We owned a wonderful copper colored bay mare named, Trudy. She came to us through a friend who liked finding good riding horses and re-selling them to people looking for a horse. In most circles he would be known as a "horse trader", but this guy was more trustworthy. In fact, I liked to call him "my favorite cowboy". He also trained horses and loved mules. He isn't training or trading these days, I do think he still rides but he is kinder to himself, doesn't mess with those unbroken horses any more.
We had the most amazing farrier, a female if you can imagine. She became one of my good riding buddies and we spent a lot of time riding wooded trails like wild girls with unleashed freedom. Elise did all my horse shoeing and could do amazing corrective work. With Trudy, she would put a plate and shoe on her and the plate would keep all ground pressure off the sole of her foot, making her sound to ride. Soaking that foot in salt water would draw out the infection, all this took time and sometimes we just needed to keep conditioning for an upcoming event. Once the abscess was draining there was no longer pain. Soaking and protecting the sole of the foot from pressure was our method of treatment.
I remember hauling Trudy to Columbus one summer day to have Elise shoe her. When Elise finished she said, "Oh, too bad you didn't bring a saddle and bridle, we could have gone for a ride." I spent most of my youth riding bareback and so having no saddle was not a problem. Trudy was great at neck reining so I felt pretty sure I could ride her with just a halter and lead strap. So we hit the wooded trails that the fox hunters use in the area. It was one of those rides I'll never forget, running down narrow trails, the twisting and turning and carefully watching for low branches. Yahooing with my good friend Elise. The best part was doing the jumps! There were logs across the trail you could just skip over. Many were trees across the trail, bigger than anything I could get my arms around. That wonderful little mare had as much fun as I did that day. Who needs a saddle and bridle when you have a good horse? A memory that causes me to smile today. We lost this mare about this time, ten years ago and I still miss her.