Artwork by Lisa Curry Mair

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and that reminds me that it’s Ace’s birthday. “Ace” (show name: Ace in the Hole) was a 3/4 TB, 1/4 Percheron my mother brought into our family back in the 80s. At the time, he was being sold because he had decided he had done enough show jumping and wanted to do something else. He became a fantastic school horse and one of the best to take out on the road for a pleasurable “jaunt”. When my husband, Bart, and I moved from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts, Ace came along with us and became my “second” horse; keeping my thoroughbred, Taurus, company. When my Mom visited us she would ride him and Bart enjoyed hacks with Taurus and me. In the spring of 1992 I was very pregnant and banned from riding Taurus, who could be slightly “unpredictable”. The day before I went into labor I had a great ride on Ace. He took very good care of me and didn’t mind that I was carrying an extra, very awkward load. Little wonder my daughter, Lauren, came into this world wanting to learn how to ride!

Ace was one of those very special horses that didn’t do anything spectacularly well, but did everything with calm and poise. I remember one dressage show where I was to compete both Ace and Taurus. It was a fresh, spring day and Taurus had completely forgotten everything he ever knew about being a dressage horse. I decided to lunge him (exercise him from the ground) before I attempted getting on. It didn’t go well. Taurus leapt and spun and eventually lost his balance and fell down right in front of Jack LeGoff, the country’s top eventing coach at the time! Humiliated and embarrassed, I put Taurus back in the trailer and pulled Ace out. Ace put in one of the steadiest dressage tests of his life and brought home the blue ribbon. I don’t know if Mr. LeGoff saw that ride.

Taurus and Ace with my Mom and me at Hunter Pace event.

Taurus and Ace lived out their senior years here in Vermont and are buried side by side in our “family graveyard”. I am forever grateful for having the honor of caring for such a kind, steady, honest horse. He shows up in a lot of my paintings, mostly because he was just so darn good. Not brilliant. Not flashy. Just really good. Thank you, Ace. Happy Birthday!

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