Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meet Nancy Di Fabbio

Today we have a guest blog from Nancy Di Fabbio - a horsewoman who didn't get to satisfy her passion for horses until later in life, but who now owns four of them.

She also has a new book out called Midnight Magic - Be Careful What You Wish For - which is a spooky thriller about a haunted painting, a mysterious Morgan stallion and the girl that loves him.

Please enjoy this tongue-in-cheek blog post about Nancy's purchase of a very green horse, and their first horse show together (which she actually lived through.)

 As a 42-year-old rookie, I met Trinity and was immediately enchanted by his beauty, diminutive stature and fun-loving personality. He was a four-year-old Morgan with a pinch of Arab, as green as a prized emerald, and had more energy than a nuclear reactor but he sure was cute.

I bought him on the spot, and even though all the professionals thought he was my ticket to the hereafter, I loved him and gleefully sped around the ring on him at warp speed. When I finally sucked up enough courage to participate in my first horse show, I chose him to be my partner, even though I already owned two tried-and-trued show horses.

My best friend, Georgina, who was also a late-bloomer, accompanied me to a local 4-H show. While she sauntered off to sign me up for my pleasure classes, I asked a nearby horsewoman to help me unload The Meenster. (Yes, his name is Trinity, but he earned this nick-name, short for "mini-monster.") As I let down the ramp, puffed up with pride, I told her that this was my first horse show. (I was 45.) "Good for you!" she said - until Trinity blasted out of the trailer like a rocket off the launch pad.

She blanched and asked, "Ummm - does he lunge?"

Completely at ease with my little maniac, I replied, "Yes, but he'll be fine under tack. Lunging will only rev him um." Cringing, she slunk away - probably to alert the EMT's.

When my friend returned, even she looked a bit wan as she witnessed him in full stallion mode. (He's actually a gelding, but nobody has ever convinced him of this sorry fact.) I knew he was no pleasure horse, but I had chosen this class because it was held in a huge field, not a ring. I knew he was going to be booking, and I wanted room to avoid the other competitors. I entered the field and slowly walked him around as the other riders trotted, cantered, or galloped by. I learned long ago that you can't wear him out; it's better to keep him calm, allow him to scope out the area and prepare himself for what is to come.

As soon as the twenty-five competitors entered the field, (yes, 25!) the judge's voice blared, "Walk, all riders, please walk."

Admittedly, I was a nervous wreck, but The Meenster performed perfectly at the walk and trot; the canter was a completely different story. The thundering of one hundred hooves awoke the wild beast within the horsey beast, and soon we were flying past Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses like they were standing still. My poor friend, who was watching from the sidelines, looked like she'd just eaten a bucket of bad clams, as riders flew off their mounts like popcorn kernels on a hot griddle.

When they mercifully called for the walk, The Meenster immediately responded and we lined up in the center of the field. Not surprisingly, we didn't win a ribbon, but I felt amazing. It's one thing to get a blue on an experienced show horse at the age of 14, and quite another to survive pandemonium on The Meenster as a middle-aged rookie!

Thanks so much for dropping by and visiting Nancy, and sharing that great *cough* show experience! We are glad you both survived! To learn more, as well as Nancy's other interesting occupation, please visit her website at


TBDancer said...

An excellent guest post! As a late-in-life first-time horse owner myself, I appreciate her perspective. Love the humor, too.

Laura Crum said...

Wow--You are one brave gal. Great story.Glad you survived.

Jennifer Walker said...

I was a re-rider who purchased a greenie at the age of 32, so I can relate! What a fun story--thanks for sharing.

Maggie Dana said...

I so admire people (women, mostly) who take up riding after the first flush of youth is long gone. I learned to ride when I was five, so it pretty much comes naturally (even after all these years), but I didn't learn to ski till my mid-40s, so I know what it's like to take up a challenging sport when your body says, "Are you completely nuts?"

I skied, badly, for ten years. When I quit I could almost hear the ski industry heave a sigh of relief.

Linda Benson said...

Nancy, thanks for a great story. One of the great things that comes with age is we develop a sense of humor about ourselves - our triumphs and our shortcomings. Thanks for sharing your experience, and reminding all of us not to take things too seriously. Kisses to the Meenster!

Dreaming said...

What a fun story. What a gutsy gal!

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Nancy! Wow, you're brave! I remember my first dressage competition, I was absolutely terrified, partly because I knew my mare would be spooky and nervous, so I gave her Rescue Remedy before the show. Maybe I gave her a little too much because she sat on my lap during the entire program! Well, at least that what it felt like! No engine whatsoever, but spooky none the less (weird, eh?!). She wasn't a greenie, but I got her when she was five (I was twenty-seven) and I was very inexperienced. She used to cart me out of the outside arena and back to the stables; I couldn't do a thing to stop her!

Fun blog :)

Nancy Di Fabbio said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed the story of me and The Meenster braving new territories. Not so sure I'm brave, just smitten with a compulsive, overachieving personality, mixed with an incredible passion for horses.
Francesca, I think dressage is waaaaaay less scary than huntseat. My first dressage test was on my 17H TB who was 5 at the time and greener than a prized emerald. I wasn't much more experienced than him, but ..... Needless to say we got an exceedingly low score because I had no idea how to put any horse on the bit much less him, but I was proud that I overcame my anxiety and thrilled that he behaved. To make it even funnier, I had NEVER ridden him outside and this test was in an outdoor ring.
The judge's comment I'll cherish forever: A competent rider on a young, timid horse. LOL They should have known what I felt like, although when I finished and halted in front of them, I said, "
He's too young and I'm too old for this."
In spite of it all, I never lost my sense of humor.