In Memoriam

The painful side of having animal companions is that sooner or later one has the grief of losing them. Yet the rewards of living for years with them are so great, that we accept the pain when it comes.

We have put up this page as a memorial for our departed companions. Some of them also have special tribute pages. Some readers might be interested in knowing that there is an internet site where you can put up a tribute to your deceased pet absolutely free, a poem or written tribute plus a picture of your pet and midi music. You can visit Santa's tribute page, and then if you want to put up a tribute to your own pet, go to the website's home page. I've also put up Bozzy's tribute page for another very special dog who died long ago in 1978, but as Bozzy was never a part of Lonesome Acres, I haven't included him on this site. -- Vic

Lonesome Lonesome Chinook (1958 - 1985, QH X Standardbred, 16.0 hh). Pat bought Lonesome in 1965 when she was still in her teens, and she owned him for 20 years. Needless to say, Lonesome Acres was named after this horse.

Lonesome was used for basic dressage, jumping, driving, trail riding, shown extensively in hunter jumper, English pleasure, western games, cross-country jumping and even managed to go on one hunt. He had the ability to do five gaits. Lonesome also taught many people to ride. Mostly Pat rode him for miles on the roads and trails. He was a very forward-moving horse who would go through anything.

Fleet Fleet Spirit (1970 - 2000, probably Arabian X QH, 14.3 hh). Pat bought Fleet in 1977 to do a week-long self-contained camping trip, when Lonesome was getting too old, and by the end of the trip she knew she would never sell him. After that trip he went on to win honours in cross-country jumping, competitive trail and a number of other disciplines. Bold, competitive, friendly and smart, Fleet was unquestionably Pat's favourite among the 40 plus horses she has owned.

Fleet was one of those iron horses who just keep going and going and going. A decade after many horses have retired, Fleet was still giving lessons and going out for easy trail rides, and he remained the unquestioned boss of the barnyard for a long time. Finally at the age of 30 in June 2000 Fleet retired because of a heart murmur. Here at Lonesome Acres it was the end of an era, like Gordie Howe hanging up his skates! We hoped Fleet would still have a long and happy retirement, but it was not to be. He went downhill rapidly, and we could see that the only merciful course was to put him down. Fleet passed away on November 2, 2000 and is buried in the front pasture under an old apple tree.

Fleet jumping

Vic rarely rode Fleet, but he counted him as one of his favourite equine friends. Whenever Vic would get home from work, Fleet would give a loud whinny just as he opened the door of his car. Fleet was already 19 years old when Vic moved in with Pat, and to Vic the old guy was always the epitome of aging with dignity. Some time after Fleet's death, Vic wrote the following tribute.

Fleet Spirit
1970 — 2000

Fleet Spirit you were called;
yet your spirit's lingered here
for over thirty years.

Fleet of foot in youth
Pat's centaur half
welded to her knees,
coiling and uncoiling
to hurl you down the course
and at the end,
jumping high and clear.

Sober of spirit in age,
your dignity inviolate,
playing with colts,
or even greeting the man
late returning from
the human irrelevancy of work
to prompt him to attend
the equine urgency of oats

Watching the stiffness of your stride,
I called you, "Old Man."
Did you,
watching the laborious bending of my back,
think of me in your mind
as "Old Horse"?

Already old beyond the measure of your kind,
for years you stood foursquare in the pasture
against time's battery,
the blows sliding off your glowing hide,
never stinting on your work or pleasure
because you thought
moving, albeit painfully,
preferable to
the alternative of immotility.

Five years ago
at the statistical end
you fought fiercely
against the colic griping your guts
because you were sure
there were still
many warm days
to feel the sun against your skin.

like an old abandoned barn
when the ridgepole has rotted through,
your whole frame has sagged.

A few weeks, a few months,
too few,
and now basking in this strange warm November sun,
depths of eocene wisdom in your eyes,
you're telling us,
you've reached the course's end,
time to clear your final jump.
my ancient mentor and my friend.


Fatima Fatima (1969 - 2004) was "just a lesson horse" but what a lesson horse. She went on working year after year. In spite of her considerable size (16.0 hh) she was always a favourite of our youngest students because she was so quiet and biddable in the ring—although for many years there was a spark out on the trail.

Fatima was the horse that Pat could not get rid of. She originally belonged to our now-retired blacksmith Rod Brookbanks. Way back then she finished in the top ten in North America for a Half Arabian Endurance Event (100 miles over three days). Pat bought her in 1986 for a former boy friend. When the relationship ended Pat sold her to a friend. Tragically the friend died in her 30's, and her husband asked Pat to take Fatima back. A few years later Pat sold her to another friend, Karen Nixon, for Karen's teenage daughter Kayla to learn to ride on. Fatima did indeed teach Kayla to ride, and the two of them finished an OCTRA 25-mile ride when Fatima was 23 years old. Eventually, however, Kayla left home, and her parents moved to Ottawa. You guessed it; Karen asked Pat to take Fatima back.

We thought we would just be providing a home for a few more years, but Fatima went on and on and on, still working as a lesson horse. For her last few years we restricted her to the lightest riders, and probably the moderate exercise helped her to keep going.

It was sad to part with Fatima on September 20, 2004, but she had a very good life. All of her owners took very good care of her, and she lived to a great age, equivalent to 100+ years in a human.

Santa Santa was a purebred Irish Setter born in 1985. Her first owners decided to move back to England, and she went through two homes in her first two years.

Then she was given to Pat on Labour Day, 1987, and Pat promised that she would never abandon her. Pat and Santa became inseparable. Pat took Santa everywhere she was allowed to, and Santa followed Pat everywhere she was allowed to.

When Pat and Vic started dating the next summer, it was also love at first sight between Vic and Santa. When Vic moved in the following spring, Santa was soon dividing her time between Pat and Vic. She was always with one or the other whether it was Vic up in his computer room or Pat out in the riding arena. Whenever we came home from work or shopping, Santa would greet us with joyous yodelling--that's the only word for the incredible noise she made. She hated to be shut up away from us and became quite an escape artist; she could open any door with her paws and teeth unless it was locked.

Santa was gentle and friendly with all the many visitors to Lonesome Acres and was loved by all the children who came here. She did have one bad habit for a dog on a horse farm. Whenever she emerged from the house, she would rush over to the barnyard fence and bark long and loud at the horses. The horses just ignored her. She did not seem to mind the horses in other circumstances. She would lie quietly beside a horse that was being groomed or sit beside Pat during riding lessons without making a sound. In her younger days she also enjoyed following the horses on a trail ride.

Santa developed arthritis when she was 12 years old. Two years later she suddenly lost the use of her hind legs. We helped her go outside with a sling for several weeks while she was under the treatment of a vet. As she was showing no signs of being able to walk after six weeks, the vet recommended putting her to sleep.

On October 2, 1999 we took Santa in for euthanasia and stayed with her throughout. Afterwards, we brought her home to bury her on our own land. Santa is gone now, but we will remember this beautiful, affectionate dog forever. Pat and Vic both wrote poems in her memory and posted them on Santa's tribute page.

Minnie was our house cat for a long time, a big fluffy orange tabby. He reached a considerable age, being born in 1984 and passing away on July 16, 2002. He was very shy and gentle. People often mistakenly thought that he was hissing at them. The truth is, his vocal cords were damaged by an infection as a kitten, and he couldn't meow. His only sound was a raspy noise, something like a hiss, but much softer. Minnie never hissed or showed aggression in any way.

Minnie got fed on top of our clothes dryer, so that the dogs wouldn't devour his cat kibble. He must have jumped up there 100 times a day to inquire hopefully if we were going to put any food in his overflowing bowl.

KatyKaty was Vic's birthday dog. When Vic's birthday came up a few weeks after he moved in with Pat in 1989, she asked him if he would like a puppy. Pat knew that Vic had always been partial to black Labradors, and she had spotted a litter of black puppies from a Lab/Setter cross. There are innumerable pictures of Katy lying flat on her back--a common trait with Labradors.

Katy was a happy, carefree dog. She loved to play vigorously with Santa (1985 - 99) until her "big sister" got too old. She loved everyone who came here, and she wanted them to love her too. Her whole body wagged when someone arrived. She used to jump up on people, but when she got old and had a bad hip, she asked for your attention by tapping you with a paw.

Katy learned from Santa to bark at the horses, but with no encouragement from another dog she limited herself to three or four woofs. She was much more timid about the horses than Santa was. She would come up to the vicinity of the barn, but she would generally lie down several yards from the door. With her spectacular fur coat Katy seemed warm and cozy even when she chose to lie on top of a snowbank.

She loved to go for walks with Vic out in the back fields. Even at 13 she would still bounce and rock like a puppy when she thought Vic was going to take her for a walk.

We hoped that she would last a few more years and enjoy many more walks. Sadly she developed a kidney infection when she was 13½ and worsened rapidly. On November 4, 2002 we made the decision to have her put to sleep. She is buried now beside her old friend Santa.

Freya Freya was a very pretty Arab / Welsh Pony Cross. With her sweet temper and her willingness to move out she was enjoyed by kids at all levels. Freya was already in her 20's when we bought her, but like many ponies she was quite durable and gave us 10 good years of service. In her last few years she suffered from COPD (breathing problems), and in the hot humid summer of 2005 we finally had to say good-bye to her at the age of 32.


photo by Leslie Town
Tenor was a Tennessee Walker with the easy running walk of that breed. His first owner used him for many years in the gun dog trials. Pat figured any animal that was used to packs of dogs running around his feet and a rider firing off a shotgun would make a pretty calm lesson horse, and she wasn't disappointed. He had a gentle disposition that made him a hit with the kids, and at least two senior riders felt that he had done wonders to restore their self-confidence in the saddle. Tenor was with us far too short a time, less than a year, when a sudden acute kidney infection carried him off in the fall of 2005 at the age of 15.

Mack & Vic Mack (March 12, 1985 — December 1, 2009) was a thoroughbred, registered name MicMac King. Pat purchased him in 1990. He had excellent racing bloodlines with Neartic in his ancestry. A dealer who knew him told us that he sold for $40,000 as a yearling. However, Mack was not much interested in racing. The only race he ever won was a maiden claiming race, which is by definition a contest between horses who have not yet won a race. So Mack was "claimed" by someone for $2,500 and became a pleasure horse. For a while he was owned and loved by a young woman who eventually could not pay his board and she begged Pat to take him so that he would have a good home. Pat answered truthfully that she only had $600 left in the bank after buying another horse, and the owner accepted that. So that is how Mack came to Lonesome Acres.

Mack soon worked his way into our hearts. He was always a big, gentle friendly guy and would lay his head on Vic's shoulder. Vic soon took him over and decreed that his name was to be spelled with a "k" because he had the power of a Mack truck. Vic used him for competitive trail as well as taking him on camping trips. Although Mack didn't like galloping in a short race on the track he had no objections to the 25 or 30 mile rides in competitive trail, and he always finished the rides in good shape, pronounced "fit to continue." Competitive trail is dominated by Arabian horses, and Mack with his handsome head was often mistaken for a really big Arabian. Over the years Mack and Vic completed more than 600 miles in sanctioned rides, but they must have done six or seven thousand miles of conditioning and pleasure riding.

There were some humourous episodes in the course of the competitive trail rides. On one of Mack's first rides we went out to the barn at 5 am to feed the horses and trailer them over to the ride site. Overnight Mack had got a big ugly manure stain on his haunch. Our pit crew rushed at him to clean it off, and Mack was so startled that he began to hiccup. He was still hiccuping two hours later when Vic presented him at the initial vet check. Vic asked the vet if there was any way to cure a horse of the hiccups. The vet responded, "I didn't even know a horse could hiccup" and began to call the other vets over to watch this phenomenon. Once we were out on the trail, the hiccups did go away.

Mack had extraordinarily long smooth gaits. A good trot is much prized in competitive trail because that is how you cover the long distance. Mack could sustain over 20 mph for miles at the trot. One time Vic and another rider were trying to make up for lost time—they had both taken a wrong turn. The other rider on a little Arabian mare was going at a hand gallop beside Vic, and after 5 minutes it suddenly registered with her that Vic was posting. She looked down at Mack's feet and exclaimed in awed tones, "Nice trot!"

We made one mistake about Mack. For a while Vic was using Tisca a lot, and an extremely tall young girl wanted to buy him for eventing. We let him go and within a month were regretting it. Fortunately after 5 years she lost interest in riding, and her father approached us about buying him back. We jumped at the chance even though they had not taken good care of Mack after the young woman stopped riding, and he was extremely skinny. With lots of TLC he regained his health and strength, and Vic took him on many more rides and then retired him from competition when he was about 18.

All those years as well as being a competitive trail horse Mack was a lesson horse. Perhaps he was even better in that role. He could be spooky and nervous on the trail, suspecting that every shady place hid a predator. (Part of the lore of Lonesome Acres was that Mack had written a book called The Intelligent Horse's Guide to Sabre-Tooth Tigers in Southern Ontario.) In the ring he had no such fears; he was steady and reliable, and Pat always described him as a "push-button" lesson horse. He must have taught dozens of kids to ride and he was much loved by many students.

Mack was approaching the end of his usefulness as a lesson horse; he was showing some signs of arthritis and could no longer carry the heavier students. We had hoped that he would have a pleasant retirement just standing in the sun, as he could easily have lived another 5 or even 10 years. Sadly he somehow broke his leg, and Pat found him standing on three legs when she went out in the morning. The vet soon came and confirmed the diagnosis, and there was no option but to put him to sleep. Pat and Vic were both there to stoke him and hold him as our big gentle boy slipped away.

Naturally Mack is missed by the many students who came to know him and love him. One of them contributed a poem to mark his passing.

As the starting bell goes Mack runs
He runs as fast as lightning
His hooves pound like thunder
Faster and faster he goes
He knows his time has come to an end
But he still runs
Nothing holding him back
Except himself
Then he's gone forever
But will never be forgotten

This poem is dedicated to Mack
the big horse with a huge heart


Boney Parts BP is in his late20's, still very much alive, but we have no page for horses who went to a retirement home. We had no papers for him, but there is no doubt about his Arab ancestry. You would be shocked if you saw one of his "before" pictures. His initials stand for "boney parts." Our soft-hearted horse dealer picked him up at the auction for next to nothing because she felt sorry for this skin-and-bones equine, and she passed him on to Pat at a low price. By cautiously increasing his feed we brought him up to fine form, and we now had an excellent lesson pony who only cost a few hundred dollars ... plus a lot of feed. He served us well for many years, but eventually the arthritis made it impossible for him to work. When you are in the stable business, you can't afford to keep them all. Our friend Janet has a farm with unlimited pasture and she grows her own hay, so she was willing to give a home to BP. The old fellow remains young at heart and loves to play with Janet`s two-year-old colt.

Roxy Roxy was a purebred Arabian mare. She competed in OCTRA events for several years for a previous owner. We bought her through Rose Danko, and she became a lesson horse. She also became Vic's competitive trail horse when Mack became too old. Roxy was invariably sweet and gentle on the ground and was a steady reliable lesson horse in the ring. Out on the trail she hated walking slowly and was always trying to speed up to a trot. This was only intensified at competitive trail rides with a lot of strange horses. On one memorable ride we were accompanied by our friend Audrey who was trying out the sport. Although Vic tried to hold Roxy back, she was always breaking into a little jog, and even though Vic made her go in a serpentine movement so that she was covering extra ground, she would soon be a few hundred feet ahead of Pat and Audrey. Pat would call to Vic to slow down and walk. Eventually Vic called back, "She is walking. This is as slow as she goes!"

Roxy was born in 1990, and as she approached 20 years of age, she was showing signs of arthritis. It was particularly noticeable when she was going in the tight circles required by our small arena. It would not have been kind to keep her going as a lesson horse or to ask her to engage in strenuous competitive rides. When you are in the stable business, you can't afford to keep them all. Our friend Janet has a farm with unlimited pasture and she grows her own hay, so she was willing to take on Roxy and just use her for a gentle ride once or twice a week, which is probably better for the horse than complete inactivity. So at our Open House in May 2011 we announced Roxy's retirement, and shortly afterward she moved to Janet's farm. Unfortunately after one year of retirement Roxy passed away. Janet found her lying in the pasture one morning with no signs of struggle or distress, so we think she died peacefully of heart failure.

Moses Moses, or Mo, seemed to have had a tough time in his early life. He had been a Mennonite driving pony, and it appears they did not take very good care of him. When our horse dealer friend Lesley Danko saw him at the auction, his ribs were sticking out and he had terrible sores—girth galls—where the harness had rubbed him raw. Lesley bought him for $200 purely because she felt so sorry for him. She passed him on to Pat at cost. It took a long time to nurse him back to health, but once he recovered, he repaid the effort. Pat thought he was the best lesson pony for little kids that she ever had. Moses was already very old when we bought him, certainly over 20, maybe 25. He gave us 8 years of good service. Pat had stopped using him in the winter of 2010-11, and we announced his retirement along with Roxy at the 2011 Open House. It was our plan to keep him here as long as he was comfortable. Unfortunately at his advanced age, he did not last much longer. He was having a lot of trouble getting back up on his feet after he lay down. Because of their great weight horses cannot lie down for a long time. On June 2, 2011 after repeated efforts to get him back on his feet, Moses wouldn't get up, and we had no option but to call in the vet for euthanasia. Mo will be missed for a long time.

Seabreeze Breeze came to Lonesome Acres as a young mare of 4 or 5. She was a beautiful girl with large brown eyes and an exquisite face. She was named Seabreeze for the curious marking on her head in the shape of a seahorse.

Breeze was a chestnut Arab x Quarterhorse and had the full spectrum of both personalities. She could be exceptionally quiet as we strolled along at a walk on a loose rein, or she could be quite overreactive.

Breeze had the smoothest trot of any horse Pat had ever ridden, and that's saying a lot. Whether it was a slow jog or a super-extended trot, it was possible to just sit.

Pat and Breeze did trail-riding, camping trips, basic dressage and jumping. The mare loved to go out on trail and motor along at a good trot or canter. She did four summer camping trips with Pat to Flesherton, Algonquin Park, Sundridge and Ganaraska Forest. Breeze loved to jump and once you pointed her at a jump, hang on, because she was going over it.

Breeze was one of the most sensitve, responsive horses Pat has ever ridden. They had developed a real love, friendship and trust. Her life was tragically cut short by an accident in the fall of 2011. Breeze will always be remembered as the special girl she was. May she run free in the sky forever.

CrimmieCrimmie was our barn cat since 1995, a friendly, purring little black with one crumpled ear. In case you're wondering how she got that strange name, well, it's like this .... Pat picked her out from the litter of a friend's barn cat, and she was originally designated as a house cat. Unfortunately, she couldn't put her barn background behind her. In the first month of her probation many outraged cries were heard from the computer room: "That CRIMINAL KITTEN has pooped in my study again!" So Crimmie earned her name and was exiled to the barn. Even though she got all the cat kibble she wanted, she really earned her keep in the barn, being an expert mouser and (unfortunately) an expert birder. She passed away in the fall of 2011.

MarbleMarble was a black female with faint orange tortoise-shell markings. She showed up on her own in the summer of 1999, looked around and said, "Horses, that's really cool." Marble learned the mousing trade from Crimmie, and now the two of them left a plentiful supply of dead mice and moles for the dogs to play with--yuck! Marble really did seem to be intrigued by the horses. One day she was sitting on the shoulder of a cat-loving boarder who was holding her horse on a lead. Marble jumped onto the horse's back and started playing with his mane! Fortunately the horse was a calm old fellow who took it in stride. In 2011 she began to look increasingly frail, and in the late summer of 2012 she passed away just a few days before Cinnamon.

Cinnamon Cinnamon was our companion for over 12 years. She was a purebred Irish Setter, the third one Pat had, and for much of her life she shared the house with Mr Spock., a purebred black Labrador, who was almost exactly 3 years younger than she was. Vic always remembered the date of her birth because it was coincidentally the first day that he successfully quit smoking. When she stopped eating a few weeks before her death, the vet discovered that she had a large tumor on her liver, which had gone undetected in previous checkups. Medication helped for a short time, but when she stopped eating again, we knew we had to release her, and she was put to sleep at her own home and buried under the cedar hedge with our other dogs.

Cinnamon was very large even for her breed. At 27.5 inches she was taller than the breed standard for a male Irish Setter. She was in fact the very image of her sire, who was the same height, and she resembled him in many ways.

Although setters are generally not ranked as the most intelligent breed, her sire Riley was highly intelligent. He is believed to be the only Irish Setter who ever earned a herd dog certificate. We did not bring Cinnamon to her full potential, but it was obvious in her obedience training that she too was very bright. She learned quickly and was totally focused on Vic when he trained her, and she never forgot her training.

Another quirk she shared with her father was a passion for carrying around a toy, a road hockey ball or a squeaky toy. She was also good at catching a frisbee. She was so obsessed with her toys that we referred to them as "Precious" in imitation of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. If she dropped a ball while she was walking, she understood the command, Find Precious, and would begin searching for it. She once crammed three tennis balls at once into her mouth. Another time when Vic's son visited with his dogs, she ended up with a big collection of all the dog toys between her front legs.

She was a quirky headstrong dog, whose actions often amused us. We loved her dearly and will miss her for a long time.

Tisca Tisca (Maple Leaf's Ventisca) lived with us almost all of her life. She was a registered Paso Fino. When Vic moved in with Pat in 1989, he did not ride although he had lots of experience taking care of horses. On a vacation in Cuba he accompanied Pat on several livery rides, and he happened to get a gaited horse and enjoyed riding much more than on his previous attempts. On their return Pat started looking all over to find him a Paso. Tisca was about the third or fourth horse we checked out, and she proved to be irresistible. She walked right up to Vic and nuzzled him.

Pat soon agreed that she was indeed a wonderful little trail horse: feisty, sure-footed and defintely competitive--she liked to keep her nose out in front of any riding companions. When she was young, both Pat and Vic used her a number of times in competitive trail. One time she brought Vic in second in the heavy weight division in a tough 30-mile event. She also went on camping trips with us and our friends. On one trip she made the local television news after getting us very worried. At our base camp the four horses suddenly spooked and ran off into the woods--our best guess is that a bear passed nearby. The two horses belonging to Audrey and Helen found their way back in a few hours, but Tisca and Dandee were out in the woods for 12 days. Thankfully we had a lot of help from the local people in the Parry Sound area and from our friends in the equestrian community, and we recovered them safe and sound.

Vic gradually switched over to his big thoroughbred Mack for the competitive trail rides, but Tisca remained a favorite for hacking around locally. She also worked as a lesson horse and was a favorite with many kids, even though she was not patient about going in circles in the arena, and she definitely did not show good form as a jumper.

Tisca was doing light work almost to the end. When she was just a few months shy of her 29th birthday, she suffered a sudden intense attack of colic. The vet could not give a good prognosis, and with great sadness we said good-bye to her on March 27, 2014.



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