Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lady Part one.

written on August 23, 2009
Today, I took a moment to work with my Lady Love. I have loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her. She has loved me too, I think.
I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on that horse. Mom and I had been looking for the right horse for literally, years. We had gone on countless excursions, examining horse after horse, test rides, and conformation critiques. We'd met some wonderful horses with unrealistic owners, and some insanely hopeful owners with some seriously untrained or damaged horses that they said were 'great for the whole family'. On that fateful day in August, 5 years back, we were working on a hot tip about a horse that wasn't even advertised yet. We HAD to get that first look. We went to Dowagiac together, ready to go through our well worn routine. Mom talking up the owner, asking lots of questions, me eyeballing it's behavior and conformation trying to judge soundness, build, and whether or not the animal was drug free. When we walked towards the barn, there was one lone window out of a stall - and sticking out of it was the most gorgeous equine head I have ever seen. My thought at that moment was 'oh, it can't be that horse - it's gorgeous.' After a minute or two of chatting with the owner, she led us into the barn, and brought out what was, and is still, hands down the most breathtaking specimen of horse flesh I had ever laid eyes on. She was muscled, tall, pretty straight, and just breathtaking. I was in love. Please, God, just tell me she can ride. Even if she's rough, I can work it out, God willing!!! When the woman went to show her, *gasp* she brought her to the mounting block and hopped on her bareback (oh!! my heart!! She rides bareback!!) She kicked her forward, and tried to take her around a very badly placed pile of lumber. The horse bumped her hindquarters HARD on part of the l-shaped barrier, and leapt over the lumber. The woman tried an emergency stop (not easy bareback) and promptly slid off her, apoligizing as her feet hit the ground, while she went to get a saddle. Mom was spooked, but she didn't see the horse hit the posts. I showed her where - it hit her hard enough, she had a fresh cut. I know, because I watched it. She didn't scare me, because I knew she had been hurt. Any horse would react that way. I sure would.
When the lady came back, she saddled her without incident that I can recall, and she rode beautifully. I tried to get myself back into critique mode, but clearly, my heart was already stolen. Mom rode the horse, as usual, while I looked at her legs as she walked away, and back to me. This horse wanted nothing to do with the woman, and was fairly friendly with mom, but was snuggling me. Whatever I may have held back from her was gone at that moment. We had an instant connection. And I was gone. Gone, gone gone. We talked it over in the car on the way home. Mom had reservations because of the spook, but I was totally smitten. We took her home a week later.
She was the first horse in years to be on the farm, so the week before we brought her home was filled with fixing the horse barn up again, securing fencing and hay, buying a new water trough .. the hundreds of things needed to house a horse. We didn't have a trailer, so we called an old friend to see if she could help us out - she was happy to, and even she was happy to see such a pretty horse when we picked her up. 'You girls got a real good deal on her - she's awful pretty... how does she ride?' Truth is, she rode ... ok. Not great, but not bad either. When we got home with her, my husband was still putting the finishing touches on the pasture where Lady would live. I put a rope on her, led her out of Dona's trailer, and walked her over to the pasture. I tried to let her graze a little before hand, but she was too nervous. Her head was high, snorting, and very nervy. She stuck to me like glue. We got into the pasture, and I walked her all along the perimeter, stopping when she wanted to. After we went all the way around the other way, I gave her a pet and let her go. Cautiously, she took a few steps away, then came back, and nudged me. I petted her again, and motioned for her to go on. She trotted off a ways, then she ran. Not a little. I mean, she dropped down, and barrelled up and down the length of the pasture. She ran so hard, I could hear her every breath as she pushed as hard as she could. When that wasn't hard enough for her, she started to buck, and bolt, and just show how big she was. Larry came by me, and we watched her in her pasture as she ran. I was in love and awestuck at her grace. She ran like hell, and half way across the pasture, she stopped, and walked to me. I petted her and sent her off again. She ran & ran, then headed for me again, running a little closer this time. She did this over and over. Larry was shaken after a little while, but I let her keep it up until she was running within 20 feet of us. Then I stopped her. She got the picture, and never did it again. She just walked up and I petted her. When we started to walk towards the gate to leave, she followed me every step, and when we left, she trotted off, found a good spot and rolled. She was fine after that, and her first few months here were pretty uneventful. I didn't have any tack, so I didn't push riding her right off. We worked on manners, and bonded. That was enough for then.
It wasn't until later that I figured out that she was from an abusive home. I didn't know that she'd been beaten with a 2x4 as part of her 'training', or that when she continued to act up, her original trainer simply drugged her. I couldn't have seen that she had ulcers from too much bute. Or, that she had some sort of hormonal imbalance. Since she was the first horse here, how could I know that she was far worse than 'mareish'? I did know that she could be sweet, loving, and downright snuggly. She was/is the perfect equine example of the girl with the curl in the middle of her forhead - when she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid. (more to come)

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