Photo by Amanda Plucker

Phoenix was a wonderful schooling horse for twenty years at the Windy Ridge Ranch. He acquired many admirers throughout his career and was involved in almost every activity we have enjoyed in all those years. Phoenix proved to be a great trail horse, a dressage horse, a mount for Drill Team and JETs, and in his later years, a totally reliable horse for junior riders.

At age 25, Phoenix developed cervical spinal neuropathy and he had to be euthanized (09-06-2013).



Photo by Amanda Plucker



peg cav

Jan Middlefort and Phoenix on the JETs


Remembering Phoenix
by Peg Powers

Paul saw him first and called home and told me to come quick. I was horseless at the time and needed a full-time partner. Phoe was a very different looking horse back then. He looked…sort of willowy. He dropped his poll nicely. I fell in love and became Phoe’s first lessee. I later realized that he’d been body clipped and had very little muscle. I also learned that a nice head set does not mean a horse is going on the bit. As we learned dressage together, Phoenix would do what could be called only a “halt and squat” when I asked for a downward transition. His front would stop and his back end would bump into the front and then drop down.
As time went by, so much changed. He put on muscle. He and I learned to do a surprising amount in dressage. He often looked as elegant as he did that first day he came to the Ranch but with so much more power. I remember doing a pas de deux with my daughter at one schooling show—to a martial tune on Irish instruments. Oh, he was stately. I remember riding him up a very steep hill once and thinking that I had never felt power like that before. I remember someone describing the sparks flying from his shoes hitting rocks on that steep hill at Afton on a dusky ride.  I remember tripping or something in giant pinwheel and falling pretty far behind the line. The other riders left a hole there for us. So I asked for some speed and he burst forward and we slipped so sweetly into that spot. I can still hear his pounding hooves. I can still see the amazed expressions on the other riders’ faces. They didn’t know he could do that.
Mostly though I will remember Phoe’s sense of humor, which was easily his finest quality. Him trying to give me a wedgie every time I bent over to clean out his front hooves. (I had a lot of riding pants with tiny holes in the seat.) Playing peek-a-boo with him while waiting for him to dry after a winter class. He would play for ten minutes and was amazed every time I took the blanket off his eyes. He was very partial to starlight mints and carrot tops.
He was a very good horse. And he had a great life here at the Ranch, with lots of adoring riders. I’m glad he got to finish out with Lori, who is a monument to love and patience. Like all animals, he deserved to be loved, and he was.
And didn’t he look mah-velous?