National School Horse of the Year (written by Jane Bradley)

Over the past XX years that Tyme has been a school horse at Breckenridge Farm, in Plainfield, Vermont just about everything has been said about him. Like…”Tyme heals all wounds” and ”A Tyme for every matter under heaven”, ”Tyme and tide wait for no man” and ”Tyme is money” so, it’s “about Tyme” that I write this nomination for school horse of the year.

Tyme has taught me how to ride, but he’s also taught so much more. I did not start riding until six years ago. At the age of 50, I took my first horseback riding lesson on the same horse who taught my daughter when she was a young girl, (she’s now 30 years old), and literally hundreds of other students. Tyme is no spring chicken, but that does not stand in his way when it comes to caring for, and teaching riders. Like any new rider, I was pretty scared to get on a horse. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to try this adventure at an age when there’s more “break” than “bounce” in my bones. Urged on by my daughter, and my wonderful instructor, Judi Whipple, I stood on the mounting block and swung my leg over Tyme’s back. And our journey began.

Tyme carried this clumsy, scared, and totally unbalanced rider slowly around the ring with a gentle confidence that told me, “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing, even if you don’t.” Over “Tyme”, I learned to trust him and he learned that I was a kind and well-intentioned, albeit, novice rider.

A great school horse is a true teacher. There are many attributes of a good teacher and Tyme possesses all of them. To be a good teacher, you need to know when to slow down and adjust to the learner’s pace, and you need to know when to expect your student to rise to a challenge. When I was learning how to trot, it amazed me that Tyme was able to sense when I was beginning to get off balance even before I knew it. He would slow down, or stop, and wait for me to re-group. As I became a more confident rider, he moved me along, challenging me, but never once compromising my safety. As a clunky older rider, I have dragged my leg across his back while mounting him and slide right off and under him when dismounting. In every situation, he remained still and patient, kind and forgiving, and just looked at me as if to say, “Whenever, you’re ready, just let me know.”

A great teacher is also one that is continually willing to learn new things. Tyme is one of the school horses used to teach the Norwich University Calvary student cadets. Even though Tyme is a “been there, done that” school horse in many ways, Tyme still had one fear that he had not overcome; A fear of flags. Through his work with the cadets in the Calvary group, Tyme overcame his fear and is now able to participate in Calvary parades replete with flags and cannons. It is a remarkable tribute to his attitude that he accomplished this feat when many other horses would have remained stuck in their old ways.

A great teacher is one that greets the day, the student, and the learning situation with joy and enthusiasm. When you walk into the barn and call out to Tyme he responds with a happy nicker. When I sing to him he turns one ear back to listen and picks up his pace to the rhythm of the song. Like a great dance partner, Tyme has done all the moves, but he makes you feel like he’s doing them just for you. At the end of the lesson he nuzzles up to thank you and naturally he hopes you’ll have a little something for him in return! At the ripe old age of XX, we discovered that he loves pears. He eats them with such passion. He makes me laugh.

I call Tyme the “Sean Connery” of horses. He may be older, hasn’t lost his twinkle. I tell him all the time that teaching me how to ride may be the single most important thing he’s ever done. He’s given me confidence, he’s taught me to trust, and he’s helped me face my fears, and he’s done all of that while we’re having fun together. For all he’s done for me, and for all his done for the hundreds of riders before me, he is truly the most deserving horse to be recognized as “School Horse of the Year.”

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