How Lucy and I (finally) bonded…
So, this is a long story. I felt like writing tonight.
I was searching for a project horse, to work as my backup for endurance and NACMO. I started looking in October and found out many things in the coming months, about horse owners and their horses for sale.
For example. I was very specific about what I was looking for in a horse. 15 hands, mare, aged 6 to 10, broke (or at least started under saddle). Spent several conversations on Facebook with a person about their NSH mare. She sounded wonderful and her videos were perfect. Drove two and a half hours to go meet her and ride her. They brought “her” out of the barn and she was a he. And about 16 hands, not 15 hands. And about 15 years old.
But while I’m there, they have this other horse for sale. Okay, fine. She was a she. She was right around 15 hands. She was about 8 years old. They couldn’t get a saddle on her for me to ride. She kept throwing herself backwards.
Yeah. And so the stories I could tell you about horse shopping.
Then, at Moore’s Kill Pen, I saw a palomino NSH mare, about 9 years old, about 15 hands, rode beautifully in the video, seemed nice. I decided I would pick her out of the kill pen and bring her home. I was encouraged to go through an Arabian rescue person as I could get some help with her “bail fee” (oh don’t even start me on THAT whole bail fee nonsense).
Okay. I reached out to the Arabian rescue person and bail funds started … then someone bought her outright.
DAMMIT. I should have just bought her outright.
I keep looking. I drove many miles looking at many horses and spending time learning how stupid people are about the horses they want to sell. Another example (and no, I am not making this stuff up) Drove an hour to see a mare that sounded promising. By this point, I do make sure it is a “mare” before making the drive. I arrived at the address, which is in a gated community. With sidewalks and curbs. WTH? Drove to the house and there in the back yard, is the horse.
Uhm, is that acceptable? In your 1/4 acre parcel of property.
They bring her out and I put my saddle on her. It actually fits. I put my bridle on her. I put my butt on her and she steps off nicely. I ride around their backyard, trying not to tear up the fresh mud. She is pretty responsive. I ask her to trot and all hell breaks loose. I get her bucking under control, walk around a bit and then ask for a trot and WHEEEE, here we go again. I get her under control, ask for a whoa, and get off.
The lady tells me she always does that but after a couple minutes she stops and works great.
And so I keep shopping.
While searching through Facebook one evening, I decided to check out what was happening at Moore’s. On Moore’s page I saw this little mare. She was a mess. Dreadlocked mane, boo-boos on her legs, and in her video she was obviously green but was trying so very very hard to do what her rider wanted. Something about her just struck me. I can’t explain it, but she had my attention.
I read her stats. She is 14.1 hands … too small.
She is a pinto (not my favorite, but she is bay, so that offsets)
She is 6 yrs old (they posted a picture of her teeth, she’s maybe 5)
She’s definitely part Arabian (I was trying to stay away from the whole Arabian “beat you up” trotting thing.)
And for whatever reason, I kept going back to that video and back to that video and for four days I kept hoping someone would buy her and I wouldn’t have to see her cute little face anymore.
And no-one bought her. It’s Saturday morning, she’s been up on the site for four days and no-one has bought her.
So I bought her.
Oh my gosh, what was I thinking.
Sean and I took a ride out to Moore’s in Lebanon to pick her up. It was cold and rainy and I was thinking how horrible for her to come to my house and have to be out in the cold rain for her first couple days with me. I have set up a canopy in the quarantine pasture, and it’s well sheltered by twelve majestic pine trees, but still. I would have liked it better if it was warm and sunny.
When she came off the Moore’s trailer, I noticed she was wobbly and looked drugged. Also, her left eye was swollen shut. The guy handing horses off the trailer said she banged her eye getting in the trailer. (video of her here)
In my world, all horses live free of halters in the pasture (long story but I lost one that hung itself). When I turned her free, she kinda just ambled away and I was certain she had been drugged, or she was so very very sick that she had no energy. Hard to say. I watched her in the rain a little bit, she went under the canopy and nibbled at the hay, and I was pleased.
UNTIL THE NEXT DAY!
Went up to see her and she’s a maniac. Running all over the pasture, not coming anywhere near to me and when I tried to approach her she laid her ears flat against her head and narrowed her eyes, shaking her head.
OH CRAP. I have had mares for years and years. I know what that means … watch out. _()&(*%$#()*++
Yes, she was definitely drugged at Moore’s.
She didn’t eat much hay the first couple days but I could see she had been mowing down what little grass there was in her paddock. It is still cold rain but she’s not shivery so I simply sat and talked to her for a bit and left her be.
And so goes the next week. I go up and spend my lunch time eating in her paddock. She is not happy to see me in there with her and she runs all over, pinning her ears, shaking her head and being mostly miserable to me. Soon curiosity gets the better of her and she starts to approach me (when she thinks I cannot see her doing so) After one week, I convinced her to take a horse cookie from me while I was eating my sandwich. This was progress, big progress because I still have not been able to touch her (and that mane is driving me insane. All I want to do it start working those dreadlocks out.)
And then today happened. We are having a Nor’easter. Highwinds, rain and snow. Our ground is already saturated by the past three weeks of constant rain and these winds are making life for everyone very dangerous.
Especially for Lucy.
When I came up to feed in the morning, this is what I found left of her canopy. I wasn’t surprised, as the neighbor’s shed had blown into my truck and broke off my passenger side mirror. Why shouldn’t I see her canopy in shreds?
I fed everyone, made sure no-one had blown out of the pasture, then I went on to do some windy day grooming. Little did I know I would have to come back to the barn later in the day to do some horse-wrangling.
Nancy got to the farm around 4:00 pm and called Paula. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” More like three of the majestic pines providing Lucy cover have uprooted and fell into her paddock.
And now … to catch Lucy. That’s right. No halter, she won’t let me anywhere near to her and now I have to catch her. And it’s getting dark. And the wind is blowing me over. And she’s like, “Na na na na na”
I managed it. I did! And I got a halter on her. It took lots of horse cookies and some hillbilly ingenuity. And since we have to wait for Adam to get home from work with his chainsaw and other manly power tools and large farm equipment, I decided since she’s captured, I will spend the next hour torturing her.
First, since she is shivery, and it’s probably mostly from the excitement of these trees coming down on her head, and me arriving to chase her all over to put a halter on her, and anticipation of something horrible is going to happen now that she has a halter on and the person is touching her … I decided to put a horse blanket on her.
Second, since I have that halter on her now, we’re going to get some Dodie-touchy-feely stuff going on.
Here’s what I’m going to tell you. Once I had that halter on her, she was a totally different horse. I kid you not. She became very docile and stood still as a rock while I blanketed her and then started cleaning up the festering boo-boos on her legs. Never once did she try to kick or bite or even step away, she stood there like a dejected puppy. It was breaking my heart.
She is totally not at all worked up about the wind. It’s blowing so hard while I’m grooming her that it knocked me smack into her on two occasions. She didn’t even flinch. I am thinking that she was left out in a pasture somewhere and just plain neglected because nature noises do not affect her, but other man-made noises do affect her.
She is far more interested in eating what little grass is in the paddock over the hay I give her. She just nibbles at the grain I put in her bucket but she’ll eat cookie after cookie. AND CARROTS??? Holy cow, those are the bomb! Carrots are like crack to Lucy!
After I had her legs all cleaned up, I started working on that mane. I found some itchy spots and she loved those to be rubbed. Then she decided if I was going to groom her, she needed to groom me, and she was doing mutual grooming while I tugged and pulled and worked on her mane. It is a work in progress. I got several of the dreads separated and brushed out. I got all the burrs out. I am still working on it.
As you can see, it is dark when Adam showed up with the manly tools and farm equipment. I stood and held her on the line and we watched as Adam cut some tree and curse a tree and then cut some more tree. She was pretty docile about the chainsaw. She got all freaked out when he brought in the front end loader to move the one tree out of the way. It was cracking and creaking when he lifted it and I suspect that was similar to what she heard just before the three trees fell on her head. I didn’t blame her one little bit for getting all squirrely about that, but I did make her stand still and watch it anyway.
It’s too dark for any more pictures but I will tell you this. Since her quarantine pasture is destroyed, I had to put her in the empty field pasture. It’s a big pasture, shaped like an “L”. No way to corner her to capture her.
I am sure I will never see her again.