Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How It All Began, Part One...

I have always loved horses. It is just a fact. Of course, it probably helped that my mother also shared my love for equine creatures, and the summer after I got out of 5th grade, we purchased my first pony. Her name was Cricket, and she was a seven year old New Forest pony, that had originally been a cart pony. She was then bought by the people that we bought her from, and used-albeit sparingly!-by their kids as a riding pony. The first time that I rode her, she proceeded to deliberately canter under a tree, knocking me off, and then promptly shoved her face into the knee-high grass to eat. I screamed and cried, and said that I was never going to ride her again, until my mom said that she would sell her if I didn't. That was all it took, and Cricket and I had a few fun years together.
(Let me insert here that I have three little sisters, who are seven, ten and twelve years younger than me, so when I was 12 and riding around like a banshee on Cricket, they were just little peanuts. As they got older, they had their own assortment of horses and ponies, primarily Star, who was Sienna the Pony Pig's mother. They did not have a whole lot to do with Cricket, or Pinto, as they were still pretty little, and my mom did not have the time-or the patience!!- to take ALL of us riding at once!) I rode Cricket, comfortably, for about two years, and then I started to outgrow her. My mom heard about an 18 year old pinto mare, who had raised several children, was about 14 hands high (Cricket was 12 hands), and that was free to a good home, so Pinto-yes, her real name!-came into our lives when I was about 13. Pinto was a rather sour and cantankerous old mare, who after about one year, finally decided that she could have fun with people, and she became one of the best little horses ever. She was one of those smart old horses, who could hang her head and drag her feet with a a two year old on her back, and then turn into a feisty old girl, with lots of get up and go, for me.For a while, Pinto was enough horse for me, but I was taking lots of horseback riding lessons, and had recently joined 4-H, and I wanted a show horse...or at least a horse that could do both showing and trail riding. Cricket was too small, and Pinto had no training whatsoever. If you dug your heel into her side too much, she would turn around and bite your foot...not good show horse material!
It was during this time, that my mom bought a two year old, unbroke, QH mare, named Cascade Amber Glo aka "Jewel." Jewel was a bit of a basket case, she had come from a QH farm down in Oregon and had been mistreated by men, and in fact, during the 14 years that we had her, she never got over her mistrust of them, but she was an honest-although spooky!-little mare. My mom was patient with her though, and before you know it, she was up and riding her. I started riding her a lot too, and really began to want a well trained horse of my own. For some reason that I can no longer remember, I wanted a young horse that I could train, show, and trail ride, all by myself. The trainer that I was working with, suggested that we look at some nice breeding stock paint geldings, that were being sold really cheap by a breeder. I however, had my eyes-and heart!- fixed on a starving, yearling, 7/8's Arab gelding, that lived down the road. He belonged to my riding buddy, Lacy's, mom, and he was in pretty bad shape. They had about seven adult horses, and two youngsters, and for some reason, they did not care for there non-riding horses very well. (As time went on, I discovered that they did not have enough money for all of their horses, but rather than get rid of some, they just didn't feed, worm, shoe, or care very well for them. In the summer they would be fat and happy, but in the winter they would look awful.) Cheyenne, as the starving yearling was called, used to accompany me and Lacy on trail rides, because Lacy's primary riding horse was his momma, Destrier aka "Patchy,"and I had coveted the little fella since I first laid eyes on him at two months of age. I was in love with his spunk and his desire to survive. He would get down on his knees and crawl underneath their hot wire fence to get to the grass on the other side...something that he never outgrew...even when he was 15 hands and about 1200 pounds! I was also a hopeless romantic and I knew every Arabian bloodline out there-I was going to marry a Bedouin after all, and have my own desert horses!-and Cheyenne was from Crabbet breeding, which was my "favorite" bloodline. I had always begged Jean (Lacy's mom) to sell him to me, but she always refused, until right around Cheyenne's first birthday. I was working at a local TB farm, cleaning stalls and grooming horses, and at our veterinarian's office on Saturdays,and had saved up some money, so I secretly offered to pay Jean whatever she wanted for the boy. She finally agreed to sell him to me for $200, and I told my parents. They were more than just a little disappointed that I wanted to buy him, because he was near death, and they were not sure that he would even make it. I begged and pleaded, and my mom said "fine," but that I had to sell Cricket. What was I going to do with three horses? I was devastated, but we found her a good home, and I was actually able to follow her subsequent owners, until she passed away about seven years ago. It was agreed that Pinto could stay, because I would need a horse to ride for the next couple of years, and a purchase agreement was drawn up.
Next came the big move-I joke, they lived about five minutes away- and the immediate vet response that followed. I walked him to his new home on Thursday, and I was scheduled to leave for a week long, youth group camp on Saturday. I was begging and pleading with my mom to let me stay home from camp, and she finally said "we'll see." Our vet came out on Friday, and he tube wormed him-he had NEVER been wormed before!!- and gave him his basic immunizations. He told us that we needed to feed him small amounts of food about every 1-2 hours, and to keep our fingers crossed that he would be OK. He then pulled my mom aside and told her to send me to that camp, because there was a good chance that Cheyenne would die...something my mom told me years later. Later on that day, my mom told me to start packing for camp, and I totally freaked out! I was not going to leave my baby, but she was really adamant, and so off I went, having no idea how things were going on back at home.

To be cont...

9 comments:

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

What a great story! I look forward to reading the next installment.

bandcg@comcast.net said...

Go Mel go on this story!

Andrea said...

You leave us in such a bad place. Come one!! I need to know what happened while you where at camp! Great story! I look forward to reading the rest!

Heidi said...

Hope you post again soon! I'm terrible with suspense! Good storytelling, by the way :-)

Stephanie said...

Hey there!

Just had a moment to stop by and say "hi" - heading to show this weekend so don't have a bunch of time. Love your blog and boy you have some CUTE horses!

(That's a huge compliment from QH gal over here!)

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's wonderful that you've had horses since a child, what a lucky girl. Interesting story I will be looking forward to the rest of it.

The Knutson's said...

SMR, Andrea, Heidi, and GHM- Part two will coming up next week. Sorry to keep you in suspense!

Stephanie- Thanks for the compliment!

Mom- I am working on it!

Twinville said...

Oooh! I can't wait to read more about the Arabian Gelding! I'm on pins and needles :)

I fell in love with Pinto. She was gorgeous!
But you know why.....I sure do love me some 'paints and pintos'. hehe

Is Jewel the same mare you are going to see this weekend in dressage?

Momma / Cowgirl said...

What a fantastic thing to share with us. What a joy to read about this time in your life. I cannot wait for the next installment!