well.
Jo tells me that she tried to sell Pepper as a yearing, but (as you can see) she has never been very good at getting rid of her horses. Pepper has also been trained by a western trainer, with the intention of going reining. However, due to lack of funds, time and other restraints, he has mostly spent his life as a general hack.
Jo hopes that Pepper may be able to be kept as a fun horse for her young son, Harry, to do a bit of everything, both English and Western, with.
All four of Jo’s horses are resitered with the American Quarter Horse Society, in the US and passported with AQHA UK, so they can compete and gain points in both countries.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might know how much I love meeting and working with any horses that are out of the ordinary, whether in breeding or colour, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed by day with this gorgeous bunch. I absolutely loved learning about the breed and even had a little sit on Tilly, which was my first taste of Western riding. Ok, so it was only a quick walk around the yard, but it definitely counts! 😀
Thank you so much to Jo, Chris, their fabulous helpers and Harry for safely ferrying me around in the Kubota (although I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it even more than I did). I had an awesome day and it was a pleasure to meet you all!