Sunday, October 22, 2006

Equine Affairs

This morning I found one of the worst nightmares of any horseman. My sweet gelding "Jack" had a case of colic. This is a serious disorder in horses, not just a belly ache of inconsequence. It can be anything from a mild gas colic to sand impaction to a twisted gut. In 1989 I had my best buddy, a great strong buckskin Quarter Horse, die from colic. Jack has never had colic before. He is 20 years old, but this is not really old for an Arabian. It isn't his "time" yet. Right now he seems improved but I'll be watching him like a hawk for a couple days.

During the last days of my trip I stopped in Wyoming to visit a new friend who raises Arabians and Saddlebred horses. I thought I was interested in one of her grey Arabs. (Like Jack's color; I love greys!). Instead a big handsome palomino Saddlebred caught my eye. I've never ridden a Saddlebred before and know little about the breed. But I know a good horse when I see one. (At least that is my opinion.) And "Ed" is a good looker for sure. The only drawback is he is 1,111 miles north of me. Plus my husband would commit homicide if I didn't sell my Thoroughbred gelding before adding another mouth to feed to my herd. But that is an acceptable risk. I'm interested in bigger horses so I can find a saddle that fits both me and the horse. Right now I have a saddle that fits my small Arabian horses, but not me. And I have a big Australian Stock saddle that fits me, but not my small Arabians. Conundrum. Horses are great fun, but sometimes complicated.

During my trip I rode at Fort Robinson State Park in northwestern Nebraska, just south of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The countryside was open, with hills, scenic views, wildlife such as Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, and tame critters like Longhorn Cattle. I rode a borrowed grey Arabian horse named "Buddy", on a borrowed saddle, with a borrowed bridle. Everything worked well on the horse, but do you think I could get the hang of putting on his bridle? It had more parts than my Toyota. I was all thumbs. Okay, I looked like an idiot putting on his bridle and finding the bit hanging under his chin. Oops, that was supposed to go into his mouth. Let's try again. Occassionally the horse's owner got impatient with me and bridled him herself. After another dozen tries I would have had it figured out. Yes, sometimes horses are complicated.

One of my grandchildren has become less enthused about our shared horse, the big Thoroughbred I mentioned above. He is tall. 16 hands. That is about 5 foot 4 inches high at the beginning of his back. She is 5 foot 3 inches tall. He doesn't pay attention to where he puts his feet. Her foot has been under his hoof a couple times. And it is a long, long trip down his side when dismounting him. I love his height, although he eats as much as two of my Arabs. But with everyone losing interest in him, I guess it is time he finds a new home. I've never sold a horse in my life. And it is complicated. There are 3 owners involved. I hate the "business end" of horse ownership. I just want horses to be happy, healthy friends for life. Unfortunately hay costs money and like most folks, money is finite. Selling a horse is upsetting, but at least it is not a nightmare.

1 comment:

Rising Rainbow said...

Boy, that saddle fitting thing is a tricky issue. I own Arabians too and I used to think that finding a saddle to fit was a problem just with them. After working in a tack store and being taught how to fit a saddle properly, I know better. Many many owners are riding their horses in ill fitting saddles. Part of the issue with Arabians is the length of the skirt. The older cowboys will tell you you want a quarter horse tree with 3/4 bars. Which is great information but only applies to the older saddles. So I spent a long time looking but finally found a couple of nice old saddles that make both my horses and me happy. Good luck with your search.