Joe Bear & Paula - Together Forever!
August 20, 2007
I forgot to tell you that I even braided him for his dressage.
All by myself on Friday night and he was so good. Never moved a
June 2, 2007 - Joe Gets a New Trailer!
They say that buying the horse is just the beginning...It’s
true. BUT what is more fun than buying horse stuff!?
My husband David
now knows all about it and has the fever too. Ever since he took
the plunge in buying Joe Bear he has become actively involved
with everything horses. So much so, he is not satisfied watching
Joe laze around the barn. He is ready to see us compete. No
We began our search for a trailer a couple of months ago and
soon realized how hard it is to find what I wanted. Joe is a
big boy, and there are certain specifics that are a must. Straight-load,
walk-thrus with a ramp are hard to come by. One day I came across
a website with Hawk trailers. I fell in love with them. I did
continue to look around, but always came back to the Hawk.
Joe Bear gets a new Hawk horse trailer
from his dad David.
Eventually we decided it was the way to go and I found a
dealer in Greenville, South Carolina.
I was thrilled when the time FINALLY came to go pick it
up. Neither David nor I had driven with a horse trailer before
and our first experience was traveling 2 hours home on the
highway. Thankfully the trip went smoothly and we proudly
honked the horn to announce our arrival when we got back
to the barn.
I was thrilled when the time FINALLY came to go pick it up. Neither
David nor I had driven with a horse trailer before and our first
experience was traveling 2 hours home on the highway. Thankfully
the trip went smoothly and we proudly honked the horn to announce
our arrival when we got back to the barn.
I brought Joe Bear out to show him and he was very interested
in everything. He looked it over inside and out, and I believe
we have his approval. I am very excited to start getting around
and doing different events. It is going to be a fun year and
this success story page is about to get longer!
Paula & JB
Elizabeth's Note: OK
gentleman. David Gunnels has now raised the bar even higher! First
his wife a horse for Valentine's Day and now a horse trailer.
And, to top it all off, he is joining her a long romantic rides
in the forest. He
is a hero to every woman out there. Take a cue from David if you
want to add a little spice to your life!
April 23, 2007
Joe Bear's mom, Paula, wants to wish a Happy
Birthday to Joe
April 7, 2007
Happy Easter from Joe Bear, Paula and David.
Hey Elizabeth and Barry,
I just wanted to tell you about my Easter ride on Sunday.
Since David came to visit Joe that day, I didn’t want to
bore him with just “riding around in circles” (what
he calls dressage work) so I tacked Joe up in his jumping gear
and set out to do some jumping. I was glad to see some new jumps
set up for Easter. The different decorations and colors are great
experience for him.
While we were jumping, I noticed such an improvement to his confidence
level as he approaches the fence. He doesn’t feel like he
has to rush at it to get over. He just trots or canters up and
takes it in stride. Speaking of strides, we have not mastered that
yet. I plan to do more work approaching smaller fences, learning
to see the stride…when to lengthen and when to shorten.
It is definitely something you need to learn how to do. When we
do find the right spot it is wonderful.
Last night, when I came out to ride, even after all that jumping,
Joe didn’t have any stiffness. I am very excited! That chiropractic
maintenance work has really paid off for him. Thanks Dr. Cleveland!
When are we going to have another grid lesson?
JB and PJ THE Perfect Pair. BUMS OFF!!!
Joe Bear and Paula - Jumping for JOY!
March 4, 2007
Joe Bear and his mom Paula Gunnels. March
February 14, 2007 -
Click here to read more about the Valentine's Day surprise.
YES! Joe Bear is finally mine!!!! I have been waiting and praying
for this for the last 3 years. It was a long time to love something
so much and know that you can lose it at any time. Now, thanks
to the support and patience of Elizabeth and Barry, and of course
the love of my husband, my dream has finally come true!
Usually, buying the horse is the beginning of the adventure, but for Joe and me, our story has already begun. I came to Bits and Bytes Farm in June 2003. I had years of riding experience, but nothing of the type of experience I have gained here. The lessons I have learned are priceless. Of course riding young horses straight off the track was something totally new, but going beyond the riding, I have learned so much about how these horses change and mature over time. The secret with them is a one on one relationship, and a consistent training program. This makes such a difference. They literally become happier, quieter and more confident. Thoroughbreds are incredibly personal and when they love you, you will know.
When I was new to the barn, I would go in and walk straight past Joe's stall without even noticing him. He was quiet and reserved and stood in the shadows of his stall. I knew about him of course, and had seen Elizabeth riding him, but he never really caught my eye. Elizabeth loved him and always encouraged me to give him a try. Finally, one night I did. I immediately knew he was the type of horse I would like to ride because he responded to pressure from my legs and was soft in my hands. I felt he was a very “trainable” horse.
I had been working with Irish at this point and a few weeks later he was sold and moved to California. Elizabeth asked me who I would like to work with and Joe Bear was my choice. I didn’t realize at that point just how far that decision would take me. We began working together in December 2003 and we've been inseparable ever since!
Joe Bear and Paula - December 28, 2003
It did take us about 3 months to really "get along." He is a more sensitive horse and at first I struggled to learn how to ride him. Sometimes I even felt like he didn't like me very much. Slowly things improved. He taught me how to ride with softer hands and smaller aids and he learned to relax and accept the contact. It is amazing to me to remember back to how he used to go and compare it to now. When you are living it, it is easy to lose track of how much progress they actually make.
Joe Bear and Paula - March 14, 2004
As the months past, I became more and more attached and started worrying about people coming out to look at horses. Joe Bear, after all, was for sale. A few times I had to witness people trying him, with my heart in my throat. Thankfully none of them liked him enough to pursue it further.
Joe Bear and Paula - May 23, 2004
It was Barry who described him best when he said that Joe is "Cool and confident in who he is." He is a real gentleman with such a sweet nature. He has impeccable ground manners and is the same horse every time I ride him - whether I ride every day or only once a week. We joke and call him “THE Joe Bear” because he is so good at everything he does and always looks so elegant doing it. He is a real ladies man. Everyone at the barn loves him; people and horses alike. He no longer stands hiding in the corner of his stall. His head is out and looking around and waiting for attention. If I don't go and visit him first, I hear about it!
Joe Bear and Paula - January 1, 2005
Things began to get serious:
By the end of 2004, I had no doubt in my mind that this was the horse I wanted. There was nothing I could do about it though because my new husband and I were still trying to get ourselves financially stable.
Joe Bear and Paula at the Olympic Horse Park in Conyers, GA. - September 2004
Paula and Joe Bear compete in a horse show at Wills Park in Alpharetta, GA. April 2005
Joe Bear and Paula - May 29, 2005
In February 2005, I wanted to move a step closer to buying him so I asked Elizabeth if I could lease him, with the intent to purchase. I wanted her to know that I was serious...and I wanted to have him to myself. I loved every minute of leasing him, but there was always that fear that someone would come and want to buy him. I knew there were people interested and asking about him.
Joe Bear and Paula at Oxer Farm -October 2005.
For Halloween Joe Bear was dressed as Huge Heffner and Paula was his bunny. October 2005
Joe Bear and Paula - November 6, 2005
Often I felt I would never be able to afford him and I was heartbroken at the thought of having to give him up. But I kept hoping month after month and towards the end of last year things started to look up.
Joe Bear and Paula - September 6, 2006
My husband David and I began talking more seriously about buying him, and I was thinking at least a few more months from now. I never for a second thought that David would buy him for me so soon and surprise me with him like he did.
Joe Bear and Paula - September 6, 2006
The whole experience on Valentines Day was so surreal and I have re-lived it over in my head time and time again. It began the Wednesday night before Valentines when Elizabeth and I were riding. She suggested that we have a Valentines Party from the horses to all their favorite girls. She told me most of the friends of the barn had recently broken up with their boyfriends and this was something we could do to make them feel better. Of course I was on board. I love fun festivities with the horses. The idea was that everyone would dress nicely and take coupled pictures with their horses. It would be Prom all over again...only with better dates this time. When I told David that I wanted us to go to the barn for Valentines, he acted like he didn't like the idea. He did a good job pretending.
Allison and Brewster.
The day of Valentines I went to Party City at lunch and bought decorations. I knew we were having a "stage" for the photo shoot and we needed to decorate it. Nothing like unknowingly planning your own surprise party! I was one of the last to arrive at the barn that night and everyone was ready for the photos. They were going one by one to get their pictures taken. It wasn't hard pulling the wool over my eyes, even when Elizabeth told me to bring Joe last in case he broke something. I remember thinking it was weird, but it was only a fleeting thought…
David surprised Paula with the best ever Valentine's Day gift!
By the time it was Joe and my turn, everyone was standing around watching. Only some of my friends knew what was coming. Joe was a little nervous about the lights and activity and wouldn't put his ears forward for his pictures, so I asked David to get a peppermint to rustle the paper. Elizabeth went into the feed room to get "a treat" and came out with the infamous Red Ribbon and passed it to David. I saw it and froze. I knew what it meant, but I couldn't believe it. My mouth dropped open and I just stood there. I looked at Elizabeth for confirmation and she was teary eyed and grinning. I asked her, "Really?" She nodded. Then I turned to David and he was holding the ribbon out to me smiling ear to ear. I couldn't believe it was finally my moment. All I could do was hug him very hard and tell him thank you. When I put the ribbon over Joe's head and around his neck he never moved a muscle. It was like he was thinking..."It’s about time I got one of these!" He wore it proudly while everyone laughed and cheered and took pictures. It was an amazing moment. Joe was finally mine.
There is nothing like the love of a Thoroughbred.
Paula and Joe Bear.
Barry had prepared food for the occasion and we opened a bottle of champagne. It was a time to celebrate and I love the opportunity to share it with everyone. I cannot wait to see where the future goes from here. I know it is going to be so much fun!
Click here to read more about the Valentine's Day surprise.
~JB and PJ THE Perfect Pair. BUMS OFF!!!~
Joe Bear and Paula - January 15, 2006 Roll over the image to see Joe Bear's secret passion.
Photography by Elizabeth - creativity added by Marie vanRoekel. April 27, 2006
Joe Bear and Paula on a trail ride in January 2006