You know, the first EVER Knollwood School Horse of the Year.
I won last year's election fair and square, and my official stall bears the plaque that proves it.
As the only winner so far, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to opine on all of the candidates. In no particular order, here are my thoughts on all of my co-workers. I know I'm supposed to be unbiased, but I clearly have some favorites.
You can start voting on Monday, December 2. Simply pay your Knockout dues for 2020, and place the dues envelope with a completed ballot in the ballot box.
May the best horse or pony win!
This retired gentleman (and my pasture mate) has taught countless Knollwood kids to canter, and has allowed millions to paint him. He has the best eyes, and thoroughly enjoys his spa treatments from his best friend Addison. Although he’s retired please consider writing him in for a ‘lifetime achievement award!’
The master of the pasture.
Officially known as ‘Bonnie Novel Santoro,’ a name that even he thinks is klutzy, my friend has ruled over the pasture for years. He has taught millions of riders to pay attention, he keeps his eyes off the ground, and introduces countless kids to the beauty of riding a saddlebred. He’s been a mainstay of our lesson program for years, and was quite an academy star back in the day. An icon.
Relatively new to the Knollwood lesson tribe, and ‘blessed’ with a name equally as klutzy as Sundance, ‘Fort Chiswell’s Aristocrat’ has become a favorite in short order. Thomas loves going to academy shows, and excels at bareback and saddle no stirrup rides in addition to being an up and coming pattern star.
He’s fast. Really fast.
And he’s working on his anger management problems. Rachel and Erika love him.
He’s had a tough year, with the loss of his best friend Forest, but he’s carrying on. He’s a tiny tot expert, is getting over his fear of horse shows, and is currently working on his arena heater issues.
I know that as the elder statesman of the group, I’m not supposed to have favorites, but I can’t help it. Dudley is the real thing.
He’s a beginner star, a saddle-no-stirrup favorite, and a gaming stand out. In case you missed Maddie’s ride off in the musical towel game at the summer show, it was epic.
Plus, he loves welcoming visitors to his stall, and may not let them leave until they curry and brush his ears until he says it’s enough.
He bends in the middle.
A good challenge to advanced beginner riders, he never goes any faster than is required. Except when he’s trotting and the rest of the class is cantering. Then he road trots.
A true character.
Another icon. My favorite half Morgan and half Quarter Horse, he’s known for his nickering and love of all things peppermint. He can be lazy, pushy, and just the thing to teach kids to follow through. He’s perfection.
He snores. Really loud.
And he eats. A lot. Sometimes he won’t even leave the round bale in the pasture when it’s time to come in.
He’s also an angel in a chestnut suit. He teaches kids to post quickly with his lofty trot, and then excels at teaching the wee ones circles and serpentines. When he’s not sure what to do, he just stops.
A true genius.
He’s been called ‘the next Willy,’ but I’m not retiring any time soon.
Master of tiny tots, willing to do any walk and trot pattern as long as he doesn’t have to leave a group of horses to do it, he’s a gem. He doesn’t even get irritated at Hugo when he runs into Sparky’s stall because he’s too lazy to remember which stall is his.
He poops in Picasso’s feed bin. Every day.
That being said, he’s a favorite of every walk trot rider on the farm. With his smooth trot and his saddlebred neck, Hawaiian Cat makes them all feel very fancy.
Hugo enjoys patterns, games, and naps. Naps especially after he’s been groomed.
He’s tortured by Hugo every day. But he’s pretty pushy, so I feel it may be karma in action.
Picasso is a marvelous cantering teacher, as he’d rather canter than trot. He’ll canter for anyone, probably even Bengal the cat, although Bengal’s loud voice may scare even the great Picasso.
Mark is a classic. He thinks he likes teaching first time riders, but he can’t remember. Don’t worry, it’s not an age thing, he’s never remembered anything. Every day is a new adventure.
Large Frank is an original. Never sure of where he’s going, but he’s trying to get there first.
Frank has learned his patterns, and is a favorite of our younger cantering riders because of his quick response time.
He is, however, a slob in his stall. As soon as the first horse leaves the aisle, Frank is sure a mistake has been made, and he starts circling and digging. We all have our issues, but his is a little more obvious than most.
A recent addition to the crew, Mac has quickly become a walk and trot star. He doesn’t care about much, and even worked at the Knollwood Fall show. He learned to find his own stall much more quickly than most of the horses back there, too.
Possibly the best academy horse ever, A Champagne Toast is a legend. Really.
He’s given many academy riders their first taste of a horse who loves his job while looking through his perfectly hooked ears.
This one in a million gentleman is a dream in his stall, and even keeps a very clean house. He welcomes all kinds of treats!
Murphy thinks he’s beautiful, and don’t you forget it.
Dekscalibur is an unsung hero in my lesson program. He’s extremely handsome, has no attitude, enjoys teaching small academy stars to work a bridle, and loves going to horse shows. Did I mention how handsome he is?
Hula Hooper is another star. Hooper will perform any pattern at any time, even if you’re a six year old with kind of short legs.
Note, he lives a few stalls down from me, and he believes in a very strange conspiracy theory. He really thinks that his clothes are trying to kill him. He even has to have clothes that open in the front because traditional ‘over the head’ clothing is just too scary for him.
Like I said, we all have our issues, and his is pretty noticeable.
The only girl in my lesson program, Sadie is beautiful. She teaches advanced academy stars the ways of a show horse, and gives them pointers on how to keep her balanced. She’s very pretty!!!
A new addition, Willis is fast learning his academy lessons. Baxter is his idol, and Willis hopes to be as grand as the great Champagne Toast. He already has the stall manners down, and is learning to work in the company of other horses while keeping his concentration.
Klem is a man after my own heart. We’ve both struggled with weight issues at points in our lives, and I fear Klem may have an eating disorder. Have you ever heard him beg for food? Of course you have, everybody on planet earth has heard it.
That issue aside, Klem is a marvel. He’ll teach the youngest walk and trot star to pay attention to his minor tricks like straying off the rail, and really delights in teaching patience to his more advanced charges. Every rider on the farm has been ‘Klemmed’ on that left lead while he makes eye contact with the instructor in the middle.
Oh, and did I mention that Klem is the official mascot of Knollwood's Tuesday Amigos? He's always up for a silly photo with some of his favorite horse girls.
Pattern camps are his favorite weeks of the year when he gets to teach in the big outdoor ring. Ah, the space he can cover…
Pure and simple, Eddie is a rock star. Hylee’s Red Fox loves his job, loves his people, and loves the challenge of patterns.
Traveling is not his favorite thing, but he endures since it means going to horse shows.
Panic has never had a bad day in his life. Riders who earn the right to ride the great CH Callaway’s Don’t Panic have a grin on their face that you’ll never forget.
He can’t do enough for you, loves to beat other horses down the rail, and enjoys the occasional yippee yahoo canter start, usually on a diagonal line.
At horse shows, Panic starts buzzing before victory passes, and tries to get those slow gaiting passes in, re-living his glory days with Lin. If he can’t get the slow gait started, he’ll just trot REALLY FAST.
A true gentleman, Cashew has quickly become a favorite teacher. With smooth gaits, and a handsome face, Kaptain Kaos is a pro at showing his students the importance of bridle rhythm. Once they ‘get it’ that canter is smooth and slow as can be.
Heist loves Laura, and loves going on trail rides with her. He also loves living next to Agatha while she convalesces.