Thursday 24 March 2016

Dear Diary: Let it be Spring. March 24

I’ve been juggling horses around between paddocks and turnout since returning from Arizona - and thinking about the relationships the horses have with each other, and the relationships we have with each of them. I bought a beautiful chestnut arabian last spring - well trained and the perfect phenotype for endurance - hoping he would be a horse for me to spend the next decade or so with.

Since I lost my magnificent Jaziret two years ago I’ve been at a loss. He was strong, tough, brave, we did thousands of miles of endurance together. He was my partner on the trail for 15 years. So it’s a hard act to follow.

The big red horse is a fine athlete but his ‘formative’ years were in a show barn where he led a sheltered life - stalls, arenas, and very little social interaction with other horses. He never quite learned that horses in herds fit into a hierarchy - there are leaders and there are boundaries that if crossed can lead to problems. He will challenge horses that shouldn’t be challenged, and he loves the mares and they love him (I named him Casanova) but sometimes they just have to tell him ‘enough is enough’ and this isn’t always gentle. This makes it hard for me to turn all the horses out on the range together - mares and geldings together - because there’s always the chance of a fight, which means there’s always a greater chance of injury to one of them. So I need to sell him to somebody who has a more controlled stable situation. He’s an absolute gentleman with people, but he’s a liability for me because of my free range situation here.

Since I’ve decided to sell him I’ve been keeping him (and the others) out of trouble by keeping the horses separated into little groups. Things are peaceful right now. Every day they get moved into the arena, or out on the range to graze, or into one of the paddocks. Handling each one every day has been fun - they’re all so different, make me think of the many horses have given me so much over the years. Life measured in horses - one day I’ll try to chronicle that.

The little herds of today:

Sunny - the Shagya/Arabian cross - she is John’s horse - she’s very special, very sensitive, requires a lot of patience (because she’s so ‘special’) but John gets along with her quite well - he even calls her Sweety sometimes
Phinnaeas - Connie’s horse - black, bold, tough - grandson of the Black Stallion
Dudley - the last of my Russian Orlov Trotters (my Orlov/Arabian mare and a Belesemo Arabians stallion) - one of the smartest,handsomest horses I’ve raised - but his bouts with laminitis and tendency toward metabolic disorder (which also leads to laminitis) resulted in a stalled career as an endurance horse. He’s making a come back though, years of attention to his feet, weight control measures and regular exercise with Merri have brought him around.

Stormy - Merri’s elderly ex-racehorse Thoroughbred.
Casanova - he’s quite content to have Stormy as his mascot.

Jose Viola - one of the more special horses I’ve had - he’s just plain fun to ride. He injured his back when he was 10, and now he’s quite sway-backed, but still happily goes down the trail. He’s sponsored many juniors and everybody that rides him comes back grinning.
Smokey - she’ll be seven this year, we seem to be understanding each other well these days, and she’s worming her way into my heart. For all of her quirkiness, she is one of the best rides. Still many years to build on this human-horse relationship.

These two aren’t home yet, but will be soon -
Derby - another horse I raised - out of a Shagya Arabian mare that I bred to a Thoroughbred (son of a Kentucky Derby winner so they say). She’s currently in training at Ted’s, I’m looking forward to getting her back next month. She’s a big bay beauty, born on a Super Moon.
Willie - the Standardbred off-the-track rescue - he’s a tall gawky thing, and I don’t know what sort of horse he will be yet. I’ll get him back from Ted’s next month too - his son Terrence is training him to be a saddle horse (rather than a sulky racer) for me.

and we can’t forget these two - they’re currently with a friend in Boise-
Krushchev - the Orlov Trotter wonder horse - the most amazing horse ever. He’ll be 26 this year - I’ve had him since he was four. Thousands of miles of fantastic rides and races - including the 2000 World Championship in France, and the 2001 Dubai Cup in United Arab Emirates. This horse opened up the world to me. He’s still amazing at 26, still bringing smiles to kids and adults both.
Batman - the big beautiful black horse that was to be my next career horse, to replace Jaziret. Persistent subtle hind-end lameness finally led me to find a home for him as a trail horse last year. That was sad, he was a fun bold horse to ride - he had moments of being a super-hero, but that’s kinda fun too.

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