In memory of our pony Ashes.

We obtained Ashes from a consignment auction in November 2001.  I was attracted to Ashes from the 1st time I saw him.  He was surrounded by a crowd of curious children while waiting to be auctioned.  He was so unperturbed by the hub bub and I thought he would be perfect for our grandchildren.  I called my wife and asked if it would be OK to buy a pony.  Her answer was a very firm ‘yes’ and that began our association with Ashes.

Introducing Anna to Ashes in Nov-Dec 2001

The seller told me that Ashes was 6 and that he had reportedly been introduced to driving, but that she had not driven him while she had had him for the last 3 years.

I decided to go ahead and have a harness made for him.  If he didn’t know how to drive, I’d have him trained.  My thought was that I needed some way to work him when the grandchildren were not around.

I purchased the harness over the phone from Zimmerman Harness in Pennsylvania and received it only two weeks after ordering.
Trying on new harness, spring 2002

I proceeded to ground drive and pull various objects in my round pen and it seemed obvious that Ashes was familiar with the whole process.  This encouraged me to go ahead with a cart.

I had an interest in distance driving and had been warned to avoid bicycle wheels.  Finding a cart with wood wheels proved very costly, at least from local sources.  I finally found Shady Lane Wagons in New Holland, PA.  I spoke with Weaver Martin and provided the measurements for him to build a cart specifically for Ashes.

We actually drove out to New Holland to pick up the finished cart in the early spring of 2002.  After getting it home and hitching Ashes, I decided this might not be the best idea since I didn’t have a suitable area for a first hitch.  We called my driving trainer and set up a visit so that I could take Ashes and his new cart to hitch for the first time with some professional help and guidance.  Ashes was a little hesitant (probably the heaviest cart he had ever been hitched to) but quickly adapted and after 20 – 30 minutes seemed completely comfortable.

Ashes 3rd time hitched standing

In May of 2002 we participated in our 1st distance drive.  Unfortunately I have no pictures of that event, but I came away concerned that distance driving would be very difficult for a small pony like Ashes.  I decided to concentrate on preparing my horse, Nora, for distance driving and relegated Ashes to pleasure drives.Ashes & Becki on trail near Ripon

On this particular drive we were really bothered by deer flies.  The following picture shows our improvised solution.Towel Fly Hood

We were fascinated to watch as Ashes learned to flip the towel back and forth to keep the deer flies at bay.  It worked amazingly well, but we did purchase a fly mask for future drives.

Ashes had some fears.  Noteable among these were bridges, railroad tracks, water, and black asphalt.  He readily overcame his fear of bridges, railroad tracks and water.  But he was forever fearful of fresh black asphalt and would shy if at all possible.  (He did learn to cross those fresh black strips on the road without shying.  I even tried to help him over his fear by taking him onto a freshly resurfaced parking lot.  He was actually shaking through the whole experience and didn’t change his attitude!400 Trail bridge, Sep 19 2004

On this trail we crossed at least 8 bridges without incident.

In 2004 we lost our horse Nora and decided to challenge Ashes to participate in distance driving.  He quickly demonstrated his ability to overcome all challenges and with his harness converted to a neck collar, the cart remodeled to improve the line of draft, plus some friction brakes to reduce the downhill stress, he turned in a winning performance.Becki & Gerry with Ashes at Iron OakI'm driving Ashes at Glacier TrailsWildcatShow Me The MoneyMidwest Mt. Quest 2004

At Midwest Mt. Quest, Ashes and I had the honor of giving Louise Riedel (a renown endurance rider) her first ride in a cart.  She enjoyed it enough that later she took another ride with me when I was driving Scooter.  I wish I had a digital image of that ride. Ashes shows off his Champion blanket

Ashes was again retired from distance driving because I had two horses that were better able to compete over distances.

Ashes continues to participate in driving activities and really excels at obstacles.  Here are some photos of our other activities:My daughter, Michelle, enjoys driving cones with AshesGerry Millard driving Ashes in Gambler's ChoiceGerry’s score was second only to my own!Gerry, Jac & Becki will alternate driving AshesBecki & Ashes drive the Choose Your Own RouteGerry drives the Gambler's Choice courseWe're having a ball driving conesAshes seemed to love this type of competition and we went to several over the years.  Becki really enjoyed driving Ashes in this kind of competition and would join me if at all possible.  It was normal for Ashes to do double duty, being driven by each of us in each event.  He seemed to perform slightly better for me, probably because I was more confident in my decisions on the course.

Ashes was good with our grandchildren, whether riding, driving or just hanging out.  When Ana lost confidence in her ability to ride, she still enjoyed just being with Ashes.  I love this picture and use it as my desktop image.Ana and Ashes hang out togetherJake and Ana are given a rideSam on AshesJacob seems to have a natural ability to rideAna riding AshesAna learning to steer.Ana riding with confidenceAfter these pictures, Ana became over confident and fell while trotting.  This destroyed her confidence and she refused to ride again for 2 or 3 years.  She still loved Ashes and would brush and feed him whenever she visited.  It was 2009 before she would attempt to ride again and she was gaining a little of her old confidence back.  I don’t know whether she will ever enjoy riding again or not.

Katya has not shown much interest in the horses.  Once in a while she will join me for a ride in the cart.

As the boys, Sam and Jacob, grow we realized that they were rapidly outgrowing Ashes.  They did get to experience driving him and Sam had very good results.We take Ana and her bear for a rideSam is outgrowing AshesSam demonstrates his driving skillAshes is not too happy with Jacob's drivingTaking care of my son, RickBecki giving rides at our hay rideAshes used as demo at new driver clinicHe was able to dominate Ed, our Morab, for a whileTony and Isaac get to go for a rideKatya and Jennifer have the last ride with AshesThis shows the effects of CushingsThe last photo of Ashes is fittingly a family group picture

On Saturday, August 15, 2009, when I went to treat Ashes for his ulcerated eye, he had difficulty getting to his feet.  It was obvious that he was in the initial phase of founder.  With the Cushings as a factor it was unlikely that we could successfully treat him for the founder and he would be in pain for the rest of his life.

Just before noon Dr. Dean Meyer assisted Ashes over the Rainbow Bridge.  We all know he is running free and without pain in that place for special horses.

This shows my wishes for him.

Be at peace, old buddy, until we can meet againBe at peace old buddy until we can meet again.

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8 Comments on “Ashes

  1. I very much enjoyed Ashes’ story, reading about his time with you and all the wonderful photos. The last two brought tears to my eyes.

    RIP Ashes

  2. Jac,
    I loved reading your tribute. What a great pony and so special in the life of your family. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey with Ashes with us. What a beautiful pony and wonderful relationship. We are so blessed in our equine friends.

  4. What a wonderful pony to have graced your family. Thanks for giving him a wonderful home and life. You are blessed.

  5. hmmm, how do i express my condolances?!

    ashes and jac are integral to my first memory/concept of distance anything…

    jac; my sympathies, heartfelt, to you.

    this is a beautiful memorial and i enjoyed reading it!

    susan keating

  6. Hi Dad,

    Thank you for the wonderful memorial to Ashes!!

    We will always love him and I will never forget him – he taught me how to drive,


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