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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