Katie, Bella and Uncle Sean with WB Galway Bay in November of 2002.
The newest member of the family is my granddaughter Isabella Michelle Wiese. Born March 23, 2002, she immediately stole our hearts and became the center of the universe. And she knows it. She was first placed on a horse at 3 months old, and has wanted to be with them ever since.
Bella and Pomp in the summer of 2003.
Bella and Katie at the MECAB Futurity, Sept. 2003.
Bella and Dreamy at home, June 25,2004
Bella showing in leadline at the MECAB Futurity September 2004
Bella and Sonseress (19 year old purebred Arabian) at the MECAB Futurity, 2004
Bella and Jackie Boy heading out for a trail ride, May 2005.
Bella and Whoodie, a three week old section B Welsh Pony.
Bella and Baloved, representing the Arabian horse at the December 2005 Southern Horse Festival in Raleigh.
Bella and new friends aboard Baloved at the 2005 Southern Horse Festival.
The Shenandoah Valley Classic was a successful show for the farm, and Bella proudly shows off the ribbons in July, 2006.
The October 2006 Pre-Halloween Classic in Lexington had a costume class. Bella went as a fairy, riding a big orange pumpkin.
Bella riding Piper at one of her first lessons at Cash Lovell Stable in December 2006.
Steering is not so hard.
Learning to post, that's another matter!
Winter of 2007 finds Bella a much more accomplished rider, all 42 pounds of her. She has been taking saddleseat lessons for a year now, and would never dream of missing a week. Bella loves to ride, and would never leave the barn if she didn't have to. We've bred hunters, jumpers and a western horse or two, but we don't have an English style horse. Looks like we may be looking for one in a year or two!
Summer 2008 has Bella trying out a Country English show horse for walk/trot, a lovely little 17 year old Polish horse named Vengence. They made a very cute pair, and, although Vengence was used as a schooling horse, he was still a stallion, so we had to pass.
Bella trying out Vengence. He was quite a nice little horse!
Bella and Sunny, fall 2008.
Ande and Bella in spring 2009.
Bella at the first schooling show with Academy early 2010.
Summer 2010 Academy show.
Bella winning one of her National Top Ten's.
The 7-8 year old Academy team, all Top Ten winners!
Bella loves the horses and being at the barn. She has the best work ethic when it comes to feeding and cleaning stalls. She is not afraid of the horses or ponies, and they are very patient with her. Not surprisingly, she rides more than most of the members of the family.
Bella rode in her first show in September of 2003 at the MECAB Futurity in Leadline at the tender age of 17 months. She stole the show. Bella was fearless as she rode on one of Willow Bend Farm's older Arabian geldings, Spider, who behaved like a perfect gentleman. She was extremely pleased with the large blue ribbon that they won.
Bella is the main reason that we started to change the focus of our breeding program. We have always wanted to produce beautiful, people-oriented purebred and Half-Arabian horses for the average family, at which we feel we have succeeded. These horses were meant to trail ride, show and be best friends. But through the years, the Arabians have begun to acquire more size, from the 14.2 hh horses that we started with, to the 15 - 16 hh horses that we now have. We have decided to produce a small crop of Half-Arabian, Half-Welsh hunter jumper ponies for children and small adults.
These ponies, known today as Welara Ponies, were first produced by Lady Wentworth, of Crabbet fame, who crossed several of her Welsh ponies on her imported Arabian stallion Skowronek, and pronounced them "the most beautiful ponies on the face of the earth."
In the Summer of 2003, Tom and I went to Texas to Rosmel's Pony farm to acquire a Welsh Pony stallion. I had seen videos of numerous stallions from around the US, and had decided on a gorgeous golden dappled buckskin yearling with incredible movement. Rosmel's Golden Wonder is the son of First Premium Sport Pony Rosmel's Creme de Menthe. While at Rosmel's, Rosie introduced us to a wonderful little 2 year old filly with a fabulously typey head. All I could see was Bella on that pony's back. How could I leave her behind? So Dreamcicle (aka Dreamy) came home. Bella calls her "MiMi", who responds with gentle attention.
Bella showed like an old pro at the MECAB Fall Futurity in September, 2004. Wearing a Western showmanship outfit, she sat tall in the saddle and smiled for the camera. Again, she was the center of attention, and the photographer, Victor Steel, could not get enough photos of her.
May 2005, and Bella is now starting to ride a little miniature horse named Jackie Boy. Her mom loves the idea of the tiny pony, as he is only 41 inches, so it is not so far to the ground. Her favorite horse remains Sonseress. Her Welsh Pony mare, Dreamy, is busy with her filly.
June, 2005, and Bella is enjoying foaling season. Each baby must be kissed regularly. The foals are unafraid of their little visitor, and she is unafraid of them.
The winter of 2005 brought us to Raleigh to the Southern Horse Festival. We were part of a new club SABRE (Southern Arabian Breeders and Riding Enthusiasts) and were the only Arabian representatives for much of the show. Bella rode Baloved (owned by Pam Harris) to show how gentle the Arabian horse really is.
In the booth and display area at the Southern Horse Festival, children eagerly sat on Baloved, who was calm and endearing for the entire 3 day event. Pam, and her mom, Pat, were glad to share their wonderful mare. Bella, second from the front, was happy to sit with other kids on Baloved.
2006, and Willow Bend Farm returns to the show ring after a several year hiatus (and thousands of dollars in vet bills, but that is another story). We had a great show at the Shenandoah Valley Classic. Bella loves going to the shows and enjoys "hanging" in the barn area with the horses.
After all, isn't this what all kids do on the weekends?
In November of 2006, we decided that Bella needed professionals teaching her to ride. She started taking lessons at Cash Lovell Stables. They specialize in saddleseat, and that seems to be just fine with Bella. The horses there are Arabians, Saddlebreds and crosses, with a little bit of everything tossed in. They are extremely well mannered and respond to a 4 year old's demands. As always, Bella showed no fear about this new adventure.
Bella's favorite part of the lesson is riding backwards!
Sorry, Vengence. Mom says no stallion.
Bella is used to being in most of the videos of our horses. Katie was taking still shots of Bella interacting with WB Golden Sunrise (Rosmel's Golden Wonder x LS Elegance) a yearling buckskin Arabian/Welsh pony cross. I love this picture!
In April of 2009, we bought Bella a retired Country English show horse. Andres Showgirl was in her late teens, but had been US, National Top Ten Open Country English Pleasure in her day. Ande was quiet, very well trained and beautiful. Bella was smitten. Unfortunately, Ande remembered her glory days right before Bella's first Walk/Trot class. Bella was able to sit a canter, but we were afraid that if Ande broke into a canter during the class, it would upset the other small children in the ring. Se we used the show (and the warm up rings) as a learning experience and decided to wait.
Bella and Ande in June 2009.
Not long after our first show, Ande developed an effusion around her left stifle, and was noticably lame. She was treated by one of the best lameness vets in North Carolina, but her years of showing had finally caught up with her. Her arthritis was severe enough to force a complete retirement from the ring. She could only be ridden at a walk. The next phase of Bella's adventure was about to begin.
By now, bella had been taking lessons at Cash Lovell's Stable for 4 years. Since Ande was out on disability, we decided to let Bella join the Academy group at the stable. This would give Bella the experience of the show ring, but on safe lesson horses that she was used to riding.
Bella showing her trophy plate in March 2010.
Bella was growing in experience and confidence with every show. She did not always win, but if she felt she had done her best, Bella was satisfied. (Maybe a lesson many of us could learn from a child!) As the year progressed, Bella qualified for Saddleseat Academy Nationals.
Bella, and the entire Academy team, had a great National Show. Bella won Top Ten honors for both Pleasure and Equitation. She learned a great deal both about the show ring, and about herself. We feel Bella would benefit from another year in Academy before looking for a Walk/Trot horse again.