Friday, November 16, 2012

Sterling's Second Start

Once upon a time way back in 2007, in a land far removed from Georgia, a little Thoroughbred colt was born. With wide brown eyes and a taste for wood, "Dixie Jammin'" wasn't your typical colt. We don't know everything, but we do know he learned enough about racing to earn his gate card and Jockey Club tattoo. But from that point until September 2010 the story gets muddy. Why September 2010? Because that is when Blue Skies Riding Academy heard about the West Virginia seizure of 52 horses from Hidden Meadows Equine Rescue for starvation and neglect.

This is what our instructors Heather and Sami found when they first saw "Dixie". Scoring only a 1.5 on the Henneke Body Scale, the poor gelding was deemed fit by the on site vets to travel; and so with two other survivors Connor and Ella Grace began the journey to a new life. When I arrived the next morning and took their liquid breakfast out to the West Virginia babies my heart broke at the lack of spark in their eyes. Even food didn't perk their interest. At the so called rescue they were freed from, the animals were eating acorns and rocks just to fill their bellies.

It was agreed by one and all Dixie did not fit this gelding! He was shy, introverted, a cribber of unparalleled determination, and afraid of his own shadow. I don't remember who first came up with "STERLING", but it stuck. As the weight slowly came back and his rehabilitation progressed, it was time to find Sterling a person. Many of us took time with Sterling, working with his wood addiction, teaching him ground manners, and giving him more love than he could handle. Due to starvation, his growth was stunted. As he gained strength, he popped out abscesses, strained muscles in his rump and was butt high more months than we could count. Now, at 5 years of age he is over 17 hands and all horse. But he still needed a person. Enter Tiffany -

Tiffany works at the barn part time, as an instructor and volunteer. While her background is in dressage, Tiff couldn't help but fall for our little "Ster-Fry". His movement, when correct, was beautiful; his legs long and delicate, and keeping him at a trot for more than 10 paces a joke. And so, the long-legged dressage rider became the person for a green hunter prospect.

Sterling is technically grown up now. At 5 his size might not change, and his cribbing obsession is just as strong as day one, and he is still afraid of his own shadow, but what a magnificent horse he has become. Tiffany is finishing up her art degree, and Sterling has become the model for many of her school projects.

With Tiffany at school, another person has stepped up to love on our "Chicken of the Barn", Kim. Kim has been riding ponies at BSRA for many years, and when it was decided Sterling needed another rider to help train him, Kim happily volunteered. The pairing is awesome, and they have already made quite an impression together in the local shows. Sterling is still green, and sometimes it shows, but he is all heart!

This weekend, Kim and Sterling will be competing at the GHJA finals, and Tiffany will be there ringside cheering him on. Our little Thoroughbred has come a long way from the dull, ragged, neurotic baby I first met sucking on the top rail, but I know his future will be brighter still with the love of two good women, a barn full of friends, a round bale to dive into and a piece of wood to suck on!

If you would like more information on Blue Skies Riding Academy, our rescue and retraining program, or our riding lessons, please visit our website at

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