Went for a ride last week. It was about thirty degrees and icy. I had the idea I would let Pippa come with, on the little trail loop I had planned -- it is the only loop dry enough to feel even slightly safe on. But she was so restless and hyped up I had not even gotten past my first neighbor's field before I was too worried about her running crazy to continue. There are old barbed wire fences buried in weeds out there. So I took her back and went out with Brooke alone.
Brooke had her studded boots on all four feet, and did not slip at all. She was sticky and reluctant for the first quarter mile, which is usual after a long hiatus. Then she saw a car parked in a new place at my neighbor's barn and wanted to throw a tizzy about that. But settled and we took the trailhead out into the forest. Then she discovered her bottled up energy. Oh my. Walking was no longer in her repertoire, only prancing. When we got to a long ascent I let her go a little. She picked up a snorty, gorgeously collected canter which wanted to be a dead run. When we got to the top she shook her head, feeling wicked, so I got off and led her down the other side (which was a lot steeper). An earlier me would have chanced it, but not this me. Then we Morgan-walked home at a hundred miles an hour. It was a really short ride but fun, if a bit scary.
A few days later Pippa had an Incident. The night before there had been something in the woods that Brooke was very nervous about. A bear, or a moose or a yeti or a horse-snatcher -- I didn't see anything, but Brooke would not come in to eat. The result was that most likely Pippa ate both their dinners. The next morning she would not touch her food, and was lying down on the icy gravel which she never does. I took her vitals, nothing seemed amiss, but I called the vet anyway. Who came out, said something was wrong although it didn't feel dire to him, gave her banamine and milk of magnesia, and went away. Pippa recovered uneventfully but I still have milk of magnesia stains on my jacket.
So yesterday it was real nasty out. Dark, cold, with an icy drizzle. I had four appointments in widely spaced directions including a hand x-ray (my left hand has never been great since that day last fall when Pippa sat on it). Considering that I really hate driving, especially on freeways and in cities, I had signed up for way too much, but I felt a lot of pressure to solve my What Shall I Do With Pippa-less Brooke dilemma.
I rescheduled the hand x-ray and drove twenty miles to a boarding stable where one of their elder horses just had had to be put down so a stall had opened up. The stable turned out to be a sprawling collection of random sheds and old barns and patched-together paddocks and fields. There was a big rental house full of young people coming and going (it's a college town) and it took me awhile to figure out where the owners' house was. They turned out to be a very nice older couple who gave the impression of struggling to keep up with the enterprise they'd been running for many years. Disrepair was evident everywhere. The indoor arena was half full of projects, a small wood-shop (I know Brooke would appreciate the bandsaw), makeshift stalls, and parked vehicles. The horses appeared friendly and well-cared for, but the stall Brooke would be put in at night looked like a little prison to me -- a tiny window looking into the barn was the only opening -- the door was solid wood. Poor Brooke, I thought. The only time she has ever been closed up in a stall was for injury or a truly big storm, and never alone like this.
I thanked them for their tour, drove off with a headache and filled with worries, facing an hour drive through a large city on an empty stomach to go look at a small pony a lady was reluctant to sell me without me taking his larger buddy as well. I came to my senses, cancelled my visit there, got some lunch, and went home for a short break. Then I drove in the other direction to go look at another boarding situation and another pony on offer.
This pony was an obese gray Connemara mare with a lot of training on her, though now rusty for lack of work. She had been a show pony in her day. Even fat, muddy and hairy, you could see the very pretty horse under there. The great thing about her is that she was not far away, and she could be simply borrowed for Pippa's time away and returned if she did not suit. Another positive is that she is big enough for almost any reasonably-sized adult to ride. Hard to say exactly, because she is mutton withered and (did I mention this yet?) fat, but I'd guess about 13.3.
She does have some issues, including a tendency to seedy toe, difficulty with the farrier, and a dry winter cough. If I kept her, she would have to be dry-lotted or wear a grazing muzzle.
I could also board Brooke there, in a drylot with the Connemara, who has a sort of plastic hoop house for shelter. Considering that I have never seen Brooke use her stall for shelter beyond standing under the overhang in a rain storm, I think it would be adequate. It is clear to me that I would far prefer to bring another horse here, so that Miss Brooke could then remain under my watchful eye and loving persnickety hand, than board anywhere. Plus oh my gosh boarding is so expensive!!
Today is grooming day but little else. It is snowing lightly with a bitter north wind.
Short horse lover