Gabe and his silly little boy antics have been hogging up this blog and I thought I'd spend a moment to shine the spotlight on the other two nags who share our lives.
I wish I had pictures of the other two, but alas, my camera finally, permanently bit the big one Saturday night. Yes, every single Halloween photo I thought I had of my youngest are all kaput. Blur central. And once I turned it off, it refused to turn back on, even with brand-new batteries. So, it now resides in the Dumpster. Hopefully I'll be buying a new, better camera sooner rather than later!
Chief is my daughter's buddy. He's a 25-year-old (or so) Appy who would hang the moon for her if it were possible. I don't know a lot about his history but I do know this: He spent most of his life on one of those rent-by-the-hour trail riding stables. I imagine he had to put up with a LOT of crap and bad riding and cowboying around in those days. From there, he was bought by the owner of the last barn I boarded at as a potential dressage horse. Nevermind this old guy was already 22 years old and had most likely NEVER seen a dressage arena in his life, that was his new lot.
And he failed miserably. He did not like to go in circles, he found it pointless. He did not, would not, lengthen or shorten his strides, he found it useless. He was completely befuddled by requests for any kind of lateral movement. He wanted to trail ride and just bop around without expending too terribly much extra energy. So, he came to us. He's one of those one-in-a-million freebies who are worth far more than their weight in gold. He and Kayleigh clicked and it's obvious he prefers her over anyone else. That kid can do anything with him and he never says NO to anything she asks of him. She rides him bareback in a halter, she pops him over little jumps and ditches, stands on him and lays on him with her head on his wide, spotted butt. She rides him up and down hills and dresses him up as an Indian pony. There are days when he absolutely refuses to be caught by me. He doesn't run, he stays JUUUSST out of reach, which is far more frustrating than those who run! But if Kayleigh walks out there, he's practically in her pocket and following her around like a giant happy puppy.
He can be quite grumpy and has earned the nickname Grumpy Old Man. He has earned his right to be grumpy, in my opinion, and as long as he's not nasty and mean grumpy, he can be as grumpy as he wants to be. He is definitely top dog in our little herd and no one gets away with crap while he's at the helm.
The old man will be with us until the day he dies. He's earned it and he definitely deserves it. He takes good care of Kayleigh and I think he enjoys his life of leisure and his job as babysitter. He's our go-to guy that anyone can ride. Quiet enough for beginners but he definitely knows when there's an experienced rider on board! He has been known to test and challenge the experienced riders just to see how much he can get away with. He's getting a little bit arthritic in his fetlock joints and his body creaks and pops regularly, but he's not lame. He's in good shape for an old guy and hopefully, he'll stay that way for many more years. But I keep a close eye on him to make sure he stays comfortable. Because as soon as he is no longer comfortable doing his work, he'll be retired.
Calypso is my husband's little quarter horse mare. She's 9 now and has definitely matured in the few years we've had her. When we brought her home she was fast and a bit hot and very, very green. She liked to go fast with her head in the air and her stop sometimes worked, sometimes didn't. The woman we bought her from sold her because she was scared of her and I'll admit, she could be scary to a timid rider.
I spent about six months retraining her and teaching her how to be quiet and responsive and how to spook "responsibly" if she felt the need to spook. She was a turn tail and run spooker, now, she stands and stares. She still has the occasional "OH MY GOD!" moment, but those are far, far fewer than they were two years ago. When she spooks she has the tendency to completely disappear from beneath the rider. I swear she comes from strong cutting horse stock....her whole body drops about a foot when she spooks and she can whip that front end around like no one's business! At least she doesn't run away from the scary stuff any more, she just drops and stares. She's still not as bombproof as I'd like her to be, but she is definitely better than what she started out as.
She now neck reins very nicely and I put a little bit of lateral work on her, mostly for Robert's amusement. He gets a kick out of being able to make her go sideways or do a slow spin on her. Her trot is the absolute WORST trot I've ever been on. Worst. Far worse than any bouncy little pony I've ever ridden! It's a whole lot like riding a jackhammer and incredibly uncomfortable to try to sit. She is built like a tank on peg legs...very straight shoulder, very straight pasterns and a bit butt high on a huge, solid body. When she does her nice western pleasure trot it's a bit easier to sit, but definitely not anything you'd want to ride for any kind of extended time.
Calypso is Robert's pocket pony and really adores it when he goes out there to love on her. She rests her head on his shoulder and stands right next to him practically begging for scratches and attention. She is fat. Too fat despite my efforts to slim her down. She gets barely any grain and only grass hay. What she REALLY needs is more consistent riding and plenty of wet saddle pads. Unfortunately, Robert is a mostly a weekend trail rider, which is what he enjoys doing, but it's doing nothing for the fat nag he rides!
Calypso is the only horse on our farm that requires shoes. She has very thin soles and is practically dead lame on any rocky or hard surface if she's barefoot.
And you all know Gabe! I need to start thinking up a "show name" for him for next show season. I'd prefer to keep Gabriel in the name somewhere, so all suggestions are welcome. And for those who are curious, his Jockey Club registered name is "Stick N Rudder." *Gag* His breeder was a WWII pilot. Explains the name, doesn't it?