We even rode in the Pike Road 4th of July Parade. The photo above is of Maggie and the young girl I sold Mags to back in 1989.
April 1990 was Show Jumping Rally. We had our sights set on qualifying for Pony Club Championships to be held in Lexington, Kentucky. To qualify, we had to compete in the Large Pony Division, jumps ranging from 2’9 to 3’3. Jumps over 3 feet are quite large when you are riding a medium pony, but Buck cleared them with room to spare. Our rounds were clear and we were in first place until the final round of show jumping.
Buck was tiring from all of the jumping, and it was beginning to show. We came around a turn to a huge double combination. The first jump of the combo was a huge oxer, set at the maximum height of 3’3. I didn't set him up well for it, and he made a huge effort but just couldn't get over it. You can see how hard he is trying to get over it in the photo below.
He hit his back legs really hard and refused to jump anything after that. My confidence was shaken as well, so I wasn’t riding him through like I should have been. We were eliminated at that combination and went from first place to finish third. It was okay though – Buck gave it his best shot and I was so proud of him. We had the Combined Training Rally coming up in July at Bouckaert Farms in Chatsworth, Georgia to prepare for now.
We worked HARD for this rally. Buck had to be extremely fit for cross country because of his heaves. We were competing at Novice level now and the event was to be held in the North Georgia mountains. We also worked extremely hard on our dressage. Buck’s neck was very thick and the muscle was on the underside of his neck rather than in his crest. He went around with his nose in the air and his back hollow, so teaching him to round his back and soften his neck was challenging. With the help of Toni Flowers and Judy Pirtle, Buck became a decent dressage pony.
It was a bit overwhelming competing at Bouckaert Farms. This was an incredible horse farm where a lot of recognized events took place! The morning of our dressage test started out really rough. Bouckaert Farms is also a sod farm, so trucks drove in and out constantly. This stirred up a lot of dust, one of Buck’s greatest enemies. As we warmed up, several trucks went by, creating an unbelievable amount of dust, aggravating Buck’s COPD. The vet on call at the rally gave Buck a shot of Dexamethasone to help his breathing, as he was really coughing and wheezing. This was a huge concern because we had cross country later that same day. Miraculously, the dex worked within several minutes and Buck had the best dressage test ever.
(The photo of Buck’s head is from this rally – it is my very favorite photo of him. If I ever get rich, I hope to have Nan Cunningham create an oil painting from it!)
Later that same afternoon I was saddling Buck up for the cross country phase when we had a visitor. Adults other than Horse Management Judges and occasional coaches aren’t allowed in the stable area, so this was a little strange. I did not recognize this gentleman, nor did I recognize his accent. He came to find out if my pony was for sale. He said he wanted to buy Buck for his children. I didn’t find out until later that this was supposedly Mr. Bouckaert, the owner of Bouckaert Farms! What a compliment!
I can still remember the smell of the clover being crushed under Buck’s hooves as we walked in circles waiting to go in the start box for cross country. Toni’s advice about the water element rang in my ears. “Just trot into the water so he can look at it. Don’t go running full speed into it!” We rode that course to the best of our ability and right in stride. Buck was incredible! He didn’t hesitate at any of the fences; not even the water. Looking back, that had to be the best cross country ride I’ve ever had, even if it was only Novice level. Toni was so, so proud of us.
before cross country with one of my team mates, Heather and her TB Vista
The following day was the Show Jumping phase. We had another spectacular clear round, with little coughing.
Buck was a super star and had come so far in just three short years. Little did I realize that the Combined Training Rally in July of 1990 would be our last show together. But what a way to end our career.
His coughing and wheezing were getting worse with age and it was time to let Buck rest . I began looking at some larger horses to continue my Pony Club career. To help keep Buck in shape, a couple of young girls in the Pike Road area would ride him for me. They even went on to do lower level Pony Club meetings riding Buck, and he helped them earn their D-ratings.
The years faded by and Buck lived a happy, comfortable life at my parents’ place in Pike Road. When I worked for Dr. Crum during some of my college years, we often discussed Buck and his accomplishments. Quite amazing for a little pony with heaves. We also discussed the inevitable; when it would be time to let Buck go. Not an easy topic to discuss. We relied on Dexamethasone more and more to help Buck breathe. Mostly it was orally given on feed, but when his breathing was very labored, he had to have shots.
Grandpa and Grandma Fisher came to visit, so we dressed up for them and put on a small expo! This is my Grandfather who bought Buck for me.
I was in college when Buck sustained a small eye injury. Dr. Crum and his partner Dr. Lange both came out on separate occasions to help with treatment. We administered eye ointments rigorously, but no matter our efforts, it would not heal. After a while, it ulcerated. Dr. Crum felt like Buck was going to lose his eye, so he recommended sending him to Auburn University for treatment. After two weeks at Auburn and one week at home, it was decided Buck’s eye could not be saved. We took him back to Auburn and had the infected eye removed. This was the only major injury Buck ever sustained while living in Pike Road, thankfully.
In Buck's later years, we spent a lot of time just hanging out together.
He loved to stand on the back patio and wait for someone to come to the door with treats.
He even attends the Fisher family reunion
My first child was born in June 1996; a beautiful bouncing baby boy. Once he was old enough, I would lead Drew around on Buck and we would spend a lot of time brushing and loving on him. (That's Maggie after she was given back to me.) I'm pregnant with my second child in this photo.
I would tell Drew endless Buck stories. On August 6, 2001, my second bouncing baby boy was born. It was only 19 days later that it was time to let Buck go. He could hardly breathe at all and his weight was melting off of him. He was in obvious distress. Dr. Crum and I settled on the dreaded date. I spent my last day with Buck grooming him and feeding him apples and carrots. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life. Toni came to the house and held Buck as Dr. Crum euthanized him. I just couldn’t watch Buck go down. It was extremely hard on Dr. Crum and Toni as well. They were so ingrained in Buck’s amazing life and if it weren’t for them, Buck and I would never have done the things we did together. August 25, 2001 was the fateful day that ended Buck’s life. We believe he was close to 28 years old.
We never accomplished anything real “grand ”such as winning championships or anything, but what we did accomplish together was significant in our books. We did receive a High Point award in 4H the year we went to Regionals…that plaque still hangs in my bedroom at my parents’ house in Pike Road. But Buck had tremendous heart. Once we began working together, concentrating on jumping, he found his niche. For a little 12.2 hand paint pony, he gave his all when we competed. He amazed many people and we even had a little fan club that followed us around during our show years. And boy, do I miss him. Over the years we formed an amazing bond; an unfaltering friendship. Many times I cried on his shoulder, lying on his back with my arms wrapped around his neck. He would patiently stand there and listen to me wail. We spent many hours on the trails. He knew them so well, I could drop his reins and he knew exactly where to go. There is no doubt he was one of those once in a lifetime ponies, and I was the luckiest little girl in the world to have been blessed with him.
I must thank my parents as well, because without their tremendous, loving support and encouragement, there is no way Buck and I could have accomplished the small things we did. My parents have always been there, staunchly supporting us, cheering us on, opening their hearts and pocketbooks….Thank you Mom and Dad, from the bottom of my heart.
This is a pastel of Buck done by one of our local artists and personal friend, Nan Cunningham. It is framed and hangs in our living room along with Buck's leather halter sporting the brass name plate "Hold on Tight."