Friday, October 4, 2013

Still More Horse: Day 4 of Blog Challenge

Queenie's Foals:

Bold Ace: Born May 5th, 1976 and named after Bold Forbes who won the Kentucky Derby that day. (As a side note, I must have been given Queenie when I was twelve. Funny, I always thought I was 13.) He was out of a black QH stallion a neighbor had and Queenie was 5 years old when he was born. Ace was black with white socks, white blanket and a blaze face. He spent his early time following Queenie all over the countryside at the end of a lead rope and seemed to grow normally. At one we had the vet out to geld him and discovered he had only dropped one testicle. The vet didn't offer to go after the second one (we were not served with great vet service in Southeastern Idaho in the late 70's.) Instead, he took the one and went away. Ace dropped his second one several weeks later and it was during the time between when he dropped and when we had him gelded a second time that he sired Sham.

Ace grew and I showed him in halter a couple of times, then started him under saddle at three. I started riding him bareback with a pad and at that point I weighed less than 70 lbs. We moved him with us to the Big City and he shared a paddock with Shadow and Queenie at the stable we found. One day my sister and I went for a ride. We were out a couple of miles from the stable, in the middle of no where, when we found a wonderful lake with deep sand around it's edges. We got off and let the horses graze, drink, splash in the water and then roll. Ace rolled for a very long time. He went all the way over 31 times. My sister and I were laughing at his antics. He finally clambered to his feet and shook himself vigorously. I had no idea how dangerous it was to allow him to roll like that. When he got to his feet he was completely twisted inside and I had no idea. We started for home and an hour from the barn he stopped wanting to go forward. I had no idea what was wrong. We ended up dragging him behind Queenie, with his lead rope wrapped around her saddle horn. When we got to the barn we called the vet who came out, looked at him and told us he had ruptured something inside and was going to die. He got back into his car (he didn't have any veterinarian supplies with him) and drove away. I had no idea what to do. We bedded him down in a stall in the barn and hoped for the best. He died during the night.

To this day, I can't tell you why the vet didn't euthanize him at the point of examination. As an adult I know that the frantic rolling he did probably twisted his intestine while we were out on the road. I was seventeen at the time and didn't know what else to do other than to get him home. I wish now, that he had been put down immediately, since the insuing hours were deathly painful to him.

Shadow Dancer: was born in 1978. I had bred Queenie to an bay Appaloosa stallion owned by our neighbor. He was tri-colored when he was born with a blanket that started half-way down his neck. He had huge spots, some bright bay, some chestnut and some black in that blanket. He had a black mane and tail (truly, he was a bright bay with black mane, tail and socks), but his legs were truly unique. His black sock ran up the front of his legs. The sides had stripes of white and the back were black again. Vertical stripes, mind you, with a band of black that circled his leg just below the knee. I named him Shadow Dancer after the Andy Gibbs song of the same year, and to honor the fact that the little horse could dance.

I showed him in halter my last year in 4-H. We took the blue rosette at the County show, but the night before State, after I washed him (he had a lot of white to get clean) I rode him and Queenie out around the alfalfa field to dry him off. He was off lead and just following us for fun. He laid down in the fresh alfalfa and rolled. When he got to his feet his beautiful, brilliant white blanket was green. No amount of scrubbing removed the grass stains and I ended up showing Queenie at State. I was very bummed.

He was so good with me and was imprinted before I had ever heard of the process. I picked him up and carried him the first week or so of his life, every opportunity I had. It created a bond. I taught him to lay down on command and even after I started riding him I could stop, get off, lay him in the grass and then cuddle up against his belly and read. When I started riding him there would be points where he would freeze in confusion and I would stop and rub his forehead and he would give a huge sigh and rest his head there. He trusted me more than any horse I've ever had. I remember a time when I took my mom for a ride. She was on Queenie and I was riding Shadow out for one of the first times. We were having issues with our forward momentum. I was talking very conversationally with Shadow about finding his forward, which included a lot of colorful language. My mom told me to stop abusing my horse and I laughed and said he thought I was being nice to him.

I moved the horses from one stable to another (Queenie and Shadow). Shadow was coming on four. I had some friends who came out to meet him and inspect Queenie, who was expecting her third foal, out of an Arabian stallion. Shadow was standing next to the rail fence, dosing in the sun. I slipped onto his back and began harassing him. I was running my thumbs up his neck to his poll on either side of his mane (horses don't like this, in case you were wondering). He was arching his neck and letting me know to quit. I was being obnoxious and not stopping. He shook his neck and stepped into the rail fence. I lifted my left leg out of the way, resting my heel on his shoulder, and nudged him with one heel. Now, mind you, I didn't have a halter or lead rope on him and I was disturbing his sleep. I ran my thumbs up his neck while nudging him with my heel and he had had enough. The boy ducked his head and started crow hopping. (Not seriously. Just to let me know he was done being messed with.) I was staying on although I was way back over his hips with my legs flailing in the air. He was hopping across the pen toward the gate. I grabbed a handful of mane and yanked myself into position on his back, my legs around his barrel, and looked up. The gate post (huge freaking railroad tie) was coming at my knee. I reached out and put my left hand on the top of the post, swung my right leg over his neck and slid down, expecting to land on the ground next to the pole while Shadow continued his route across the pen. At the moment I was beginning to slide from Shadow's back (I was still in complete control of what was happening to me and in no real danger. I was still laughing in delight.) one of the women who was there with me lunged out in front of Shadow, throwing her arms up in the air and screaming HA! at the top of her lungs.

Why? I have no idea. I think she thought she was saving me.

Shadow, scared witless, spun on his haunches and launched himself away from the screaming human. As he spun, his rump caught my lower back and catapulted me into the railroad tie. I impacted, compressed and then slid down the railroad tie, managing to wedge a thumb wide piece of wood into the meaty part of my thigh. It was thumb wide and about nine inches long. Biggest freaking splinter ever! Ended up in the emergency room to get it removed. I did stop fucking with him, though.

I sold Shadow a few months later to a woman who wanted a nice looking riding horse. I needed to make room before Queenie had her final foal.They seemed to get along really well and the last I had heard he was going great for her, doing some cattle work and reining.

Kiki: was the final foal I got from Queenie. I knew Queenie was expecting and spent the night at the barn waiting for her to foal. By dawn, I was exhausted, filthy and starving. Queenie didn't seem any closer to dropping her foal, so I went home and showered. While I was gone, Queenie went down the hill behind the lean to and dropped her foal. It was born in a hollow in the ground and managed to roll under the bottom of the fence. It was out of Queenie's reach and still tangled in the placenta. Queenie went crazy. One of the other boarders heard the mare's frantic cries and came to investigate. She managed to grab Kiki under the front legs and haul her back under the fence to Queenie. She said Queenie was nickering and licking every thing she could reach in an effort to get to her foal. Queenie was super protective of her foal and hated having anyone around. Kiki was a dark bay filly, with a sweet head and refined face. (She got the Arab head instead of her momma's Roman nose.) She had great movement and a very sweet personality.

The winter Kiki was a baby, I had moved them both out of where they were being boarded, because the stable had been broken into, fifty or so saddles had been stolen and it seemed better to move them. The place I found was pasture only and not designed to hold the horses over the winter. I couldn't find any place close and in desparation I turned to my father's parents. They owned about a hundred acres in Rupert and I asked if I could house them there until the spring. My grandfather said yes and I asked how much I was going to owe him. He told me there would be no charge. I moved them down and released them onto the acreage. It was a long drive to see them, but I knew Queenie did fine on pasture during the winter and had no reason to believe Kiki wouldn't do as well. I asked several times what they wanted me to pay and every time was reassured I wouldn't owe them anything. On Christmas Eve, my cousin swung by where I worked and dropped off a package from my grandfather. It was a Book of Mormon and a letter. In the letter my grandfather explained that I was to read the Book of Mormon and answer a series of questions he posed to me as my payment for boarding the horses on his acreage for the winter. If I didn't, he would sell the horses at auction. I pulled onto his property less than eight hours later and loaded the horses into my trailer without speaking to anyone. We were gone without even letting them know. I left the Book of Mormon and his letter on the seat of the tractor and never again contacted them.

I moved Kiki and Queenie to a huge pasture about an hour away from where I lived. It was prairie land and filled with sage and lava rock and grass. They grew nice and fat from the food and Kiki started to grow. One day I received a phone call saying there had been a lightning storm the night before and Kiki had been injured. By the time I got out there Kiki was in pretty bad shape. She had gone through a barb wire fence and ripped herself up. Her chest was a mass of oozing blood and tissue, thick with infection, swollen four times its size. I remembered the story of My Friend Flicka and how the water had washed the infection from her body when nothing else would work. I grabbed the hose and cold hosed her chest for four hours. By  the end of that time, the swelling had gone down, the tissue had closed together and all signs of infection were gone. I treated the area with a huge slather of bag balm and gave her a shot of penicillian. By the next day the tears were starting to heal. Within two weeks the wounds were almost gone and most of the scarring was minimal.

I ended up giving away Kiki to a friend for her niece. Last I heard, she was a wonderful kids pony, enjoying life with a wonderful personality. She stayed small, never growing bigger than 14.2h, but was neatly put together and did great in 4-H. She was well loved until her riding partner outgrew her, but stayed in the family, until she went back to the girl who taught her kids to ride on Kiki's back.

So, I started with one shetland and ended up at the height of my horse ownership, with six. Then I was back down to one and finally, at the age of 24, I was horseless and living in California. Next up, the "other" important horses in my life. (I think we can finish in one more installment. I hope.)

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