Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cast of Characters - Part Three

No, I never got to the Christmas decorations.  The farm is a business first and foremost and the business end of it caught up with me.  Then, the evening chores had to be done.  So, horses are fed. The ones that come in at night are in. Bun-Bun has been fed. The dogs have had their monthly wormer. I'm squaring things away to shut down the farm for the night.  But, I promised you I'd introduce you to the horses before the day is over. So, let's go.

The Horses

Tar Heel (Tar) is a 12 year old Percheron. He's a French draft horse to answer your question: What the hell is a Percheron?  He's 1600 pounds of big black puppy love, but he intimidates the daylights out of most people.  I didn't name him.  I think his previous owner must have been an avid University of North Carolina fan.  Plus, he's black as tar.  Tar is very smart, even my large animal vet Mack says so.  Mack has no desire to mislead you about your animal.  If your horse is a useless tub of lard, Mack will tell you just like that.  So, for Mack to say Tar is very smart is saying something.  Tar gets bored because he's not being ridden right now. Boredom in a smart horse leads to mischief.  Tar loves mischief.  He is full of personality. Tar was my first or second horse depending on how you look at it. I've owned him since he was a 4 year old. He is spoiled rotten, which is not a good thing in a horse. It's completely my fault and I accept full responsibility.  Tar came along as my marriage was winding down. I poured a lot of emotional energy into him. I didn't balance it with discipline and leadership.  I've learned my lesson-- a 1600 lb lesson about love, leadership, and discipline with horses.  Tar is the horse I was riding six years ago in that big accident that almost put my lights out forever.  It wasn't his fault. According to my mother, I came to in the emergency room saying the same thing, "It's not Tar's fault. He's a good horse." I don't remember. I have about a week of amnesia around that accident.  No matter what's happened, Tar is still my favorite horse.  That tells you something about him, doesn't it?

Merry Christmas (Merry) is an 18 year old chestnut registered Puerto Rican Paso Fino. The Puerto Rican Pasos are considered the purest of the Pasos. Among Paso People they are the creme de la creme.  I inherited Merry with the farm. She's a retired show horse and was the number one horse in her association nationally at one point in her show career. She is an awesome horse!!! She is my favorite horse to ride. She's a lot of horse in a little package, as Pasos are small horses by nature.  She's my little Ferrari.  Even at 18, she rides like a 3 year old. Quick, quick, quick. I had no use for small horses or mares (female horses) before Merry and her sister, Belle, who has since gone on to her great reward. These girls changed my opinion and that's a hard thing to do.

Milagro is a 15 year old bay (brown with a black mane and tail) registered Puerto Rican Paso Fino.  She's a kid horse. She's not fancy like Merry.  She doesn't care. She thinks she's cute. Milagro is a very popular lesson horse. She has two favorite games she plays with lesson kids. The Back-up Game, where she inexplicably starts backing up without being asked.  Actually it is explainable, she's avoiding direction in hopes of frustrating the crap out of the kid. In her mind, the kid gets frustrated, the kid gets off, she gets to go do what she wants...which brings us to the second game.  The Let's Eat Game. Milagro eats like a little piggy.  She gets plenty to eat. She has a nice round belly, but she's always ready for more. Eating is her all time favorite pastime.

Big Mac is a 26 year old chestnut registered Quarter Horse. He's ancient. Horses live to be 20, generally. He's a great grandpa kind'a horse. Big Mac's very special, though. He's a retired show horse.  Most importantly he's my mentor's retired show horse.  They won many blue ribbons together showing all over the US on the American Quarter Horse Association show circuit.  My mentor, RW, lives in a mountainous area and Big Mac just couldn't take the winters any more. So, he retired him with me.  It is one of my greatest compliments to be entrusted with this noble soul.  Big Mac gives rides to people who are afraid.  He puts them at ease. He takes good care of them and in turn, we take good care of him.  I am blessed to have Big Mac on my farm.

Donkey Kong is a 12 year old registered miniature Mediterranean donkey.  He looks like Donkey in the Shrek movies. He has a lot of personality and was spoiled rotten by my cousins who raised him.  He's Big Mac's best friend.  His job is to keep Big Mac company.  One of my large animal vets, Cassy, refers to Donkey Kong as "Big Mac's Donkey." It's true, Big Mac does not want Donkey Kong out of his reach, not out of his sight, out of his reach.

Chief is a huge Paint. He's going to be 10 this year, so he's finally about to get some sense.  Well, as much sense as Paints ever get.  They are a little off. Chief is the third Paint I've owned and let me tell you, they are a few ants shy of a picnic.  My vet, Cassy, agrees.  Horses don't begin to calm down mentally until they are 10.  This is why this is such a big year for Chief.  The love of Chief's life is my barn baby, Cowgirl Slim.  Slim is 15 and all of a sudden in the past couple of months she's become a real teenager.  All of a sudden there's a boyfriend and friends and all that teenage stuff. Chief doesn't get as much attention right now from Cowgirl Slim.  Let me re-phrase that, Chief doesn't get as much attention as he thinks he deserves from her right now. He thinks he is also the love of HER life...which is probably true deep down inside her heart.  They are training to do the youth division race of the Extreme Cowboy Association. It's a bunch of obstacles that look like circus tricks to the average observer, set-up on a cross-country race course. They might just do it, too. It's fun for me to teach her. She's my best rider.  Even my mentor RW is impressed with her.  In the meantime, Cheif consoles himself with eating.  He loves to eat more than Milagro and will eat himself to death, literally, if he isn't put in his stall at night to take a break from the hay bale.

Shadow is a 15 year old black Tennessee Walker that I saved from a meat processing plant.  You read it right, Shadow was about to be hamburger meat for someone in India.  At the time I bought Shadow pound by pound, it was still legal in the US to process horses for human consumption as long as the meat was sold outside of the US.  If you don't believe me look it up.  It took the American Humane Society 15 years to get that passed by Congress.  They are now working on a bill that would make it illegal to ship horses to Canada and Mexico for processing for human consumption.  That's correct, the meat processing operations didn't close, they moved out of the country.  Shadow is a gentle giant of a horse who knows he's been saved. After a lot of TLC and tons of feed, he was finally nursed back to health on this farm and he knows it.  He's our most requested lesson horse.  He's just that good.

Speakeasy, last but certainly not least, Speakeasy.  He's an 18 year old palomino Quarter Horse-Halflinger cross. What's a Halflinger? It's a draft pony.  They are palomino, that blond color you see in horses.  Speakeasy is my second favorite horse to ride. Nothing scares this fella. Horses are notorious scaredy cats.  It comes with the territory of being prey animals.  Not Speakeasy. He's so solid.  That's why I love riding him.  I think he's easy to ride.  My students, for the most part, would say differently.  Speakeasy doesn't suffer beginners or fools gladly.  He reduces a lot of beginners to tears on the barrel course.  Why? He thinks it's great fun to knock over the barrels and play kick the can with them.  Because the students must learn control, I won't pick-up the barrels for them.  You see where this is going and how Speakeasy makes 'em cry, don't you?  Fools? Fools he just takes back to the mounting area to get off. He goes there, he stands, he waits for them to get off. He simply decides that some people are hopeless riders and he's elected to stop now. He's right, but we gotta pay the bills, Speakeasy.  Get back out there!

Ok, you've met all of the animal family now. I'm going to get cleaned-up and visit the boyfriend a while.  More tomorrow, I promise.  Thanks for reading! Good night.

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