It was 1980, and the five of us, John, Elizabeth, Caitrin, Britta and I, were all having riding lessons; and John and I were having driving lessons.
The girls were just 10, 7 1/2, and just 6.
After looking at various options, we purchased our first horse, a Morgan horse, from the University of Connecticut. Dr. James Dinger was in charge at that time, and he gave us a tour of the horses available.
U C Spicy Lass (U C Marquis x U C Taffy) a chestnut mare with good conformation and a kind expression, was trained to ride and drive, and, though it didn’t matter to us at the time, she was a proven broodmare, and in foal by U V M Viking (U V M Flash x U V M Kathy) for a Spring foal.
Out in the yearling paddock was her chestnut filly from the previous year, U C Cinnamon (by U V M Viking) a full sibling to the foal that was due in 1980. While she was very cute, we intended to have only the new horse. We even intended to sell the foal to recoup part of the cost of the mare. We also had no intention of having our own farm…just boarding/training “Spicy.”
Many horse and non-horse people, especially those who know us, are now laughing hysterically…but further parts of the story are for other postings.
So, we tried her out. “Student” trained horses can have different positives and negatives from “professional” trained or “amateur-owner” trained horses…also a post for another time. She was wonderful…patient and willing for grooming, tacking, leading, etc. Just what we needed for a family horse, especially for first-time owners.
She had two flaws. First, she had a fleck of clear pigment flawing her right eye, which could be genetic or nutritional. Second, as I was riding her down a straight away, we were suddenly going in the opposite direction. A little bit more iffy, but we all thought that it might have been my fault, and if hers, correctable with work.
So, we purchased her, loaded her up, and brought her to Massachusetts to Paula Payson’s (our trainer/riding & driving instructor) farm.
Spicy was a perfect first horse and family horse.
U C Spicy Lass was much more than that.
It is not too much to say: She totally changed our lives.
We acquired a new set of friends, acquaintances, and nodding recognition. We traveled to visit farms – especially Morgan Farms. We gained new wardrobe additions and equipment. Our family vacations were, mostly, scheduled around the New England Morgan Horse Shows. Connecticut Morgan, Massachusetts Morgan, Vermont Morgan, Granite State Morgan, Maine Morgan, and New England Regionals all became the focus of our schedules and training throughout the 1980’s.
Most importantly, Spicy safely delivered a chestnut colt. We needed a name for the colt and a prefix for the farm.
“Sleipnir” was a mythological horse. He belonged to Thor, and carried the “Viking” warriors to “Valhalla”, their Heaven. He was portrayed with eight legs to indicate how strong and fleet of hoof he was. With the history of the Morgan Breed, in particular Figure’s strength, speed, and temperament, and UVM Viking for his sire, the farm name/prefix became “Sleipnir” and the colt was named “Valhalla”. Sleipnir Valhalla (“Hal”) (1980 – 2005) joined his mother as a family saddle, harness, in-hand and showmanship contender, and at-home buddy.
Spicy changed our lives.
Our home, and lifestyle, changed. A farm and a herd followed.
Spicy delivered two more foals for us.
Sleipnir Selebrity, (by Donnybrook Celebrity) (1982-2009) “Seppy”, another chestnut colt, subsequently gelded. He too followed in his Dam and brother’s hoofsteps.
Sleipnir Constelaton, (by B-L Rhinestone Kid, the Patriarch of the Herd, 1980-2009) (1983 – ) “Connie” a bay filly. Her story still continues 30 years later.
We lost Spicy too early to debatable causes after S. Constelaton’s birth. However, her impact on our family, and on the Morgan Breed and horse world, continues thirty years plus and in to the future.
Farms in Massachusetts, Iowa, and now Tennessee became central to our lives, defining a good part of our family life.
Hal and Seppy helped to teach our grand-children their love of horses, how to care for these gigantic souls, and how to ride and drive. Also, how to handle the passing of beloved family members.
After Spicy’s death, we went back to the University of Connecticut and purchased U C Cinnamon (1979 – 2011) “Cinnie”. She and Connie have continued Spicy’s dam line to both sides of our pedigrees.
They and other members of the herd have impacted the lives of horse people and visitors in uncountable ways.
U C Spicy Lass is buried at our first farm in Gardner, Massachusetts. But her spirit, her legacy, her influence is still alive and well in Tennessee.