Happy Retirement Ernie! 05/1/2012 To all the CDCTA members: Your horse is going to retire!!! Yes, Ernie has been competing in recognized horse trials for 15 years! I am planning a celebration of his career at the May 13th show at Westbrook Hunt Club. This celebration will be full stories of fun and history. Ernie himself will be there, so bring lots of carrots, or blueberry muffins, or oatmeal frosted cookies, well you get the drift. Bring treats!! So please come and visit and honor your horse Ernie and give him a memorable sendoff to a life of well-earned life of leisure. Thank you, Ann Bowie
Ernie's Story Ernieis a spectacular horse who was "donated" to the Club by member, CDCTA Board Member, and ex-Treasurer, Mary Schmitt upon her death from cancer. Mary wanted Ernie to share his talents with deserving CDCTA young riders to further their abilities and give them a chance to compete at a level they may never have achieved otherwise. She also wished to ensure a peaceful retirement for him that the Club has ensured for him.
Below are stories from Ernie's riders down through the years, starting with the first, Patricia Dingle who rode Ernie at Prelim level.
Patricia Louise Dingle (before Ernie came to belong to CDCTA) Ernie and Mary were an extremely important part of my life growing up, and it breaks my heart to not be at Ernie’s retirement today. I rode at Mary’s farm, Bramblea, off and on for 10 years, and I’ll never forget the first day I met Ernie. At the time I was riding at another farm, but was at Bramblea for a dressage clinic. Mary said to me “I need to get you to come out and jump my Ernie horse for me” – evidently Ernie was bored with just being a dressage horse, so for fun he had taken to jumping out of his pasture on a regular basis. As a horse crazy young rider of course I was eager for the chance to ride another horse, so I started driving out to Bramblea once a week for regular jumping schools. Those first few months were quite interesting – we soon found out Ernie would jump anything, and in any way he happened to get to a fence.
Travelling to events was always an adventure with Ernie: like at Millbrook, whose stabling didn’t provide doors. The first time we competed there I was so afraid of Ernie crawling out under his stall guard, that we hung 3 stall guards across his door to keep him in! And then there was always the chance that one of our times would be during Ernie’s nap time, requiring us to somehow convince him to wake up and get off the floor of his stall. Of course, pulling mane and braiding was real easy during naptime – no stool required. Then there was the time I finally convinced Mary to let me pull Ernie’s tail and shave off his rather massive beard…the deal was I could pull the tail and clip him, but first we had to braid the beard and take pictures! And we always had to have lemon poppy seed scones and maple sugar candy available for treats…
I have many more wonderful memories of working with Ernie, and could go on all day. It was because of him that I was able to renew my friendship with Mary (who, admittedly, I was a bit intimidated by as a younger teen). And thanks to Mary’s mentoring and working with me and Ernie, I grew as a rider and eventually a trainer. Losing Mary was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to experience, and while I hated to lose Ernie it was so very fitting that he was going to continue on training young riders. Knowing how boards of organizations can work, I’ve always worried that Ernie would somehow get lost in the shuffle, and admittedly I have “stalked” the CDCTA website, and eventually the Facebook page. I’ve enjoyed hearing how many riders Ernie has taught, and I am thrilled that there are so many people who still care about his well being, so many years later. I am confident that Ernie will continue to be loved and cared for in the manner that Mary intended, and I thank everyone who has been a part of his life and have taken such wonderful care of him. I know Mary would be very very proud.
Lindsay Welles I spent 2001 through 2004 with Ernie. He was the best kind of horse to learn along with because of his patience and talent. It was hard to blame mistakes on Ernie as he was so obedient. This made me take responsibility for my rides and realize that I’d only get out what I put in. Ernie had been out of work for a while when I took him to New Jersey where I was at college. That early spring was spent conditioning and tuning up. We passed the Pony Club ‘A’ test and spent the rest of our time together improving our skills through eventing. Some highlights include the cross country ride of a lifetime at Fair Hill, a few wins at Preliminary level, the generous compliments often received after our stadium rounds, my last Pony Club rally at Nationals, and appreciating Ernie’s afternoon nap routine…even if it was right before cross country as I was removing his braids. Eleven years later, I am thirty years old, married with a baby. I reflect on my time with Ernie as a real peak in my riding. Mary entrusted us all with a beautiful gift. I am grateful for my time with him and for those who helped us accomplish what we did.
--Lindsay (Welles) Wyglendowski
Jessica Bauer As someone fortunate to have had Ernie as a partner, there are several very important lessons that he taught me that I feel should be shared with everyone: 1) Sometimes you just have to hold on and enjoy the ride. Ernie shared this life lesson with me on several cross-country courses. To this day, I’m not quite sure who was in charge but we always had fun! Sometimes life is very similar. I’m learning that I’m not always going to be in complete control but I should still take a moment every day and appreciate the opportunities I have.
2) NEVER pass up an opportunity to take a nap. As a graduate student who is also working, I often adopt Ernie’s philosophy and catch up on my sleep whenever and wherever.
3) Sometimes you just have to cut loose and enjoy yourself. Although Ernie would literally let himself loose and explore, Ernie’s ability to break the rules once and a while and have some fun is a valuable lesson for anyone. Life is too short to take yourself seriously all the time.
4) Never turn your back on charity. Ernie’s humility allowed him to accept handouts wherever he went. Although this was usually a peppermint or some other tasty treat, I am learning that people don’t offer unless they care. Obviously a lot of people care about Ernie!
5) When you do something, do it to the best of your ability. No one can argue that Ernie was, and still is, an incredible athlete. His enthusiasm, talent, and experience made him an excellent teacher and partner. As I pursue my own teaching career, I hope that I too have an impact on students and when they reflect on their time with me, they remember me with a smile on their face and adoration in their hearts. I wish I could be there in person to tell you all how much my time with Ernie meant. However, I look forward to seeing Ernie grow old on the farm that I grew up on. I know my parents are honored that CDCTA has designated them as his caretakers. I also know that they will take excellent care of him because he always took care of me. To Ernie—enjoy your retirement! You have more than earned it!!
Stephanie Shea I was lucky enough to have Ernie from November of 2007 to December of 2010. It’s no secret that Ernie is a special horse and he truly changed my life. For the three years I had him, Ern proved to be not only a wonderful teacher but also an incredibly loyal friend. His goof-ball personality never failed to brighten my days. I have wonderful memories of my time with Ernie. From young rider camp at GMHA and two times competing at USPC championships to polocrosse clinics and gallops through the fields, Ernie was always up for anything. Ernie gave me opportunities many people can only dream of. I wouldn’t be the rider I am today without him and I’m so thankful for the time I got to call him mine.
Katie Weiner Ernie was a special horse for a long time before I had a chance to lease him. During the time I shared with him, it seemed that day by day he would continue to reveal new ways that he was special. One favorite act of his: goofing around like a restless high school boy the morning of an event, searching my pockets for treats, and then, the second we started tacking up, standing at attention with his game face on, serious and focused, and completely slow to return any shows of affection, intolerant of any distractions. But we always had a lot of fun together, from training at River Horse Farm in North Salem, NY to placing second at King Oak. For a Regional Pony Club rally held out on Long Island, we practiced and practiced a freestyle dressage routine, and we came in first – he was a beautiful, graceful, rhythmic champion that day, born for dressage. Soon after, that performance earned us an invitation to repeat the routine. Honey Hollow Pony Club, my club, joined a fundraiser at Old Salem Farm for a premarin-horse rescue charity, Equine Voices, and for our club. We were asked to represent our pony club with our freestyle program. The guest of honor also served as our announcer and commentator – it was Lendon Gray! She started by telling Ernie’s story with the CDCTA to everyone there. Thank you, Ernie, for earning us compliments from a rider and trainer of her skill and accomplishments!
Having this time with Ernie helped me grow tremendously as a rider, and as a person. I learned focus, and balance, and patience. As he was starting to show his age and had a number of ailments, I also grew in my ability to provide and assess equine therapies. Even more, I grew in how well I could put the needs of my partner first, deferring my own plans for his sake when needed. The focus and discipline that I learned with Ernie, and from Ernie, carried over to my schoolwork, and I was accepted to the Veterinary Tech and pre-vet undergraduate program at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, starting in the Fall of 2012.
Ernie really was and will always be a part of my family. My parents adore him, and while they make me clean my own room and make my own bed, they seemed to enjoy mucking out his stall. My cousin’s young daughter has a neuromuscular problem called dystonia, and the family wanted to use horseback riding as part of her therapy. We brought her out to meet Ernie, and I led her for a walk on him. He was a perfect introduction to horses: gentle, calm, a soft and balanced ride – she rides near her home now, keeps a picture of herself with Ernie, and still asks about him. What a loving teddy bear he is, and how much we loved him! Watching him retire is bittersweet, and I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for me. Thank you, Ernie, and thank you, CDCTA, for giving me this lovely, priceless, unique opportunity with this very special horse.
My Dearest Ernie, Our time together was short and bittersweet! But in the short time we were together you gave me a lifetime of memories. I learned to trust, you gave me confidence I never thought existed, you helped me to become a better rider, we played, we worked hard, we had fun and best of all we Napped!!! You have spent many years giving to All of us girls and the time has come for us to give to you!! Know that I LOVE YOU and will miss the time we had together! But will Cherish the memories forever! Happy Retirement Kym Mayo