Category Archives: Horse Stories

I’m a Responsible Breeder, or So I Thought…






I’m a responsible breeder.  Or, I was… I quit breeding for many reasons.  The foremost being that there are too many homeless horses in the world. I feel that if you are going to bring a horse into this world, you’d better have a good reason, provide for it throughout its life or be responsible during the re-homing process. (That’s me, standing on my soapbox.)

But, as I sit here today, I realize I failed myself and my youngest colt.  I bred with my blinders on.

MY REVELATION

My mare, Tess, has had 6 foals. I know where all of them live, I know what they are doing and everyone is in a fine home.  I have kept to my own word of placing them responsibly.  So far, so good. (Remaining true to my self-righteousness.)

FAST FORWARD INTO HUMILITY

Today, I have Tess’ last foal, Wrigley, who is coming 2.  I decided to breed for him three years ago for all the right reasons.  This was an incredible opportunity to breed to this outstanding stud for free (complicated story).  The stud had a flawless producing record and his bloodlines contained some of the Old Style Morgan that I wanted.  I felt his conformation would be a great balance with Tess’ and she was already there at the breeding facility so the transaction would be simple.  Since I knew, absolutely, I wanted to keep her last foal forever, this sounded really good.   Great!  And, the creme de la creme, I figured that my trail horse, Aladdin, would be needing to retire just about when this foal would be starting, so it was perfect.  Let’s do it!  So, we did.

ALL THE BLAH BLAH

Now, maybe you didn’t notice all the blah blah in the above paragraph, but it’s there.  First of all, my mare throws show horses, not trail horses.  Now, many of you say that all show horses could be trail horses.  And, sometimes you are right.  But, not my mare.  She throws show horses that might turn into trail horses when they settle down at 13 or so.  I know this.  OK, the next bit of blah blah is the stud.  Again, he has never sired a trail horse.  My thinking that the Old Style Morgans in the woodpile would fix the intense show horse quality of all of the previous total show babies makes no sense because it never worked before. ( I think you see where this is going…)  The last blah blah was what I said to myself.  I told myself that Tess couldn’t possibly produce a show foal every time.  What are the odds of that?  This one will be the trail horse, for sure.  Uh huh.

What I never said out loud was that I didn’t want another show horse.  Not only didn’t I want one, but I REALLY DIDN’T WANT ONE.  I was never going to go through all that show stuff again.  Never.  I was done.  Hmmmmm.  Where was this side of my brain when I was deciding to breed my mare with this stud?  Why didn’t I listen to what I KNEW?  Where was my head?

BABY

Baby came on April 30, 2008.  A colt!  Yeah!  I wanted another gelding as a trail horse.  Perfect!  He was quick to stand, quick to nurse and very hearty.  At the time, I ignored that he was huge, totally upheaded and could not walk — he pranced — everywhere.  Naw, he’ll settle down.  I even told myself how cute it was that he flagged his tail whenever anything at all happened… anything at all.  A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G at all.

I named him Wrigley, again defying a show name, so that he would have an easy trail friendly moniker.  Usually, I spent days agonizing over the show name for the papers.  What would sound good rolling off the tongue?  What type of name would be easily understood over the loud speaker?  What would fit his/her personality?  What would play off of the parent’s names?  But, not with Wrigley.  I even forget how we decided on that name…

At 18 months old, Wrigley was as large as his mother.  OK, I said to myself, no worries.  So what… He will stop growing and he will be small enough that I can mount from the ground while on the trail.  After all, his Dam is 14’3 and his Sire is only 15′.  How big could he get?…  C’mon, this is just good nutrition or an unusual growth spurt. (Again, I was the Jewel of Denial…)

All along, I have been haltering and working with little huge Wrigley.  It is true that I cannot get the halter over his head unless he practically goes down on his knees.  And, it is true that he learns very quickly, even if his excitement is a bit larger than the task.  And, yes, he clears the trailer entrance when he jumps in by about 2 feet.  Still, he would just be a very alert trail horse.  He just has juvenile energy.  MmmmHmmmm.  Deny. Deny. Deny.

DAY OF RECKONING

But today, I am forced to see the error of my ways.  As I brought him to the arena to work on some Parelli stuff, I just couldn’t lie to myself any more.  He’s no trail horse.  In fact, there is no part of his huge and precise body that even hints at trail horse.  This guy is all show.  Not even a little show.  All.  He cannot parade to the arena without asking all of the other woodland creatures to look at him.  He enters as if he has never seen this place before but knows he can conquer it.  He bounds on the end of my white Parelli lead as if he is just about ready to rocket to the moon.  That carrot stick is just another excuse to prove his expertise in dance.  He has never considered that there is no audience.  He has never considered that he isn’t all that.  He is.  Ain’t nobody gonna convince him otherwise.  He is EXACTLY what he was bred to be.

THE PROBLEM IS ME.

And now, I have to figure out what to do with my very talented and hairy protege. I feel as though I’m that parent who always wanted a son and got a daughter.  Or the stage Mom who wants her math whiz to dance.  I want a trail horse and I don’t have that.

What I find conflicting about this situation is that I have plenty of horses around here with no jobs.  They are rescues and they have their own issues which makes them unrideable and some even untouchable.  Yet, I never require them to do or be anything.  And that works for them.  They are happy to just be in the field living their lives.  This isn’t the case with Wrigley.  He wants to BE SOMETHING.  He wants to GO!  So, what do I do when I have no interest in moving the whole family to Seattle so my kid can learn to speed skate…  (That’s an Anton Ohno reference which basically is saying that I really don’t have the interest or the means to bring this boy to the top of the Morgan Show Circuit.)  Do I leave him in the field and wait until all his boyhood spunk and passion turns into middle age?

I know what you are thinking… why not sell him into a show home.  Yup.  Easier said than done.  He doesn’t have any formal training so he is out of the loop with trainers and the scuttlebutt of “up and comers”.  So, that leaves him to the market of people I don’t know.  As a responsible breeder, I cannot guarantee his lifestyle.  He’s a square in the round of horse society and will only fit comfortably in certain settings.  He shouldn’t go into an average household because he cannot conform to everyday horseness.  His passion could very easily be misunderstood as defiance and beaten out of him.  He may as well stay here where at least I can give him manners without crushing his soul.

HE IS EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS BRED TO BE…

So, I stand before you totally devastated at what I have done.  I’ve brought another horse into the world that cannot fulfill his purpose and doesn’t fit.  I look at him and I’m overcome with disappointment.  I’m disappointed in myself and I’m disappointed in him —  which is so unfair of me.  He is just being himself.  Exactly what I bred him to be.


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HORSE STORIES and an UPDATE on the Starved Colt.






I can look at the amount of visits per post and it seems that Horse Stories are one of the most popular topics!  So, today I am going to tell a few of my own and then post others that made me smile.

First though, I wanted to give an update on the starved foal who was rescued by BHFHR on Saturday eve.  Here are a few photos.  He has a bad coat, is very skinny, his hocks are swollen, he has horrible rain rot and his belly wormy.  But, they are working around the clock to help him.  I’ll keep you posted.  To keep up to date or help, go to the website.

HEART IN THROAT
I had a few guys helping unload a large flatbed of hay.  The truck was backed up almost to the hay barn.  As usual, the guys have a system for unloading hay.  First they create a hay bale bridge from the truck to the hay barn.  Then, they stack the hay into the barn kinda like Leggos.  You see a stair-step pattern off of the truck and a stair-step pattern into the barn.

Well, on that day last Summer, it was too hot to continue so the boys came in for a cool drink.  I knew my Icy and my TWH filly were roaming loose.  But, I didn’t worry because they were grazing far away on fresh, green grass.  Famous last words…
As I walked outside to see the progress on the stacks, I noticed the Icy IN THE BACK OF THE TRUCK on the bale Leggo structure.  She was totally on the top of the pile, teetering.  I froze.  Where was the other one?!  I told myself to breathe deeply and stay calm.  OK, where is the other one????

I see her, on top of the Leggo mountain in the hay barn.  She was 20 feet up inside the barn.  They must have gotten onto the hay bridge, I’m sure egging each other onward,  and then each picked a different direction.  So here I had my Icy teetering in the back of the flatbed and my TWH filly standing on loose bales near the roof of the hay barn.  If either of them got scared, broken legs were sure to follow.

So, I gently approached, cooing as best I could.  “Awww, aren’t you smarty girls, getting into the hay… Are you having fun?  Wanna come down?  I have some treats… Be careful now, no rush…”  My heart was in my throat.

You see, they didn’t know they were in a pickle.  So, both of them just bounced down and out, as if they weren’t 20 feet in the air, surrounded by holes and loose hay.  Unbelievable.
Above is a pic of my TWH filly.  Can’t you just hear her, “What??!”

BUCKET GIRL

This is why I never use plastic buckets/bowls to feed anymore.   One night, I heard a horrible banging down at the barn.  Boooom bangity bang!  Bang booomer bang!
I was trying to stay asleep but no, it was really violent and I figured someone was trying to get my attention.

I put on my robe and boots (a good look for me) and went to the barn. There, looking really sheepish, was one of my Morgan mares.  “Uh, I don’t really know how this happened, but could you please remove this bucket from my ankle?”  The plastic was ripped and sharp, right around her arteries.  I told myself that she had probably been that way for hours and I needed to calm down. Luckily, she held her foot up and waited patiently for me to fix it.  (Pictured is Gwen, my bucket girl.)

DITCHED
Once, when I had my horses boarded, Damien decided to maneuver the fence to get to the much better grass on the other side.  Unfortunately, he got caught up in the wire and ended up on his back in a ditch, stuck, with one foot attached to the fence.  Like the smart boy I didn’t know he was, he just laid there for hours.  I found out from a neighbor that when the boarding facility found him, he just nickered, let them pour water in his upside-down mouth and waited for them to release him. Atta boy!

STORIES FROM OTHERS!  I found these on the internet and thought I’d share…

QUIT BUGGIN’
Every Sunday, I ride for 3 and a half hours. In Central New Brunswick on the best horses you could ever wish for. No kidding its true, but there is one in particular that I love the most. His name is Ebony Frostbite. Frosty (as we call him) is a registered Quarter Pony with the attitude of a 15 hand Arabian stallion, but yet… he has one weakness. BUGS! He gets an allergic reaction to bug bites and they puff up and are super irritating. To him it is the most annoying thing in the world. He kicks, bites, itches and rolls. Anything to itch those bites. These horses have run-out pastures. They can go outside at will whenever they like. Frosty realized this and also realized the bugs could also go in and out at will so he decided… “Why don’t I CLOSE the door” so he slams the door in everybody’s face and then backs up and puts his rump against it so it stays permanently closed. The woman who owns Frosty went outside so she could drop his hay by his usual feeding spot. She had opened his door, and when she came to close the door Frosty gave her a look of deepest disgust and smashed the door in her face. She told me it really meant, “Haven;t I told you a MILLION times to close the door when you leave??? The bugs will get in!!!” So in courtesy for Frosty everytime we open his closed door we close it when we’re done. We don’t want to be told off by a stubborn pony again. – Victoria Blair

FABRIC SOFTENER HEADRUSH
I’ve seen horses do alot of things, but a friend’s mare is one of the strangest. My friend would let her mare graze in the yard, when Shelby (the mare) would hear the clothes dryer come on, she would scurry to the dryer vent and inhale the hot air … we never could figure out if she liked the smell … ie Bounce Dryer Sheets, mountain fresh scent… or the hot air… (the air was already hot.. it was 95 degrees) .. or if she just was a silly mare. As long as the dryer was running, you knew exactly where to find her. – Karen Sue Taylor

HORSEY SENSE OF HUMOR
We had 3 horses at home in 1999 and one of them was a 2 year old Thoroughbred we called Lil buddy. His registered name was The Charminator because he charmed everyone he met. One afternoon my husband and I went to groom and ride our horses. We were grooming in the run in shed, my husband and his horse on the outside of the gate and me on the inside with my horse….and Lil Buddy. Lil Buddy was nuzzling my tshirt while I was grooming my horse and rubbing my back. I bent over to clean my horses hooves and Lil Buddy kept rubbing my back, pushed through my waistband and pulled up my underwear GIVING ME A WEDGIE! We laughed so hard I almost fell down until I looked at all 3 horses faces and they were all grinning! I never saw a horse actually grin before that day. -Bonnie Gerdes

WON’T CROSS WATER BUT WILL SWIM FOR CHICKS
My horse is possibly the Harry Houidini of the horse world .One day as I was cleaning stalls I went outside to dump my wheelbarrow full of you know what and I saw him he was swimming across the lake that partly encloses his pasture. To understand why he did this you have to understand two things: one, across from his pasture was where we kept my two mares and two, he is a pride cut gelding who thinks he is a stud.Woopsy. As he proceeded to get out of the water and shake off I stood like an idiot with my mouth open I mean this is my gelding that barely crosses creeks much less swims lakes suprise suprise. Then as I was standing there he ran up to the mares and started chasing the mares from one end of the pasture to the pasture to the other. I quickly regained my senses and caught him but to this day I can’t put him in the pasture, nor will he cross a creek. -kamie harrell

WHAT DID HE DO, NOW??

We own Peck’s Bad Horse. Chaos is his middle name. “Rat ‘Chaos’ Friedman”. I’ve been in my truck driving to the barn and met him coming down the road in the opposite direction. He’s spent days removing all of the bolts from the gutter on the shedrow barn at one farm. I’ve gotten daily calls from one farm manager that always started with, “You have GOT to get over here and see what your horse is doing!” He’s taken apart a western saddle and buried the pieces in the sand footing of the arena before he was caught. He’s found a whip and gotten the rest of the horses running in circles until they were exhausted. He’s spent an hour or so working his way into the middle of a coil of rusty barbed wire and backing out again, over and over and over . . .

Most recently he developed a grudge against a horse in the neighboring paddock. During the night (his most creative time) he took down the fence between them, crossed it, beat the bejeezus out of his erstwhile enemy, then quietly crossed back into his own paddock, where he was found grazing peacefully the next morning. All in a night’s work for our boy.

I’ve got a rider on my insurance policy that names him specifically with a disclaimer for whatever he might do that we haven’t thought of a way to prevent.

I could go on, but I get nervous when I think for too long about what he might be doing while I’m typing. I’ve just started sleeping through the night again since my daughter moved him a state away. Most folks dread the midnight phone call because they fear for the health of elderly relatives and errant children. I jump out of bed and start pulling my boots on before I’ve got the phone off the cradle because I know I’m going to hear, “Wait’ll you see what he’s done this time!”

And he’s only one of seven. Is it any wonder I tend to hunker in the corner humming show tunes and making farm animals out of duct tape and baling twine?
__________________
Joanne M. Friedman

THOSE are a few horse stories to enjoy!  Do you have any?


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