I have to go to the dentist today, which is only slightly above “being buried alive” in my list of Things I’d Rather Not Do. So I am going to distract myself by fiddling with photos.
This is Honour, being shown how to hold reins. This is part of the group of pics I recovered from the old CPU. It was taken in 2004 when we went to my grandmother’s 90th birthday party in Minnesota. My uncle lives out there, in a huge gorgeous house on acres and acres, and his kids have some very nice horses.
My kids immediately requested a ride, and they got one.
Now if you are a clever reader, you know that we actually HAVE a horse. So why the complete unfamiliarity with basic equine stuff? Well, therein lies a tale.
I grew up surrounded by animals of the large variety. We always only had one (mostly outside, wandering unfenced, stinky) dog, which probably accounts for my rebellion in the opposite direction, but we had goats and sheep and rabbits and chickens and more goats and barn cats by the zillion and, of course, horses. Because my parents were both teachers, there was not a lot of money being thrown around, but they believed that having them was an important part of us growing up. So the horses we had were the ones that were being sold cheap, with pretty high mileage and usually an issue or two.
One such was Cinnamon, who came into my parents’ house when she was already 16-ish and had been used as an English pleasure school horse and had had a few babies. She is an AQHA with a pretty impressive pedigree, but most of that was behind her and she spent a few years carrying my little sisters around and occasionally dumping them on the ground when she felt like it.
When my parents moved away from that home, Cinnamon went to a well-deserved retirement at what seemed like a lovely home. And all was well… we thought.
After about two years, we got a phone message that pretty much said “Come get your horse, she’s dying.”
We were mystified by this and not a little alarmed. We pulled some strings and got a trailer and went to go get her. And yes, she was dying. She looked like a walking skeleton and she looked minutes away from falling over. She was 28, which is ancient for almost any horse.
Figuring that we’d be bringing her home–and by “home” I mean to my house, because we were the only members of the family that had enough acreage to even make such a thing possible–to die, we brought this sad rack of a horse home and put her in our backyard with the dogs. We had the vet coming to, we figured, euthanize her in a few days.
But since you can’t let a horse starve while it’s waiting, we threw a bale of nice grass hay in with her, and a few quarts of grain. And man, her eyes just lit up.
Next day, the hay was gone. So we gave her another bale. And even more grain.
And by the time the vet came, he just gave her her vaccinations and drove away again.
Over the next five months she gained almost 200 lb. She had to be moved out of the dog pen, of course, so we built her a shed and a fence. We cleaned out the garage and stored the hundreds of pounds of hay she was eating every week.
And that (good grief, it’s amazing now that I think of it) was almost two years ago. She’s almost 30, and looks like she’s going to live forever.
In a turn of events that is really quite ironic, when Cinnamon got her groove back she decided that there was going to be no more riding for her. She’s like trying to ride a three-year-old–she puts her head down and trots around angrily until she can scrape you off on a tree.
So no riding for my kids. Instead, they have the world’s biggest and most-hay-consuming paperweight out in the back, and they don’t know how to hold reins.
Although, remembering how I rode when I was eleven (hey, a creek! Let’s jump it!), that’s probably better for my blood pressure.
Edited to add the next day:
Eliza, my sister, wrote this:
“Your sister, the horse girl, would like to remind people that unless they know what they are doing, they should not give grain to a starving horse. As an addendum, we did give her those quarts of grain. About a handful at a time. Over days. Just so people don’t try this by themselves. If people are wondering why, it is because you can cause them to colic and die.”
Dude, way to harsh my narrative buzz. And, honestly, I had forgotten how we fed her grain, just that it seemed that she ate like–well, a starving horse, and we were shocked at how much she could eat. Eliza is definitely the horse person in the family, so whatever she says, believe. Also, stay on her good side, because she brings over wormer and saves me from having to do that nasty business every eight weeks. And sometimes she also brings pizza, which is not as useful as wormer but infinitely more tasty.