Category Archives: Horse Stories

My Band of Showhorses and Raggamuffins






I thought I’d introduce you to my herd.  They live together, sort-of.  All of them are here, but each circulate in their own semi-herd.  But, one of my favorite things to do is let them all out together (with supervision).  I would do this more often but some of them ruin it for the others, if you know what I mean…  First, there is a lot of jostling.  It never changes… the ponies try to fight with the biggest horse, Bodhi.  Figures.  Or, the ponies try to mate with the larger mares.  Totally pony.  The lead mare is always the lead mare. The bully mare is always the bully mare and the wild mare is always wild.  The TWHs run around the outside, trying to get the group to riot.  Norma, the donkey, just watches in disgust.   Meanwhile, the opportunistic Icy is getting into the barn and eating whatever she can find while everyone else is distracted — and the baby is wandering over to learn her bad habits.  Ahhh, so it goes.  I love watching them when they don’t know I’m looking…  So much fun to see how they really behave!

OK, here is my herd in no particular order:

TESS – Lead mare,  motto:  “Hey, do I have to come over there and… “

Registered name:  HVK Noble Heiress, Morgan mare, National Champion, 20 years old, 6 foals:  Tess is the grand dam.  She has been lead mare since she arrived at 2 years of age.  She was bred by the Kohlers (yes, the sink people) and is remarkably talented.  But, what I love most about Tess is that she is lead mare without ever hurting anyone.  I swear, she just lays back an ear and everyone scatters!  I still have her first foal, Gwendolyn, and the last, Wrigley.  I wrote about Tess in my Equine Canker Cured post.  She suffered from this but is now healthy and muddy, just the way she likes it.  (This pic is of Tess and Wrigley at breakfast this morning, nose to nose.)

GWEN: Bully mare, motto:  “Come over here and MAKE me?”

Registered name:  Flaire’s Gwendolyn, Morgan mare, 1st foal of Tess, 15 years old, gorgeous but knows it… Trouble is her middle name.  This mare is so sweet on the ground…  Famous last words, eh?  People think she is so pretty and sweet.  Well, she can be… but usually she isn’t.  Gwen is the most trained horse here because I had lots of time when she was young, and because she needed it.  I swear that this mare did not mature and become safe until she was 13.  Now, I am comfortable riding her, barely.  She can rear like Trigger and jump over anything.  Very athletic.  Too athletic.  I thought about breeding her because of her beauty but then decided she might kill and eat her young. (This picture is of us just before a trail ride.)

VIOLET BEAUREGARD:  Busy little thing, loves to go through any open door, motto:  “Hey, I could fit in there!”

Not registered yet, Icelandic mare, 6 years old, really small and terribly cute.  My husband calls her Alfalfa because her hair sticks straight up.  I rescued her Mommy from a poor gal who had lost her job.  The mare, Glefsa, was very well bred and registered.  Inside of her was VB.  I knew I was in for it the moment she was born.  VB came out screaming.  I swear she was wailing and flinging her legs as she was coming out.  She hasn’t changed a bit.  We named her Violet Beauregard (Willy Wonka reference) because this girl is ALWAYS busy.  Teaching her to ride is like trying to wrangle kittens.  The good and bad news is that she is smart as a whip.  I can teach her anything in one sitting  — as long as she wants to learn.  I thought this photo of her was perfect.  Here she sits in the arena with lots of toys and all she wants is OUT.  Bang, Bang, Bang.  If she was a boy, I would have named her Bam-Bam.

SLICK, DODGER AND NORMA JEAN: Motley crew of 2 Shetlands and a Donkey, motto: “I’m coming, tooooooo!”

None registered.  These three stick together like glue.  Slick, the pie-bald 17 year old Shetland,  came from a TB breeding farm when he was 3.  He was the teasing stud.  Poor guy couldn’t see out of his stall.  I heard the owners complaining that he constantly picked the locks and went marauding down the aisleways.  So, I bought him and gelded the little stinker.  He is still a little stinker but I love him.  Once I cut his forelock to look like Billy Idol.  Actually, that is a good reflection of this little guy.  Rock Star.  He snakes his neck, struts around and wrecks hotel rooms (well, he would if he could…).

Dodger dodged a bullet. I got him from a feedlot when he was just 5.  Now, he is 19.  Dodger has lousy conformation for a Shetland.  He was used on a pony-ring ride, the kind you see at County Fairs.  His saddle didn’t fit (by the looks of his huge scars on his shoulders).  And, I expect from his attitude, he didn’t make his proprietors happy.  So, he was at the auction.  I got him for $26.50, his meat price at the time.  Dodger is still very aloof.  He is a good boy and does whatever he is told, but he is reserved.  However, when he is loose with the big horses, he will try to beat up Bodhi and mount Gwen, his girlfriend.  I have to be careful with him, little bugger.

Norma Jean got her name because in the winter she has a very thick, curly coat.  But, in the summer, she sheds to be a beautiful donkey — just like Marilyn Monroe.  She is a very good girl and a wonderful watch donkey.  She will alert when anything is out of the ordinary.  I love that about her.  I got Norma from a donkey breeder who was about 200 years old and going out of business.  I think her name was Jenny Sue.  Anyway, I’m not sure that Norma really likes me.  She tolerates me and comes over to be groomed.  But, on the whole, I think she loves the Shetlands and any other male horse.  You should see her eat a grape.  Her lips are adeptly prehensile.

BODHI: The Biggest, motto: “Wasn’t me…”

Not registered.  Bodhi is my husband’s horse.  He is a 5 year old Percheron/Welsh Cobb cross.  Yup.  The Percheron jumped the fence.  Anyway, he is as sweet as can be but he is really big.  And, he likes to lean, chew, paw, smash or get into anything he wants.  His pasture used to have a three walled, beautiful shelter but Bodhi remodeled it.  Now just has the 4 posts and a roof.  And, he is terminally mouthy.  Fence boards, shelters, trees … are fine to nibble.  Believe me, he has all of his salts, vitamins, supplements, food, you name it. He just likes to use his mouth and to push on things.  I hope he will grow out of it.  But, even with all of that, we still love him.  He is a great match for my husband and a really solid, good guy.  He loves Remi and no one else.  Maybe Gwen, if he has to be stuck with someone other than Remi.

REMINGTON: Obi-Wan Mustang (wild caught), motto:  “Been there, done that but you can never be too sure…”

Remi has a brand from the BLM and is an 11 year old mustang mare.  I rescued her off of a feedlot.  She was skinny and her feet were very long.  I had really never gotten a mature horse without a history.  That was odd and scary for me.  But, she had a very sweet face and kind eye — besides, isn’t that what rescuing is all about?  You never know what you are getting.  What you are doing is saving a life.  I called the BLM and asked if they could read her brand. They did.  She was gathered at 2 years old from Oregon.  Her herd has Spanish Barb, TB and gaited horses in the wood pile.  Remi is the second largest horse here and she eats the most.  I find her very cool and aware.  She is a thinker.  And, she watches my every move.  I like her.  I won’t ride her (you’d feel the same way if you were on her back), but I will walk with her, practice all my equine body work on her (she loooooves that) and appreciate her for how far she’s come.  She is regal.

FINN AND BEAUTIFUL GIRL: Frick-n-Frack, motto: “Sure, I’m game… What do you want to do?”

I really shouldn’t group these two together because they are great individuals. They are full siblings.  I liked Finn so much, I went back to the breeder for another.  I bought his little sister sight unseen.  And, funny, they are not alike in ANY way.  Ha!  But, they are always together.  Always.

Finn, registered name is Bad News Generation,  is a 10 year old, easy going TWH gelding with not much gait but a lovely canter.  He isn’t built like a regular gaited horse (which is why he isn’t so great at gaiting) therefore many saddles fit him.  Finn likes to trail ride off trail.   He’s fine to walk along a distinguished route, but if you steer him off the path, he perks up and puts on his Daniel Boone cap!  Wahoo!  He loves blazing trails!  He wishes he lived in the Old West!

Beautiful Girl, registered name Bad News Little Bit, on the other hand, is not so easy going and very precise in her manner.  This 7 year old TWH mare listens very well and has incredible gaits but a rocky canter.  She is an awesome gaiting machine!  However, hardly any saddle will fit her shoulder.  In fact, the reason I demo’d so many saddles last year was to try to find a fit for her.  I’ve had to go treeless.  Beautiful Girl is a sweetheart and I think she and I will become much more bonded this summer.  She is such a polite and honest filly.  And, I love her blond mane.

WRIGLEY: The Baby, motto: “Oh yeah… well, um… MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!”

Wrigley’s registered name is Wrigley.  He is the last foal of my lead mare, Tess.  Wrig is a long yearling and already taller than his mom.  Sigh.  I wanted an easy going, smallish trail horse and I got a HUGE show horse.  I’m not complaining but I wish he would have come out differently.  He is going to be too tall for me, with an even higher headset.  Sigh.  Still, I think he is a sweetie. However, I do notice that all the mares kick and bite him often so I think he is a bit irritating to them.  ;)  Wrigley tries to act tough but as soon as he is threatened, he goes running to his mother for protection.  And, of course, she gives it.  She loves being his Mom.  In the summer I will have to end their togetherness and banish him to another paddock.  I’ll probably put VB in there with him so they can irritate each other — or perhaps she will teach him all of her tricks.  Sigh.

SAMANTHA:  Wild Woman (she is wild), motto: “Get away from me!”

Registered?  Ha!  Now THAT is funny…  Sam is so beautiful you just want to go up to her and admire her.  But, you probably shouldn’t because she would just run away.  I wrote about her earlier as my rescue story.  I love watching her because she is so wild, but I also wish I could touch more than just her head and shoulder.  I used to really worry that I would never trim her feet or be able to care for her if she got sick… so I worked with her and even sent her to training.  We didn’t get very far.  She is a tough nut.  But, I can halter her and she will follow me.  So, in an emergency, I could lead her away.  Sam’s feet stay trimmed, somehow.  I think it is her rocky pasture.  I do have to say, in her defense, that the other horses seem to like her.  She was a great Mom (she came to me skinny and very heavy in foal) and Wrigley adores her.  I took these photos of Sam this morning.  I think they are perfect…  “What ARE you doing?”  “Stop with that thing in your hand, I think it will steal my soul.”  “What about NO don’t you understand??!”

So there you have it… 12 fuzzy buddies that live with me here in Northern California.  Raggamuffins mostly, but Showhorses some…


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Update on Deaf Horses and My New Horsey Bling!






MY HORSEY BLING

I wanted to show you the bling I ordered for my gelding.  It is a tag you put on the bridle.  I talked about it on a previous post regarding Horse Bling (2/14/10).  Anyway, it arrived and is better than the pictures!  Way Better!  I love it!  I am thinking of ordering a few more with different colored stones for each, if possible.  My only issue is that my other horses have really long names.  So, I guess I will come up with creative nick names.  Which, I’m happy to do since I really like it!  One of the most impressive details to me, that I didn’t understand from the previous photos, is that the piece is really substantial.  It is heavy and bigger than I thought it would be.  Total bang for your buck!  I’ve pictured it below with a quarter next to it so that you can compare.  Also, it is silver, not gold.  My professional photography studio here — isn’t.  Here you go!  And, if you want to order your own, click to go to the website.

DEAF HORSE UPDATES

Well, I kinda feel like I’m cheating because I’m going to cut and paste the words from two owners of deaf horses.  I felt that I should just go ahead and use their emails since I would basically be paraphrasing anyway and I might make a mistake.  So, here you go — two devoted owners of deaf horses tell us a little bit about what it is like to own, train and love a disabled pet.  First though, I wanted to link you to the DEAF HORSE Facebook page where there are several owners as well as a link to the Society web page which is under construction.

1)  SPLASH:

Splash was born May 15th, 2009. Her mother decided to give birth to her in a puddle of irrigation water in the bottom of our field. Why? We will never know!! We noticed that the foal was not very responsive, and had probably not nursed as of the time we discovered her. She was ten days premature and had been born in a puddle of cold water gosh knows what time of the night. We got her to her feet and after milking the mare and pouring some of the vital colostrum down Splash’s throat, she commenced to nursing and rarely quit right up to weaning time at six months of age. She is a voracious eater! Still is at almost a year old.

We discovered she was deaf several ways. One was that her ears hung out to the sides and did not “prick up” at loud sounds as did the ears of the other colt we had. Her color is another factor including the fact that she was premature. Splash-White syndrome is the cause of her deafness, and our vet believes hers is due to color and prematurity, rather than genetics, since there are no deaf horses in her background. Color and hearing are the last things to form on foals while still in the uterus. The final deciding factor was when my husband fired up the chainsaw and she wandered over to see what he was doing! All the other horses were leery, of course, and wanted nothing to do with the loud obnoxious machine! Our vet then fired off a few firecrackers just to satisfy his curiosity and it was decided..Splash is totally deaf.

Haltering has been an issue so far. She has learned four “signs” so far: hello, come here, stop, and move over. She is very eager to please, but she doesn’t seem to like new things touching her until she has explored them well. She will, however, follow me across any type of board or bridge without fear. Even across a running stream! I plan to separate her now that she is a yearling and begin the true “leading” process. Right now she follows hand signs only.

To interact with her I often place my throat against her neck and talk so she can feel the vibration of my voice. I tell her I love her and her reaction has become to paw with her front foot each time I do…weird. She loves me to talk to her and it seems to be something she asks for when I spend time with her. Touch is everything with her and she is very affectionate and doesn’t spook as easy as the other horses do either. Only when she is sleeping. Then, I always stomp my feet on the ground to let her know I am near so she doesn’t get startled when she sees me. She picks up the vibration from the ground and usually opens her eye to look at me.
Both of her eyes are sky blue and she will have to be tatooed (eyeliner, vet applied) after she turns a year old to avoid cancer around her eye. Training to begin soon since it’s warming up! Excited!

2) ADELINE

Adeline is a 10 year old APHA (red roan) overo mare. She is not an albino as some think, as she does have some pigment. She was born with all that white & pink skin & blue eyes, but has SOME black pigment under white coat, and a few red roan specs on her ears. I’m actually quite surprised she wasn’t euthanized immediately thinking she had OLWS. (Overo Lethal White Syndrome).

I met Adeline as a 2+ year old, she came from a breeder who’d picked her up after she was passed around to several homes already in her young life. She was truly a sweet, quiet, honest and intelligent horse, but I think maybe not everyone knew she was deaf and therefore, didn’t know why she didn’t understand them.
At this breeders, she was bred to another paint at a young age and ended up absorbing the foal. I was planning to buy the foal, but the breeder decided she wanted to sell Adeline. I knew I had to have her. She would follow me around with her nose in the small of my back when I was there, I knew she loved me already too.
So, I bought a deaf, untrained mare. She is on one side Impressive bred (beautiful halter horse w/ some issues, and Impressive mares can be quite rank!) and the other side is Jet Deck (QH racing). So she is fast, pretty and deaf. ;) And now, Adeline – who was once spooky and not -so – confident, has turned into the best trail horse, and we practice our lower level dressage for conditioning and really – we just enjoy spending time together. I LOVE her.

So, there you have a few stories to mull about the next time you hear of a deaf horse.  IF you ever hear about a deaf horse… I sure hadn’t until one needed a home around here.  I had no clue about them.  Now, a few more of us do, thanks to these brave owners.


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