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Foxwillow Farm

In Memory of The Golden Rocket

June 25, 1986- September 18, 2011
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Taken June 2010- Just days before her 25th birthday.

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June 2011- Eden and Rock at the Trout Parade.

Over the last two decades this incredible mare has had a significant impact on my life and who I am as a person. She has worn many hats (including the silly one in the photo- I told Eden, Rock must love her very much to wear such a silly hat in public.).
 
She was one of my foundation mares when I started breeding- and she is the cornerstone and inspiration for the Palomino/Buckskin partbreds. Rock has her own webpage detailing her many accomplishments as a broodmare supreme- you can see more by clicking here.
 
Rock loved competition- especially anything involving speed. She enjoyed gymkhana immensely- and Pole Bending was her favorite. And she was good at it. She had such heart- once she almost went down during a pole class and thinking she might be injured I tried to pull her up. She would have none of it. She nearly ripped my arm out of the socket as she insisted on finishing the course. She finished an incredible second place! I really should have competed her seriously but family issues at that time took priority.
 
Team Penning was another favorite with her. In the early years I worked at a stable as a trail guide and used Rock as a lead horse. Sometimes, on a Friday night, a few of us would load up and drive an hour to do some team penning. She was like a bundle of dynamite and if you were'nt hanging on you were getting left in her dust! She had such focus, it was amusing to watch her deep concentration as she chased down each cow and penned them.
 
Sometimes I think we could have just her turned her loose in the pen, pointed out the number and she could have done it by herself. She had no use for team members that didn't pull their weight. I remember one time when one of my co-workers brought his young Paint for the first time. The Paint had no idea what he was doing and at one point let one of the cows we had just penned escape.
 
We were going after our second cow and somehow Rock saw the escapee, unfortunately I did not. So she did some kind of sideways rollback move and by some miracle I managed to stay on. Still I lost the reins and she just took over. She returned the one cow to the pen, glaring at the Paint. Then she returned to chasing the second cow while I tried to regain some kind of control. We didn't win but we finished respectably.
 
Although she was a mere 14.1 1/2 hh, she didn't see herself as a pony or just a little horse. Rock carried herself with dignity while under saddle. It was funny, because the bigger the other horses were the more she would raise her head, collect and prance. In fact one of her few faults was that she refused to stand still under saddle. She would stay relatively in place but those feet were always moving as if she were ready for take off at anytime.
 
On the trail she was always the leader- partly because she insisted on it and partly because no one could keep up with her. Even in her later years few could match strides with her.
 
And although she would sometimes become nervous when faced with an unknown she was incredibly trusting and brave. Even when she was very unsure, she would try anything I asked her.  At other times, it was I who put my trust in her and more than once she saved my butt. Our relationship could be the textbook definition of teamwork and partnership.
 
We had an unusual connection, one that very few are honored to experience. I am honored to be able to count myself and Rock as two of the lucky few. She could read my thoughts and many times I am pretty sure I read hers. She would just look at me and I would just know what she wanted. Just like I would think that I wanted her to switch gaits, move over in the stall, or perform something specific under saddle- and before I could ask she was doing it. I always enjoyed riding her bridleless and saddleless, experimenting with using my thoughts to control her movement. Worked well unless I asked her to canter, than she just took off like the rocket she is named for. When it came to stopping she had selective "hearing" sometimes.
 
I have many, many, many stories I could share about this once in a lifetime mare but I will save them for a special blog I am going to dedicate to her. (To read the "Rocket Adventures" go here.**Coming soon** )But I think perhaps the most incredible thing about this mare was her relationship with my youngestt child, Eden.
 
As you can probably tell from this passage, Rock was anything but a quiet mount. She was a handful to ride at the best of times- not because she was a "bad" horse but because she was highly sensitive and responded to the lightest touch and shift of weight. No matter how old she grew it was obvious she would never be suitable as a child's mount. Well this gallant mare showed me that there was a whole lot more to her than I ever gave her credit for.
 
From the time my youngest daughter, Eden, could walk she has been every bit as horse crazy as her mother. She would climb up on the roundbales so she could "talk" to the broodmares and pet their babies. I don't know how many times I caught her a sa toddler on Rock's stall napping under the hayrack with Rock's current foal. Rock always took great care with my adventurous toddler and there came a pont where Eden decided she wanted to ride. And who better to ride than your trusted babysitter?
 
When Eden was about 5 1/2 she started to sneak out and climb up on Rock's back- either in the stall or she would coax her over to the fence in the field. One day I caught her sitting on the old mare as she grazed in the field. I can honestly say I almost passed out. Whether from fear that my baby was going to be hurt or the shock that my still hot as a pistol old mare was just calmly walking around while Eden flounced around on her back.
 
After the "Don't you ever get on a horse without a helmet speech.." I started teaching Eden how to ride. To my amazement, no matter how much Eden pulled on her or did all the other things new riders do, Rock took it all in stride. She walked calmly for the first time in her life while being ridden. 
 
As time went on and Eden became a better rider, Rock seemed to adjust with her. This past summer Eden matured into a "little Indian"- riding bareback, cantering and galloping all over the farm. At this point rock reverted back to being her "hot" self but only to the limit that she knew Eden could handle. She was always mindful of Eden's well being at every moment. There were times Eden would come off, Rock would stay right by her side and actually seem to take more care when Eden would remount.
 
They showed, particapated in organized trail rides, rode in a parade and were actively gettingg ready for a Cowboy Challenge the day that Rock died. I know how much Rock meant to me, she was my horsey soulmate without a doubt. Never will I ever know a finer horse. I am just so grateful that Eden was able to know her and have the chance to ride one of the truly great ones.
 
Knowing and loving Rock is something my daughter and I will have as a memory to share for the rest of lives. And through our stories and her progeny she will live on forever. God Rest You in Peace and Love my sweet girl, till we meet again over the Rainbow Bridge. PS- Don't forget to pick me up when it's time!

Taken just hours before she passed away, it was
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the last photograph ever taken of the Golden Rocket, almost a premonition...

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This was a familiar scene the last couple of summers- and Rock loved it as much as Eden.

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Taken June 2011 when I realized I had no pics of her and I together.

This mare had a very competitive spirit..
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she loved to run...and so does Eden.

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I was on the phone, Eden kept yelling to me but I
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kept shushing her-so she came in the house with Rock and got her own drink!

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Taken this past June, after 18 years still such a
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thrill to ride this little mare! Really going to miss it....

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Rock loved kids- this taken a month before she passed.

Eden had a terrible habit of bringing Rock in the
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house, scared the beejeebers out of me a couple of times!

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