THE QUIETUDE STUD

ELLEN AND DANTE'S UPDATE

In the spring of 2013, my sister, Ellen, made the trip to West Virginia to the Quietude Stud.  She was going to meet her dream horse, but she didn’t know it at the time.   Her Morgan mix, Ranger, was getting up in years, and she was looking for another horse to gradually fill his shoes as he aged.  When she laid her eyes on Dante, she felt he would be the one.

We couldn’t have asked for a better horse.  Ellen needs a quiet, trustworthy horse, and that is what Dante turned out to be.  He hardly spooks, and when he does spook,  it isn’t bad and he calms down right away. 

Dante genuinely enjoys trail riding.  We have never met a horse that likes to look around at things as much as Dante.  He is such a sight seer out on the trail.  In the beginning, it made Ellen worry.  She He likes to touch things, too.  Whenever he sees something interesting, he tries to walk over to it to touch it.  He is such a curious and playful horse.  Ellen does nothing to stifle it.  We both delight in his silly ways.

We trail ride together as much as we can—nearly every weekend if the weather permits, and we take all our vacation time off together to trail ride, too.  We do lots of trotting and a bit of cantering on our rides.  Dante is, quite honestly, not the fastest horse in the barn—but he certainly is the smoothest.  If I lead on my Morab, Cole Train, we often have to wait for them to catch up.  Dante doesn’t seem to mind if other horses get too far ahead.  He stays calm and keeps going.  Now and then, he decides to go fast—his trot is still smooth and his canter is lovely.

Ellen and Dante have had some difficulties that they had to work through, but we found that once Dante knows what we want, he is happy to comply.  She has learned to trust him, and he has learned to take care of her.  If she gets nervous, Dante will often just stop to give her a chance to relax.

When Ellen bought Dante, she knew he would be a good horse.  She didn’t know he would be a dream horse; but she knows it now.  He’s a perfect match.  It takes time to build a horse/human relationship, but when everything starts to fall in place, it is a beautiful thing.


MY JOURNEY TO QUIETUDE
By Ellen Daly

When you lose someone close to you, it’s incomprehensible. Reality is suspended and your brain won’t let you think of anything else. This happened to me a little over a year ago. My father died after a long battle with cancer. He had Multiple Myeloma, a little known cancer of the blood. He had been diagnosed years ago, went through chemo and had many happy years in between. But that spring, it caught up with him. He became weaker and the pain was unbearable. My normally active dad, who loved to tinker on his classic cars and never woke up in the morning without a plan for the day, was failing.

The big crisis hit when he had a series of bad falls. We gathered as a family and brought hospice in. My dad’s only wish was to die at home. He was funny. He never liked to travel. He said that everything he needed was right at home. It was his kingdom. We all wanted to fulfill his wish. It was the toughest seven weeks of our lives, and the ending was not happy, but he got his wish. He passed away in his own bed. We were left adrift and in despair without measure.

But taking a lesson from my father’s book, it was time to wake up and plan each day. The pain would lessen if purpose was found.

Now, onto the happy part of the story. My sister and I have long been into horses. My horse, Ranger, has been with me for nearly twenty years. They have been wondrous, fun and most of all, challenging. If you want to learn about yourself, get a horse. They humble you as they raise you up. It is awesome. But my Ranger was getting older. His once formidable trot had slowed and his awesome canter reduced to just a few strides. It saddened me, but I knew it was inevitable. To this day, I still enjoy our short, easy rides and no horse is better for teaching the youngsters about trail riding. That includes both equine and human.

The idea of a younger horse had started to take hold in my mind—someone to fill the space Ranger once ruled and keep up with my sister’s snappy Morab, Cole Train

I started looking more to divert my mind from my grief than anything else. My sister started looking, too—now I knew I was in trouble. Then I got an e-mail from her with a link to a place called Quietude and there he was—a chestnut vision with this white blaze on his face. Quietude Dante. He reminded me of Ranger because he looked sturdy but beautiful.

He was a Lambert Morgan bred by a couple who had single-handedly resurrected the line. Wow. My education had begun about a type of horse who had been lost in history.

I have always loved Morgans. The first horse I every rode was my aunt’s Morgan gelding, Brandy. I was 4 years old. I imprinted. He was a bright chestnut with personality to spare. Many years later, my aunt gave Brandy to my sister. He was her fist horse. At almost 25 years old, he was nearly unstoppable. This started our journey that would lead to Cruiser, Ranger, Mingo and Cole. Would Dante be next?

It was late fall when I contacted the Hanleys at Quietude. A prompt return e-mail gave me Dante’s vitals, but he was in West Virginia and winter was coming. This delayed the trip until spring. I spent all winter looking at YouTube videos of the Quietude horses and reading about Lambert Morgans. Even the name, Quietude, seemed like a good sign. It was an expression my Dad used to use when things got hectic. My dad was never big on horses, but he was not a person to shy away from his dreams; as he collected multitudes of classic cars over the years and much of his time was spent restoring and driving them.

Spring was coming, and it was time to commit to my trip to West Virginia. I decided that around my birthday in April would be a good time just because it was my birthday. I talked to John, my boyfriend, about it. He was on board because he said we could make it a mini vacation out of it and camp. He loves to camp. I don’t like camping, but I would do it to make it fun for him, too

John is a planner so when packages from LLBean started arriving and long discussions about how to stay warm in the van ensued, too, I knew he was doing everything he could think of to make me comfortable in his van. It is a mini camper with a microwave and heater, so it wouldn’t be too bad.

I was very nervous leading up to the trip. This was a huge decision and there was the issue of my little cat, Stormy, to consider. We were taking the dog with us, but Stormy doesn’t travel well, and he is an indoor/outdoor cat. Someone coming over to keep an eye on him was not an option. My sister came to the rescue. He could stay at her house in an empty bedroom, and she would completely spoil him.

The time came to transport Stormy. He hates cars and messes in his carrier every time, but we got him safely to her house. Barriers were put up to keep the dog away and her cat, Thunder the Wonder Cat, was too scared to go near him. Stormy was not happy, but he was in the best possible hands.

My trip to Quietude began that night. Driving for hours gives a person lots of time to think. I was thinking a lot. Two horses would be quite a bit of work. Could I handle it? My sister had been doing it for years and rarely complained, so it was possible. A new horse is uncharted territory. Would my anxiety be too much to handle it or would it rise up to the challenge. My head was spinning. Would Dante disappoint in person and would it all be a waste of time? My journey physically and mentally continued. I had many cat updates. It sounded like Stormy was doing okay.

We made it to West Virginia the next day. It’s a beautiful place, especially in the spring; rolling hills and mountains covered in green. This was a good part of the travel; seeing beauty around each corner. We had a day of travel, then we camped that night with a trip to Quietude the next day. I was so excited and so cut off from the world. West Virginia mountains have no cell phone towers. No more cat updates. I was off the grid. One of the biggest decisions of my life and no one to consult except for John, who once tried to feed Ranger a hamburger.

The day finally arrived. It dawned cold but bright. The journey that started last fall was now real. We started out on winding roads up mountains to Hillsboro, West Virginia; the home of the famous author Pearl S. Buck. I saw her house.

We followed Sue Hanley’s careful directions down gravel roads and across creeks. We arrived at the site of the sight of the Highland Trace House--the Hanleys’ daughters’ impeccably restored summer home. Then up the road; horses everywhere. There was a big red barn where I saw some silhouettes of horses in stalls. Dante maybe?

We drove toward the Hanley house, down stallion row. Each stallion gazed at our van as we passed. I tried to identify them from their pictures on the website. There is nothing like the keen gaze of a stallion. We met the Hanleys and the young dog, Colt. He was a silly half-grown dog who was still learning about people. I had been there with our dog, Stubby, who was starting protectively from the van window.

We went into the house to get to know each other. John is an avid photographer, and so is Sue Hanley. They had a lot in common. It was fun. They are nice people. Then it came time to check out Dante. We drove back to the red barn where I’d seen silhouettes. We walked in—and I’d like to say I had eyes only for Dante—but their stunning stallion Quietude Jubilee Kingdom was in the barn. He dominated the scene, and he knew it. Then my eyes turned to Dante stabled next to his pasture mate, Trey. Dante watch us with much interest and was enthusiastic about the attention. He was a brighter chestnut than in the pictures and had thick hair on his legs like a draft horse. They took him out of the stall. He tied well and lifted his feet nicely. They handed me a brush and I worked my way toward his back and stood by his withers. I thought of my sister’s horse, Cruiser. Then I knew Dante was right. He had some professional training and had been on many trail rides. The Hanleys were forthright about his personality and skills. There was no reason to doubt them and besides, he gave me the Cruiser vibe.

After that, it was time to look over the 400 acres of Quietude. I have never seen so many horses and pastures. All the horses love people and are so curious. I met Dante’s father, Quietude Barcelona; a favorite stallion of Shannon and sire to many Lamberts. It is truly a special place where the land and animals are loved and respected.

When our tour was over, it was time to camp for the night. The Hanleys generously let us camp next to their daughter’s house. We had access to the house, electric and best of all—the bathroom. It was a perfect, clear night. We were surrounded by horses and my boyfriend took many nighttime photos of the stars.

Morning dawned and I was able to watch Dante amble about his pasture with his friends. I felt guilty about taking him from this paradise to a stall in Cleveland, but he had a destiny to fulfill. He is descended from a line of working horses who helped build our country. He would be glad to have a job and lots of human attention. He loves people and the trail; a natural traveler with his easy trot and curious eyes.

I was sad to leave Quietude the next day, but my new adventure would be arriving in Cleveland in a few weeks. Besides, I missed Ranger and my silly cat. As soon as we reach cell phone signal, it was time to spread the news. Dante was joining our herd and snappy, little Cole Train finally had a trail buddy who could equal him.

Somehow, I could hear my dad say, “Why another horse?” and see him roll his eyes and smile.

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