Meet the Crew

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.

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’s usually a lot of jostling about. It never changes… the ponies try to fight with the biggest horse, Bodhi. Figures. Or, the ponies try to get frisky 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 Gwen sneaks into the barn and eats whatever she can find while everyone else is distracted — and, of course, her baby brother follows her lead – learning her bad habits. Ahhh, so it goes.

I love watching when they don’t know I’m looking… It’s fun to see how they really behave!

OK, here is my herd in no particular order:



f: 1990, d: 2011
Motto: “Anything you say, Partner… anything at all…”
Registered name: Equinox Aladdin

Aladdin was my trail horse extraordinaire.  We did everything together.

I bought him in Vermont from the East of Equinox farm when he was a month old.  I knew he was meant for me instantly.

I know I cannot replace him, but I wish I could.  He was perfect for me.

At 2 when he was still showing.Us riding together...


Lead Mare – Morgan Mare – National Champion

f: 1990: 6 foals
Motto: “Hey, do I have to come over there and…”
Registered name: HVK Noble Heiress

Tess is the grand dam. She has been lead mare since she arrived at 2 years of age. She was bred by the Kohlers Tess nationals(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. It was this post and this mare that started the blog.

Mama Tess is totally retired – healthy and muddy – just the way she likes it.   Update:  Tess passed, comfortably, 11/2015.  I was crushed.


Frick – Beautiful Girl’s Brother

f: 2000
Motto: “Sure, I’m game… What do you want to do?”
Registered name: Bad News Generation

Finn and BG are full siblings.  I liked Finn so much, I went back to the breeder for another.  I bought his little sister sight Full sibling TWHs. Finn and Beautiful Girl (BG)unseen.  And, funny, they are not alike in ANY way.  Ha!  But, they are always together.  Always.

Finn, whose registered name is Bad News Generation,  is an 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!

Finn is such a character, we’ve created his own Saddle Charm!  His motto:  “If it isn’t fun, don’t do it!”  Perfect for my boy.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 7.11.11 PM

Finn’s darling Saddle Charm! You can do anything with it!

Missy Miss

f: 2010

Missy is a mustang mare who arrived here in August of 2016 from LIFESAVERS Mustang Sanctuary. She is super sweet, her coat is so soft, naturally and she has sunkissed California streaks in her mane! This girl is halter trained and looks to have a beautiful trot!  She may be my next riding horse – however I am noticing a huge stubborn streak and a tendency to buck – really high…!


f: 2005

Satchmo is our new BLM donkey! (f. 2005 – Virginia Range, NV) He came with Missy Miss from LIFESAVERS Mustang Sanctuary. We renamed him Satchmo because his bray sounds like a trumpet! Satchmo is the sweetest, nicest, most loving equine here! I cannot wait to get to know him better! Unfortunately, Norma Jean will have nothing to do with him… we are working on that.


Genius Bully Mare – Morgan Ex-show Mare – Daughter of Tess

f: 1995
Motto: “I want it, NOW!”
Registered name: Flaire’s Gwendolyn

1st foal of Tess, smart, gorgeous and 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 A beautiful Morgan mare... daughter of because I had lots of time when she was young, and because she needed it. I swear, 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.)

I tease about her, but I actually quite respect her. This girl is s-m-a-r-t. She totally understand English and I can read her like a book. She and I have a strong connection and I adore  her.

Oh, and she can dance… Gwen will follow my footsteps to a “T”!

Update:  Gwen passed at the age of 28 on May 9, 2023.  I am heartbroken.

Norma Jean

f: 1993

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. Norma 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.

Norma Jean is very expressive.  In fact, she has her own Facebook Page.

On the whole, her life revolves around the Shetlands who she adores – and food.  You should see her eat a grape.  Her lips are adeptly prehensile.


f: 2014

Dalton is a gift.  He was rescued during the massive Hallelujah Mustang Save of 2018 in South Dakota.   Dalton is a rare Gila mustang, originally from Arizona.

Dalton was brought to Sweetbeau Horses where he was gentled and trained.  I was lucky enough to adopt him in May of 2019.

Our hope is that Daton will be my next, solid and small, riding horse.  My buddy.  My partner.  (But first, my body must heal.  In the meantime, we are ground working like crazy.  Bonding.)

Dalton is very spoiled.  He has his own FB page

PonyMan Rocky Balboa

I am the King and I will fight until the death to prove it!

f: 2012
Motto: "Come and try to take a piece of me! Or just give me a treat and I'll let you live."
Registered name: He is probably registered as he is a fine specimen of a Shetland - and he has 3 brands. He was probably a great disappointment for his breeder as he cannot see well, which probably adds to his temperament.

Ponyman Rocky Balboa was rescued from a kill pen in Texas.  We think he is approximately 11 years-old.  Not sure.

How could a darling pony like him end up in a kill pen?  Well, he lost one eye and can’t see very well out of the other eye, he is bold, he is a fighter (hence the name) and he is too confident for his size which gets him in trouble.

I’m guessing, since he is so pretty, Rocky was purchased for a child, but was way too much pony for a child… and was passed around – he has 3 brands.  Every one wanted him, but no one could deal with him.  As it is, he goes berserk when he sees a farrier…

The fact that he doesn’t see well, which could have played a part in losing his eye – probably did not help his former career.

We adopted Ponyman Rocky Balboa from All Seated In A Barn rescue.  They felt that his looks were deceiving and that too many parents would want him for their kids, but he wasn’t that kind of pony.  I agreed.  Rocky wasn’t meant for a kid.  And he wasn’t meant for most people after whatever he went through in his life so far.  So, we took him.

I had hoped that Rocky would like Norma Jean, since she had just lost both of her long-term pony friends, but he didn’t.  He tolerates donkeys, but he doesn’t adore them – and Norma needs to be adored by her pony.

Welcome to the herd, Ponyman Rocky Balboa!


Princess Buttercup Pebbles

f: 2014

Princess Buttercup Pebbles is a gift.  He was rescued during the massive Hallelujah Mustang Save of 2018 in South Dakota.   Dalton is a rare Gila mustang, originally from Arizona.

Dalton was brought to Sweetbeau Horses where he was gentled and trained.  I was lucky enough to adopt him in May of 2019.

Our hope is that Daton will be my next, solid and small, riding horse.  My buddy.  My partner.  (But first, my body must heal.  In the meantime, we are ground working like crazy.  Bonding.)

Dalton is very spoiled.  He has his own FB page

Ethel Merdonk

I love to SING!

f: unknown
Motto: "If food is involved, I'm IN!"
Registered name: She is a domestic donkey. History unknown, but she lived a long life before finding us...

Ethel Merdonk loves to sing.  (Ethel Merman video linked here.)

The issue is that she is a very exuberant vocalist, however, she actually sounds like Chewbacca.  I mean, exactly like Chewbacca.  The neighbors are not pleased.

But we love her.

She came from a kill pen in Texas.  I don’t know her age but I’m guessing around 25.  her neck crest is permanently flopped over because she has probably foundered in the past.  Yes, this girl LOVES TO EAT (and sing).

Welcome to the herd, Ethel Merdonk.



f: 2018
Motto: I can do that... for a treat!
Registered name: He's half Gypsy Vanner and half Hackney Pony (we did the DNA). No registration

Dominic was born on an Amish farm in Ohio.

He came into the hands of professional trainers who give extensive lessons to horses in hopes of selling them for top dollar at high-end horse auctions.  These premium auctions show the horses over 2 days (online and in person) where you can view them displaying their talents as well as view their medical reports, X-rays and whatever else you might want to know… you can even hire people on the ground to review the horse in his/stall and can hire a local vet to run drug tests, although all horses are drug tested on site.

So, it is as legitimate as all horse trading could be.

I had been hunting for a trained trail horse and found Dominic’s video.  After that, I signed up for the auction and took my chances!

And, I won him!  Here is his story.


f: 2014

ISABELLE, named by Hubby.

Isabelle was without a person of her own, living at Loomis Basin Equine Hospital.

I went to Loomis Basin Equine Hospital a lot when we first moved back to Grass Valley.  Wrigley was in intensive care for a week, then Beautiful Girl was rushed to the hospital with twisted gut, and finally, Gwen passed.

So, I was ripe to take home a homeless horse.  Besides, she looked a bit like a Morgan.  She had a Morgan eye.   Isabelle was offered to me, and I agreed.

We are now learning about Isabelle.  She has yet to come out of her shell.  But we have done her DNA and found out that she is half Morgan and half Standardbred!  What an unusual combination!

Welcome to the herd, Isabelle!


Registered BLM Gelding

f: 2007
Motto: “I’m not sure about any of this… but I am sure of myself.”

I adopted Rojo from the Prisoner Trained Mustang Program in Carson City, Nevada.

I won him by accident (I was trying to up the bid on him and ended going too far).  Hubby thinks my winning Rojo was divine The harem. I didn't have time to work him after I adopted him so he reverted. Here is (from left) Gwen, Remi, Sam and Rojo.intervention.  Everyone thinks he looks like my long lost bestie, Aladdin.

Rojo is short, stout, smart and loves to be loved.  However, after I adopted him, I became very busy with work – which allowed him to revert back to wildness with his harem of mares (Gwen, Sam and Remi).

So, I had to remove Rojo and put him next to Bodhi so I could work with him more often.  Rojo is my project hose.  I hope he will become my next, smallish but totally partnered, trail horse.  We’re working on that now…  UPDATE:  Rojo now lives at Skydog Sanctuary in Oregon.  Thank you, Clare Staples, for granting her freedom again.  My heart swells.


Obi-Wan BLM Mustang Mare

f: 1998
Motto: “Been there, done that but you can never be too sure…”

Caught in Oregon

I found Remi on a killer feedlot.  She was skinny, her feet were very long and she was headed for the long, horrible ride to her demise.

Remi was the first mature horse I had purchased 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.

Remi's brand. I rescued her off of a killer feedlot.

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.  UPDATE:  Remi now lives at Skydog Sanctuary in Malibu.  Thank you, Clare Staples, for granting her freedom again.  My heart swells.


Hubby’s horse (sort-of)

f: 2005
Motto: “Motto: “Wasn’t me…”

The Biggest unregistered half Percheron half Welsh Cobb (yes, really…)

Bodhi is my husband’s horse.  He is a Percheron/Welsh Cobb cross.  Yup.  The Percheron jumped the fence.  UPDATE:  Bodhi now lives with our friend, Monique, and he is ridden often.  Bodhi loves Monique and the feelings are mutual.

He loves to suck on his water mister... a character.

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.

Bodhi is a great match for my husband and a really solid, good guy.  He loves Remi and is best buds with Rojo.  He also has a love/hate relationship with Gwen.  They fight, they makeup, they fight, they makeup…  and so it goes.

Bodhi is now living and taking many riding adventures with our good friend.  They adore each other.


f: 2011

Annie came to us quite unexpectedly. She was part of a 56 horse Drop in the Bucket Fund save – but Annie lost her foster home at the last minute. The rescue organizers asked if I could house her and 4 hours later, she was here!

Annie is half Percheron (other half unknown), unhandled and untrained, but she is a pure joy – as sweet as can be as she learns how to be around people. We believe Annie is pregnant, so the Spring might show us a Little Orphaned Annie!  Update:  She slipped her foal (probably due to initial poor nutrition and stress from the feedlot).  Annie is now fat, healthy and happy!

Beautiful Girl

Frack – Finn’s Sister

f: 2003
Motto: “I’m not afraid.”
Registered name: Bad News Little Bit

She, unlike her brother, is not so easy going.

Beautiful Girl is thoughtful and precise in her manner, listens very well and has incredible gaits – but a rocky canter.  She is an awesome gaiting machine!  Sadly, 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.

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.

Update:  Tragically, Beautiful Girl passes from adhesion colic (twisted gut) December 2022.  We are heartbroken.


Morgan Gelding – The Baby – Son of Tess

f: 2008
Motto: “Oh yeah… well, um… MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!”
Registered name: Mr. Wrigley

Wrigley is the last foal of my lead mare, Tess.  Wrig is hot, showy, fabulously talented, trots higher than his mom and has the This was Wrig's 2 year old photo - so full of himself!“Look at ME!” attitude.  Sigh.  I wanted an easy going, smallish trail horse and I got a HUGE show horse.  I’m not complaining but he is too tall for me, with an even higher headset.  Sigh (again).

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.  Well, OK, I know he is a bit irritating to the mares… ;)

Wrigley tries to act tough but as soon as he is threatened, he runs to his mother for protection.  And, of course, she gives it.

Currently, Wrigley is in training to become a good citizen on the ground.  Eventually, when he matures emotionally, we will train him to ride.

Wrigley really needs to be in the show ring…  That is his calling.  UPDATE:  No one could have predicted or prevented the tragedy that befell Mr. Wrigley.  He caught an infection that went to his heart.  The incredible team at Loomis Basin Equine Hospital tried everything possible to save him, but the strain on his kidneys/liver from the antibiotics needed to help his weakened heart, took him.  We are in shock.  He was only 14.  God took him to be reunited with his mother, Mama Tess on 10/20/22.


f: 1993

Slick, the pie-bald Shetland, came from a TB breeding farm.  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 to maraude down the aisleways.  So, I bought him and gelded the little stinker.  He was just 3 years old at that time and full of himself.  UPDATE:  Slick, best friend of Norma Jean and Dodger, passed in May of 2017 from Kidney failure.  God speed, little man, Godspeed.

And now, nothing has changed.

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…).He is still a little stinker but I love him.

Update:  Our beautiful Slick passed 4/16.  Dodger, Norma and I were absolutely devastated.  He had kidney failure.


f: 1982

Dodger dodged a bullet. I got him from a feedlot when he was just 3.   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).  UPDATE:  Dodger, best friend of Slick and Norma Jean (and best, most polite Shetland ever, passed away April 2021.  My heart was broken and so was Norma Jean’s.  He was 40 years old.

And, I expect from his attitude and the way he hates kids, he didn’t make his proprietors happy.  So, he was at the auction.  I got him for $26.50, his meat price.

Dodger is still very aloof with most humans.  But to me, he is so sweet and affectionate.  He’s a good boy and does whatever he is told.  However, when he is loose with the big horses, he will try to beat up Bodhi and chase the girls.  I have to be careful with him, little bugger.


Wild Mare

f: 2003
Motto: “I’ll be good but I still don’t have much use for Humans…”

She was caught as an estray.

I rescued the malnourished, very skinny, wild/estray Sam when she was 11 months pregnant.  She was on a feedlot, ready to take the long trip to Mexico.

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 intelligent in her wild ways, 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 her rocky pasture is the key.

I do have to say, in her defense, that the other horses seem to love her.  She was a great Mom to her mini-me foal that was adopted out to a lovely ranch environment.

Sam and I have an understanding.  She does what she is told and I don’t get into her space… although I’d like to.  UPDATE:  Sam lived at Skydog Sanctuary in Oregon for 18 months before she passed peacefully.  Thank you, Clare Staples, for granting her freedom again.  My heart swells.  Update:  Sam passed suddenly (probably heart related) with her freedom and friends intact at Skydog Ranch Sanctuary (Oregon) in 3/2018.

10 comments have been posted...

  1. Delrene

    Of course, you know I’m a huge admirer of your blog and all things related to your horses and others.
    I know you mentioned you don’t follow thoroughbred race horses very much, but just wanted you to know a lovely racehorse, very recently retired “Dullahan” had to be euthanized due to complications of a ruptured colon. So very tragic. They are so fragile. He was a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby Champion, Mine that Bird.
    Rest in peace Champion.
    Enjoy your blog every day. Looks great to me.

  2. Pat Albertson

    I’ve never read the whole bio… so kool! I still think the story of Finn and the cylclist is one of my favs

  3. Kay H.

    Love your work! This sentence about BG seemed a bit unclear to me:
    ” BG is and precise in her manner, listens very well and has incredible gaits but a rocky canter.”

  4. MaiTai

    You wanted feedback on the site so thought I’d tell you that you double pasted on the bio on Slick. Love the site and the blog posts.

  5. Minglong Hai

    Hello, I am looking for adopting a horse for myself. And could help me about it.
    I am looking for a Quarthorse or a Thoroughbred, and large. Because My height is 6’3.
    I had 20 horse riding lesson. so Please contact me thank you!


  6. Martin

    Nice site. Nice words. Nice horses…

    Isn’t the Internet something? Just stumble across your site because I was googling stirrups. I just got into this sport/lifestyle/Journey and want to eventually do serious trail riding, maybe CTR. So was looking for endurance style safety stirrups. I have EZ Ride stirrups on my boy now but realize I could get dragged if I came off.


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