a.k.a. Sophie Major
a.k.a. Her Fluffiness
a.k.a. You Horse You
a.k.a. Gassy McFartsky
Registered Name: Sewell's Princess Sophie
Breed: Rocky Mountain Horse
Color: Chocolate Palomino
Foaled: March 1, 2000
Owner: Debra Lindland, 63
Occupation: Semi-retired graphic/web designer and cleaner of tack and stuff...
Sophie was foaled at Hickory Ridge Farms in the rolling hills of Limestone, TN, on March 1, 2000. The breeders, Sue and Jack Fleenor, loved breeding Rockies because of their gentle, easy-going natures and versatility, but were ready to retire from the business.
Sophie was sold at a young age, but for reasons I don't quite recall--though I think it had something to do with her being one of the last offspring of a favorite mare--Sophie wound up back on the farm with Sue and Jack. With little, if any, training, she was turned out to pasture where she spend her days leisurely grazing and cavorting with her pasture mates. She was never bred.
Fast forward to spring, 2015.... Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, my own life was finally on the upswing after experiencing four of the darkest years of my life. As my lot improved, I decided that by gawd I was going to have a horse before I got to old and frail to enjoy one. Now keep in mind that that I was living in the city and about to short-sell my home to avoid foreclosure. I had no idea where I was going to be living, much less what I would do with a horse. Nevertheless, I logged onto my computer and began to search the internet.
And thus enter Sophie.
What struck me first about her was that she was the spitting image of my first horse, Cindy! They were identical; from her color and markings, right down to the shape of her head and her "kind eye". My father, who once said that if I ever busted my head open, all that would come out was little tiny horses, bought Cindy for me after my mother died when I was eleven. It was one of my mom's last wishes that I have a horse, and my dad was true to his word. Having Cindy, who had been a working ranch horse in her former life had helped me immeasurably in coping with the loss of my mother.
I had never even heard of Rocky Mountain Horses, so began to research the breed. Often referred to as the "Labrador Retriever of the horse world", they are widely known for their calm, gentle natures, and an ambling four-beat gait. These traits make them great mounts for older riders and those with limited physical abilities. Every new detail learned simply solidified for me that this was "my" horse, and the fact that she had the same name as my beloved Sophie-dog, who recently passed on to the next realm, was clearly a sign. A lovely conversation with breeder Sue Fleenor sealed the deal.
Even details for transporting Sophie from Tennessee easily fell into place. On June 9, 2015, she arrived at R&R New Options Equine Rescue & Rehab in Sandy, OR, where I had been volunteering, and where we both would begin our training with "Aunt Les". She was pushy and disrespectful (Sophie, not Aunt Les), and paid little attention to her handlers. After a few months at R&R, I moved her to a stable a little closer to my house where we continued to get acquainted with generous assistance from other boarders like Tacy Brotherton and the owner owner, Joyce Montgomery, who raised and trained Missouri Fox Trotters. We stayed there through the fall, and then we both moved to Klamath in December, 2015. Early the following year, we began lessons with the lovely Michael Wakefield.
We've come a long way, Sophie and I. Our progress has been deliberately slow and steady...no rush. We've spent the past couple of years getting to know each other and building our skills into a solid partnership. We've been on a few trail rides and a camping trip, and are looking forward to longer and more challenging ones in the future.
What some may call a "dumb idea" has turned into one of the smartest decisions I've ever made. This horse has helped to heal me, body and soul, and restore the hope and confidence I'd lost. Her best gift, though, has been the parade of incredible people--and great friends--she continues to bring into my life. We always seem to land in exactly the right place with just the right people, and at KEC we found more than a great boarding stable, we've found family.
Confession: I have never actually called Sophie "Gassy McFartsky", but now that I've thought of it I'm going to use it all the time. So there.