The Loft for Kids
If you are 17 years of age or younger, please write in and tell us about your favorite horse. It can be one you own, one you ride in lessons, or even an imaginary pony!! Write to us online at shop@theloft-tackshop.com.

If you prefer, you may mail your story to
The Loft for Kids
The Loft at Meadowbrook
8200 Meadowbrook Lane
Chevy Chase, Maryland, 20815
Blackjack
by Sophie, age 13
My name is Sophie DeWaal and I'm 13 years old, my favorite horse is Blackjack. Blackjack is a very sweet horse he loves everybody and he loves licking your fingers when you walk in his stall. Right now he is lame so I go down to the barn he is at 4 or 5 times a week to take him out and groom and walk him, he has been lame for about 3-4 months now. He is very funny when I groom him; if I walk to get a brush he doesn't enjoy being alone so he pulls at the quick release knot until it comes undone and then shakes his head to pull it off the twine it's tied around. When I'm currying him if I brush right in front of his back legs on his belly he's in heaven. He braces his back legs widely and stretches out his neck and lip as far as he can get them. He has been getting better consistently but one week my dad went on a trip so I couldn't go to the barn after school for a week. When I came back the next week and he had back tracked, progress wise, to how he was at the beginning of the school year. I just hope he improves soon, the stables I go to has been running into hard times lately because many of their really good, all around horses have gone lame unfortunately. But I can't wait until Blackjack becomes sound again because I want to ride him again and he is probably terribly uncomfortable being lame.

I love when we go down to the watering hole because you can just see how much Blackjack enjoys it.

I remember the last time we went and Blackjack rolled many times in the water, and I got to practice jumping on him smoothly as he got back up.

I remember when I first saw him; I was looking for a barn to ride at so I went to take a trail ride at this barn. I walked into the horse isle, saw Blackjack, and asked if I could ride him. The response was, "you're going to have to be a lot more experienced to ride him on the trail." Turns out he's horrible on the trail, however, I have ridden him a few times on the trail and he was really good, but I haven't cantered him on the trail. My friend however took him out once and cantered him on the trail and he bucked her off and then he jumped over her.

I got my first chance to ride him at a show, which my barn no longer does any more. The day we picked horses to ride at the show, I wasn't there so I was only able to pick the horse I was to ride in the judged portion not the game portion. So the day of the show I came and as I looked at the horse assignments I gasped, I had been assigned Blackjack for the games. I was incredibly excited and s cared at the same time because I had never ridden him before. When I rode him however, it went great, and the judge said that we had won it for our team because you see, Blackjack and I were last and in the race the teams were about tied. I got Blackjack to canter right as we went around the barrel, perfectly, and our team won by, literally, a nose. Then every other person he did the games with, he bucked off.

Blackjack is a great horse but I think he will be a lawn pony soon, hopefully MY lawn pony!

Patches
by Kellie, age 10
I got Patches when I was two. He was tied up on the side of the raod. He was very dirty and old but I did not care. I rode him everywhere; he was so gentle. My maw maw also had a friendship with Patches because he was gentle with me. When Maw Maw died it made me stop riding Patches. He grew bitter and mad and I could not get near him. But recently I started riding again. Now I am getting another horse but I am keeping my childhood friend to spend the rest of his years at my house.
Sammie
Sarah, age 10
My name is Sarah C., Age 10, and my favorite pony is Sammie. I have leased her for a couple of months now. She is a strawberry roan mare. She is a really good jumper and we jump about 2 and a half feet high. I sometimes will ride her in a lesson, But mostly I ride alone in the field or on "the hill". The stallion's stall is next to hers and they have kicked holes through the wood!!

The stables isn't a breeding farm, so they don't let them out together. At night some of the horses are let out to the hay. Others that are rougher stay in and get hay in their stalls. Sammie is let out at night.

I met her a year ago at camp. I used to ride a pinto named Poke'y but since she got arthritis she can not jump anymore : (. So in summer camp they paired me up with Sammie. If a horse gets too close to her she will kick and buck for a while. I was a beginner and often tipped over her shoulder. Soon I could master walking and trotting, So I was put into the advanced group. Our counselors were Sarah (leased Max) and Lindsey (leased Brown Sugar but now leases Max). We did this exercise that we were walking and the first person would start to canter (after we warmed up) When it was my turn to canter, Sammie started galloping around the ring and left me on my behind. After two more times I got it. We started jumping a course one at a time. There were 3 jumps all one feet. All of a sudden it was my turn and we flew over them. I was so happy!! Later in the year it was near my birthday and I over heard my name and Sammie's and lease. On my birthday my mom handed me an envelope saying I could lease Sammie. That was the most fun of my life. Sammie has been with me ever since.
How I Met Domino
by Julia, age 11
This is a true story about how I met my cute black and white pony Domino.

My Mom and I were looking at a barn that I might ride at. I had already started riding at a place called the Village Club but we decided to take a look at some other barns. While my Mom was talking to a trainer I began peering into the stalls around me. In one there was a cute piebald pinto. There was not a name on the stall but there was a big sign that read 'Do not feed me, I bite'. I was so temped to pet that little pony but we left all too soon and I knew I would never see him again.

About a month later I arrived at the Village Club for a lesson and found that cute little pony running around in the pasture. He was (and still is) extremely naughty and bucked quite a bit, often sending his rider flying. I asked my trainer if I could ride him and she told me that if I was going to ride him I would have to go back onto the lunge line. I agreed and I began riding him.

After I got off the lunge line I began doing small jumps with him. I didn't always ride him but he was my favorite school horse. I found out that he was owned by a woman who was trying to sell him. Domino being used as a school horse was just her way of advertising him.

When we progressed to slightly higher jumps (18 inches), he got the bad habit of bucking me off or galloping away after we went over a fence. I wasn't as experienced and would often go tumbling over his shoulder. On one particularly windy day we went over a small jump and after it he took off and galloped around the arena until he was tired then he bucked me off. After that I avoided riding him and when my Mom asked if I would like to lease him I said no.

My Mom somehow found an ad about another horse named Robin Hood. We drove to the stable and I got on him. He was a big gray and I, who had not been jumping much, took him over a few fences. On the car drive home my Mom asked me one question "Did you like him better than Domino?” "No Mom I didn't."

About another month later my birthday was creeping closer and I remember I was on the computer while my Mom was on the phone. I have no idea what I was playing but it must have been very interesting because when my brother yelled for me to come downstairs quick I ignored him completely and went right on playing my game. He called again and again and finally said "Julia! Mom just bought Domino!!" I was downstairs in an instant and hugged my Mom to death. Now Domi and I (his nickname) have been jumping high fences, scoring high dressage scores (a talent my pony has but does not like to admit it) and going to camp for a good time together. The highest we have jumped together is 3'6 which is pretty big for a 13'2 hand pony to jump. He still bucks but I have learned to stick in my saddle. He also has a stubborn streak which is hard to ride through but fun. He is NOT a trail pony although once he gets going cross-country he is pretty good.

We have a good time with our friends (usually mares in his case!) and he is very lovable. He knows how to bow and my friend and I are scheming about how to get onto Pet Star with our ponies. That is the story of how Domi and I met!
My Favorite Pony
by Alexandra Burgess, age 13
Dear Friends,

I want to tell you about my dream pony, Piping Hot. I'm 13 years old and I have loved horses ever since I can remember. For the first five years that I started riding, I rode at a local stable where I showed and rode hunt seat. Now, I compete in dressage and stadium jumping and am also an active member of PONY CLUB. I had ridden and shown many different horses and ponies ranging from stocky little drafts to leggy thoroughbreds. It was always a dream for me to own my very own horse. When I was ten my parents bought me my first pony but I soon grew out of her. The next few years involved me finding a new trainer and a new horse. My Mom drove me everywhere, we looked high and low and spent more money on long distance phone calls and gas then I can count!

At last, after a long search we found Piping Hot. Pippin is what I call him. He is a 14.1 hh Haflinger gelding with a heart of gold! He is chestnut with long flowing mane and tail and now, I've owned him and shown him for 8months. Our friendship grows more and more everyday and he seems to be so attached to our family! I've shown him in quite a few hunter/jumper shows and although he does have a stocky build we are now jumping 2.6 courses and have jumped 3 foot out on the cross country course.

Our first show brought us a great many ribbons, three of them being first place! I am so proud of my little stocky pony and this Spring we hope to show in training level 1 dressage. I also hope to compete in some combined training as Pippin and I both love tojump! I have had some people tell me that he will never do good in shows because of his stocky build. I don't really care! Pippin is my dream horse and I know that having a friend is more important then owning a 4th level dressage horse! Pippin really is improving on his gates andmy instructor is amazed at how far we HAVE come! I think that having a friend and a horse that loves you is MORE IMPORTANT then winning the shows and although we hope to do well this spring, I know that I'll always have a pony who loves me no matter what ribbon we bring home!

Pippin is my angel!
Star Surprise
by Kate Schriefer, 14
My story is about the horse I lease named Star Surprise. She is the joy of my life and I travel an hour from my home in Lancaster, PA three times a week just to ride my baby.

Star Surprise was born April 17, 1996 in Jarretsville, Maryland. That was the day the most beautiful creature in my eyes came into being. Although I didn't know Star until she was two years old, I know she was just as wonderful a foal, weanling, and yearling, as she was my loving two year old.

Star was born on Friendship Farms, a mid-sized lesson and boarding stable in Maryland. She was born to Surprise, a 15 hand bay Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse mare, by Thorn, a 13.3 hand Welsh/Connemara/Thoroughbred cross. When Star was born she was a beautiful light chestnut with a wispy star. She had long legs, as most foals do, and perfect conformation. And although she was of many breeds, she was perfect. She had the Welsh head, Quarter Horse mid-body, Thoroughbred build and spirit.

Star was broken and ridden at a young age. She was only a yearling when she had her first saddle on her back and bit in her mouth, Maybe even younger, but whoever taught her the manners she has today was an angel. Star has the disposition that every horse person dreams of. She is sweet, affectionate, attentive, and willing. She loves to play and such, but when it's time for business, Star really knows how to perform.

I met my dear, dear Star Surprise when I was 12 years old, she was 2. Mentally, we were both the same age, and in ability, we could do the same stuff. At first, I didn't want to ride the gorgeous filly, since I had been forced to quit riding another horse and had been moved to her, but after one ride, I knew one thing, this was the horse of my dreams.

Star is four years old now and training fabulously. She and I have grown together. Her, starting out as an underweight, inexperienced two year old; and I, starting out as a mostly clueless, inexperienced twelve year old. But now, we're the unstoppable duo. Two years together have really changed both of our lives. Star is now a perfectly fit, experienced four year old, jumping 2'6" hunter courses and doing superb flying changes; and I, the rider on her back, soaring over the jump with her, up on my angel's back, in heaven.

Star has her own web page! Check it out: Star Surprise
The Equine Rescue League
by Tara Guevara, shown here with her rescued Morgan mare, Mia.
In 1990, I was 14, working for a Morgan horse breeding farm and dreaming of owning a horse of my very own. Things were good for me and for the horses in my charge. I was learning about training, breeding, showing and teaching and having a blast with the people of the Morgan community. However, while I continued to dwell in this world of bliss, several members of the Morgan community were suffering in silence. Little did I know that my quest for a horse of my own would lead me to the doors of the newly opened Equine Rescue League. My relationship with them would change my attitude about horses forever.

The Equine Rescue League (ERL) was founded in 1990 by Pat Rogers. Before opening the ERL, Pat attended a Northern Virginia auction where a 7 year old thoroughbred mare, too weak to stand, was sold to slaughter for seven dollars. Pat realized that there was no existing organization to help large animals, and so she promised she would start one. After opening it's doors in Leesburg at Churchland Farm, the ERL helped over 100 horses and ponies in it's first year. Included in those ranks were 32 starving, sick Morgan horses in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

In April of 1990, the staff and volunteers of the ERL traveled to a farm in Fredericksburg to investigate a case of neglect. What they found upon arrival was devastating. 32 Morgan horses, the majority of them registered including some former regional and national champions, desperately trying to survive on 30 acres of overgrazed pasture with no additional food, water or veterinary care. An emaciated stallion was locked into a manure-packed stall without food or water. Two carcasses lay in the field, showing signs of struggle before death, serving as silent testimony to the suffering of these horses. A two year old chestnut colt dragged his shattered right hock behind him as he attempted to negotiate the barbed wire and debris-littered field. A small bay mare tried to hide her newborn filly from the herd in a sparse stretch of trees which served as the only shelter on the farm. She was three years old.

Upon determining that it was inhumane and dangerous for the horses to remain, they were loaded into trailers, dewormed, and transported to the ERL for love and care. Trucker, the colt with the shattered hock, was euthanized when it was determined that his injury was so old it would never heal properly.

Over the next month, the horses were treated for their illnesses and injuries and given the care they lacked for so long. Seven foals were born to dams who did not even appear pregnant. Two of the foals were born to fillies only two years old. The first of the foals was named Trucker Jr. in honor of the life that could not he saved. The horses started to gain weight and get healthy.

The owner of the farm where the horses were found was prosecuted. During this time, the local news stations carried the story, and my father happened to see it. He asked me if it was Morgans that I rode. I said yes. He handed me the phone number of the ERL, and said I should call and see about adopting one of those poor creatures he saw on the news. He said he had confidence that I could really make something out of one of those horses.

I called, I got the adoption application, I got approved, I got a place to keep the horse I would choose, and I got impatient. As the trial dragged on, I called Pat Rogers religiously, at least once a week. She always kindly assured me to be calm and told me it wouldn't be long before the ERL had custody of the horses.

On August 20, 1991, custody of the 38 remaining Stafford County Morgans was given to the ERL. On August 29, 1991, the perpetrator of these atrocities was convicted of 14 counts of abuse and neglect. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 20 years probation and a fine of $15,000. He received the stiffest sentence for animal abuse ever given in the history of the United States. Unfortunately, he served only 8 months of his sentence. On September 5, 1991, I made my weekly call to Pat and received the good news--I could come pick out my horse! Two weeks later, I traveled from Takoma Park, Maryland to Leesburg, Virginia to see the Morgans.

Upon arriving and finally getting to meet Pat face to face, I was escorted around the farm to see the horses which were separated into groups. Almost all of the geldings and foals had been placed. 1 remember fighting back tears as I listened to their story, saw their arrival photos and then looked at them in the flesh, now happily munching away on lush grass. I was finally led to the pasture where the mares with foals at their sides were kept. A perky little chestnut filly greeted me at the fence. She was available. Pat joined us then and informed me that her dam was also available. She pointed out "Wonderful" standing by a tree a few feet away from the fence. Her coat was a dark bay, but the hairs looked like burnt plastic. Her neck line was sunken, her lip drooped and she had such a haggard expression that I could not turn away. I barely heard Pat tell me that she was only three, had never been handled, and had a filly. Something burned in her eyes and she held my gaze for a long time. I knew she was the one for me. I made it no further than the car before I ran back into the office and told Pat that I wanted her. My mother begged me to choose another horse, perhaps her filly. I told my mom to trust me--I knew she was the one.

I came back the next weekend to see her and take pictures. She always turned to look at me in a most thoughtful way, as if she were sizing me up, her diminutive 14.2hh frame lost amongst the sea of mares and foals begging for treats. Begging was beneath her. She had a silent strength and dignity about her. Pat told me she was the mare hiding in the woods with her filly when they seized the horses and she was almost left behind. As I chatted, I told them of her new name. Mia fit her perfectly and because it means "mine" it was even better. Her show name would be Mirar Mi Amor which means "to look at my love" in Spanish. After my visit, I scheduled the next appointment and left for home. Two days later Pat called and asked if I could come get Mia that weekend because Cheryl wanted to wean the foals and it would be easier to get the mares off the farm.

On October 13, 1991, I hopped in the truck to get my horse. After some initial hesitation, she finally loaded and traveled quietly to her new home. She stepped on my foot as I unloaded her, and I know she did it on purpose just to remind me to watch my step around her. I spent the next year teaching her all the things she should have learned as a baby: leading, loading, standing for grooming, bathing, and blanketing. She blossomed before my eyes. By the following spring, she had gained almost 300 pounds and added four inches to her height. We were and continue to be inseparable. That following summer, we adopted her sire Justin, the emaciated stallion trapped in a stall. Justin suffers from far more emotional scars than most of the horses as he was not only neglected, but badly beaten for several years. Still, my mother loves him dearly and is content to have him as her companion. We still have hope that one day my mother will see the world from atop his back.

Over the years, I have remained close to the ERL, helping in every way I can. Once I had wanted to breed my own horses, but after having Mia and Justin in my life, I am dedicated to helping find homes for all of those horses who have slipped through the cracks at some point. I show my horses regularly and successfully at open and Morgan shows and I make sure to spread the word about the ERL and organizations like it. It's really satisfying to know my $250 mare who was snatched from the jaws of death pinned over the $15,000 horse who was specifically bred to compete in the division.

I do home checks and follow up checks for the ERL when the adopters are in Maryland. I help place potential adopters with suitable horses (my favorites: Don Wishart and Leap of Faith, Meghan Horn and Indian Summer, Nadiya Skyrm and Tazmania, Megan Woolgar and Terminal Velocity) and I give support to those adopting horses which need training or re-training. I attend the fall and spring ERL Open houses with two of my horses and show people what a little time, patience, love and training can do.

My little farm, Hidden Haven, is filled with seven horses from the ERL--my three Stafford County Morgans, Mia, Justin and my newest addition, Gus, as well as Taz, Coco, Chuck and Rum. You can see all of them here and there at different shows strutting their stuff. These horses are such a special part of my family and my life. They have so much to give even though they had so much taken from them at some point. They have each made me a better person and I have Pat Rogers and all of the wonderful volunteers at the ERL to thank for showing me how to truly appreciate horses and how to have a real relationship with them. Because of the ERL, I now seek to heal the broken spirits of the world, human and animal. If each person would just reach out to help another, our world would he a far better place to live.

The ERL needs help--you can visit their web site to find out all the details. They are in need of a permanent property from which to run the shelter as the Churchland farm is leased from the county and the landfill will soon take over. They are always in need of monetary donations, donations of office and stable supplies, hay, feed, and volunteers. If you are interested in adoption, please see their web page as there are many horses and ponies who need loving homes of their own. If you cannot adopt, consider fostering one of the permanent residents of the farm. You can join the ERL as a member. There are many ways to help, but each person must make the effort to do so. I hope this story opens your eyes. We need to be aware that abuse and neglect are real problems in the horse industry and it is up to us as responsible equine enthusiasts to do something about it.

More information:
Hidden Haven Farm 301-431-3084 or email HdnHvnFrm@aol.com
Equine Rescue League 703-771-1240 or Keyword: Equine Rescue League (of Leesburg)
Cause for Applause
by Ericka Schaeffer, Photo used by permission of Mary Lou Greeley
My first horse was a nightmare. Her name was Mary Jane and she was uncontrollably insane. She was sold to me by my EX- trainer, but he had drugged her while I had tried her out, tricking me into thinking she was calm. Finally, after a year we had to sell her at an auction. We basically gave her away and lost all of our money and even more. I loved Mary Jane; she was my first horse no matter how crazy she was. I was heartbroken for a while.

My new trainer told me she had a horse for me to look at. She showed me to his stall....and I walked in a in it was this muscular palomino quarter horse. I was disgusted. He was nothing compared to Mary Jane; she was the most beautiful animal I ever laid eyes on. This new horse's name was Poco. I rode him that same day, and he was wonderful to ride, but I still was not happy and I wouldn't let anyone talk me into liking this new horse. My mom loved him and so did my trainer. They were both in love with Poco and they thought he was gorgeous, I; on the other hand, was convinced he was ugly. I started showing him because I had no other horse to ride.

My first show with him I came home with two champions. We bought him that same day. I decided to name him, "Cause For Applause." I showed him almost every weekend and every time I showed I came home with at least one blue ribbon.

I grew to love this horse and he soon became my best friend. At the end of the show season, we were champion for equitation for the Howard County Horse Shows Association and I came home with two huge ribbons and two trophies. I was pictured in four magazines......he gave me so much publicity, and I owe it all to him. The next show season, I moved up to a higher division. We still did well, but not nearly as well as the year before. I didn't care.....he was my best friend, my reason for living, all my happiness.

That year was a tough year friend-wise for me, but Poco was always there. I would go and sit in his stall and talk to him, and he always listened. He was perfect. There wasn't anything he wouldnt do for me. I lost all my friends for him. I decided he was my best friend, my only friend. No one else was as good to me as Poco was. I dedicated myself to him, and only him.

I moved to a new barn after my trainer had a baby. She just didn't have time for me anymore. My new barn was very advanced and all the people showed on the "A" circuit. I knew Poco wasn't as fancy as all of the "A" rated horses, and in order to fit in at my new barn I would have to sell him and get a fancier horse. I didn't want to, but I knew I had to move on.

I decided to not even think about it- it was exciting looking for new horses, but it didn't hit me until Christmas day. Someone called Christmas morning and said, "We want your horse, and we want him as soon as possible." My heart sunk. I went out to the barn, trudged through the snow to where Poco was standing in his field. I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face into him....he was soaked with tears. He knew something was wrong. He licked my tears and I didn't want to leave, but I had to.

Poco left the next week. I went to the barn to say good-bye. He paced around his stall and whinnied and neighed. he knew something was wrong; Poco had never been this crazy. He ran in circles, and when I walked into his stall he stopped. He looked at me and I burst into tears. I was losing my life, my inspiration, my best friend, my reason for living. I had no other friends besides him. He was the best. I put on his halter and lead him to the trailer that would take him to Florida. I tried not to think about how I'd never see him again, but I couldn't think about anything else.

I loved Poco more than I loved myself. I'd rather have him be happy than me. I put him on the trailer and watched them pull away. I watched that trailer until I couldn't see it anymore. I couldn't see anything anymore, my eyes were blinded by my tears. I had to be strong and think about the good times in the past, and the good times that would come in the future. I wiped my tears, got myself together and thought about how Poco really was my "Cause For Applause."
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