Friday, July 10, 2009

Tribute to Spunky, AKA Champagne Jam

No worries, he is still with me. I have just been reading the many stories from my friends about the most special horses in their lives. I do promise to scan and post pics from my family album, but that will take me some time, so will be a work in progress. I thought I would talk about my most special guy for a few minutes.

Long, Long ago, in a Galaxy far, far away (to steal from one of my fav movies) I decided I wanted to return to riding after some twelve or so years of not being around horses at all. To give you some history, I had always loved horses from my earliest memories and I believe it came from being exposed to the poor, unfortunate horses that the natives had in Ethiopia when we were stationed there in the early 1960's (I hope to post a pic of them). Anyway, I did take lessons starting when I was seven or so at the Naval Air Station near where we lived. They weren't exactly top quality lessons but I was happy. They were English and I never did any jumping. I remember my favorite lesson horse was named Sad Sack and he was a big chestnut with pretty white chrome. There was also this BIG palomino that I rode named Brutus.

Anyway, as is the way of most military families, we were transferred to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in early 1971. There was a big stable there so my folks got me my first horse, a four year old QH buckskin gelding. Probably not the best choice for such a green rider, and he was western anyway. Well, I spent two years with him and it was probably the best experience ever. The folks would drop me off and leave as did all of the other kid's parents. We had a blast. It is a wonder some of us survived. Cody, was quite the guy and had lots of talent that I had no clue about back then. He could and would do everything I ever asked. He was good lookin too.

We were transferred once again and Cody was sold to my Dad's retiring Sargeant who had land not to far from the Post. Was hard for me, but we really couldn't bring him.
After I was back in Va Beach it was hard to stay involved with riding. I did take a few lessons off and on for a bit, but by the time I was sixteen, it was done.
Fast forward to age 27, that is when I started riding again.
Spunky was 5 and stepped into the ring when I was having a lesson, it was winter and he was clipped (he turns very pale) but he turned his eye to me and I was done. Shortly thereafter, I was asked to ride him so that he could have some miles put on him because his owner was going to sell him. Can you say Conspiracy Theory. Well, Spunky and I just clicked, right from the start. I hadn't been back in the saddle but for 3 or 4 months after a very long sabatical. I sucked and yet he took care of me.
Now, I have to tell you about his history. Spunky was bred from a small QH/TB cross mare to a QH stallion so that his owner would have her next hunter. Problem here was that she and Spunky didn't get along at all. To give Spunky credit though, at 3 he was only halter trained. Can't blame the guy for being a bit hard-headed now can you. Anyway, at this time enters very wonderful trainer who got him started. She worked with him for 9 months and then he ended up standing around until shortly before I came along. His owner finally decided to start working with him, she was going to show him a bit and then sell. It wasn't going well at all. That is when my trainer put me on him and 6 months later, he was mine. That was August 1989.
A year later, we moved to Williamsburg and to a large show barn. We did show and had a blast. It was fun being a Pally QH amongst all of the bay and chestnut TB's. We always stood out, sometimes that was good and sometimes not.
I was always proud of my boy. We started as a couple of rank beginners and ended up quite the team. He was far and away the best of our little team. I can't begin to tell you how many times he saved my ass from my poor riding or my poor choices.
Spunky's best qualities were:
First- His bravery and his honesty
Second - His athleticism
Third- His versatility
Fourth - His adaptibilty
He had all of these in Spades.
I credit this horse and my daughter for keeping me sane during the the horrible years of my first marriage and subsequent divorce.
I have many wonderful memories and stories about Spunky, but I think my favorite anecdotes involve several very top quality trainers that I rode in clinics with:
As I am riding around in these clinics, three different Clinicians ask me if my husband treated me as well as my horse. My response, all three times was, NO, that is why I still have this horse and got rid of the husband.
Spunky is still here with me today, he is 27 and hanging tough. He is a bit gimpy left front but has been for a few years. It isn't getting any worse and he is still fat and happy. I will post a new summer pic soon. You would never know he was that old except for his back has a sway to it.
Good thing my hubby is a Teamster, he realizes and respects the importance of Seniority. The only one who out ranks Spunky is my daughter and she only has him by 1.5 years. LOL!!!
Anyway, the first two pics are of Cody, my first horse. Sorry for out of order. One of these days I will really learn to do this whole bloggy thing better.


  1. A Match made in Heaven! I once said about a horse of mine "the longest relationship of my life , longer than my husband , and not near as many headaches" The way horses hold an heal our hearts is second to none . Here's to the Handsome and wonderful Spunky!Cody was a cutie too!

  2. I love the story. Around here Francesca outranks everyone for seniority.
    I shall post a picture of my beautiful kitty someday.

  3. Awwwww! Great story, CCC.
    Wasn't Cody a Looker!

    Spunky was/is a HUNK!

    Beautiful horses!

    To Spunky, Handsome Fellow.

  4. btw where did you hang your hummingbird:?

  5. Fern:

    Hummingbird its hanging from the light fixture over my table in the breakfast area of my great room. I will post a pic tommorrow. Kevin loves it btw.

  6. CCC, sounds nice , Glad your hubby likes it too

  7. What a handsome guy- great pic of you two jumping, I love it!!!

  8. Thanks NCC, he was a blast to jump. I was jumping up his neck a bit in that pic. Bad habit of mine at the time. I did learn better later.

  9. Everybody had that habit CCC. So easy to form, so hard to break.

    Your leg is tight as a tick.
    That's a good thing. George would say your eyes,shoulders, back, hands, legs are great. Just gotta wait for the horse to jump...
    SO hard!
    He looks like he loved his job.
    That's what counts.
    He loves you:)

  10. Spunky is a beautiful boy, CCC. And you are darn talented over fences. Yes, George would smile.
    is that Spunky in your avatar?

  11. Paddy, yes that is him my avatar, he is now 27. He is still beautiful and wonderful in every way.


    I know, I did get better at the whole thing. That was shortly after I started with my really great trainer. He taught me how to sit back and wait. But look at how cute my boy is, notice he has one ear forward and the other is back, he is listening to me. Damn that horse was good.

  12. Cathy,
    He's stunning. What a priceless guy, no wonder you love him so much.

  13. OH he's so cute! You both look so happy! :) I can surely appreciate such a match in a horse + human team.;)