LA has had the older horses brought in from the herd. They are housed at night and turned out in the front paddock during the day. That way she knows that they are actually getting food....it seems that in this cold weather, horses get grumpy about getting food to ensure they can maintain their body heat and the older guys get pushed away from the hay.
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A couple of years ago, I posted about R., John and Mary and a horse named Ringer. As Valentine's Day approaches, I thought I would give an update on the love story.
Over the last couple of years, LA has been retiring some of the older school horses. They will live out the rest of their days chowing down on delicious hay and grain and enjoying a life of leisure. This means that she has to have replacements and in the summer of 2013, LA purchased a beautiful bay mare, Harmony, as a replacement lesson horse. She had lots of training and had a nice demeanour. But, it didn't work out. Harmony was sweet, but once you put an inexperienced rider on her, she just wanted to prance and couldn't be trusted out on the trails with beginner riders. The herd didn't particularly like her and were constantly running her off from the hay pile. When we were out on the trails, we would frequently see her standing alone, next to the herd, but not part of it. She was not wintering well. She started to drop weight, she looked sad and worried.
Meanwhile, Mary couldn't spend enough time with Ringer! Their bond has become tight. I have watched Mary's skills as a rider go way, way above and beyond since she teamed up with Ringer and she now goes to just about every obstacle, gaming and barrel competition there is locally....and cleans up ribbon-wise. Mary is fearless on Ringer. While Mary continued on with her lessons on Ringer, R. would do little jobs around the barn to keep busy, which included grooming the older horses. LA had brought lonely Harmony in from the fields to one of the turnout pens to ensure she would get food. She was going to sell her and wanted her healthy and looking her best. R. started grooming her.
Harmony was a mess. She had bite marks all over her and was suffering with a bit of rain rot. Her eyes and coat were dull. She was a bit wary of R. initially. R. took it slow. Their sessions got longer and longer. R. enjoyed fussing over Harmony and Harmony was enjoying the attention. Over time, Harmony and R. became very close. Harmony got excited when she saw R. Her eyes softened, she seemed perkier and a little more involved with her surroundings. She was eating. Her coat gleamed and her mane was long and shiny.
LA couldn't find a buyer for Harmony. She was a nice looking horse, had good bloodlines, was not malicious and was well trained. But, she was 20 years old; her competition days were long gone and she was too old to breed. A hard choice was going to have to be made. No one wanted to take on a senior horse, it seemed. Well....except R., that is. :-)
R. and Harmony have been a couple since the summer of 2014, and neither could be happier. Never in a million years did R. think she would have her own horse. When she and John talked about buying Harmony, John came down to see her with R. and he fell in love with her, too. Ah, love. R. has been taking regular lessons and their bond continues to grow. R. did some research and found the original owner of Harmony, located in another province. Harmony was used for competition, sold at 10 years of age when the owner got another competition horse and then was used as a brood mare by the new owner. The original owner was delighted to hear from R. and told her all sorts of stories and sent pictures. Not sure what circumstances led her to LA's place to be a school horse; life is strange sometimes.
Last summer, R. and I were riding in the front paddock. Mary and her friends had set up the barrels; they needed to practice for a games competition. Harmony was very interested in what was going on. Up to that point, R. was still trying to get her sea legs and to figure Harmony out. For a lark, R. asked Mary to take Harmony through the routine at a trot, just to get her used to the barrels, so that R. could see how she would react and perhaps have some fun with her. Up Mary got on Harmony and settled herself in the saddle. Mary barely had to cue Harmony. Trot? That's for sissies! Harmony took off like her tail was on fire! Her turns around the barrels were tight and well balanced, and coming home she was flat out. And just to finish it off, she did a little sliding stop. WTH?!! We all had our mouths hanging open to our chests! She was amazing....who knew!? Harmony was raring to go again, which Mary did. Again, she performed 110%. She looked....happy??? She may be heading into her senior years, but she's still got it!!
Harmony's future may have been iffy at one point, but her circumstances couldn't have bounced back any better. She must have done something right in another life to have a human like R. as she heads into the senior part of her life. R. absolutely loves Harmony and will always do what's best for her. She will fuss and brush her, make sure she gets the proper supplements and vet care and ride her with respect. Harmony is almost unrecognizable from a year ago. She is muscled, shiny and alert. She is beautiful. She is not out with the herd; she has her own turnout area next to Gem's and is brought in at night. She is much happier.
So, now Mary has Ringer, R. has Harmony and.....guess what? Yes!! John bought himself a 6-year old, stunning black and white paint mare! She's delightful and handsome Gem has his eye on her. :-) John has been taking lessons, too! R. has indicated that when Harmony is ready to be fully retired, John and her will share his horse and of course Ringer will be available for R. as Mary heads off to university. A great arrangement for the future. I think it's cool that horses have been the sort of glue for this family. The family that rides together, stays together??? :-)