Vale Pico de Gallo 1992 – 2010

In 1993, Pat and I bought our first house, on a small acreage in Jefferson County, WV. I had one horse, Romeo, who I had bought in May of 1989, from an ad in the Houston Chronicle. We had a one year old baby, Chris, and lived in the metro DC area. We couldn’t afford a house in Reston, and realized that a townhouse in Ashburn was going to cost us as much as a house on land, with a barn further out.

After we bought the farm, we had only one horse, and as a young, naive newlywed (eh at 3+ years, we were still newlyweds), I still had hopes that with a horse, Pat would ride. I gave myself a 1200 budget and went to the Virginia Bloodstock Sale at Frying Pan Park. Sadly, all the suitable horses I saw exceeded the budget, so I watched them all get sold. Then, this cute, chestnut TB yearling mare was brought out. She had an elegant neck, was 14.2hands, and nobody was bidding on her. The bidding went down to $200 and so I bid. I stopped at $450 because really, I wasn’t there for a yearling, TB chestnut mare. It appears that there were ghost bidders, because after a few minutes, passing $475 and $500, suddenly, I was the winning bidder at $450. The adrenaline rush and OMG, WHAT HAVE I DONE???? was pretty intense.

I went, paid, and found the poor thing, abandoned in the barn. Never did talk to a soul about her. But, she was cute and one. She was going to be company for Romeo, and that was it, for a year or more. Took her home and Romeo now had a buddy.

When she was 2, I started her, I didn’t know all that much about training horses, even though I’d been riding for 14 years. I’d had very little formal education. I read a few books, and went to work. If I’d known a bit about fitting tack, things would have been much more pleasant, but alas, I had to learn the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. In September of 1994, Pico bucked me off, going down a hill, and I broke BOTH arms. Chris was still 2, still in diapers, we had a farm, an hour commute. Pat earned sainthood taking care of me. I was young and tough and missed 2 whole days of work, the days they kept me in the hospital!

I sent her off to a local, western trainer and she was lovely. I brought my saddle and she was a bucking bronco. Now, this is when you’d like to think the trainer would say “this saddle doesn’t fit”, but that was not the case. Instead, he kept the saddle to ride her in and teach her. Well, it didn’t really work, and so I went through a couple of other ill-fitting saddles until I attended a saddle fitting seminar in 1996. At which point, I had a “Ah HA!” moment, and Pico got a saddle that fit. I ended up becoming a saddle fitter for a few years, until I realized it left me no time to ride and quit doing that for others.

She was a pretty talented jumper.

We attended some local schooling shows (all we could afford) and were Reserve champion for the year in 2003 at one series. She was fun. I rode in level 2 jumpers on her at Upperville one year, doing ok in the first (one rail) and demolishing a jump in the second…destroying my nerve. Oh well…that’s the breaks.

I took her to dressage clinics, and learned a lot on her. She was a sensitive ride, but very sensible. Over the years, many people rode her, she was awesome to jump, hard work on the flat, and in general a great horse to have around….once you caught the wench.

A few pictures, mostly the past 2-3 years, since I’m not super organized on the older stuff.




More Pico stories later.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
This entry was posted in Pico, Riding. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Vale Pico de Gallo 1992 – 2010

  1. Dorothy says:

    I enjoyed reading this Melanie, and I also enjoyed seeing the lovely Pico grazing out the pasture. I will miss seeing her.

  2. susan flanagan says:

    I know Pico’s history, but I enjoyed reading it anyway. I loved her bossy self. And btw, way to do the stranglehold you are so famous for. 🙂

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