28. Farewell four-legged friends

It was very sad to leave the horses at Ubar and now we had to wrench ourselves away again from another equine group. When we are feeding and mucking out their pens we do feel to build up some level of relationship with them. They are big animals and could do considerable damage to a mere mortal if they chose to or became frightened or agitated, but don’t. We have enjoyed spending a little time with each of them every day to ensure that they are okay, not just upright. Having a mount also changes the basis of the relationship, one has to trust the steed underneath you and can at times, witness their effort or patience, their eagerness to please or willingness to trust you. I can really understand why they are often used for those with profound physical and/or mental disabilities. They can be so soothing, not necessarily asking anything but prepared to give what they can. It has been a pleasure and delight to be around this lovely bunch, even Locota in the end. We will miss them all.

2015-08-26 12.36.30Meg, the supermum, adopting Angel and protecting her fiercely. Suddenly accepting us as friends and protectors when she felt more threatened by new paddock companions. Also watching her become less single-minded in her devotion to her progeny as she grows up and seeing to her own increasing interests in the boys – hussy! But beautiful with her different coloured eyes, stunning markings, white mane and brown tail.

Angel, the rising star and hope for Gaylene’s future with her long gangly legs, unusual facial markings and blue eyes. I thought she was rather ugly when I first saw her but have become used to her distinctive features which unfortunately reflect her deafness as if being an orphan at 48 hours old wasn’t bad enough. Despite our problems with her latterly as she found her hooves and how to use them, she was a quick learner and we didn’t have too much trouble with her recently.

IMAG1721Waylon and Rio, the half brothers, are both lovely natured animals, always happy to receive some attention if you come to the fence or into the paddock. Seeing them chasing each other around (despite Rio’s lameness!!) and even play fighting, more handbags than hooves, without any real intent to damage was lovely for the brief period they were allowed to be together. Lokota or Mr FancyPants as I termed him initally. He did redeem himself though over the few weeks he was outside and managed to calm down, quieten down, stop pacing, became less bloodshot of eyes and generally started behaving like a nice horse, even though he was still a stallion. He became upset again when we opened up the other end of Meg’s paddock as he was unable to see her when she and Angel chose to go to their bottom end.

Doc was a lovely little guy when we arrived but then he started training in earnest. He was always one for a nuzzle with those big velvety lips but more recently they would be closely followed by teeth! He started being kept in the stalls more as Ben rode him most days and became more anxious and red eyed as Lokota became less so. He gothis own back on ome occasion when Ben was beginning to mount him, with one foot in the stirrup, Doc turned round to nip his leg, Ben smacked him in reprimand, managed to get his other leg over the saddle but before securing his other foot in the stirrup Doc bucked him off, trampled on him and then kicked, oops! Ben got back on and they’ve carried on as normal despite Ben’s discomfort and limp. Just goes with the territory.

IMAG1701Joker, the little boy, seemingly abandoned by a mother (although not, at 2 years old). Still not aware how much he has grown so doesn’t seem to realise that he can now look over the fence but opting to bend down and insert his head horizontally between the bars and not infrequently, getting it stuck! He loved having company in his paddock when he got bored with his toys, a ball, 2 traffic cones and his feed dish which was never near where we left it.

IMAG1736Dunner the patriarch, what a star. His skill and refinement have made him an absolute pleasure to ride and we have learnt so much from him. He is so highly trained that he can respond to the slightest cue which makes us much more precise and careful in our own movements of our hands, legs, feet, seat and head. His patience and tolerance were phenomenal. Gaylene had commented on how many people he had taught to ride (properly). We shall probably never ride such a high class horse again.

IMAG1683Rocker, what a revelation she turned out to be. After a grim start in our time when she was just beginning to recover from a miscarriage and nasty tail infection which led to it dropping off, she just seemed to mope around the paddock, not wanting much attention but not running away either. In fact doing nothing more than stand or walk and then a sudden transformation. Gaylene decide to ride her last week but put her on the lunge first and wow, did she take off. She was amazing, moving beautifully, even when she bucked and reared! Tinkerbell, initially a little whatnot but once the other minis, Snickers and Joey, arrived she became the victim not the bully which was not a bad thing altogether. But when you see great chunks taken out of her rump and neck, she runs away when you bring her feed instead of trying to grab it out your hand, it is actually quite sad. She was supposed to be Dunner’s company but Rocker quickly took over that role when she returned to the paddock, leaving Tinkerbell as the gooseberry. She seems to be getting on quite well with MissG now though, the only one who does!

IMAG1693MissG, Roger’s favourite. The stunning but abused race horse was very wary of us initally even though we brought her precious food (and cleaned her stall every day although I don’t think she was so bothered about that) Over the weeks Roger gained her trust although it was definately men she was more concerned about. Even Gaylene was impressed with our rapport and arranged for the Farrier to come back to do her feet when we were available as she wouldn’t co-operate with him (not surprising, he is a Geordie) As it was a Saturday and she gave us weekends off we were still unable to help out but the task was achieved in our absence.

IMAG1670

Sunbathing with Sammy

Finally but by no means least is our little mate Sammy, our trusted friend who has to be the trusted friend of all the different strangers who enter and leave his life on a continual carousel. He is always delighted to see us whether it has been 5 days or 5 minutes since our last contact, bounding across the yard with his tail whirling like a helicopter rotar blade. His run is even more cute when he has one of his soft toys in his mouth, retrieved with much exuberance when discovered in its previous hiding place. This excitement does seem to prevent him from bending his legs when running as he does an excellent impression of Spot the dog or the wooden tops’ hound. He was my first exposure to the much maligned pitbull but is one of the nicest dogs I’ve come across, always happy to have attention and company but never demanding it. We will certainly miss him and credit must go to Ben as his primary owner.

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