Here’s a rarity: a photo of me as a teenager.
I’m about 18 in this photo. The horse I’m on is BF Phoenix and the reason I look a little anxious is I’m about to go in the show ring with him.
Pheonix is the winningest horse I ever rode. I hardly ever came out of the ring without a blue or at least a red ribbon in my hand. That was more to his credit than to mine. In this kind of horse show, it is the horse being judged, not the rider, and Phoenix was top notch. He is 3/4 Arabian, 1/4 Saddlebred, sired by the Arabian stallion Confidence.
Though I loved Phoenix, he actually wasn’t my favorite horse to ride. My favorite was Baron. Baron, who was full-bred Arabian, hardly ever won anything, because he had a serious fault: he was undersized. I didn’t mind, being small myself. Baron was one of those horses so spirited you had to hold him in rather than urge him on, and he hadn’t an ounce of ill temper in him. A classic Arabian who would go until he dropped, with his tail held high.
I was one of the best student riders, and to make the stable look good at the schooling shows, the instructor liked to put me on Phoenix where I’d win over and over again. I liked Phoenix and I certainly had no objection to winning. But I would leap at any opportunity to ride Baron. The instructor didn’t understand it. Even with a perfect ride, the best I could hope for from Baron was a 3rd or 4th place. But I didn’t care. All I wanted was the honor of being on his back. Hang the ribbons!