Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Best Horse Friend

Yesterday the veterinarian came out to check my horse.  Bones, his barn name, is a registered Arabian.  He seems to be having some problem with his back feet.  I feared founder, the vet confirmed it and he is on medications to ease the pain and inflammation.  There is sometimes no reason for founder.  Often it is brought on by feeding issues.  His feed has not changed, but he and his buddy have had less exercise this winter than usual, due to the deep snow.  We'll just have to see how it goes day to day.

He came by his name as a bit of a joke and unfortunately it stuck.  This horse was purchased and trailered from California to our barn by a friend.  At the time I was riding a big boned Appaloosa and she had gotten the nickname "Moose".  So named by the same friend that brought Bones home to Ohio.  That might indicate what she looked like going out on trail with all those light stepping Arabian horses.

When the trailer pulled into our little farm where this new California horse was to live and train for endurance riding, everything stopped.  We all wanted to see this new Endurance horse!  The owner unloaded him and he was skin and bones.  I am sure the five day trip across the United States didn't help help is looks, I nicknamed him Bones on the spot.  His real name was Lamar's Addan.  Arab names are often not a name you will call the horse at the barn in real life.

The owner of this horse came out to ride and condition him, his plan was to get him ready as quickly as possible for the fall ride season.  Before Bones came to Ohio, the ranch he came from thought they would start conditioning him for his new Ohio owner.  They got on him and ran him on a course around a "lake" and called it conditioning.  They had no experience with endurance horses and didn't adjust his feed accordingly.  So I felt when he arrived here he was undernourished to start.  I have found in years of horse work, you always make changes gradually, with training and feeding.

On one training ride on a flat freshly harvested bean field, in a dead out run the horse took a fall with his new owner.  The owner was taken to the hospital with a broken collar bone.  He never trusted the horse again and the horse was as fearful of humans.  When you got on him, he only knew to run.............  The owner of this horse then ask me to start riding him, to keep his "condition" up.  The horse terrified me because he only wanted to run.  He was fast and out of control.  We had several mishaps as well and I felt he needed someone to teach him the basics, WALK, TROT and CANTER in control.   Off he went to a trainer.

After much time at a trainers he came back to our little farm.  The owner of Bones ask me to continue to ride him, so he doesn't forget his training.  I spent weeks just walking him, keeping his need for speed in check.  If you have ever been on a run away horse, it can be terrifying!  It matters not how much you pull on those reins, the only chance you have is pulling his head around, making him turn, eventually he'll slow down.  If you can't do that, you'd better be ready to jump, because in our part of the world, a fence-line is looming ahead!  My daughter would ride with me and when we finally began to trot, she said, "I didn't think we'd ever trot again Mom."   Even she knew how slow we had to take this process. 

Bones was one of the most fearful horses I ever rode.  It didn't take much to send him into flight.  Taking off your coat, moving a branch from smacking you in the face, using a sponge on a rope in the water...... oh, I could go on and on.  I'm sure my friends could throw in a few thoughts about his fears too.

Bones and I at some point came to an agreement, I would trust him if he would trust me.  It was interesting, when this happened, we both were much less tense, we learned to breath a little.  I had a friend tell me once, "A horse doesn't want to do anything to hurt himself, so trust in that."   Good advise and I used it on other horses I had reason to ride that I didn't know.  It was a mental decision and it is good advise, I used that with this horse all the time. 

Bones' real owner could never ride him again, he was too fearful.  You don't ride a horse in fear, it will only cause more problems.  So Bones became my horse to ride. We became a team, we knew what made each other tick, we spent many hours going down trails.  He logged over two thousand miles with the Distance Riding Program.  Those were official competitive and endurance miles.  It didn't count the training miles or the pleasure miles.

  Now I'm wondering why I nicknamed him Bones......   He gained the weight back he needed to not only look good but to travel the trail.  People would look at me and him when I called him by name, it just wasn't a proper name for a pretty gray Arab.  That could be about the time I decided to give all our our horses more earthy names.  Feasty, our big boned gray Anglo-Arab became Thunder Cloud.  You could hear him running to the barn, his feet thundered across the ground!  I named our cute little bay Arab, Eagle-Chicken.  He to this day is the one that snorts and struts around when something is amiss, but if you ask him to check it out, he is afraid and wants nothing to do with it!  Trudy was our only mare, we called her Lightening Legs.   It's not that she was as fast as the Arabs, she was the Quarter Horse, she just traveled really well and her legs were always nice and clean.  Then it came to Bones, I named him "Runs with Wind", he was fast and loved to run.  The wind was always whipping our faces.  My dear riding partner and friend thought it was because he had gas..........
Bones has been retired for the last ten years, he will be 28 years old next month.  I think he will have more good retired years in our horse pasture.  He and I are both looking forward to warm spring sunshine on our backs. 

Pictures:   Upper left, Bones and Knipper
                middle right, Bones
                bottom left, Cait and Knipper, Lizzy and Bones and dog Jessie

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