Tag Archives: Hampton

John Perkins

John fixing bridle on Jamie August 2016On Saturday, July 22nd, John Perkins, of Butternut Stables in Hampton NB, died. He was my riding teacher. For many others, he was that and more. First, he was a family man and horseman. He and his wife Wendy have kids and grandkids and a stable full of Quarter Horses. They also have a large extended family. And an even bigger surrogate family of horse people.

The loss for everyone is devastating. In emotional ways and practical. So many posts on Facebook attest to that. I’ve been reading them, and crying, astounded by their eloquence and depth of feeling. A huge community of people in New Brunswick, and throughout the Maritimes, eastern USA and Florida are all feeling the same great big hole in their hearts.Watching horses wait to enter ring

John touched a lot of lives, and kept a lot of lives – human and horse – on track. He taught riding to beginners and coached experienced riders. He trained and showed horses. John was an executive member of Quarter Horse associations and a founder of the Princess Louise Park Show Centre in Sussex.

He also shod horses, doctored horses and acted as a midwife and nursemaid for new-born foals. John fixed vehicles, fences and stalls. And he drove a truck and trailer loaded with kids and horses to shows all across the eastern provinces and states.

He took horse-crazy kids (and adults) and turned them into good horsemen and -women. If all you wanted to do was ride for fun, he taught you. If you wanted to go to the next step and start showing, he was there to coach you, get you and your (or his) horse to the show ring and calm you both. When you wanted to buy or lease a horse, he made sure you got a good match.

The Butternut Barn

Butternut Stables signI met him four years ago when I wanted to resume riding lessons. Thanks to him, Wendy and everyone else both two-footed and four-footed, it was easy to start feeling like I belonged at Butternut . It is a family, a very large one. It is not uncommon to see three generations at the barn. People who brought their kids for lessons are now there with those grown-up kids and their kids.

When we started building a barn, John was our resource for where it should be, the layout and what we needed in it. It’s not finished yet, and I still have a million questions for him.

saddleOne thing I’m very happy about – I have his first show saddle. He bought it in the 1980s, he said. I liked riding in it, and I liked its history – the stories he told about it and the horses he had then.

John’s saddle to fill – I’ll never do it but I will forever treasure my time with him. Here’s my favourite horseman song, for you, my friend.

Christmas Stable

Their stalls are decorated, the horses snugged in. Wintertime at the stable, and Christmas approaching. Stockings soon will be hung on stall doors.Fletcher in decorated stall photo dorothy stewart

The riding students who decorated the stalls will come to the barn on Christmas Eve, so one told me, to have a Christmas party with the horses. They will fill the horses’ stockings and give them their presents.

Samson aka One Kid CoolOne horse is getting a lot of stuff from his Secret Santa. I know because she told me. Whispered it, actually, so Samson couldn’t hear. And they are practical things that horses need but that he will also enjoy. A lot of thought went into choosing his gifts. (Amazon links below give you a clue)

I’m sure his Secret Santa has made a Christmas wish list for herself. She’s a girl in her early teens and she has a wide range of interests. But the only gifts she has talked about to me are those she is buying for the horses. The special, big presents are for “her” horse but she’s been shopping for small things for all of them. She’s very excited about it, about the shopping for them and the giving to them.

“Her” horse is not actually hers. He belongs to the stable. The other horses being shopped for are the stable’s lesson horses. The details of ownership don’t matter. We all have a special bond with our favourite horse, no matter how many others may ride him or her. The horses feel the same way, I think. They have their favourite riders too.Willie in aisle beside decorated stalls

I don’t know what they think of their decorations. Well, I do know what “my” horse thinks. When I was leading him to the cross ties, he tried to eat the holly off a stall door. So that is his opinion: food!Butternut Stables doors with wreaths

Farm Dog

Being a farm dog is the diplomatic posting of the canine career spectrum. They have to be friend, greeter and protector. They have to be independent but know their place, both geographically and in the social hierarchy. It’s a tough job.

farm dog doing stable roundsThey are not fenced in. They have free rein over their property but must stay within its boundaries. No chasing squirrels across the road just for fun. No chasing other farm animals – cats, chickens, cattle or horses (unless specifically told to round up livestock). Farm dogs learn how to manoeuvre safely around large animals, and be gentle with small ones.

They must protect farm animals, people and property from all predators, four- and two-legged. They must be able to read people and other animals, who is friend and who is foe. A good deep bark and growl is an asset. But they cannot be too intimidating. They are ambassadors for their farm.

When a farm relies on visitors, the farm dog is part of the public face of the business. At a horse boarding stable, for example, a lot of people are coming and going all through the day. First-time visitors drop in to to ask about boarding or lessons. Horse owners, riding students, veterinarians, farriers, other horse people are there on a regular basis. The dog must assess the person quickly, and make the suitable greeting.

Often visitors bring their own dogs with them. The resident dog must be accepting of these other dogs on his or her turf. The visiting dogs may or may not be farm dogs themselves, so they may know how to act in a barn and with another farm dog, or not. Either way, the resident farm dog must be tolerant and gracious.

Stable dogs must know when to stay out of the picture – like when people are there for serious riding or training or horse business. They must also know when it’s time to be the centre of attention – like farm dog portraitwhen kids want to hug them, dress them up or play games with them. They need to be quietly friendly (read non-threatening) with people who fear dogs. In those cases, they are not only ambassadors for their farm but also their species and, sometimes, for their breeds. I overheard someone say about a farm dog, “I was scared of German Shepherds, but then I met her.”

It takes a special dog to be a successful farm dog, and they live in memory for generations of their family and their friends.

Musical Ride

unloading-horse-photo-D-StewartThe RCMP Musical Ride was in Hampton NB last week. The horses stayed at Butternut Stables where I ride. I was there when they arrived and, next day, I ran alongside as they walked from there down Main Street to the soccer field where they performed. Black horses, red serge. Impressive. Imagine them precision riding at top speed.horses on the way to Musical Ride Hampton

“32 horses and riders moving as one, perfect harmony between man and beast, a kaleidoscope of manes and tails and battle lances crisscrossing in a collage of synchronous movement. It takes your breath away.” Lt. Welsh, All the Queen’s Horses, Due South

RCMP-Lenny-photo-D-StewartIt started in the 1870s with the precursor to the RCMP, the North West Mounted Police. The men did fancy drill maneuvers with their horses for fun. In 1904 they performed for the public at fairs in Manitoba. Mounted patrols stopped in 1936, but they kept the horses. The Musical Ride officially became part of the public duties of the Mounties in 1961.

The horses are Hanoverians, raised and trained at the RCMP farm near Ottawa, Ontario. The riders are officers who first learn to ride, then perform. After three years, they return to regular duties.stabled-photo-D-Stewart

I don’t think there’s anything comparable anywhere. Certainly there are armed forces ceremonies that combine tradition and ritual with active duty. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is one. You can watch it – at Buckingham Palace.

RCMP-trailers-Hampton-photo-D-StewartBut the Musical Ride is a moveable feast. The cavalcade (4 tractor trailers and support vehicles) travels across the country annually to cities and small towns to perform. Money raised goes to the sponsoring community groups.

back-of-procession-photo-D-StewartIn much of Canada, the RCMP are the provincial and local police force. But they are also a federal policing agency, equivalent to the FBI in the US. I try to picture FBI agents on horseback, looking non-threatening, looking comfortable. Can’t do it.

Cybil-and-me-ButternutIf you’re in Yarmouth NS, you can see them this weekend. Next week they’ll be back in New Brunswick. June 2 and 3rd, they’ll be in Sussex at the Princess Louise Park. I’ll be there to say hello to the lovely Cybil. Here is the 2015 schedule for NB, NS, Ottawa, SK, QC and NL.

due-southATQH-mtvpersiaPaul Gross’ song Ride Forever kept going through my head as I watched the horses unload. They didn’t come down the ramps the way they do in a Due South episode. Listen, and watch in this youtube video.

 

The Princesses Louise

PLP-Sign-photo-Dorothy-StewartIs Princess Louise Park in Sussex named for a British Royal or a horse?  I’ve heard both answers. The person was daughter of Queen Victoria and patron of the 8th Hussars Regiment.  The horse was the 8th Hussars Regimental Mascot.

Princess Louise, the horse, was an Italian-born WWII refugee. She later was naturalized as a Canadian citizen, made a Freewoman of the Village of Hampton and a member of the Canadian Legion #28 Hampton Branch.

Princess-Louise-marker-photo-D-StewartShe and her daughter, both members of the 8th Hussars, are commemorated with their own marker close to the Cenotaph  in Hampton’s Veterans Park.

A foal found wounded beside her dead mother in Coriano, Italy, Princess Louise was rescued by 8th Hussars men from the Hampton and Sussex area.  She then traveled with them for the rest of the war – to Regimental mascot Princess Louise and 8th Hussars in ItalyFrance, Belgium and Holland.  It took considerable ingenuity to pull that off.

When the men moved by ship to France, they were not allowed to take animals.  So they modified a truck that was being transported, building a stall behind a false wall in it. Two of them went AWOL for a short period of time during loading.  Afterwards, the charges were quietly dropped.  Perhaps the machinations went quite a way up the chain of command?

8th Hussars Regimental Mascot

Princess Louise and the regiment were in Holland at the end of the war.  When it came Camp-Sussex-Mural-photo-D-Stewarttime for the men to come home, they couldn’t bring her back on the troopship.*  They left her with the British Army Veterinary Corps, asking them to get her on a ship as soon as possible.

She arrived in New York a few months later.  From there, she went by train to Saint John where she was given the keys to the city.  She then traveled in style to Camp Sussex in the town of Sussex and served there for 27 years as Regimental Mascot.  Her duties included Sgt-Bickerton-Princesses-Louise-Sussex-1954representing the regiment in Remembrance Day services and most civic events in Sussex.  She greeted officials and was a favourite in parades around the province.  H. Thad Stevens was her first handler and Sgt. Gordon Bickerton took over care of her and her daughter.

Legacy

Princess Louise gave birth to three foals.  After she died in 1973, a daughter named Princess Louise 2 served as mascot until her own death in 1981 at the age of 27.

Legion-application-photo-D-StewartPrincess Louise’s horseshoes, framed, hang in the Hampton Legion.  Also there is her application for Legion membership.  Her hoofprint is on it, and beside “number of dependants” is typed “3420 (total Regt’l enlistment)”.

Her story was written by LCol. R. S. McLeod.  You can read it here.  A children’s book about her, The Pony Princess, was published by the Hampton Legion, written by Ana Dearborn-Watts.  It was given to area school libraries.  The President of the Hampton Legion told me that usually every Remembrance Day “somebody writes something Dearborn-book-photo-Dorothy-Stewartabout her.” Indeed a story this lovely, of horses and men, should not be lost to us.

I borrowed the photos of Princess Louise from the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s 2011 Remembrance Day story, here. You can read more about the 8th Canadian Hussars here.

*US WWII veteran Bill Wynne, in his book Yorkie Doodle Dandy, tells how Princess-Louise-shoes-photo-D-Stewarthe successfully smuggled Smoky, his Yorkshire Terrier, back. He laments, however, that others were not so lucky with their adopted dogs, monkeys and other pets.  But he doesn’t mention any serviceman trying to sneak a horse on board!