Sunday, October 11, 2009
Her Name is Sugar...
And she's my new horse...
I mean, our new horse.
WAIT!!! She is the GIRLS' new horse...Yes that's it. That's it exactly.
But, Gentle Reader. I am in love. I am totally gaga over this horse. I kissed her and petted her and rubbed her, and hated to leave her to come to my boring one acre lot in town...
You see, Bookworm has been dying for a horse, and my dad's horse is not safe for them to ride. He is a 28 year old appaloosa gelding. And he is cranky. The last time he pitched with me, I had already ridden him about 4 miles at a trot (he's a huge horse, and he can do that in his sleep.) I decided maybe we could gallop a bit. He disagreed, tried to bury his nose between his legs, and started to pitch...I drug his head up, and luckily kept my seat, 'cause I gotta tell ya, I wasn't expecting that at that point of the ride. So. My girls cannot ride him on their own.
Each time we go home, I try to get my uncle's horse over for Bookworm to ride. He is also old. However, he wouldn't run off with them, or pitch or anything. Now, he might bury his nose in the feed trough, or a nice patch of grass and refuse to budge, but this is no threat to their safety. However, in his old age he has developed a stumbling problem. Last time Bookworm and I were riding, she decided to gallop, and he stumbled forward onto both front knees. She instinctively leaned back and pulled up on the reins. He regained his footing, and the horrible bloody accident where my child became a cripple for life never occurred...I was riding right next to her, and I immediately had visions of her falling under my horses hooves, or the horse falling on top of her...Or...Let's not think about that. Instead we will say that Star is no longer safe for them to ride either.
I told my dad I was interested in finding a good kid horse if he would allow us to keep it at his house, and feed it. Isn't that a fair deal? I could never afford to board a horse, but I can front the money for a horse, and then allow my dad to bear the feeding bills. He claims that he feeds so many mouths, one more won't be felt on his ranch. Thanks, Dad.
Well, he found through the grapevine, a horse that was for sale. She became my horse before I even met her. I found out she was sorrel, and had most recently been the mount of choice for a 5 year old. A five year old that they were advancing to barrel horse, but I won't go into my opinion of a youngster on a horse that fast...Did I mention Appy is huge? Picture darn near draft horse size. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but here he's tied to a 6 foot panel, so that gives you a general idea of his size.
Sugar is on the thin side. Her previous owner had sent her to be trained for barrel racing. I chuckle at that now. She is not a fast horse. She has a short stride, and that does not result in speed. When he got her back from the trainer she had dropped about 200 pounds. Also, she has a white patch of hair on each shoulder from old saddle sores. I hope that after we fatten her up a bit, her withers will be strong enough that we won't have to worry about saddle sores. Of course, we will watch for that, and pad appropriately. Anyway, she now has a 40 acre pasture to graze with Dad's horse Appy, and plenty of hay at her disposal. She is in heaven. She was also living in a pen that she shared with another horse at a western sports arena that was about 25x100 foot. I felt sorry for the remaining horses.
We introduced her and Appy Friday afternoon. The encounter started out friendly enough, with her drinking from the trough, and him tentatively sniffing her. The next thing I knew, he bit her in the shoulder, and she kicked him in the chest, and the battle began. It. Was. Horrible. I was terrified. Appy chased her to a corner where the mud made it slick, and she fell. I nearly died of heart failure. She regained her footing, ran away, and he herded her right back to the corner where she fell again. She regained her footing, and ran over to me at the gate. She stuck her head over the gate, nostrils flared, and shaking all over. I quickly let her out, and she literally put her head on my shoulder as if to say, "You saved me! Did you see that? It was awful. That horse is HUGE!!! Don't ever make me go in there again." And then I noticed the chunk of skin off her shoulder, and a cut running up her back where his bottom teeth had dug in. It was about 2 feet long. I felt horrible. I suddenly hated Appy, and decided they could never be together again. Ever. Dad & Studmuffin led Appy out to pasture, and we put 2 fences between them. It turned out, Appy was bleeding down both legs where her hooves had found their marks. I decided to cut him a little slack. But just a little. Did I mention that I was terrified when they started fighting? I knew they'd have a battle, but I pictured more of a stomping and snorting confrontation, not full contact!
Dad let them back into the corral together Saturday morning, and all they did was snort at each other. Appy tried to come at her, and she herded him to the same corner she fell in, and he fell smack on his butt. Hah. Served him right. They seem to have worked out their differences after they were both equally humiliated with a fall.
This afternoon when I took her out for the girls to ride, Dad was still saddling Appy. He threw an absolute fit. He kicked and pawed at the ground and screamed at the top of his lungs. We weren't sure if he was wanting to fight some more, or if he missed her. Appy has always had co dependence issues. When we still owned Blue (he was tragically struck by lightening a few years ago) Appy would cry and bawl for him every time they were separated. It was very annoying when we were rounding up cattle. Dad & I decided that he would get on Appy, and I would be on Sugar to see how the saddled encounter would go. He calmed down the minute they were together.
Looking at this picture makes me sad. Appy's face used to be solid reddish brown with a star in the middle. He had a speckled white rump and white feet. Now, he is turning mostly gray. Poor old fella.
As you can see, they are good friends now. And I do believe that Sugar, for all her diminutive stature is the boss. I took a bucket of sweet feed out to them, and fed each of them out of the bucket. Appy was only allowed one sample, and after that every time I tried to offer it to him, she stepped in front and stuck her head in. And he let her. I guess women control feed rations in the horse world too! I scratched and fed them a bit more, then dumped the rest in a trough. As you can see, they are doing just fine now. Thank goodness. I'd hate for Dad to have to find a new home for Appy!
Hey! Did I mention it was cold when we were riding today? Yesterday we had freezing rain, so we deterred the girls from riding. Today it was all they up to 38 when we decided to ride. The girls had on long johns under their clothes, and I had sweats over my jeans. Yep, it was a tad chilly, but Dad & I tested her cattle wrangling abilities. But that is a post for another day. Complete with pictures!!!