Category Archives: Ownership

Thank You!

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. 

Thanks again!



Filed under Epiphanies, Gabby, Learning, Mopey, Ownership, Riding Skills, The Rider's Body

It’s Official

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.


Filed under Gabby, Mopey, Ownership

Breeding a Mare: Anyone? Anyone?

Now that I’ve decided that nope, no way, not at all would I ever ever consider stepping into the breeding arena, I’ve begun thinking about it.  I guess I hate the thought of missing out on something that I would always wish I’d done.  And one of my fondest memories of childhood is the time my mother woke me early in the morning, grinning from eat to ear, to annouce that our Siamese had just given birth to four little black bundles of fur. 

Now, there’s 3 pregnant mares at the barn who are due in April, May and June so it’s not like the Joy of Life is going to pass me by.  And considering how things have gone with Gabby so far, the whole enterprise of breeding her seems doomed to many, many medical bills.  And I have no illusion about growing rich or even recouping costs on the sale of a foal (which would certainly have to be sold because I cannot afford the board on two horses).

So, if anyone wants to tell me what it’s like (finding a stud, boarding or insemination, the misery and/or terror of the birth of an already large animal), please feel free to chime in with whatever you’d like to share. 


Filed under Ownership

Dx and Doesn’t Like to Load

No fracture but a big hot spot on a wither bone.  Saw the picture myself. She’s still running a fever, so she’s going on antimicrobials for a couple of weeks in steadily decreasing amounts to see how she does.  Also still on bute.  Prognosis for life:  Good.  Prognosis as a sport horse: Not so good.  I’m not very sporty either so maybe we’ll be at the same level of inactivity when she’s well?  I don’t know.  So often I do not understand what people are saying to me.  I look like I understand and I think I understand, but I don’t.

It took an hour and a half to load Gabby on the trailer and I was terrified the whole time, terrified that she would break free and kick someone to death or run over the top of him or her.  OK.  Terrified that she would break free and kick me to death and then run over the top of me.  The sight of a rearing horse, a horse sliding down a loading ramp, or a kicking horse gives me the complete willies.  She seems like a monster to me instead of just a horse.  She seems as large as Sampson, like she could break the pillars of her jailor’s feast hall and bring down the roof on all of our heads.

The hospital staff and Dennis did all the work of getting her on and I stayed out of the way. Well out of the way.  I could see from where I stood but I realized I was hiding behind people. I’m too much of a coward to be ashamed.

The method that finally worked was for Dennis to hold onto her halter while two vet school docs stood behind and to either side and kept tapping her on the butt with longe whips until she couldn’t stand it anymore and went inside the trailer.  Dennis said, “Are you going to follow me out to the farm?” and I said, “I’m going home.” And I did. I’m at home, roasting peppers for a nice little vegetable terrine. I saw her today, fed her some carrots, looked at her scans and x-rays, paid the bill, fed her more carrots, and I’ll go out tomorrow to see her. 

People can tell that I’m not very experienced (when I told the farrier that Gabby was my first horse, he looked as though he would say “duh” but God bless him, he didn’t) and one of the vets was joking with me about that, asked me how experienced I was, etc. And I  guess a  school horse is supposed to load well, which Gabby does not do. 

I keep hearing  more stuff that undercuts my confidence.


Filed under Gabby, Ownership

Gabby in a Pensive Mood

Gabby the Horse 

My Gabby.  My big girl. My three-buckets-of-water-a-day-girl.  My big, lovely, big horse whom I almost cannot believe is mine to care for, mine to keep healthy, mine to learn about, mine to know. My horse.  I have a horse.


Filed under Gabby, Ownership


Today was too cold to ride.  Leah called me — but my cell phone didn’t take the call and I got her message 3 hours later so I was at the barn anyway.

Leah suggested that we go to the inside ring and just kind of fool around together and for a few minutes I thought I might indeed do that but then thought better of it and instead sat down on a hale bale with a book and a rapidly cooling mug of tea and a spare cat and just looked at Gabby.  I called her name once or twice and rubbed her on her muzzle, then watched her outside as she ran around a bit with another mare.  They approached each other nose to nose, then were head to head as if they would both groom each other along the neck.  After that, they trotted back and forth and Gabby made some kicking motions at the other mare that were received with indifference, from what I could tell.  A few more trots back and forth across the sand arena produced more of the same.  I called her name once or twice and she looked at me.  That was nice!  And then it got too cold and I left, off to Christmas shop.

Perhaps sitting on a hay bale and looking up at her was not the best thng to do — she looked even more enourmous from that vantage point then when I  lead her by her halter. I watched the groom who took her outside. He puts on her halter and leads her out, no nonsence, one-two, one-two, and it’s up to her to watch her big head which clonks up agains the lower rafters.  She didn’t even spook when she clonked her head, just kept on going. 

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Getting Adjusted to the Idea

So OK. So I’ve wanted a horse since I was nine years old.  Off and on.  So now I’ve got one and guess what ?

I’m scared.  I’m really, really scared because I’m scared that I’ve done a very stupid thing.  Matter of fact, I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve done stupider things, WAY stupider (to which a sister-in-law says “Haven’t we all?” which makes me love her even more — I am lucky in in-laws, tell you what!) than buy a very nice horse.

Dennis, Leah’s husband, helped me with my most recent melt-down.  I do that far more than I’d like and I don’t really understand why I dissolve into tears so much.  Isn’t it a sign of weakness and what-not?  Shouldn’t I display sang-froid at all times?  Shouldn’t I fell sang-froid at all times?  Don’t you love that phrase?  My friend Margaret taught it to me many years ago, when we were kids, when we both wanted to be masters of sang-froid.  I should speak for myself.  I wanted to be a master of it (I was what, eleven?). Didn’t work then.  Doesn’t work now.

Yesterday, I went to visit Gabby and to lunge/longe/whatever her.  I got her into the cross ties, groomed her, put on her brand-new splint boots, headed towards the indoor arena . . .and felt myself going downhill. I think the worst thing that happens is that I feel like a fraud, like I don’t know what I’m doing in the slightest, that the horse knows, that anyone within a half a mile of me knows, that I have no business at all being a horse owner and that I’d just better give Gabby away as quickly as possible and content myself with toys, no more lessons, just toy horses.  Times like that, I feel as thought the sky is pressing down on me and I’m nothing more than the kid who doesn’t get it. I brought Gabby back to the cross-ties and that’s when Dennis came in and I said, “I can’t do this.”

“Yes you can,” he said, “She’s a very nice horse. She’s good. She’s a really good horse.  Come on.  I’ll help.” And so we got Gabby’s halter on her and we walked to the arena.  Dennis found a long whip for me (oh crap, I didn’t put it back, I just left it in the sand!  Darn but it’s easy to leave stuff lying about!) and talked me through it.  I got her going, walk, trot and canter. She dropped her head and went, went easier the other way even, and Dennis made sure it was OK for him to get back to work.

I was reminded — again — that whatever my feelings are, they are OK.  That I need to talk to the barn owners about them (the feelings) and not be shy about it. 

So I worked Gabby a little more then took her back, brushed her, painted her hooves with hoof-stuff, put her new blanket on her (and left the old one on the floor or something –dang it again! Jeez!), wrote her name with a Sharpie on all 4 of her splint boots, her lead, her brushes,her everything, got her back in her stall, gave her some treats, and thought I would collapse.  My goodness but I was tired.

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