An Overview of Horses – Mecca, Sunny, and Rocki

An overview of my horses from 1970 to 2009 – Mecca, Sunny, and Rocki.

I married Mark Ellerbee, my son Jason’s father, in April 1970 while I was still a student at FSU. We moved to Nashville in the summer of 1970 and Mark got a job with the Oak Ridge Boys as their drummer and backup vocalist.

In 1973, he allowed me to buy, own, and train a horse. We lived in a city north of Nashville, Tennessee, called Hendersonville in a farming subdivision where we all had at least 3 acres.

Mecca

My first son, Jason Alexander Ellerbee, was born at the end of 1970. After I had another son in 1973 (who died in 1988), I bought my own ¾ Arab/¼ Quarter Horse cross, 2½-year-old stallion. He was originally named Major, but I changed it to Mecca. I trained and showed Mecca locally.

I showed my horse and other horses in the Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas show circuit. I rode for clients in Western Pleasure, Equitation, and Hunt Seat. I even placed 11th in the hunt seat class at the Oklahoma 1978 Appaloosa Nationals on a gorgeous black, blanket-spotted Appaloosa stallion that I rode for a client. I also rode another gorgeous Palomino stallion in Western Pleasure and a young 16.2hh Appaloosa gelding in Western Pleasure and Hunt Seat.

Back to Jacksonville

In 1980, Mark and I divorced amicably and I moved back to my home in Jacksonville, Florida. I was without Mecca – I sold him the year before I moved from Nashville since I had gone back to college to finish my degree. In Spring 1983, I finally completed my college degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS). I didn’t ride during this time as I was always in class or studying. On top of doing homework assignments in computers, I had a job at the computer lab working part-time at the college as the Psychology department’s system analyst, and taking care of my small children when I was home. I was lucky to have my mother take care of them when I wasn’t around.

After I graduated and started working in my career, I occasionally rode friends’ horses off and on. I married my husband Jerry Rehkopf in 1992. One night, I was ardently explaining to him how a horse canters on their leads. He made the ‘mistake’ of telling me that I should get a horse 🙂

In 1991, I had a craniotomy for a benign meningioma just below my left ear. I was hoping that the surgery would cure the right-sided migraines I had. Nope, it didn’t. I started getting left-sided migraines from the trauma to the surgery on my left side. But get a horse? Whoo hoo! I made it work, migraines be damned.

Sunny

The search began and I finally got another horse, an ex-racehorse Quarter Horse named ‘Sunny’. I began riding him in Dressage and later in hunters and jumpers. I bought Sunny from a cowboy that wanted to do trail riding and hunt off a horse. Sunny wasn’t the right horse for that. Sunny wasn’t the right horse for me either.

My Quarter Horse ex-racehorse, Sunny

Before Sunny, I had been thrown zero times in my life. I had come off accidentally maybe two times in my life. With Sunny, I came off of him like 20 times in two years! He was what you call “dirty”. He would find you off balance and blip, he’d move 20 feet sideways and you’re on the ground. Not the best horse for a craniotomy recoveree.

One night, I was ardently explaining to him how a horse canters on their leads.

I got 6 cracked ribs from a fall off of Sunny when I missed a tight turn to a jump. This was a perpendicular jump that was higher than I was used to. I looked too late to the next jump, causing me to turn Sunny into the jump standard. He swerved hard and I fell onto the unforgiving, packed sand – ouch!

Sunny and me at a lesson jumping without hands, arms out.

I had to promise my employer that I wouldn’t jump anymore, at least not competitively or in a clinic since I had experienced a couple of other falls with associated injuries.

Sunny is the first horse I got after brain surgery - Quarter Horse ex-racehorse.
Sunny is the first horse I got after brain surgery – TB/Quarter Horse racehorse.

Glenord’s Rocket Dancer aka Rocki

I started looking for another horse in early 1995. Tried a few hunter/jumper horses, but fell in love with an untrained “baby” 2½-year-old Clydesdale cross mare named “Baby”.

I sold Sunny in 1995 just a couple of months after I got my mare. I named her Glenord’s Rocket Dancer, sired by Clan Butter Glenord’s Glened x mare, Rocket To Antares. I gave her the barn name of Rocki. Her sire (now deceased) was a champion Budweiser Clydesdale and her dam was a racing TB/Appaloosa, whose bloodline went back to Native Dancer, hence her name, Glenord’s Rocket Dancer, barn name of Rocki. (It was originally spelled Rockey and later spelled with an ‘i’ at the end so it’s female sounding, lol.)

Claire Lee of what is now Haddenloch Farm (used to be Dexter Farm) first backed Rocki while I was healing from having the 6 broken ribs from the fall I had off of Sunny.

I got my American Warmblood mare to ride Dressage and English Pleasure. I did jump her in low Hunter classes after she was backed by Claire Lee. I also trained her to ground drive with me running behind her. But again, after the previous falls and injuries from Sunny, it was better that I ride Dressage instead.

Rocki has been the best horse I have ever had. She would do anything and she was bomb-proof even when she was a baby.

Teri and Rocki, showing First Level Dressage
Teri and Rocki, showing First Level Dressage

As of 2020, Rocki was still with me (she died in 2021 — see Tribute to Rocki). She still had her Dressage topline, still was a wonderful horse, and was still going strong. Clydesdales mature late – Rocki was actually lazy until she turned 10!

Dressage Aha! Moment

In 2004, I had the ‘aha’ moment and learned how to ride correctly, as in how to really ride Dressage and give with the arms/elbows, meld with the horse, inside leg to outside rein, half-halts, etc.

Boy, was I excited when I finally felt this for longer than just a few minutes! I called my trainer, Kathy Daly of KDEquine Training, and excitedly told her that I now knew what she had been trying to get across to me since she had trained her in Dressage when Rocki was 3½.

Instead of it taking me 45 minutes to warm myself up while confusing my horse by hanging on the reins and not let him/her go forward INTO the reins, I can get on and have a great ride in 20 minutes, with both my horse and I warmed up almost immediately. Rocki really thanked me — all I had to do is to think a movement and Rocki would comply… ahhhh… as was said, a true horse fanatic!

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Death from Colic – My Tribute to Rocki

Death from colic is one of the greatest fears of a horse owner. This happened to my mare, Glenord’s Rocket Dancer aka Rocki, in October 2020. This is a short tribute to Rocki.

My horse was my COVID relief, until she died. I wasn’t ready for this yet.

I wanted to do the USDF Century Ride where the combination of her age and mine would equal 100. We needed just another year.

I keep thinking, “Well, I don’t have to get up and feed anymore.” It doesn’t help.

I’m mowing her front pasture and thinking about what to say in this tribute. I stop in the shade every so often and type on my phone.

Mowing, I still see places where her poop is. I try to mow it away but it still makes an indelible mark in my world. Just try not to clench my teeth as I mow. I don’t have many tears left now.

Geez, there’s a lot of stuff to write…
My Last Photo of 28yo Rocki - She is wet from a bath a couple days before she died. It was a really hot day in Florida.
My Last Photo of 28yo Rocki. She is wet from a bath a couple days before her death from colic. It was a really hot day in Florida.

I had Rocki for almost 26 of her 28 years in September 2020. Of all the horses I had in my life, she was the best. She was my baby. She was named ‘Baby’ when I got her at 2 1/2. I wanted to rename her and give her a registered American Warmblood name and it needed to be close to sounding like Baby. I came up with the name Glenord’s Rocket Dancer after her sire, a registered Clydesdale, Clan Butter Glenord’s Glened, and a registered racing Appaloosa/TB, Rocket To Antares.

Her barn name was Rocki. Sounds close to the sound of the word, Baby, right? Rocki. Baby. Rocki Baby.

This crossing between Appaloosa TB and Clydesdale gave her a beautiful head and small TB mouth. Her body looked like a huge Appy/QH cross making her gorgeous for horse shows.

Death from colic was Rocki’s prognosis. I’m afraid she suffered for 3 days. My veterinarian thought it was a twisted long colon, and surgery wouldn’t have helped. Besides, she was too old for good recovery. I was too old to give her the care.

It started on a Saturday evening (never happens during a work day, but the weekend, amiright?). The on-call veterinarian came out and did the typical oil/water rinse and shots for pain (Banamine). She never really got better. I was out with her most of the night. The next morning she was lying in the pasture, wet from sweating. More Banamine, hosing, magnets, TTouch, everything I could think of. By Monday morning, I had already called my regular vet to have her put down. I called my neighbors, Chris and Dale Dunn, for assistance. They organized another neighbor to bring his huge tractor to dig a hole in my back pasture to bury Rocki there.

Rocki is buried along with 2 dogs and another horse, Metro, which I will tell you about here.

Rocki First Level I Second Place
Rocki First Level

Teri riding Rocki in Dressage Equitation
Rocki Dressage Equitation

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Building a Log Cabin, Pool, and Workshop by Hand

Do you want to build a log cabin, pool, and workshop by hand? You should have talked to my father, Roger Mussells. He built our log cabin house by hand. He also built our huge workshop that later became Rocki and Khan’s home. My father was in construction and had an AA in building design (he had the nicest writing).

Our log cabin was built from the pine trees he felled on our 30 acres. My father devised a hand-made log hauler or “skidder“. It was a 4×4 timber on two iron wheels attached to an iron base. It had an an attached chain on his makeshift skidder for him to pull the logs up one by one to where he was building. He used geometry and trigonometry to hoist the logs up. My mother, Faith Mussells, went to Chicago Art Institute for two years, so she sketched the blueprints for the house.

My Quarter Horse ex-racehorse, Sunny, in front of my house I grew up in Jacksonville, FL
My Quarter Horse ex-racehorse, Sunny, in front of my house I grew up in in Jacksonville, FL

He built the log cabin part of the house starting when I was a baby around 1950. It was about 1000 square feet. It had a 20×20 living room, one bathroom, a utility room, crawl-space attic, and big kitchen. We all slept in one end of the living room until a few months later when he added on a large cement based porch with scoring on the cement floor with big ceilings and hand-hewn beams. He screened the porch in so my brother and I could sleep there in the summer. He added on another 1000 sq. ft. in the late 1950s.

Inside a log cabin build. This is a picture of our living room after we had left. It is showing the logs and cement filling painted white. Shows the old-fashioned solid, hand turning Florida windows, wooden floors and visible hand-hewn logs/braces on ceiling.
Inside a log cabin build. This is a picture of our living room after we had left. It is showing the logs and cement filling painted white. Shows the old-fashioned solid, hand turning Florida windows, wooden floor,s and visible hand-hewn logs/braces on ceiling.

Of course it had a large fireplace — this was our heat in the beginning until he installed an oil heater on the porch, feeding the house via floor registers and wall vents. I loved standing over the registers in the winter to get warm quickly!

Back porch support stanchion Covered in Ivy. 
Picture taken after we moved in 2015. Logs for log cabin ceiling and stanchions build were hand-hewed.
Back porch support stanchion covered in ivy.
Picture taken after we moved in 2015. Logs for log cabin ceiling and stanchions build were hand-hewn.

A few years later, he built an addition of another 1000+ square feet for 3 bedrooms, one a huge master bedroom and bath. When we move to Keystone Heights in 2007, I kept the door to the master bedroom — 4 inch thick beautiful tongue and groove cut design and finish. This end of the house was a board and batten design to complement the log cabin. It also had a tilted flat roof.

When I was three, he built a man-made 65×45 pool, fed by artesian spring water constantly filling through a 2 inch pipe (it was fizzy when you drank from the pipe!). The water was powered by a water wheel he built using pecky cypress wood. My mom taught swimming lessons in the pool as a Brownie Scout leader.

I hope I can find more pictures of it close up, but below is a picture of my horse I had, Sunny, next to the water wheel and the huge bamboo we had planted. I brought some of the bamboo to my new place in Keystone Heights and it’s also huge!

Sunny next to bamboo and water wheel powering the filling of our pool.
Sunny next to bamboo and water wheel powering the filling of our pool (barely seen on the left).

A few years later, he made a huge 100×100 or more workshop. It had a cantilevered roof made with railroad telephone poles covered in creosote (rotting control), a cement floor, an attached car port, long workbench and lumber storage built with the lumber 2×4, 4×4, etc. It was big enough to have a pit for working on your car.

(All of images below were taken after we had moved to Keystone Heights.)

pit to work on cars
Pit in floor of workshop to work on cars/trucks.
Stalls for Khan and Rocki built onto side of workshop.
Workshop ceiling showing stanchion cable supporting the large telephone pole beam. All building was done by hand.
Old, broken water wheel parts showing its pecky cypress wood in the overgrown bamboo.
Side cantilevered roof on workshop car/truck parking.  I used it for tacking, brushing and washing my horses.
Side cantilevered roof on workshop car/truck parking. I used it for tacking, brushing, and washing my horses.
Corner of house showing painted logs. All of this construction on our log cabin build was done by hand by my father, Roger Mussells. He also built his own skidder to haul the log up to where he was working.
Corner of house showing painted logs. All of this construction on our log cabin build was done by hand by my father, Roger Mussells. He also built his own skidder to haul the log up to where he was working.
Workshop from the backside. There are doors below the open window that opened up to take in hay bales, large equipment, etc.
Workshop from the backside. There are doors below the open window that opened up to take in hay bales, large equipment, etc.

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About Me – Early Days

I was born and grew up on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida in the beautiful Mandarin area. I attended Loretto Elementary, DuPont Junior High, and Wolfson Senior High. I was a swimming nerd since my mom taught swimming lessons in our large natural pool built by my father, who also built our house (more on the house). I was our high school’s swim team’s backstroke swimmer; I also swam relays, medleys, fly, breast, and crawl (terms date me).

When I was a baby, my mom had a horse, Glassy, who was so gentle that she would allow me to crawl around under her legs. I also had a baby goat friend! And always, we had three dogs that were able to run free since we lived way out in the country/woods (except for college and 6 months in a duplex, I’ve always lived in the country).

I Grew Up Loving Horses

I read every book there was at the library on horses and had hundreds of plastic or rubber horses, ranging from palm size to maybe 16 inch tall model horses like they had in the 1950s.

When in elementary school, I would walk over 3 miles every Tuesday after school to ride at a rental barn; I also rode some of my friends’ horses. Finally, when I was 12, I got a horse of my own, a 14.3 1/2 hand buckskin, part quarter horse, to learn to care for and retrain from being wild and always wanting to run and jig to a horse that would walk and canter just from a lift on the reins. I did this from reading books and articles about horses.

My first saddle was a hard McClellan Army saddle (blech!) that I hated, so I rode bareback most of the time until I finally got Western saddle, then an English saddle in my later teens so I could jump things.

My First Horse, Scottie

I would do everything on my horse ‘Scottie’ (short for Great Scott – I renamed him from Apache), riding for miles all around my family’s 30 acres in the woods of Jacksonville/Mandarin/Greenland/Bayard are. I would go swimming bareback in the clear water of the barrow pits that were dug to build I-95 next to our land.

I would jump over 2 long pieces of skinny baseboard moulding spread out over the long side of 2 sawhorses that I set up as a jump. I would gallop over a 24+ natural jump course I made of piled up tree limbs and logs, spanning a couple of miles, weaving in and out of trees, ducking under low-hanging branches, sliding down a steep embankment — generally being a adventurous, horse-loving teenager.

You Don’t Do This Now-a-days

I would run barrels and do pole bending and compete at a saddle club where I would ride to on Friday nights with a group of others. The saddle club was about 8 to 10 miles from my house. I would meet up with the other riders about 3 miles from my house and we would all ride together. Then, I would ride back home in the dark by myself – something you would never let a young girl do in today’s world!


My American Warmblood horse, Glenord’s Rocket Dancer

My American Warmblood horse, Glenord's Rocket Dancer aka Rocki
My American Warmblood horse – Glenord’s Rocket Dancer aka Rocki as a 3 year old

My registered American Warmblood horse, Glenord’s Rocket Dancer aka Rocki, was my Clydsedale and racing Thoroughbred Appaloosa mare. She was my baby for 26 of her 28 years. Rocki was a Lifetime USDF/USEF member horse. I registered Rocki as an American Warmblood. She was out of a champion Budweiser Clydesdale sire – Clan Butter Glenord’s Glened, crossed with a racing Thoroughbred Appaloosa mare, Rocket to Antares (going back to Native Dancer). I named her Glenord’s Rocket Dancer or Rocki for her barn name.

Rocki and my dog, Sally
Rocki and my dog, Sally (deceased)

I have ridden all of my life and I am an absolute horse fanatic! I have ridden most disciplines. I had been a member of USDF, USAE, USEF, USET, and NFDA for many years.

Rocki in the summer and before all of the spots came in.
Rocki in the summer and before all of the spots came in.

Rocki was the most amazing horse – she would do anything and she was bomb-proof, even when she was a baby. I rode her mostly Dressage and in English Pleasure and Equitation, and had also been working on Western Riding patterns too, which I find is very similar to Dressage. But alas, I have a back issue now that only allows me to ride Dressage since it is more upright and uses core muscles more. She was my absolute love as I had her for almost 22 years since she was 2 1/2 (1993 mare) until she passed in September 2020.

My American Warmblood horse, Glenord's Rocket Dancer aka Rocki stall name plate.
Rocki’s Stall Name Plate
Rocki is nuzzling and kissing my son, Jason, on the neck.
My son Jason being kissed on the neck by Rocki. 27 years old – look at the spots!

Read the Tribute to Rocki.

A Horse Blog

This is A Horse Blog. A companion to HorsesintheSouth.com, but instead of an equine news publisher, this site will be for my own article writings, tangents, musings and general stuff.

I have been wanting to make this blog since 2009 but never had time to. HorsesintheSouth.com took too much time, riding/caring for my own horse, health (two shoulder replacements – arrgh!), living way out in the country, yard work, landscaping, gardening, mowing – need I say more?

But now I’m retired or (semi-retired) and have a bit more time! Yea! So here goes …

Since this is a new website as of mid-July 2022, the base or skeleton design, general setup and a few posts (content) have been done. I have a lot more content to add, plus a ton of new and old images, so stay in touch to see new content. Be sure to follow my social media accounts below as they will be updated with text and links as new content is added.