I know I haven’t posted as often this year and I’m sorry about that. Sadly, it doesn’t look like things are going to get much better.
Over the past few weeks I’ve slowly sold off my flock. Most of Blizzard’s girls are gone and more are likely to go soon. Several weeks ago my husband lost his job and at first I just sold a few to cover feed costs. Then a few more for bills. Soon I’ll have to sell more of them to pay a farrier to fix my horse’s hooves.
I recently separated StarBuck (yes, all one word) from my “neighbor’s” horses. He was being bullied by a mare in the ‘herd’ and at 24, Star is just too old to deal with a mean mare. The kicking and biting are too much for him. We shored up the fences to keep them out, got him his own hay bale, and got him out of the herd. That’s when I actually was able to see his hooves.
The mare- named Rose- is an attention hog and she rules her herd of geldings and her filly. She bullied the other horses out of their feed. She kicked out at them with her hind hooves, which are the ONLY hooves her owner shoes. She bit at Star’s flank and even reared at him a time or two. She was just awful to him.
She also made things really difficult on me. She’s not people aggressive. She just doesn’t want you to touch any other horse. I could never pull Star out to trim his front hooves. He’s barefoot only, so I don’t have the stress of keeping him shod. He keeps his back hooves in good shape on his own.
I also need to get a vet out to look at him, which I can’t afford right now, at all. I couldn’t get a vet to come out before now due to Rose. He probably needs his teeth floated (not cheap), his hooves need trimming, he needs a check up over all. It’s stressful. I can deal with parting with the chickens to pay for what he needs. I can’t deal with parting with him. It’s not even remotely up for discussion unless you really want to see me furious and fully willing to hurt someone.
In the end, I still don’t like selling them. They’re a link to my grandmother, who passed away in 2008. I probably won’t sell off the entire flock, but most of them will be going. It hurts, but it has to happen in order for me to provide my horse with the care he needs.
Back in 2001, when I was 11 years old, I was introduced to a girl just a little younger than me everyone called Angel. That wasn’t her name, but it certainly helps me now. For the next 4 years I would visit her often and it wasn’t because we were good friends. We got along, but friends would be too strong of a word. She knew why I was there and I knew why I was there and we were okay with that. I was there to ride horses and that was the only reason.
I stayed the night the day I met her because my parents knew her stepdad and my cousin was staying over as well.That night we built a fire (barely being watched over by her parents) and she took me in the pen to see the horses. I still have no idea why we went in the pen at that time of night, but we did. I walked up to one of her horses, talked to him, and completely stunned Angel in the process. She told me he didn’t let ANYONE walk up to him like that. She boosted me on his back and let his halter go. She put me in danger for her own amusement. Another reason we weren’t friends, but I didn’t realize at the time that I could have been hurt or killed.
Again I stunned her. I stopped him by pulling on his mane before he could take me into the trees. I had no idea what I was doing, but I still managed to stop him. The next morning we planned to go swimming 11 miles from where she lived. She only had 2 bikes, so she had her stepdad saddle the horse I’d ridden the previous night, whose name turned out to be Mister. They put me on his back and turned me loose. I’d only ridden a few times in the past. Once when I was 2 and my mom was with me and once when I went to camp several years before that. Again, I had no idea what I was doing.Her stepdad commented that I was a natural and that I’d do fine riding to the creek. I did more than fine.
I rode him all the way there with no help. The road we took is a dirt road that covers several miles and it’s really hilly. I walked him up the hills with my cousin and Angel holding on to the saddle and galloped down the other side like I’d done it my whole life. Angel took his saddle off once we reached the creek and boosted me back on his back. I got to swim with a horse for the first time ever and I loved it! We eventually saddled him and rode back to Angel’s house. I was so disappointed that I had to get off him and I was crushed when I had to go home the next day.
Four years later and over one hundred rides (sometimes on Mister and sometimes on another horse) I saw something that completely broke my heart. I hadn’t been over to her house all winter and spring. Summer had hit and we hadn’t seen them. One day they show up, sans stepdad, and ask me to come over. I stayed the weekend, just like I had many summers before. There was a pony I’d never seen in the paddock and horse I didn’t recognize tied out in the yard. The pony looked horrible and its pen was disgusting. But, that wasn’t what got me. What got me is when I asked Angel what the sweet horse on the tie out’s name was. Mister was her answer.
I had never seen Angel upset before and vice versa. When she saw the look on my face, she looked like she was going to cry. That’s when her mom told me what happened. Angel’s stepdad had left them and her mom had no way to pay for feed. She was doing the best she could. She couldn’t sell Mister. Selling a Mustang without its papers is illegal. I was 15 and I had no idea what to do. On the way home, Angel made me an offer I couldn’t turn down. Find someone to take the collection of dogs her stepdad had left behind and I could have Mister and the pony. Provided I could find someone to trailer them back to my house.
Over the next week I begged and pleaded with my parents. “Mister is going to die if we don’t get him!” I screamed a few times. “If you let him die it proves you don’t love me!” Sheesh. I was a brat during that week. In the end my dad made a deal with me. He said that we’d go and take a look and if he was in as bad a shape as I said, we’d bring him home. Dad called our neighbor (he owns cows near us and I went to school with his son) and asked him to take us to see them horse and pony. Off we went. My dad, our neighbor, and myself packed into a truck on a 30 mile ride to get my horse.
When we got there no one was home. I didn’t see Mister anywhere. Dad found the pony first. When my dad went in the pen it spooked the pony and he fell. Dad had to half carry him to the trailer. I found Mister shortly after that. You wouldn’t think a week would make a huge difference in the way he looked since he was on grass, but it did. He looked even worse than the weekend before. Our neighbor told my dad that if we didn’t take him, then he would. It was awful.
We loaded him up and dad left a note letting them know we’d stopped by and gotten them both and that a family friend would be calling them about the dogs that day. We had to stop several times on the ride home to make sure they didn’t fall in the trailer. We were stopped by the police when we were just a few miles from home. Someone had called them about someone hauling emaciated horses. We told them the story and they went on their way.
Dad unloaded the pony first. My mom was not happy. I unloaded Mister after that. I still remember her words. “That horse isn’t going to survive.” But I knew him too well. He’s a Mustang and he KNEW he was somewhere safe. Over the next several months we would fight rain rot and cattle lice while they gained weight. Mister was renamed StarBuck and the pony was named Cherokee. Cherokee didn’t stay with us long. We ended up selling him once he was in good health to a mini breeder.
Star (aka Pony Boy) has been with me for 10 years now. He’s been there for me through so much. I owe him a lot.
And so, I leave you with a 5 year old picture of me and my Pony Boy.