An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Little Horse History

Ardith's comment on Uncle Chance has gotten me to thinking about our reasons for keeping all these pretty horses and the history behind them all. Growing up as a farm girl pretty much sealed my fate as an animal lover, altho not all of us 5 farm girls have acquired the same love, so it's also a credit to who God made me. My first memories of horses goes way back to being probably 5 years old or so and a little Shetland pony named Dutchess, an old wash bin, and taking turns with Traci heaving each other up onto her back as she stood next to the pasture fence. I remember her having a white spot on her back that to me always looked like a saddle. There was also another wild, bigger paint horse named Sugar. When we were still pretty little those two equines met their fate under a tree during a lightning storm. It wasn't too long after that that my Dad, who loved auctions of any sort but especially farm auctions, bid on a few horses that his little girls must have done a lot of begging and pleading for. I can still remember that ride up there in the big truck to go pick them up. I can remember talking names with Kelly for my new little red stud colt the whole way there and probably back. Finally I decided on Star. Of that bunch of horses that came home that day only 2 ever got rode. The first one being Prince, a little Shetland pony, that got scared of the flying sheets and ran Traci under the clothesline, knocking her off. A couple of years later I rode him and he ran me under Dad's high truck~ little bugger. Then there was Suzie Q, an experienced barrel horse, whom Kelly rode once then she would not be caught again. Mostly they were pretty pasture ornaments that seemed to multiply very quickly, much to the pleasure of our young horse loving hearts.
Every spring we would fight over who got this colt and who got that one and what we would name them. Eventually us girls grew up a little bit and decided to do something with all those wild horses living on the back forty. We picked out our favorite ones and talked Dad into coming out with a lariat to catch one. I remember how I watched in awe as my Dad (who was in his late 60's at the time) handled that horse. The next day the rest of the herd rejected her and it was prime bonding time for me and Buttercup, whom I trained from halter breaking to riding over the next couple of years then lost her due to colic. Traci and Brenda joined me in catching other wild horses and pretty soon we had talked Dad into building a front pasture for them and we had our 3 horses to work with. We loved taking them out for walks on the road, brushing them and loving on them.
Somewhere, at some other auction, Dad came home with Dancer, a real, true broke horse. The only problem with him was that when he decided he didn't want to be rode anymore, which was about five minutes after you had gotten on his back, he would just simply lay down. Little bugger. He did become the star of many a play and show and was a real trooper to put up with us all. Magnum was the last horse that I caught out of that wild bunch. She was a beautiful black and white paint, one of Suzie Q's daughters, and about 4 years old or so when I brought her up to the front pasture. Lo and behold the next spring she had a beautiful black and white paint colt. She never did like to be caught, just like her momma, but I kept at her with a lariat and tying her down until finally I was able to work with her and even ride her. Another of my fondest horse memories is one winter when the snow was so high that we had paths dug to get to the animals to do chores. As Dad was outside doing chores I took Magnum out, and being the only place to ride was in the paths, she just followed Dad around doing chores. One time she reared, like Hi-Ho Silver, and I managed to stay on~ whew!

Eventually boys took over the interest of horses, and as Dad aged and life went on all the horses except for two went to auction. After Rob and I were married we had a little bit of acreage and soon added a young colt. After Dad passed away we took the one remaining horse left at his farm over to our place with the intention of selling him in the spring. A couple of months later I ended up falling in love with him and Sugar became one of my favorite horses of all times. I halter broke him and started him under saddle, then sent him off for training for a month. Him and I spent many hours on lazy rides. Only a couple of short years later we lost him to colic as well, even after a heroic attempt at surgery in the big hospital in the Twin Cities. Shortly after Sugar passed away we decided to go check out a new mount. My Mom had discovered Magnum while taking a back road in a town only a half hour away and we had stopped a few years earlier to take pictures of her and her baby, Lightning. My intention was to buy Magnum back, but being that she was now in her teens and had not been worked with again, we decided instead to buy Lightning who was 5 years old and supposedly broke. Before too long we found out she wasn't quite as broke as they said, or Rob found out as he was trying to impress me and got a bucking bronco ride instead. Soon after I found out I was pregnant and riding got put off. For the next few years we kept adding babies and those horses were just loved pasture pals for the most part. Eventually those babies started to grow up and one in particular, Alexis, loved the horses as much as I did. From a tiny infant she would go out to the horse barn with me while I fed the horses. Before too long she was riding with me, and not too much longer after that we decided to get her her own pony. Our first little pony was Woody, a registered miniature stud, who was also going to double as a horse who earned his keep. He was quiet and docile from the start and Alexis and him had many a trip around the yard. We soon realized we probably wouldn't be able to part with any cute babies and when he got a little too studdy a quick visit from the vet calmed him right down.
Soon Alexis was ready for a little bit bigger horse. On an impulse at a horse auction with Traci and several young children I bid on Sassy. I have never regretted it. A gentleman who lives not too far away from us happened to be at the auction that night and delivered him, literally, to our front door. The first day she was home she had 6 little ones waiting their turn to ride her. Alexis rode her for a couple of years and loved her special pony. There were many pasture rides and rides to the lake where we lived on our small acreage. Sassy was always a quiet little girl and there was a deep girl/horse bond made between the two. As we were riding more we even ventured that summer to take Lightning, Sassy and at the last minute Woody, up to a fun show and sleep over camping trip. As fun as it was to do something I had always dreamt of doing, I also realized that showing was not my desire with the horses. We have geared towards trail riding and are happy with our experience of at least trying the show.
Alexis outgrew Sassy pretty quickly and we started looking for a new horse for her. Rob, being the ever wise one, was not so keen on the idea. We only had 5 acres at the time, already had 3 horses and 3 steers besides the pigs. Five acres can only handle so many critters, besides the horses don't contribute much money to paying for their own hay. I made a commitment to Rob, as well as myself, that I would not ask to get another horse until we proved to him that we were using the ones we already had. The day that he finally said he was so pleased with how much we were using the horses and that we could start looking for another horse for Alexis was a day to remember. We went through a couple of horses, besides looking at an umpteen amount of them, before we finally found the horse of our dreams. Chance came into our lives again through an auction. Feeling pretty discouraged by our last two choices of horses, one whom Alexis had a bad accident with and one who ended up just not clicking besides only having one tooth and costing a fortune to try to keep alive, I was beginning to wonder if Alexis would ever love horses again or want to ride. At the end of December, on a cold day, we decided to go check out the sales barn again. I remember Alexis coming back with Rob just beaming and talking about the horse of her dreams. When I went back to look at him I pretty much wrote it off as not even a consideration given his experience as a trail camp horse and his looks would mean he would be way too expensive, and also the fact that he was only 8 years old when she was only 12 years old. But God had his own plans that day as Chance just happened to be owned by a lady who lived in our hometown and whom I knew casually. Alexis was able to ride him and was so confident with him. The horse prices were extremely low at that point and Rob kept on bidding until he was ours for less than we could have hoped for. The next day, as the two of us took him out for a ride and I saw Alexis' love for him, I knew he would be staying for a very long time. I cannot think of anything he has done wrong in the last 2 1/2 years that we have owned him. The only thing "wrong" with him is that he likes to go slow, which suits me just fine.
Alexis decided to give Sassy to Grace and by this time we had moved to the farm where we have 40 glorious acres to ride on, plus a half done arena. The dream really had come true. We have had a wonderful couple of years of riding and enjoying the horses and the trails. Last year we were able to host a fun horse day here at the farm and plan to continue it until there are no more kids left to request it again next year. We built the corral at the cabin sight last fall and have taken several horse rides and picnics out back. Rob started clearing trails for us and we have also been able to ride on the road. We live next to 30,000 acres of public land with several trails that one day we will be able to explore. And one day we just may even have a real horse barn.
Now as if having 4 horses wasn't enough Rob surprised me and offered to buy me a new horse for my birthday present last year. After first recovering from the shock of it all I next considered just what I would want in a new horse. Lightning is 20 years young already and is perfect for how we ride, but soon it could be a possibility that she would have to be retired or at least passed along to the younger kids. I decided to head back up to the auction barn and start with a new colt again. Solomon was the answer to my prayers and being the third bidder at $15 dollars was another answer to prayer. He has been the sweetest little guy, and one of my favorite breeds, Appaloosa. I spent the winter babying him in the barn with lots of good grain, lots of loving and leading with great benefits to show for it this spring.
Talking about my other favorite breeds~ I absolutely love paints. Which is the only other reason we now have 3 yearlings in the pasture rather than just one. Earlier this spring we were at the auction barn yet again to drop off a couple of cull goats and spotted a pen full of young horses. Temporary insanity set in as Rob wheeled and dealed to trade the goats for two horses and we brought home Nika and Rootbeer. I think he is still wondering just what crazy notion came over him that night.
Unlike Solomon these two are wild little buggers. A bit more of a challenge, but I always like a challenge, so have been having fun chasing them down all summer. The original plan was to sell Rootbeer after taming him but seeing how Trent, who really is not a horse lover, has taking a liking to him rather than riding short Woody, I have decided to let him keep him and have the experience of training a young horse.
So that leaves us with a pasture full of pretty horses. We're living the dream, baby, we're living the dream!

1 comment:

Teresa said...

love the story Terri. We too are looking into horses. Hoping we have some great memories to pass down like you do. Thank you for sharing!