Horse Nation Gives Thanks

Here at Horse Nation, we’re thankful to approach another holiday season and have another chance to give thanks. So we’d like to take a moment to express our thanks to those that make our lives richer.

Marcella Gruchalak

Photo by Matt Cline

This year, there’s a lot to be thankful for. My youngest horse is off at the trainer getting a solid education, my two geldings are getting much needed time off before we start competing again, and we have enough second cut hay to get us through the winter. However, what I’m most thankful for is that the hose has not frozen once yet to this point and that makes my life so much easier with a broken lower extremity. My crew would like to extend all our readers warm wishes this Thanksgiving.

Amanda Uechi Ronan

This year has been a bit rough. My 30-year-old heart horse, Aggie, was diagnosed with equine systemic proteoglycan accumulation (ESPA), formerly known as DSLD, in the spring. There is no cure, and, at the time of diagnosis, he wasn’t reacting well to pain management. On top of his preexisting cushings and vision loss, it didn’t bode well. To be honest, I didn’t know if we were going to make it “one last summer,” and I experienced a lot of anticipatory grief. But we worked out a pain regimen that improved his quality of life, and he did make it through the summer and then the fall, and now we’re closing in on the end of the year. He has good days and bad days, and I’m sure there are people out there who would have already chosen to euthanize. But while he’s eating all his meals, socializing with his two mares, and asking for scritches from me… I’m inclined to tell those people to kiss his big, beautiful (albeit slightly lame) Quarter Horse hindquarters. I still have my bad days too, where I’m overcome with grief about losing my best friend, but mostly I’m just grateful. I’m grateful for the almost 29 years we’ve spent together and grateful for every day we have left.

Morgane Schmidt

As most, I am thankful for the standard things so often mentioned — my friends, family, health, job, critters, copious amounts of coffee, not dying while riding The Red Dragon (that one might just be me), etc. — and while those are all quite significant, and although I am deeply thankful for them, I thought I would mention a few of the less traditional things I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful to have something — riding– in my life that I remain entirely, unequivocally passionate about. It dawned on me that there are in fact people who don’t have something that ignites that sort of all encompassing excitement and drive within them (I believe they may be called ‘sane’). While I do tend to magpie about in life, getting excited (and subsequently obsessed) with new ideas or activities briefly before flitting to the next, the horses have remained a constant staple. I hope that you all have a similar passion — be it horses or basket weaving — and if you haven’t found it, I humbly suggest you keep exploring.

I’m also thankful for all the seemingly serendipitous synchronicities in my life that have lead me to meet some of the most interesting, wonderful people. I feel like I have been quite fortunate in that I often stumble upon the most significant people at just the right times (and, as Frost would say, that has made all the difference).

DeAnn Long Sloan

I was just rereading my entry from last year, and I’m actually pretty pleased to say that I am grateful for many of the same things: having the opportunity to ride with my girls, having a knowledgeable and helpful team of equine professionals at my fingertips, having a solid group of boarders that look out for each other’s horses, and a great staff at Horse Nation that keeps our ridiculous horsing around the world going on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

Arden running Pony at the New York State Shoot. Photo by Tim Frank.

Ellis on a trail ride on Poppy, her OTTB and future shooting horse. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

This year I would like to add a few more things to the list. Of course, I am grateful for every ride on my fire-breathing dragon sassy chestnut mare. I have often said that I am holding her together with duct tape and baling twine (despite her age), so I’m thrilled that she’s still running and competing until my filly can take her spot and she can take up a more leisurely (for now) pace with my girls.

Photo by Ken Siems

I’m also incredibly thankful for the crew that surrounds my girls and me while we’re competing. They’re incredibly supportive — from making sure that the everyone’s horse is saddled and ready to go if one of us is busy elsewhere to making sure we’ve all eaten while running events to offering advice on lines, the mounted shooting competitions absolutely would not be the same without them. I love the sport, but the people are what make it truly amazing.

A group of winners (from 2022).

Of course, I can’t forget my ever-patient husband, who puts up with my horsing around the world (even if it’s not his proverbial cup of tea) while he hangs out with my son and keeps him busy with bikes, excavators, and all things mechanical.

Warren on the excavator. Photo by C.J. Sloan.

Candace Wade

I use the word “thankful” sparingly. I’m not thankful if my friend treats me to coffee. I am thankful if she gives me her kidney. That said, I am ever thankful to my schooling horse, Amber, – everyday – for years. We are both deep into “maturity” now, but we still bathe in the bliss of moseying around in all seasons together. She has taught me so much – she corrects my stupid mistakes – she bolsters my flagging courage — she drops her head on my arm while I massage her neck so I can believe she likes me. I am thankful for Amber – and all schooling horses.

Happy Thanksgiving, Horse Nation. Go Riding!