This note is about a year overdue, but I only found your website the other day. My name is Karen, and my daughter rides with Julie Becker at Little Pine Farm. In December 2002, I bought a gray thoroughbred gelding from you, for my then 14 year old daughter, Cait. I don't know if Julie mentioned it to you, but we'd had some bad experiences in finding a horse for Cait. The first one was a track rescue that we adopted. Even with 6 months of professional training, this horse would rear any time she didn't feel like doing something, and although Cait loved the horse, she was also very much afraid of her. I ended up having to send her back to the adoption stable. We tried again the next year, and this time, the sweet gelding that seemed sound (and vet checked okay) when we tried him, came off the trailer after arriving at our barn, dead lame, with what turned out to be a severe case of 'string halt.'
We had to put him down just 5 days after we got him, and my daughter was heart broken. A few months later, we found Julie, and she started looking for a horse for us. The first one she found for us to try was a little appy mare. Kind of a "Plain Jane", but Cait loved her anyway so we decided to buy her. I was sitting there writing out the check, when I looked up and saw the mare was lame as Cait trotted around during her lesson! She had been favoring one foot a few days before, but the problem seemed to have been corrected by new shoes. Julie came over to me, shaking her head, and I agreed.
When we told Cait that we had to send "Abby" back, she started crying, so Julie took her into the tack room for a private meeting. I found out later that during this meeting, in a desperate effort to make Cait stop crying, Julie promised to find her a "perfect" horse, that was "more beautiful, more talented, and much better" than the one we had to send back. A pretty tall order, considering my limited budget!
We also had to contend with the fact that Cait (then an advanced beginner) needed something that would pack her around safely, yet not be so dead that she would outgrow it as her skills developed. I am HAPPY to report that "Ashton" (Out of the Ashes) turned out to be EXACTLY what we were looking for.
At first Julie and I were a little concerned that he might be too much horse for Cait, but for some reason, they just hit it off right from the start. Cait had a tendency to get nervous at the canter and grip tightly with her legs which we had seen fire up several other ponies and horses, but for some reason, she did not have this effect on Ashton.
Also surprising, Cait was completely relaxed on him, right from the start. The two of them bonded immediately, and he seems to really love her. Since Cait was basically just learning to jump, Julie thought it would be a while before she'd be able to jump Ashton, with his big, athletic style. But within a week after buying him, she decided to give it a try over a small cross rail.
The first time, Ashton jumped big, and Cait looked wobbly. The second time, he barely cleared it, keeping his back as flat as possible. Julie said "I LOVE this horse. A lot of other horses would have felt how loose she is and taken advantage of her, but he actually adjusted himself to hold onto her". Over the past year, Ashton continued to impress us. This August, one of Julie's older students, Erin Fletcher, showed him for us at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. It was only his second time in the ring, and he was incredible, sweeping the Baby Green division with blue ribbons in all classes. Every jumping round was better than the last, and by the end of the last trip, we all had tears in our eyes. It turns out, Ashton is a natural HAM and loves the attention and clapping. He literally struts out of the ring!
Cait was so thrilled and so proud of him. Ashton continues to amaze us. He's flashy, beautiful, a very talented jumper, sensible, has a good mind, brave, kind, and quite a character with tons of personality and a mischievous nature!
He is everything Julie promised my daughter, and MORE.
I'm sorry this short note has gotten so long, but I really wanted you to know how grateful we are for sending us the perfect horse, after such a long and heartbreaking search.