Monthly Archives: February 2006

Baby Horses for Rescue

While buying a package of horse treats at Rod’s Western Wear last week, my eye chanced to fall upon a stack of flyers nestled in the big Western Stick-Style arm chair in the store’s foyer. It wasn’t anything fancy: Just a piece of 11 x 14 paper folded into thirds, obviously reproduced on a copier, complete with a cover photo of two young foals, one with a white blaze and one with a mostly-white face. It had the words “Last Chance Corral Foal Rescue 2005” printed over the photo of the young horses. I picked it up because I always pick up things like that; the funkier and more home-made, the better.

Inside the flyer were more pictures and the story of nurse mare foals, the by-products of mares impregnanted for the purpose of nourishing foals that are not their own. Fairly soon after birth, the still-nursing foals are separated from their mothers and the lactating mares are shipped to horse farms to provide nourishment for expensive sport horse foals. The sport horse mothers are also put back to work sooner since they have a wet-nurse to do the job for them.

So that leaves a spare foal floating around.

From what I’ve read, these “spares” are sometimes destroyed, sometimes sold for their hide, and sometimes sold in auctions. That’s where the Last Chance Corral finds their foals, at auctions and horse sales (see link in “links”).

LCC brings the foals home to nuture and raise. It takes a lot of work. Foals need contstant feeding and cleaning, tasks normally performed by the mare (I assume they need socialization, too, but I don’t know much about that). It’s 24/7 work for the staff, but they do it; saving, raising, and then seeing to the adoptions.

LCC needs stuff and they need $. I sent a check for $25 (I know; pitiful but so’s my personal cash flow) and I really want to visit.

I keep wondering: Could we keep a couple of foals in the back yard? They’re pretty small when young and we have a huge, fenced back yard complete with a shed that only holds the lawn mower and a few pieces of furniture. Couldn’t we just slip two in under the radar of city ordinances? Gosh, I mean, the back yard! I could go feed them and pat them, they could go into the shed at night, I could sleep in the shed with them, bring them hay, fresh water, their milk . . .
I joke. I wouldn’t do that to our neighbors. Sooner or later (probably sooner), flies would congretate and the aroma of horse dung would perfume our little corner of Mid-Century Modern. And it’s not what my husband bargained for.


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Wilco the Friesian

Yesterday, I had my second lesson on Wilco at my new stable, The Friesian Empire. I admit to two things — I was immediately entranced by the name “Friesian Empire” and I was equally appalled at the size of Wilco. My God, he’s huge! I mean — big!!! I’m not used to that! But then again, I’m not used to much.

As to the name, who could not be entranced by a stable with the word “empire” in the title? It conjures up so many images — a woman in a silk gowns riding side-saddle along country lanes as apple blossoms drop from trees — all of this occurring during the high Renaissance — while the noble steed carries his mistress safely. Yum!

Of course, we are in Ohio in mid-February and there are a) nary an apple blossom to be seen and b) the High Renaissance is long past and c) riding in a silk gown sounds like a terrible idea.

Wilco is still pretty noble. He’s all black with a permanently alert cast to his face and wavy mane hair.He also has a cute little handlebar moustache on his upper lip. Awww!!!

And when I first got up on him, I thought that I would die. His steps are huge, yea, for his trot tosseth me up and down in the saddle as his great hindquarters roll and swell, liken unto the waves in a vast sea in which I am but a light caravel; a boat made for speed not endurance.

But Amanda was right there on the end of the longe line, talking calmly making useful suggestions as we walked about in a circle. When we finished, I felt sad. I couldn’t tell why until I made myself think about it for a moment; I missed my former teacher, Laura, who took a job out of town, and busy little Vegas, the plucky mare I rode for three months at my weekly lesson in Delaware.

Yesterday’s lesson was much better. Amanda dug out a dressage saddle for me for my second foray on Wilco. Ooooh my! I’d never experienced a dressage saddle before and I’ve got to say, I liked it fine! It was so nice, wide and big. It had a little handle-grippy thing on it too, which I didn’t use. I did, however, use Wilco’s mane as we trotted.

And we did trot. I was better at giving him commands, better at remembering to ask with my legs rather than haul on his mouth — after all, who will win a pulling contest? The smart money’s on Wilco — better at getting his attention so he doesn’t spook, and better at sitting back at the trot rather collapsing into the semi-crouch in a useless attempt at protecting my internal organs.

Isn’t it great that things get better?


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Horse Lessons

I started taking group lessons in 2004 when a flyer for a local adult education program chanced into our mailbox. I started looking at the art classes first because I have splendid memories of the art classes I took as a child and a teenager, most of which were the result of scheduling conflicts. There were a few that caught my eye, like the Altered Books class. I’ve always wanted to get a foundation in drawing and that got my attention too. So I kept flipping through the brochure when I saw it — Adult Riding Lessons. My God.

I put the brochure down, picked it back up, looked at the price, thought it reasonable, looked again, put the brochure down, warily circled the table, got out the checkbook, worried about what my husband would think, thought, “Dammit! No one can stop me!”, realized that no one was trying to stop me (much less my husband) — and then started to think seriously about it.

Horseback riding lessons. When was the last time I’d ridden a horse? Well, about 3 years earlier, during temporary and swiftly abandoned incarnation as a travel rider, I had a miserable experience on an excited creature with a big ugly wound on its neck. Horseback riding was one of the activities offered to tourists and since we were writing about the tourism stuff, we got to do it. Yes, we were on the beach and in Florida, but it was still awful. I couldn’t control the horse worth a damn and he knew it. All I could do was hang on and I hate just hanging on. I’m so completely sure that I’m going to die that I can’t enjoy myself (the theme of “I’m going to die” will resurface time and again in this blog). And to prepare for that experience, my friend Celia had graciously taken me riding at my request — where all I could do was hang on and be sure that I was going to die (see?).

So I asked my husband if it was OK with him. He looked at me like I was more than slightly addled for asking permission and then said, also graciously, “Go ahead, honey!”

I’m fortunate to have such gracious friends, such a gracious love, such people in my life! And fortunate to be on a mailing list for the Upper Arlington Adult Lifelong Learning Program! And so fortunate to have $ in the checking account! Doesn’t take much sometimes, you know, to get back on board with a dream.

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Pictures of Horses

Isn’t she pretty? She has a sensitive mouth and sides. She’s about 17 years old.

She’s not mine. Not even close.

Her image is part of my collection of horse pictures, collected in an ever-lengthening Wish List. I troll one particular Internet address for horses; horses for sale, horses for lease. I keep pictures of the ones I want to buy, even though I am so far from buying my own horse that it isn’t even funny.

I feel like a cyber stalker of horse images, a fetishist who is for now content with collecting and viewing her collection of pixeled images. Fetishist don’t require the real thing.

At least once a day and sometimes more, I visit my Wishlist of huge animals, wondering about them, wondering what they woudl be like to ride, to hang out with, to curry, to groom. Was the pretty spotty mare, a darling with a sleepy-eyed look, the one for me? She got away, you know. someone else bought her. But I have to admit, I know it was someone who could take care of her. The someone at least had a stable or a barn. A place for the horse to be with other horses, a ranch; something.

Anyway, Keo, the pretty Appy mare, is no longer mine to dream about. She vanished out from under me when she was sold, as much as she was ever under me to begin with. She was a dream and her owner kindly responded to my e-mails and my questions. It was nice of her.

Sure, for one wild moment, I thought seriously about making an appointment to see her. If I’d done that, then I would have been on the road to financial ruin as sure as can be. And good would that have done the horse?

There’s still time, I remind myself. Time and horses.


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