Monday, November 18, 2013

Lady Luck

So, on Thursday I bought another horse.  I know...crazy, eh? I have named her Lady Luck, Lady for short.  She's a Morgan, dark, with a little white star and white socks.  I wasn't planning on getting another horse.  But, Lady spoke to me.  I had to have her.  You see, at 34 years of age, Lady ended up on a feed lot, destined for slaughter this week. 

At the feed lot.
The reasons for having older horses trucked varies. Sometimes people don't want to have to provide special care over the winter.  Sometimes owners don't want to have to deal with the expense of having the horse euthanized.  Some believe that an older horse going through auction will be purchased as a companion (sometimes they are).  Some owners are not up to the challenge of the maintenance of a senior horse.  Owners pass away and uneducated family members don't realize the fate of senior horses that are sent to auction.

I found Lady through some volunteers that go to the local feed lot and see the new horses that are brought in every week. They lightly groom them, tack them up and sit on them, or lead them around.  They then post a picture on FB, giving a brief description of their experience with the horse, hoping to find homes for them before they are shipped.  They act as middle men between the dealer and the public, collecting and paying the bail money.  They are not rescuers, just concerned women who love horses.  These volunteers are amazing.  I have helped with bail in the past, so I texted my contact.  No offers of help had come in for Lady.

So the stars aligned and I was able to purchase Lady, secure a forever home for her through a horse rescue group, get the transfer of ownership done and have her transported to her forever home, an hour away, on Sunday.  Yay!  My mother is sponsoring her care for a year through the rescue group.  They will be responsible for her well-being going forward.

It was miserable, wet and windy yesterday, but nothing could have dampened my spirits.  I have to say that seeing her in a field made my heart swell.  Just after her arrival at the farm, two other rescued seniors arrived; a gelding 26 years old, and a mare a little older.  The full time residents include two large dogs, two younger Percherons and a llama. The owner, who specializes in special care cases for the rescue group, greeted us with a big warm smile and told me, My Husband, my sister and my niece to make ourselves at home.  My Husband stayed near the car, but my sister, niece and I walked into the field.  

For 34 years of age, Lady is actually in great shape.  She's a good weight, her winter coat is in, her feet are a bit long, but look good.  Her mane and tail are long and thicker than some of the other horses at my barn.  :-)  I think she was loved and cared for in her previous life.  How did she end up on a feed lot.....?

Lady enjoying being out in the wind and rain.

Lady trying to make friends with the other seniors.

The gelding didn't like her near his friend and ran at her a few times. 

There was some prancing and posturing by the 26 year old gelding.  Understandable.  He was stressed and in a new environment.  Apparently, he has arthritis in his ankles, but you wouldn't know it the way he was moving around!

Percherons to the rescue!

They told the senior gelding to back off.  Were they showing respect to Lady because of her age?

They stayed with Lady until things calmed down.
The Percherons are just gorgeous.  The owner actually rides the larger one (16.3 perhaps??) in competition, although I can't remember what discipline.  To be honest, I was amazed at how energetic the seniors were.   There was lots of walking and trotting.  A little stiff maybe, but there was still a lot of life and vibrancy left.

The resident llama really liked Lady.
First contact.  What a gentle soul.
Lady was patient with us, allowing herself to be petted and fussed over.  She enjoyed the little treats we gave her - she still has teeth!  :-)  But after a while she had had enough and simply walked away.  Can't blame her.  Even though the last few days for her must have been extremely stressful, she was still a class act.

This experience with Lady has been very rewarding.  She may just last the winter, or she could live on another few years.  Whatever happens, at least she is somewhere that will give her good memories.  This experience is also a reminder that horses live a very long time and the responsibility of horse ownership is a big commitment.  The owner of the farm said she liked me and I was welcome to visit any time.  :-)  Lady has quite a fan club now, so I suspect that I will have company when I go out to give her a brush!

Have a good week, everyone!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sweet and Sour

Sunday before last was Gem's annual birthday trail ride.  He turned 13 in October!  He's now officially a teenager.  Where has the time gone.  It was our first really cold day, but after a couple of dark rainy days, the clouds parted and the sun shone through for the ride. Yay!  

Starting to get ready!
For the last four years, I have hosted a little trail ride/get-together in honour of Gem's birthday.  I post a notice on the barn whiteboard, saying that all boarders are welcome.  I pick up plates, napkins, forks, cake, chips, pretzels, beer, soft drinks, hot chocolate, coffee and Bailey's to go with the coffee.  :-)  I bring an extra table to set up the food/drinks and a couple of extra chairs.  It's a bit of an effort, but Gem's worth it.  :-)   Last year, a fellow boarder made chili, which was great.  There is a bunkhouse on site, and LA's mother puts wood in the stove and when we get back from the ride, we all hang out in the warmth.  It's fun.
Gem excited about his party...or not...

This year, Gem shared his birthday celebrations with Mary.    Her mom, R., mentioned that she was going to have a few of Mary's friends over on the weekend to celebrate her birthday.  Mary wanted to participate in the trail ride so R. asked if she could extend the invitation to her daughter's friends to come out on the trail.  I appreciated her asking.  Sure, why not!   R. made the chili this year (delish!!) and I brought everything else, as usual. 

Heading out!
Word has spread about the event, and this year we had a total of 15 riders, which was awesome. Gem and I were leading the trail ride this year.  :-)  It had rained for 2 days prior to the ride and it was muddy!  In a way, it was a godsend that the grounds were so wet and slippery, because everyone had to walk or slow jog; no crazy galloping!  I was feeling quite confident, even as we waded through some pretty boggy areas.  Surprisingly, a couple of the very experienced riders asked occasionally to take a different route or not to go through the forest because they didn't like mud.  WTH?  I felt vindicated!  I wasn't the only rider that didn't like mud!    :-)

Birthday boy!
Gem was a star.  Mud?  We don't care about no stinking ankle-deep mud!  Thick brush?  Bring it on!   Water?  So what!   He walked with purpose the whole time and I felt connected to him.  There was an incident with a horse from the herd coming over to the group and causing a bit of a ruckus.  Gem didn't like his attitude after a time and pointed his butt at the horse and indicated that he was going to give him what for.  But this was a fleeting display, and we continued on without incidentIt was a really good ride in spite of the conditions.  We were out for over an hour.  Lots of laughs, lots of talking, lots of rosy cheeks.

The apr├Ęs-ride in the bunkhouse was packed!  People were chowing down and the chatter brought the noise level up.  Over the din, a woman, whose child had joined in the ride, started whining and complaining to anyone standing around the food table about the variety of soft drinks I had brought.  I found her complaining irritating.  I didn't know her or her daughter; I assumed that her daughter was part of Mary's birthday group.  When she continued on and on, I finally said to her, "Then don't drink them!" and stared at her.  She backed down.  Then I heard someone else complain that all of the hot chocolate was gone.  Then someone started whining that the coffee wasn't as hot as it should be.  WTH? The fact that I had bought and schlepped all this stuff to the barn was lost on them.   I went outside and ate my chili in the sun with other boarders, and sipped my cold beer.  It was a good move.  The 6 of us talked music and movies (could Chris Hemsworth be any more handsome???!!) and shared a few laughs.

At one point, R. and I were together outside and I mentioned the woman who was complaining about the soft drinks.  It turns out that this woman's daughter was not part of Mary's group!  The woman saw my post on the board while her daughter was having her riding lesson, called LA's mother and asked if her daughter could join in.  Now, my note on the board specifically said "boarders only", but LA's mother said she could!   In her defense, I guess LA's mother thought it was OK because of Mary's friends participating. 

The next day, I received a text from R.  Unfortunately, word had spread through the lesson people that there were apparently exceptions to the "boarders only" rule when it comes to the birthday trail ride and some people had their noses out of joint!  Great.  Sigh.
The Birthday Trail ride was a sweet success, the best turnout yet.   Clearly, people enjoyed themselves. There were lots of positive comments flying around on FB.  However, unless the barn hosts a Fall event next year, there won't be a repeat.   Having a couple of Mary's non-boarder friends join in,  LA's mother allowing a lesson person to participate and some inaccurate wording of FB posts giving the impression that it was a barn event, have created a bit of a problem.  

Frankly, it's getting too complicated and I don't want to be the bad guy by putting my foot down and refusing to open up the invitation because of barn politics.  Why should I fund an open invitation?  So, I am thinking that it's time to transition the ownership of this successful event.  Maybe it's time for the barn to host it, then LA can manage the politics.  Or maybe R. could host it as Mary's birthday event.  Perhaps I am being a sour puss...... but, I would rather stop my event than have the fun for me slowly sucked out of it.  Ending Gem's Birthday Trail Ride at it's peak is a good thing in my opinion......always leave them wanting more.  :-)  Happy birthday, my handsome boy!  Don't worry....we will find a way to celebrate your special day.  xoxo

Enjoy your week, everyone!