We added Cody, to our herd in august 09. We got two horses from a woman in central Oregon. I purchased Gracie, and our best friend, Kandace, purchased Gracie's pasture mate, Cody at the same time, so as to keep the two bonded horse together. This worked out perfectly because Kandace was also looking for a horse and she fell in love with Cody when she saw him. When I called the seller about Gracie, I just knew she was meant for me. We call our place Gracieland, and our domain is gracieland.org, both named after my beloved Great Dane, Gracie, who we lost to cancer in Aug. 06. To find a "new" Gracie in Aug. 09, just seemed like fate. And to be able to get a horse for Kandace at the same time, one who was already bonded to Gracie, was the icing on the cake. Sadly Gracie is no longer with us, she was much older than we knew and we had to put her down in June 2010. But here is her story, along with Cody's, who is still with us, of course.
Here I am riding Rowdy early in the season. I was about 295 lb or so at this point, so we took it easy and kept the rides short. Which was a good thing for him, and me, given how green I am.
Gracie (on the left) is a Blue Roan Appaloosa, while Cody (on the right) is a Strawberry Roan Appaloosa/Quarter Horse gelding. Gracie was rescued last year by a horse enthusiast from a bad situation where she was starving to death. She has put on a lot of weight since then, but still has a ways to go. But she is sound to ride and has no trouble, even with someone as large as me. While she was essentially a throw away when she was rescued, at some point in her life she was obviously a valued horse. She has a ton of training on her. Someone spent a lot of money on professional training at some point. Fact is I need some training to meet her skill level. But thankfully she is the sweetest, most level headed, and easy going horse you could imagine, so she tries to figure out what I want from her, and she doesn't let my stupidity bother her. Her seller described her as a "been there, done that, bullet proof horse that anyone could ride, a 100% idiot proof horse." Now you hear that sort of stuff a lot in horse ads. But this seller was absolutely 100% honest. And it's a good thing, given that I may be the 100% idiot Gracie was made for.
Our 2nd horse is named Rowdy. He joined us in October of 2010 as a 19 yr old quarterhorse/appy cross. Rowdy is the sweetest horse with people. Not a mean bone is his body. He is your typical puppy dog type. But after a while we discovered he can have issues with other horses. We believe this is in part due to his having been gelded late. He is fine with Cody, but we've found we can't add a 3rd horse to the mix. This is similar to the issues we had with Westly, a rescue we had here briefly in late 2007. We can't decide if Rowdy is a genius or a doofus. Most of the time he seems pretty clever, other times makes it very clear he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. He is prone to getting himself into situations and then going all blonde on you and not being able to extricate himself. He tends to be impatient when it comes to meal time, and to get pretty rowdy. We saw how he came by his name, once he settled in here. He is well trained, but needs a tune up. He hasn't been ridden in over a year. His last owner was a 13 yr old girl who clearly let him get away with stuff. So as soon as winter is over, he is going to get worked until he gets his head on straight again. I think Rowdy is beautiful, and since he's my horse, that's all that matters. But I will admit, that appy mane is sort of sad (yes what you see here is his mane, all of it, it isn't brushed over onto the other side).
Update 2012 - Well Rowdy was lame all season in 2011. And he lost muscle mass, tone, and overall size, big time, like he'd been taken off steroids or something. But we think it was just a foot issue, that limited his activity. We discovered that he has to have shoes in the riding season, ridden or not. He has foundered in the past (before we got him) which means we have to watch his feed and his feet. And he has front feet that just plain need shoes. So he was shod this year, as soon as the worst of the spring rains was past. That allowed him to be much more active, to run and play with his bud Cody and build back up his size and conditioning. Then he got tuned up and ridden. Once he got shoes, his conditioning came back as did a lot of his bulk, and he was really pretty easy to tune up and get to riding on. He does have a temper, but he is such a good boy and so well trained, that he keeps it in check with people for the most part. OTOH he has no problem letting the greenhorn on his back know when he's being a dumbass. :-) Despite his age and having been foundered, he can buck impressively, as impressively as any horse outside of a rodeo (and he'd give some of them a run for their money) but the most he's ever done with a rider on him is give a little bunny buck, just to let you know he's not pleased. All in all he has been a wonderful teacher for me. I've gotten to ride quite a bit this season, 4-5 times a week, all season. It's all still happening here on the property, no trail rides yet. But that's as much me as him. When my trainer feels we're both ready, she'll let me know. Until then, I find the riding here on the property is plenty challenging. Part of the reason he and I have been able to ride so much this year is his shoes, but also that I have lost a lot of weight. I am in much better shape than I have been in a long time, so I am physically able to handle it, and I am "light" enough that he can handle my weight. I've lost over 120 lb so far and I am still going. Last time I weighed myself I was down to 265. Not light by any means, but not a problem weight for Rowdy. Last year however, at over 385, my weight was a serious issue that would have made it difficult for me to ride him, even if he hadn't been lame.
Update -- 2011 - We've had to rehome our Thoroughbred mare, Valley. After a year of being best buds with Valley, my gelding Rowdy suddenly starting picking on her. It got bad enough that we felt it best to rehome her. We contacted the woman we got her from, and with her help, we got Valley into the hands of an experienced horse rescuer and trainer who would work with her and rehome her. We miss her but this was not a good place for her anymore. Valley needed a very small, light rider, so none of us here would ever be able to ride her. No matter how much we all loved her, I couldn't justify getting rid of Rowdy, the horse I could ride, to keep Valley, a horse none of us could ride. Besides we felt Valley would be happier with a person of her own and a job to do.
Here's Valley, who may well be the most beautiful horse ever (okay I admit it I am a tiny bit biased). She's a retired race horse. Valley's bloodlines are as good as her looks. She's a granddaughter of Seattle Slew, goes back to Bold Ruler (Secretariat's sire) and Native Dancer a couple times on each side. She's related to 3 of the most famous race horses on the planet. And boy doesn't she look like it. Ain't that some Thoroughbred? While she wasn't sound to race, she certainly didn't belong at the slaughter house.
When we got Hera, we also got her stablemate, Hyacinth. Hy was rideable, and was such a wonderful horse. Even I could ride her, bareback and with only a halter. Hy was my first heart horse, and I adored her. Sadly, we lost Hyacinth 12/24/07. I went out to feed the horses and found her dead. It appeared she'd cast, but we'll never know the full story. We do know we miss her a lot, and that it is going to take a very special horse to even come close to taking her place.
RIP Hy. Maybe you were just too good for humanity, or maybe God just wanted you for himself.
Hera was Hyacinth's pasture mate and came to us at the same time Hyacinth did. She was a spoiled barn queen at some point in her life, and it is hard to believe that anyone would let her end up at the feedlot or on some European dinner table. But that was what she faced if we did not adopt her. Hera was not fit to ride but was sound enough to be a pasture ornament. Hera was sweet, good natured, outgoing, and a pleasure to have around. She might not have been able to "work" anymore, but she was a valued member of our household. Hera's back legs were bad when we got her, that was why she wasn't rideable, but over the winter of 09-10 she was getting much worse and we elected to put her down 6/18/10 before she went lame or suffered any discomfort.Gracie was doing great, she was the perfect horse for me and she was such a sweet loving girl. I really felt as if I had hit the lottery finding her. She was that very special horse that was able to take Hyacinth's place. We'd managed to really get some weight on her, so much so that in Feb we cut her back a bit to keep her from getting fat. But in May she started to loose weight. We had the vet out, ran blood tests and tried to find out what was wrong. But nothing seemed to be wrong, her blood tests were normal, her appetite was great as always. She was to all appearances a healthy happy horse, who was just dropping pounds like she was never fed. We even had people call animal control on us, she was getting so skinny. We tried to adjust her feed and give her a bit more to eat, as per our vet's recommendation. But she continued to loose weight. Our vet felt she was likely older than we knew and was simply running down. We elected to put her down at the same time as we did Hera, as the quality of life for both of them was going down hill fast. Their time was quickly running out, and we wanted them to go out while they were still loving life and not suffering. A big part of my heart went with Gracie. I have been incredibly lucky with the horses I've gotten. I've had two outstanding rideable horses, Gracie and Hyacinth, and all the horses I've gotten have been wonderful loving creatures. But of all of them, Gracie was something special. She was my girl. God I am going to miss her.
We got Crissy from a private party who "rescued" her. She was severely underweight when we got her. It appeared as if she had not had a proper meal in quite a while, and it looked as if she had been having to compete with younger, stronger horses for what food was available. Crissy is a former polo horse and was retired when she lost an eye, not an uncommon injury for polo horses. Supposedly, she was also a certified Search & Rescue Horse, which if true, is saying a lot. Horses have to pass a series of tests to be certified for S&R work. What we do know is that she was a sweet, calm horse. The woman we got her from was able to ride barebacked with just a halter. She has a wonderful, steady, smooth gait and moves beautifully, even as skinny as she is. We can't wait to see what she's like once she's healthy. We were told she was 20 but our vet thinks she's older than that. Sadly, in the fall of 2010 Crissy damaged her good eye somehow and went blind completely. She did not adapt well to this at all. She lost a good deal of weight, and began to have panic attacks at night. After running through two different fences we elected to have her PTS. It broke our hearts, but she just did not have the temperament to be completely blind and this is not a place well suited to blind horses. We tried to find her someplace where she would be safe and have the time to adapt, if possible, but we weren't having any luck. And after the first time she ran through a fence at night we called the vet to come out and euthanize her. It wasn't fair to leave her so terrified and confused, nor risk her hurting herself. The vet wasn't able to come out until the next day. We only wish we had been able to get the vet out that same day, as she ran through another fence that night. But she is safe now, resting peacefully on our property, property she came to think of as her home.
Here's a shot of her from sometime in her past, before she lost all that weight.
It's how we prefer to remember her.
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