Gabby has bumpy things on her rear legs near her hoof. Of course she does. Naturally. I am so not surprised. She’s got bumpy tumor-y things that are causing her some discomfort when she moves, meaning that she can’t be ridden. Leah is talking about seeing if the girl can conceive and there’s a young stallion at the farm who I think is interested in doing just that (although Gabby’s unproven and I see no reason why anything involving that mare and biology should be easy). Gabby was definitely in the Top 10 Mistakes of My Life. I should never have bought that horse, I had no business buying the horse, I’m so glad she’s no longer my horse. I always give her treats when I’m at the barn because I’m responsible for her being there, but Good God. What next? Will she develop gill slits? Wings? Take up smoking?
Category Archives: Gabby
Yesterday we rode to music! Leah started working with another student on a show piece, so she had the boom box out in the arena and was playing some new-age, sorta Lord of the Rings type music. As soon as Mo heard it, he started trotting away — or as soon as I heard it, I felt happy and started telling him to trot without realizing what I was doing. “This is great!” I said. “OK!” said Leah, “Then we’ll ride to music!” Using her best Socratic method, she then asked me what I thought the benefits of riding to music might be. The main one I could think of is that it would relax me-the-rider, which it does indeed. Not only that but with the right kinds of music, you feel like you’re in a movie! And when a “canter” tune comes on, it’s very dramatic and all of a sudden you’re out there saving Ireland or Scotland or Middle Earth or something, surging ahead on your noble steed at the head of an invincible army or you’re delivering the message that will save the good people of Rivendell (or Union Center, Ohio) from a fate worse than death — heroic, know what I mean? Plus I got so into it that I think I was doing a bit better of a job of asking Mo to do stuff. By the end of the lesson, I don’t know what we were doing exactly other than some fantastic collected little trot that neither he nor I normally do. Leah says he never got that far in his training. Does that mean I was *training* him to do something in spite of myself? But oh riding him to music was that kid-thing, where you get all wrapped up in what you are pretending and you’re having fun pretending stuff!
Meanwhile, Gabby’s got a new official name: Avalon’s Fallen Angel. Isn’t that great? I burst out laughing when I saw the name on the white-board at the barn (something about vet certificates for an upcoming show) because it was just so darned appropriate. Gabby was born of excellent stock and valued at thousands of dollars, but she was moved about the country like a large and expensive piece of black walnut furniture that no one knew what to do with, like a wardrobe or an ice chest or a wooden commode chair that has to be made into something else since we now have built-in closets, refrigerators and indoor plumbing. She refused to jump despite extensive and special training, wound up at a teaching facility and then got sold to me, me who had some idea I could handle owning a 16 hand TB. She got sick, she pulled out of it, and now everyone loves her. I was so happy for her great new name that I made sure to give her some treats and rub her pretty, pretty head. The Angel Gabriel — a messenger from God who might have passed on to her earthly reward were it not for the efforts of many people and the plunging into debt of me with that horrendous vet bill. Ooof.
“She’s a nice horse,” said one of my fellow students.
“She’s not a nice horse,” I said.
“Yes she is.”
No, she’s not. Gabby is not a nice horse. She’s beautiful. She’s drop-dead beautiful. She has lovely eyes and a soft, soft coat and she’s just dazzling, dazzling — but nice? Nope. Not nice.
A couple of weeks ago, I watched another student chum, Audrey, ride Gabby during a lesson. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but Gabby did a strange little hop and splayed out her legs. It ended well enough and Audrey did not come off of Gabby, but she was a bit scared and made mention of her pounding heart. Later, during that same lesson, Gabby became overheated and did not sweat. Perhaps she forgot? Forgot how to sweat? Somehow, I wouldn’t doubt it. Audrey got her hosed off and all’s well that ends well and all that — but somehow this didn’t suprise me that the horse wasn’t sweating. Naturally she wasn’t sweating. Sweating would be too easy.
A few days later, Audrey was riding Gabby again. The lesson was over and I was on the ground when I saw what looked like a bit of blue fluff on Gabby’s face. Stepping forward to brush it away, I noticed that the fluff was thread — Gabby had a couple of stitches over her left eye.
What a suprise. Stitches over her left eye. Hm. Wonder how that happened? Did the horse maybe get excited and crash her head against something, eh?
A few days after that, Gabby bucked during a lesson and tossed another classmate onto the ground. I heard Betsy make a noise (a noise I have made myself) and then I saw her go up and then she went down, bam, on her left side. Hell’s fire. Gabby wandered around until someone could grab her. I hate to admit it, but there was no way I was going to get off of Mopey and try to grab Gabby — at least while Leah and one of the grooms were around. If there’d been no one about, I would have done something. So now Bets is up and around and using a crutch. As of yesterday, the doctor was thinking it was a cracked femur but Bets is thinking bruised femur. At the time of the incident, she was worried about going off over the top of Gabby’s head (I know this feeling also) or perhaps into the fence post, so she she tried to hang on with her legs while a much more powerful force of gravity was sending her onto the ground.
I’m sorry, but Gabby is not a nice horse. “Nice” is the wrong, wrong word. Gabby may be all gorgeous and stuff, but the damn horse is a pain. Thank goodness stronger and bolder riders than myself love riding her.
I want to thank everyone for the good words of support and encouragement as I transition from Gabby to Moe. You’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em, which is what my mom said when she retired from teaching at Michigan State University, and I’m glad I didn’t endure (horse-wise) the equivalent of an entire teaching career at a major Midwestern university in the department of American Thought and Language. Anyone out there teach English at the college level? Then you know what I mean. Hm, that was a long-winded way of saying that I’m glad I was able to pass Gabby along. And I’m glad you all thought it was a good idea.
Leah was concerned that with this step (selling Gabby to her), I would regret letting Gabby go; that one day owning my own potential champion would be an asset as my riding improved. She didn’t say that in so many words but between her concern and the comments of others, that’s what I take away from it.
I’m not a champion kind of gal. I’m low to the ground. I like small houses and small cars. I like shoes with a low heel and I like to sit on the floor when I work, knit, read, or watch TV. I’d like to sleep on the ground if it weren’t for the damp and the bugs. Oh, and the fact the ground is hard. I’m like water, seeking its own level, and Moe fits in with that philosophy while also affording me a chance to ride.
Gabby is now the property of my barn. I visited her Tuesday, when it was still insanely warm around here. She was out in a field with three other bay mares and boy, did they ever look pretty! They looked like a chorus, all gracefully picking their way across the fresh, warm ground and nipping at grasses clover. She looked up as I came up (they all did), then went back to her grazing.
And I am now the proud full-lease lessee of Mopey. Turns out his name is short for Mr. Mistoffelees. I don’t know if his owner named him for Old Scratch or for T.S. Eliot’s clever cat. It’s funny; crooked little Moe with such an imposing official name. He’s still fuzzy as can be so I whacked away at his hair with the shedding brush. He needs serious clipping, although his hair is rather long and I’m sure it will gum up the works of any clippers used at this stage. Really, Moe’s grooming has been a group effort. At least three of us have taken a turn in major hair removal. The worst of the stuff is nearly off. I think. I hope. It’s hard to tell in the moment of grooming as horse hair flies up the air and up one’s nose.
Any way, I like this. I like knowing Moe is being taken care of by me. I feel warm and fuzzy and like I’m doing a good thing. I’d be out there today brushing him some more except that a bit of work came up and I need to do it by tomorrow morning.
It’s about Gabby because the time has come to talk about cabbages, kings, and her future.
On one hand, Gabby was not the best idea in the world for me. I made my decision to buy her before I’d seen her or knew much of anything about her (and I’m not an experienced horse person so I don’t have any business making decisions that way), I felt a little worried (OK, a lot) about her size when I first saw her, and after I’d said yes I started filling my own head with noise about how it was going to be fine, I’d adjust to her size, I’d learn all about her, we would be great friends, everything would be swell (Gosh, she’s big and I’ve got a fear of heights . . . ), isn’t she beautiful and she’s an awfully nice horse etc etc etc.
And the first times I handled her on my own, I was scared to pieces. Subsequent times, I was also scared. A few times I got into the stall with her and I burst into tears right away. And then she got sick.
But if I hadn’t bought her and she’d had her symptoms in her previous home, she probably would have been put down. She was being culled from the school’s herd anyway due to her inability/unwillingness to jump and her fever would have been the icing on the cake (I also think Gabby was waiting until she was someplace safe before she let down her guard and stopped fighting the infection in her withers which had to take its course eventually). And it wasn’t just me buying her; it was a group effort to sell her and stuff.
So I saw her, I bought her, I paid for her vet care — and very soon she will no longer be mine and I cannot tell you how relieved I am. Leah is going to take her and work with her as she becomes sound, will make the decision to breed or not, do all that stuff. Leah knows what to do and I hope very much that Gabby will be an asset to the barn, growing in health and potential as bold girls win ribbons with her and as she throws lovely Appendix foals that will in turn win ribbons.
As for me and horse ownership . . . well . . . remember Mopey?
It’s time to take Gabby out for a little walk, a task I did not realize I was dreading until Leah suggested that someone else do it for her first time out in three weeks. Gabby will probably spook, start, dance, kick, etc which means that (more than likely), I would do the exact same things. I didn’t really know I was dreading it until I was talking to Dennis and when the subject came up and I made noises like “yeah, sure, I was thinking about doing it any minute now maybe,” he suggested I be extra careful because of the ice.
“It would be awful if she fell,” I said.
“Or if she fell on you,” said Dennis.
That kind of closed the book on the whole issue for me as my ever-inventive brain began to run movies of what it would be like to see 1200+ pounds of bay TB mare falling on me and what it would feel like to go under her bulk. I also watched “Night and Day” over the weekend, a bio pic about Cole Porter that is more true to its era (1946) than life (it leaves out the awkward bits) and the horse-falling-on-Cole-Porter scene (in Glorious Technicolor!) was also fresh in my mind. I was very very grateful indeed for Leah’s input about a more experienced horse handler (like Dennis) taking her out.
What I can do today is go out and ride pregnant Sadie who needs some work-out time (I did that yesterday) or Mopey Moe for the same reason. It’s nice to be useful.