Friday, February 11
The 'other' girls
In this photo, the canine girls were loaded up in Scott's pickup a couple days ago and we were all headed out to feed and open water for the equine girls and their pasturemates. It cracks me up that Lucy uses the arm rest. I don't know what they're going to do when they're displaced from their backseat by children.
In the foreground here is April, one of my girls. At 18 years old this spring, she and I have had a good run of 16 years together.
It was about this time of year in 1995 - in fact, exactly a week before I turned 11 years old - that I went with my dad and another man to the eastern border of Georgia to take a look at her. That previous Christmas, a couple months before, our parents had told us they would buy each of the three of us kids our own horse, and in the months following we got to help pick them out and bring them home. Turns out, we brought April home that evening from Augusta, Ga. And just look where she ended up - all the way from Georgia to the middle of Wyoming.
Although she has her share of flaws and bad habits - probably some due to both of our young ages when we started out together - she has been a good, faithful horse and continues to keep on working even as she ages, and we've always gotten along well together. She's responded well to whatever new tasks I've asked of her, and her best quality is her jog trot. I've never ridden a smoother horse. She's had one horse colt, probably about eight years ago now, and has survived one nasty wire cut that's left an everlasting scar on her left front leg. She still tends to be accident-prone, mostly because she gets nervous and panics easily, especially on surfaces she thinks are slick. And don't even talk about ice. And the only gelding she likes at the Association is Scott's big black Deets.
After much debate last spring, because of her age, I turned her in with Bob's young stud colt and bred her for a second foal this spring. Looking at her that day when we were feeding, I thought it looked like she'd lost it, but now looking at this photo, maybe she is still bred. I think part of it was that the other bred mares are a few months ahead of her, so compared to them she doesn't look very big.
Jazz, pictured here on the right, is my other girl. While I brought April with me when I first moved to Wyoming, it wasn't until a couple summers later that Jazz moved west. The reason I took her on was that she was extremely bored without any other horse company on my parent's farmstead, and that led to to her tormenting the cows and calves. What's a horse to do? She was at the end of my dad's patience, and I'm glad I brought her out, because I use both of them frequently, and they're each good at different jobs so I can pick the most suitable horse for the day's work.
I've also had Jazz since she was very young. We purchased her and her mother together when Jazz was a yearling, and she was my project when I was around 15 years old... I always forget exactly what year we got them. Needless to say, the older I got, and the more horses I rode, the more I figured out about training and working with young horses, and Jazz benefited from that. She has always been very trainable - that's why I chose her for the job of pulling our four-seater buggy. She's smart, and catches on quickly to new things. She's the first horse I figured out how to teach to pick up leads on command, and she yields really well to leg pressure.
Although small, and not the smoothest horse around by any means, she's a hard worker, and has a big heart and will always respond to requests for effort. So does April, and that's one quality I really like about riding mares. I'd rather have too much horse than not enough.
So, both of my 'equine girls' have been with me for over a decade, and they're not going anywhere anytime soon, much to Scott's dismay, who wishes I would get geldings instead. :-) On that note, although I'm in favor of horse slaughter as a way to control the populations of unwanted, unusable horses in this country, I'm also all for keeping quality horses until they're a ripe old age. My mares owe me nothing, and they will die of natural causes, or when health and/or age conditions dictate that the kinder thing to do would be to end their pain and discomfort after a good, long life. I have always taken the best possible care of them, and I hope that I get to keep them around well into their 20s.
Posted by Christy