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Making a Case for Mares January 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 6:44 pm

I don’t have much to report on the horses. While it may not be too cold for them, it’s been too cold for me. Once the temps get below 20 I’m pretty much done. But it’s given me time to think about the horses, and it’s no coincidence that both subjects of this blog are mares. I like mares, and I don’t understand why people won’t even consider a mare when they are horse shopping. I hear over and over that people “don’t like mares”, and I really don’t like when someone advertises that a horse for sale that is “not marish”. Okay, so what exactly do they consider “marish”? They may get fussy or more difficult when they are in heat. Umm…how many women do you know get grumpy at certain times? You deal with it and move on. And most of the mares I have known have not been at all moody. Mares typically are smart…and opinionated. They make you be a better horseperson because they do not like being told what to do. They like being asked – or even better – make it think it’s their idea. So I ask again…how many of you (assuming most of you are women) like being told what to do? You get pissy about it don’t you? I know I do. I’m an independent, strong-willed woman, and that’s what many mares are. Once you understand and accept that, you can have a great relationship with a mare. Mares that are with you will give you 110%. Mares that aren’t…well…they can make your life miserable. (Just like us women.) Of course, also like women, mares typically don’t have as much muscle or are as strong as geldings. But unless you are riding at higher levels, that usually doesn’t come into play.

Back when I was still dreaming about owning my own horse I used to say that I didn’t want a chestnut and I didn’t want a mare. Well, my first horse was a chestnut mare named Posey. (I’d post a picture of her but they are all packed away in storage.) This was also probably the first time I learned the lesson that if you put something out to the universe, it will come back to you at some point. She was a wonderful first horse and took care of me on many occasions. My second horse was a palomino mare named Charisma. Yes, she was a blonde, but palomino is diluted chestnut. Charisma and I were like bickering sisters. We knew how to push each others buttons but we still enjoyed each others company. She was a drama queen, but incredibly smart and I often wonder how much better we would’ve been together if I knew then what I know now. Charisma had a friend, a roan pony mare named Minnie. They were quite the pair! Minnie was a wise old soul, but opinionated to the end.

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Several years ago I adopted another pony mare named Snip and her filly, Promise. Snip has one of the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen in a horse. She is an incredible mother and is currently taking care of a little boy. She is very kind and sweet, and would never make an aggressive move towards you, but she has her way of letting you know she is displeased. She will turn her back to you and “give you the butt”. She doesn’t do anything. Just turns her back to you. I found it hysterical.

Her baby Promise is something special. Extremely smart and a total princess diva. I often thought she was Charisma reincarnated. She’s as pretty as she is talented and she knows it. Currently she is loved and spoiled by a young lady in Connecticut. They are a wonderful team.

 

 

 

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My most recent horse is Nadia, an Arab/Warmblood cross. Nadia’s personality is all Arabian, which means she’s personable, friendly, smart and wants to be with people. I got her last year with the intention to sell her. Of course, we clicked and I ended up buying her myself. When Nadia came to me I could tell she so wanted to bond with someone. Now that we have she is just wonderful. It’s the best relationship I’ve had with a horse, mare or not. Of course, all the other mares (and geldings for that matter) have taught me so much that I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. This means I’m much better at communicating with horses than I used to be so the ones I’m working with now reap the benefits of my increased knowledge. In addition to Nadia I work with Bahea, Gwen and a friend’s mare named Ellie. I will say that Ellie is the most moody of the bunch when she comes in heat. She gets very fussy, but I chalk it up to being in heat and know that there will be better days.

 

Now don’t you have friends or family that fit the basic descriptions of these horses? Don’t you learn how to adjust to be friends with them? It’s the same thing as working with a mare. So give mares a chance. One may turn out to be your BFF.

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Introducing Bahea January 21, 2014

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I have another horse to play with – a 17-year-old Arabian mare named Bahea. Now…let me start by saying that Bahea is NOT a rescue. She was a youth dressage/jumping horse that’s been hanging out in a pasture for several years. Her owners were getting out of the Arabian business and looking for homes for their horses. Bahea’s first stop as a horse for an at-risk youth program didn’t work out (through no fault of her own…she just wasn’t the right fit). I offered to take her, get her back into riding shape and look for the right person for her. She definitely has some training on her. She does lateral work VERY easily! I can see her being a good horse on which to learn, but she is sensitive, so she is not a beginner horse. I don’t think she would do anything bad (she is a total sweetheart), but I think she would end up going this way and that as she is very responsive to the leg.

Bahea was bred to be a race horse, although she never did. Her sire is Virgule Al Maury, an imported French-bred Arabian stallion who has been one of the most successful French sires in the United States. (http://www.lonechimneyranch.com/virgulealmaury.html) At age 25, he’s still standing stud in Oklahoma. Her dam is a Polish-bred mare named Bintkana (Pierrot x Baska Lana, by Cytrys). Bahea has more of the Polish build to her. She is relatively small and compact, but she has the chestnut coloring with chrome that her sire is known for passing along.

Bahea is very sweet around people…and very food motivated. She barely leaves a scrap of hay behind. The barn manager at Windy Oak mentioned that they just need to figure out what is the right amount for her. I said that she’s the kind of horse that will eat as much as you give her. Hence the considerable hay belly. (Don’t let that picture at the top fool you. She only looks narrow there.)

Bless her heart she is a trooper. I rode her once before taking her so it’s not like she knows me. Last Monday we loaded her up and hauled her to her new residence, Windy Oak Farm (www.windyoakfarm.com). She loaded and traveled like a pro, settled right into her stall and started munching hay.  The next day I led her around the indoor, outdoor and outdoor jumping arenas. Other than looking around with the occasional whinny, she was quiet. Thursday she had her feet done and Friday she had her teeth done. She handled it all with the professionalism of a quietly confident mare that’s been through this a time or two.

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On Saturday, I got on and walked her around the indoor arena. Since she hasn’t been in regular work for several years, I want to bring her back slowly. She does need some work with bridling as she swings her head around. Otherwise she is good in the crossties. She stood quietly to be mounted at the mounting block, but was hollow initially under saddle, and she did get spooky by the open door. Her trick seems to be coming to a dead stop and then backing up. She goes forward with some persuasion and after a few times of confidently riding her past it, she was fine. I’m still not sure if she is really afraid or is testing me. Probably a bit of both. Eventually, she did relax some and stretch down with her head and neck. We did large circles, diagonals, and 3-loop serpentines. It was fine for the first day back.

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I was told by more than one person that she is an alpha mare (she is a chestnut Arabian after all…). So far, however, my mare Nadia is keeping her away from the other horses. Watching herd dynamics is fascinating. Bahea is keeping a respectable distance so far, but I suspect she is buying her time. I look forward to getting to know this mare better and finding the perfect match for her. I think she’ll do great with a small adult or teenage girl who wants to learn lateral work. She still has many good years left to give and she deserves to find a person of her own.

 

One Door Closes, Another Opens January 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 5:44 pm
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I haven’t seen Gwen since before Christmas. The holidays, sick parents requiring my attention, and oh yes…the weather, have kept me away. But I did give Debra and Gwen a gift for Christmas. I’ve known for some time what I was going to do, but I had to wait for the right time. What better time than Christmas? Debra and I went into this venture to find Gwen a permanent, loving home. It became obvious to me after a couple of months that Gwen already had her permanent, loving home. Debra adores Gwen and Gwen is quite smitten with Debra. Not to mention that Gwen is very happy where she is. She has lots of horsey friends, plenty of turnout, more than enough hay (judging by her hay belly), and a treat that is never far away. Could we really find a better situation? I doubt it. So for Christmas I gave my “share” of Gwen to Debra. Okay, obviously I’m not a horse trader. Nor am I in this to make money. But that’s okay. What I am in this for is to spread the word about the value of Arabians and part-Arabians, work with horses and people who want to learn, and do my part in finding the right match for a person and a horse needing a good home.

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Could Gwen be any more content?

Although Gwen is technically the “One Door Closes” in this title, the door really isn’t closed. I will still be around her regularly (just as soon as the weather improves), and certainly if Debra finds another perfect person for Gwen she can move her on. But for now Gwen is happily staying at Windwood Farm. Perhaps that is what she (Gwen that is) had in mind all along. And of course I will still update people on how she is doing, but (as the title implies) I already have another project. Her name is Bahea and she is a very sweet Arabian mare. But more about her next time.