Bay Girl left this evening. She was getting so close to foaling time that the owner felt it would not be prudent to wait until next week to pick her up and take her to the location where she'll be foaling out. I gave her one final bath today, gave her some love and cookies, and said goodbye to her. My heart hurts knowing that I won't be seeing her again... probably ever.
I'm really quite sad about the whole thing... Bay Girl genuinely seemed very attached to me, and I can't imagine she'll get the same level of attention anywhere else that she goes. Everyone thinks that their horse has a special level of attachment to them, but in this case she genuinely seemed to enjoy my company. It wasn't about cookies or snacks, it was about companionship. She actively sought it out from me, and would leave her herdmates to come find me and be with me. She just started giving me reciprocal grooming whenever I'd scratch her shoulder... I love that. (Even though she liked to use her teeth a bit.) I've never seen her groom any of her herdmates either, so this was specially reserved for me.
I got to leave work early today, after her bath was complete, and went out to her field to say goodbye to her. When I got in my truck to leave, I made a momentary stop next to her pasture fence to get one last picture of her out grazing with her girls. To my surprise, when I rolled down my window to take the picture, she turned around and came right to the pasture fence, starting at me through my window:
Sweet girl. I sure am going to miss her. Even my boss commented on how connected she was with me.
I truly don't know if I will ever get to see her again.
Poor Pangea. When she tumbled off the trailer onto Texas soil, she had no idea she'd fallen into the snares of a grooming maniac. (No seriously. Gogo used to walk out of her stall completely ungroomed looking this sparkly. Notice the shavings in her tail? Completely untouched by grooming tools. I just kept her THAT clean!) She looked like a bit of a hot mess - so much hair! so much dirt! - and there was no way I was going to live with that!
"Ummmm... what are you going to do to me?"
Ohhhhh dear. Well this will never do. This is also a lesson on how to make your horse look as unflattering as possible. Notice the excess hair, long scraggly mane, beard, raggedy tail, and most awkward pose ever. I promise she's not built so horribly in real life. You'll see what I mean in a minute.
Well that's gotta go.
Phew, all better!
I also did her scraggly, thin, gnarly mane.... I had to cut it with scissors instead of pull it because it was too thin and long!
My clippers were uncharged, so I couldn't get rid of all her crazy whiskers, but I managed to give a scissor cut to the worst of her mare-beard. She looks less like a circus side show bearded lady now, and more like a real lady instead.
Now THAT'S a pretty mare! Can you imagine how nice she'll look with some topline on her?
Tomorrow she'll get a bath (it will be 80 degrees!) and then she will finally look like a REAL respectable horse!
Yesterday afternoon, the world came full circle as Pangea set foot on Texas soil for the first time after four travel days on a trailer. (She had a nice big box stall, but still, that's a long journey!) The big rig pulled into my workplace at around 4pm, right as we were feeding of course... isn't that always the way! Even though she's not living at my work facility, I had her dropped off there so I could be present for the pickup. Obviously I was working, so I couldn't exactly leave in the middle of everything to go get her!
I waited all day long for the trailer... and then finally...
There they were!!
She was very interested in her surroundings...
And was VERY happy to offload!
We stuck her in one of the empty pens between barns while we finished out the day, and she proceeded to take a nice long drink, roll in the mud, take a few bites of hay, and wander around and around and around in circles watching our every move. She didn't seem particularly distressed, but she was alert and very mobile. Take a bite of hay, walk around, take a drink, walk around, take another bite of hay, walk around...
We had our first little come-to-Jesus meeting when I went to load her onto my trailer to take her up to the facility she'd be living at. She put both front feet on the ramp, stopped, and basically said, "you can't possibly be serious. I've been on a trailer for FOUR DAYS. I do NOT want to get back on one." We tried again, and again, she stopped on the ramp and said no. One quick 15 second groundwork lesson later, and she was on the trailer without another problem, so it's hard to fault her. As far as I can tell, she's been basically allowed to run the show, and therefore doesn't have a whole lot in the way of manners. However, there is nothing malicious in her behavior... she's just not used to being told "no." When she does something obnoxious, and you tell her not to, she quickly responds with, "sorry, ok."
At the new farm, she settled in well, finding her shed, the waterer, and her food all within a few minutes. I left her naked for the night even though it was supposed to be a bit chilly... if she survived without a blanket in January in Alberta, surely she would be fine for temps in the 40's for an evening! (It was in the 70's during the day.)
I checked up on her this morning before work, and we had our second come-to-Jesus meeting. Again, it's hard to fault her for this one, but when she saw me coming with her halter in hand, she turned tail to me and walked away. "Lady, please god don't put her on the trailer." I absolutely under no circumstances tolerate this. She didn't go far, just into the corner of her pen, but she did try to wiggle away from me once there. She lifted her head away from me when I went to put her halter on, and I stopped her and pulled her head back to me. She looked positively shocked... oh dang, authority police! After that, I had no troubles with her.
We ate some grass, went for a walk...
And went back to our pen. She was very happy to NOT be getting back onto a trailer!
I'll have more later about the beauty session that we had tonight... for now, it's more unpacking and studying!
While we all brainstorm and try to figure out a good name for the new Pangea blog (can't really make a new blog without a name), I'll keep posting here on Bay Girl's blog until a name comes to me. Keep sending suggestions!
There is a lot to be done when it comes to getting a new horse! Ordering supplements, picking up feed and hay, signing documents, making sure everyone is on the same page... yikes! And this time, I'm doing things a little bit differently than I have in the past when it comes to feeding. Feeding horses is part science and part artwork... you can calculate all the formulas you want, crunch every number you can think of, and still get it all wrong. There are factors you can't control, such as the mineral content of your water supply, the health of the soil your hay was grown on (unless of course, you grow your own hay), and your own horse's particular digestive process. It gets a bit overwhelming, eh?
I had particularly good luck with Gogo's feeding schedule. It worked great for her, with one notable exception: she always has the tiniest, tiniest bit of white line separation despite her strong, beautiful, sound, healthy feet. Years into feeding her, I finally figured it out: she had a soy sensitivity, attributed to the soy in her ration balancer. That was the only thing we could attribute to the soy... the rest of her looked fantastic:
First picture was taken late in the fall, the second was of her shiny shiny shiny springtime dapples.
She was fed Buckeye's Gro N' Win ration balancer (in varying amounts, somewhere between 1 and 2.5 lbs a day), more or less free-choice timothy/orchard (fed between 6 and 10 times a day), ground flax, and Cosequin ASU (and a few other supplements, but none that I liked enough to stick with). I liked that protocol, except for her particular soy sensitivity, and would use it again.
However, this time around I thought I would try things a bit differently. The hay I am feeding is a mix: there are bales of tim/brome/orchard/alf, and bales of straight timothy. The four-way grass mix is very, very nice, with lots of beautiful soft leaf and color. The tim is a bit more mature with more stalks and seed heads, and will be used more as chew time versus the four-way mix. Both of my suppliers stock hay from the same location year-round, so there will be a fair bit of consistency. Local hay is very hard to get right now due to last year's drought, and all hay grown in the area is coastal. I'm not interested in feeding coastal, so I went for the colder-weather hays brought in from up north. Just about any hay supplied to the area right now is trucked in from outside locations, so it doesn't make all that much of a difference in price.
I'm also not feeding grain. In my area, there seems to be a lot of local emphasis on large grain meals and hay only fed twice a day, which is a recipe for starch overload, ulcers, boredom-induced bad behavior, colic, laminitis, general malaise... the list goes on. There is a general misconception that hay doesn't provide any nutrients for some reason, that only grain can do that... I've heard people say it! (*facepalm!*) I personally am all about supplying my horses with the large majority of their energy and nutrients from their hay, and supplementing with a good vitamin/mineral supplement and possible fat if extra calories are needed. Pangea, being at this moment in time rather sedentary (i.e. not in work), will get the majority of her nutrients through high-quality forage, and be supplemented with a quality vitamin/mineral supplement that is specifically balanced for these particular types of forages. It has a base of flax, added and balanced amino acids, and several strains of viable good bacteria as a probiotic. For her level of work, this and her hay should in theory supply her with everything she needs. We'll see how it works!
She'll also be on Cosequin ASU, and my good old favorite, aloe juice. Instead of a pelleted grain, the carrier for all these supplements will be a small amount of sun-cured timothy hay pellets, just enough to wash everything properly down. I wanted to use molasses-free beet pulp as my carrier, but you have NO idea how hard that is to find around here... not to mention the question of whether or not that would be too much of a hassle for barn staff.
The major flaw in the design of all of this is the feeding schedule at the barn. As is the norm around here, hay is only feed 2x a day, once in the AM and once in the PM. Well that's not gonna fly for me! Horses are browsing grazers, designed to take in small amounts of forage throughout the day, and when their digestive system sits empty all sorts of foul things can happen. I'm not keen to let that happen, so I decided to look into a slow feeder. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a slow hay feeder allows the horse to eat a controlled amount of hay in a slow trickle fashion, versus just gobbling down their portion and then have nothing to do with the rest of their day.
There is only one problem with slow feeders. They are MAD expensive. Like, several hundred dollars for a feeder. Well, there had be a cheaper option, yeah?
I did some more research, and I found a picture online of this homemade hay feeder. A much better idea! But I could do even better.
A garbage bin, an old basketball net, and... that's it! All you do is fasten it to the fence, lift off the lid at mealtimes, and dump in the (fluffed up) hay. Maresie does the rest!
Cost? About $18. If I had used an old haynet or a recycled garbage bin or barrel, it would have been even cheaper.
It was super, super easy to make... all I did was punch holes in the bin and tie the net on, then tie the bottom of the net closed. It's a pretty tough net, but if she chews through it, I will use a tougher small mesh hay net instead.
We'll see how well it ends up working!
(More on slow feeders here if you are interested!)
SHE ARRIVES TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep those blog name suggestions coming!
Thanks everyone for the overwhelming positive response! I'm going to take it that you guys think we are interesting enough to read about.... and I appreciate that! :)
That being said, things on this end are suddenly in fully swing in terms of transport. Everything happened so quickly.... one second we were discussing options, the next second I was signing and e-mailing paperwork back to her old owner. On Tuesday, she officially became mine! (Or well, technically on Thursday when her owner received siged paperwork on my end.) Things wet into full overdrive mode when I received a surprise e-mail from my shipper on Thursday after several days of silence stating that they were going to pick up my mare that evening. Uhhhh WHAT?! The woman seeing her off was at work, the papers were all at her old owner's house, and I had nothing to my name, not eve a board contract signed! A few frantic phone calls later, we managed to organize everything, and as of 10am yesterday, my sweet mare was loaded on the trailer and heading towards the international border. Omigoodness this is really happening!!!!
There is so much more to write - and a new blog is in order! - but as for this moment in time I need to figure out what to do with the hay situation, so off I go!!
And she has a new name... Pangea.
EDIT: The new blog needs a new name before I can make it.... so I need some help from YOU! The tagline is "A Piece of a Heart Horse Comes Home," but it needs a title as well. Suggestions? Something to wrap Pangea (related continental stuff) within? Something different? Ideas?
I've been slow to post as of late, as you probably have notice. Those of you very longtime readers from Eventing-A-Gogo will remember when I used to post every day, or at least every other day.... you know, back in the days when I had interesting things to post about. These days, I don't have much material, and I don't have much motivation either.
Life goes on with Bay Girl much as it has. She's bagging up now, and is absolutely enormous. She is not very happy with me as of late seeing as I've dewormed her and given her several of her pre-foaling vaccines, but all is usually forgiven with cookies. Other than that, I have nothing new to report, because I've done little with her.
There's been plenty going on with the Sophie deal, but I've not written about that either. Why? Probably because it gets very tiring explaining myself and my reasons to everyone who thinks I know what I want, and that this mare isn't it. I had the finances and the eye to pick out a very nice horse (the one gelding I looked at just sold to Gina Miles, and the other mare I looked at is at a barn featured in Eventing Nation just last week)... and I picked Sophie. I also don't have the heart or strength in me to stand up to the angry hordes who will unleash their rage upon me when I mention what my eventual plans with this broodie are - specifically that, breeding - and I feel that writing about it will end up just making me feel rather bad about myself. Those of you from Eventing-A-Gogo may remember all the outraged backlash I received when I mentioned breeding Gogo, who was a far superior mare to Sophie if we are all to be honest with ourselves. As just a few examples, try here, and here, and here, and here, and me finally losing my marbles in frustration here. The comments on all of those posts hurt ya'll. They hurt. They really made me feel awful about myself, which is such a crying shame... I don't know any of these people in real life, why would their opinions make me feel like such a terrible person? Apparently, I am not made of as tough of stuff as I thought.
Which leads me back to Sophie. Yes, she is coming home with me. No, she is not here yet. No, I'm not sure what she'll be capable of in the longterm. Yes, it is assuredly worth it to see. And even though it almost pains me to put it out there in public, yes, I have plans to breed her at some point in the future. There, I said it. Tear away, naysayers. Hurt me to the core, I am ready.
This, of course, has led me to this problem: do I or do I not start a new blog for Sophie? Do I write publicly about my endeavors with her, or not?
Let's face it. We don't have the same sort of goals and message going that Gogo and I had. We probably never will. It will probably never be interesting to read. It will probably not have much of a point. I will probably get continual crap for my decisions. So do I bother putting it all out in public?
I'm undecided as of yet. What do you think? And be honest.
I've not written anything this week due to the fact that I found out some sad news a few days ago, and didn't have much of a heart to write about it until now. It seems that Bay Girl is not staying with us to foal out, but is instead leaving on March 1st to go foal out at another facility. Seeing as her job of uterus will be fulfilled once the foal is weaned, she will not be returning to us. I have no idea where she will go once she her job is complete, or if I will see her again. Chances are that I won't.
I am surprisingly upset about this. Horses come and go all the time at our facility, it's just part of the rehab and conditioning process. It doesn't affect me in the slightest, and even if I particularly liked the horse (I work with them 5, 6, or 7 days a week depending, so they tend to get more attention on the whole than Bay Girl does from me), the most I ever think when they leave is "aw, bye horsey." But not Bay Girl. When we found out the owner is taking her to a different place, my heart sank. That is less than a month away. I've been a bit back and forth about the process... should I stop playing with her and wean myself off of her so I don't get so upset when she leaves? (And let her wean herself off of me.... she surely will not be getting half as much attention anywhere else that she goes). Or should I try to squeeze in as much time with her as possible?
This is not the first horse in my life that was "mine" that I felt heartbroken about when they didn't end up as truly mine. There have been two others in the past that have profoundly impacted me in a way that I'll never forget. For all the zillions of horses that come and go through my life, these particularly special ones should have ended up as my own, only they didn't for one reason or another, and I still to this day would take either one of them on for forever keeps.
The first of the not-mine horses was a leopard spot Appaloosa named Sinbad who I rode at summer camp when I was an older kid (pre-teen). The camp I attended yearly for most of my childhood had a particularly bad habit of severely mishandling their animals and then shipping them off for meat whenever something went wrong or they stopped paying the bills for them, and this horse was no exception. Mean, unruly, and violently opposed to most everything anyone tried to do with him, Sinbad was notorious for his fits and his difficulty, and nobody could handle him without a serious fight on their hands. But I loved him. I had pennies and dimes saved up in an old jewelry box with a piece of paper taped on the front proclaiming "The Save Sinbad Fund!" and I squirrel away money whenever I could, determined that someday I would be able to buy him and save him from his fate. That of course never happened, and I don't know what became of Sinbad. As he was in his late teens at the time, surely he is dead by now, and it was probably at the hands of someone about to process him for meat. I'll never know. I have old pictures of him somewhere, at my parents' house in Michigan. If I ever make it back up there, I will have to find them and scan a few.
The second horse was a VERY nice Holsteiner mare named Injoy, also very troubled and prone to fearful fits. Her owner grew tired of dealing with her emotional attitude and decided to try and donate her to my college as a broodmare prospect (she was perfectly rideable, just very difficult). Since she was leaving my home barn and heading to school, I was her primary transport and caretaker, riding her regularly while the school assessed whether or not she'd be a good fit for our program. I rode her all the time with a whip and spurs and had no problem with her, but she developed an exceptionally nasty habit with other riders of bolting uncontrollably whenever they upset her (which was constantly). She had a severe spook in her, I will give her that, but she never once bolted with me. In the end, the school decided that since she wasn't riding material, they wouldn't take her, and sent her back home. I called her owner and begged if I could somehow take her, but if she wasn't going to be donated to a program, she wanted a large chunk of change for her, and it was not something I was going to be able to afford since I already had Metro. In the end, she was donated to some incredibly horrible, run-down facility that did mounted shooting and wanted to train her for that. Seeing as she regularly spooked at the very slightest of noises, I'm not quite sure what they were thinking. When I arrived at the facility with her in tow, they promptly fed her about a coffee can and a half of sweet feed in her stall, and laughed off my horrified face as I tried to give them the baggies I had carefully prepped of the single-pound pellet meals she had been regularly eating at school. I never found out what happened to her, but if she survived that entire ordeal, I will be truly amazed.
The only picture I really have of her is this one, at her mare inspection. She was also the Champion foal at her foal inspection, and was the highest bonited foal in the country that year. A truly remarkable waste of a wonderful, talented mare.
And then there is Bay Girl, who had been unloved and unhandled for probably most of her life. Are we sensing a theme here? Horribly misunderstood animals who only needed a little bit of time and love to turn around, but were never given that chance?
I had a little War Horse talk with her yesterday, telling her that if there was any way to do it, I'd find her again and make sure she never knew the feeling of a rough hand again.
I can say that to her all I want. The reality is that it will probably never happen.