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horses: Growing up at Sweetbrier

A view of Sweetbrier


Some of you may know I grew up at a riding school called Sweetbrier. Do you know how it got that name? The original owner named the farm Sweetbrier because of a variety of roses that flourished there. Residents of  Easton, the farm’s location, said people came from miles around to see those gorgeous flowers. But, if you weren’t a fan of flowers, maybe you came to Sweetbrier to visit with the horses. There were all shapes and sizes of horses and ponies because we taught children and adults at the magical place called Sweetbrier.

Did you know, even the Budweiser Clydesdales came to visit when the Barnum Festival was in town. Generally, nine of the huge horses stayed with us. People called daily to inquire about visiting hours for the famous horses. Each of the big steeds had its own personal groom to tend to every need. For example, each Clydesdale at at least fifty pounds of high quality hay each day and as much as fifty pounds of grain.

The Humphrys family estate

Are you wondering why I think Sweetbrier was a magical place? Wouldn’t most any little girl love being surrounded by horses? I loved studying their different personalities and traits. My first pony’s name was Little Man. He was cute, fuzzy and cuddly. The chubby little fellow looked so innocent, but he was a rascal. One of his favorite things was lying down while I was still on his back. I’d talk to him, believing he understood every word. Not only that, but I thought if he got sugar cubes before my ride, he’d behave better. However, that wasn’t the key to success. Little Man was his own boss until I noticed he walked slower and slower before he’d lie down. Then, I’d give him a little kick and he’d keep plodding around the sandy ring. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, my legs weren’t strong, so the most Little Man did was jog around at a trot. He led a stress-free life, I think. No matter how he behaved, Little Man still holds a space in my heart because he was my first pony.

Sweetbrier was the site of many childhood adventures. For me, it was where my dream of becoming a champion equestrian began. I owe so much to my dad, who chose to teach me to ride after a specialist said I’d never walk. Daddy and I loved the journey of proving that doctor wrong. Every dream starts with one small step so find your passion and begin building your dream, one step at a time.

copyright: 2018: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Picture from “My Life at Sweetbrier.”

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