Wild rides!

I’ve been on numerous wild rides with Merlin since I wrote last.  Gosh, he’s a fun horse to ride.  He just goes, and goes, and goes and goes.  It’s wonderful.  He’s brave (or stupid) as can be when it comes to difficult crossings.  When the other horse we are riding with (I have several different people that I ride with) won’t cross, I send Merlin on and off we go.  On Saturday I rode with a man who boards his horse up at the stable.  There was a brook crossing with a piece of black drainage pipe in the middle.  He said his mare won’t cross that unless he leads her across.  I headed down with Merlin.  He put his head down, snorted and then leaped across and barreled up the hill on the other side.  This was not a planned ride and I didn’t take the time to put on my boots; which was a stupid thing because I lost a stirrup, then a shoe.  The man (his name is Scott) nice enough to get off his horse, retrieve my shoe and put it back on.

Later in the ride we had another exciting scary episode.  We were riding along the edge of a pasture.  I turned Merlin to circle back because we were getting too far ahead of Scott and all four legs went out from underneath him.  I stayed as still as I could in the saddle and within seconds, Merlin got his feet back under him.  As soon as we got home, I gave him a dose of Arnica and he seems fine.

It rained most of the day on Sunday so Wally and I pretty much stayed inside and made like lazy bums.

The big news is that we have a new addition here at Spellcast.  Early last week, my landlady forwarded me an e-mail about a woman who had died and the family was trying to place the animals.  The surviving husband was too ill to care for them.  The contact person on the e-mail was her son named Randy.  The animals consisted of several dogs and cats, a bunch of chickens and seven or eight horses.  The horses were all Arabians, which was tempting, but they were all in the mid to late 20’s and one was over 30.  I contacted Randy about the chickens, but they were already spoken for.  Then I discovered that the Arabians were from Blue Star desert-bred Al Khamsa Arabian lines, a particular line of Arabian that never really gets old, they keep going and then they die.

I tracked down Randy’s telephone number and talked to him about the horses.  He said that yes, they were old on paper, but that if you didn’t know how old they were, you would think they were still very young horses.  He said his mother took very good care of them and that they were all very good tempered.  I made arrangements to go out and look at them Saturday morning.

As it turned out, the horses were stabled less than five miles from where we live.  We see them from the road when we drive towards Maiden (I drive to Maiden quite frequently to get to both the venison and beef processor).  I didn’t know they were Arabians because whenever I drove by, their heads were down.

While they all looked many years younger than what they were, some of them were in rough shape.  All of the gray horses had cancerous skin lesions.  I did a bit of research on skin in horses and learned that the lesions are often worst around the anus area.  One of the horses, an Arabian/Morgan X had huge tumors on her anus which were interfering with her defecating.  Not good.  There was a gorgeous gray mare in a round pen, who had some tumors, but nothing too terrible.  She had hoof cracks which was what concerned me more.  As it turned out, it was a good thing that I didn’t think more about this mare as the reason why she was in a round pen rather than out with the other horses was because she was a vicious kicker.  When we came back a second time, she was kicking the crap out of the round pen.

There was a gray gelding separated from the rest of the horses as well.  Apparently he was once a dressage horse.  He had numerous lesions and was still acting a lot like a stallion.  He was the oldest horse in the bunch.

We then went down to the pasture.  As soon as we went through the gate, all of the horses in the pasture came running towards us.  In the lead was a striking, coal black gelding.  The only white on him was a white snip on his nose.  He looked like the horse in the Black Stallion movie.  I said to Wally, that’s the one I want.  I’m sure at that point, Wally was cringing as this horse was big and full of himself.  As it turned out, he was already spoken for, which is probably a good thing because even though he was 17, he acted like a two-year old.

We looked closer at the other horses.  There was a tailless speckled gelding with a lovely temperament.  Apparently when he was a young horse, he had diarrhea so bad, it rotted his tail off.  That is unfathomable to me, but apparently it is not uncommon.  He still had some diarrhea so I didn’t look further at him.  The Arabian/Morgan X with the large rectum tumors was in this pasture.  In addition, there were two black mares.  One named Maggie and the other Dream.  All of the horses were very easily handled and, except for the younger gelding, calm.  Maggie had bad hoof cracks and it looked like she had recently foundered.  We went over Dream with a fine-tooth comb and couldn’t find anything wrong with her.  I asked Randy to get me a halter and lead rope and we took her out of the pasture.  That’s when the 17 year old gelding really showed his spirit.  He did not want us taking that mare out of the pasture.

Dream lead out fine and when I put her on a lunge line, she lunged like she had been doing it on a daily basis, which I know she had not.  For an older mare, her teeth are in great shape, as is her body.  She’s been surviving on just pasture for years.  Wally and I decided to take her home.  We went back home and got the trailer and came back.  At that time, people from Arabian horse rescue were there taking pictures of the horses and making arrangements for them.  I’m glad we got there first and took Dream.  She loaded into the trailer, again, like she had been doing in regularly.

She was shown as a young horse and as it turns out, my former farrier (I decided to try a different person when it’s time for the horses to be trimmed) trained and showed her.

Merlin was very grateful for his “girlfriend.”  He acted like stallion when he first met her.  Almost immediately, they were like two peas in a pod.  There hasn’t been any fighting, except for one mare-squeal when Merlin nipped her on the hip.

Two peas in a pod indeed, when Scott came out to ride on Saturday, it was quite a trick getting Merlin tacked up and off the property.  He didn’t want to leave Dream, nor did Dream want him leaving.  We put her down in their pasture and she ran the fence until she was covered in lather.  Merlin was very difficult to tack up and the ground was way too slippery to do much ground work.  Once we got the saddle and bridle on, Wally tossed me up in the saddle and off we went.

The rescue people took a few pictures of Dream while she was still at the farm, just in case she didn’t get along with Merlin or something else happened and I needed to let her go to rescue.  They do not do her justice.  Her mane was a matted mess.  Wally and I got that cleaned up on Saturday.  Did I say she was easy to handle?  She’s a dream, she really is.  I’m glad we have these pictures because they’ll be good before and after photos.

She is going to be drop-dead gorgeous when her coat sheds out and her health improves.  Right now she doesn’t look black, but that will change with good food.  I am told that she was broke to ride and in the next week or so, I’ll put a saddle on her and see how she takes it.  One of the women I ride with, Dawn, has been riding consistently for a long, long time.  She said she’d try to ride her first if I wanted to.

I rode with Dawn yesterday and it was a wonderful ride.  We went out on the trails where I rode with Scott.  Unfortunately, we got lost several times, but it was still fun.  Once again, Merlin leaped over the stream and barreled up the hill with me hanging on for dear life.  Dawn was all but rolling on the ground laughing.  Dawn pushes me to ride hard because she rides hard.  We had another scary experience when a thick vine got tangled around my saddle flap and leg.  Merlin kept going and part of my body got left behind.  When Merlin felt this, he spooked a bit and that loosed the vine.  I almost went off, but held on.  I love that saddle.  Our two horses get along well, which is very pleasant.  Scott’s mare was a kicker and would go out of her way to try to kick at us.  We rode for several hours.  It was sunny and 60 degrees.  The going was a bit sloppy because we got two inches of rain Saturday night into Sunday.  Today is supposed to be just as nice.  I’m hoping Dawn will be able to get out to ride with me again today.  It’s much nicer riding with someone.

When I got back to the house, I let Dream out of the goat pasture (I left her in there because if she was going to run the fence, the footing was much better in that pasture than it is down below).  Getting Merlin tacked up and off the property yesterday was much less traumatic for both horses.  I put Dream in the goat pasture while I brushed and tacked up Merlin.  She stayed close which kept him calm.  When I left, she called to him a bit, but nothing like she did on Saturday.  I road Merlin down into the back fields and Dream came along with us and she stayed with us the whole time.  This will be a good way to get her back into condition.

On Saturday, Wally and I picked up a round bale of hay and put it in the horse pasture.  It’s a good thing that they get along as well as they do because they can both go into the shelter we installed in the pasture to get out of the rain.  It’s relatively unusual for two horses to get along as well as they do so quickly.  It is as if this was something that was meant to be.  I really didn’t want another horse for the obvious reason: the expensive of feeding and caring for them; but both horses are extremely easy keepers.  They do not require much grain and right now, good hay is cheap.  The tack I have for Merlin should fit Dream.  The other reason I didn’t want another horse was the difficulty in taking one out and leaving the other.  Both reason are quite selfish on my part.  Horses are herd animals and they do better living with another horse.  That said, we’ll have to look into fencing the back pasture for the horses.  While I am home, I let them both out on the 15 acres the house sits on, but I won’t be able to do that when I go back to work.

Who knows what’s going to happen in the future.  I know that riding is doing a lot for me, both physically and mentally.  I’m sleeping like I haven’t slept in a long time and I’m meeting new people.  In fact, I think it’s time for me to unsubscribe to the Sheepdog-L list and completely close that door for good.  I’ve been closing a lot of doors lately, which in and of itself wouldn’t be healthy, but I’m opening lots of new doors as well, so I think it’s all very well balanced.

I’ve been taking Gel with us on our rides and he is in his glory.  He comes back muddy and tired.  I haven’t felt comfortable enough to take Split so she stays up in a run when we go. I wish she could go, but she simply can’t be trusted.  I don’t want to risk another fall, be it me or someone I’m riding with, nor do I want to risk her getting kicked.  I’m trying to get as many miles in the saddle as I can prior to the clinic on Saturday.  It looks like the weather is going to be quite tolerable, which is a good thing.  I’m worried about getting Merlin on the trailer; even though he loaded fine when we bought him, who knows what he’ll do on a day that we really need him to load.  If worst comes to worst, we can load Dream and I feel sure he’ll follow her right in.  It’s much easier loading dogs into crates.

Off to feed the animals.

Until later …