This coming Saturday, May 2nd, will mark 2 years of having horses on the property.
I began working and cleaning stalls to ride when I was ten. Through middle and high school I was a “come and go” equestrian. I was a devoted barn rat until drama of some kind ensued during which I vanished. Horses being a forever love of mine, however, would never be out of my world for long.
I worked to ride through college.
After college, I helped out a friend for a couple years.
Horses fell to the wayside while I pursued my career and explored other hobbies. I ran my first 5k and fell in love with obstacle course races. I got into and even started teaching kickboxing…it’s how Zac and I met (He was an instructor). It was during a women’s self-defense course that I was assistant teaching that led me to find Blade.
I was a horse owner. Finally. Twenty-six years and I was a horse owner. A dream.
I also dreamt of owning a property with my horse onsite. Boarding was amazing and I learned many things about being a good, responsible owner. Zac and I saved up and in a few years we moved into the house we call home today.
Another dream of mine. Having horses right at home. There was (and always is) a lot to learn while planning our horse property. There was no fencing. No pastures. No barn. We did that.
I did research. We busted our butts. And on May 2nd, 2018 Blade came home with Happy.
I subscribe to the philosophy that horses are herd animals and NEED social interaction with other horses. At the time affording two horses was out of the question. I spent most of my savings on setting the property up and already work 12-hour overnight shits to earn more money.
That being said I do everything I can to provide my animals with a happy enriching life.
Something I find absolutely astounding is that in only TWO years there have been SEVEN horses on this property. To celebrate two years I want to celebrate the horses that have called this place home.
WARRIORS BLADE: AKA “BLADE”
An obvious choice to begin our celebrations. Blade was and always will be my heart horse. When he came home he was a 10-year-old off-track thoroughbred. We did all of this for HIM. I sacrificed novelty and restful sleep to make sure I was doing right by Blade. In the two years I had him home we developed a closer bond than ever before. I had him trotting at liberty circles around me in my backyard with no fencing.
Blade was always happy to see me even when he played the “you can’t catch me game.” We enjoyed bareback rides, grazing the backyard, and simply hanging out together.
PARAMOUNT’s HAPPY APPLAUSE: AKA “HAPPY”
Happy, a then 24 (I think) year old morgan mare just coming back from a suspensory tear. Happy had spent fall on stall rest and during the winter I had begun helping my trainer begin hand walking which turned into 5 minutes walking bareback, 10 minute walking bareback, 15 minutes, then 20 minutes. Then we added trotting the straights and soon after cantered the straights (Thank God she’s smooth and bareback riding was easy on her). By May she was mostly recovered but still not ready to return to the lesson program.
As a way to help my trainer and also myself, I offered to have her at our home to keep Blade company while giving her more time off and exercise.
Happy thrived on the 24/7 turnout and the hill strengthened her throughout the summer.
By the end of summer my trainer missed Happy and wanted to bring her back into the lesson program for the flat riders. It was a lovely summer having her as part of our family.
VIA VIA: AKA “LITTLE MAN”
I was given a month’s notice that Happy was going to be returning to the lesson barn. I had a month to figure out how to give Blade a companion without putting myself in a financial hole.
I reached out to several rescues and eventually, my neighbor put me into contact with the rescue that saved Vai Via’s life from Moore’s kill pen in Pennsylvania.
Vai Via was a 20-year-old thoroughbred who found himself close o being shipped to slaughter in early 2018. He was saved, quarantined, and spent time at a farm in Maryland.
When he arrived he was a nervous soul but very kind. He had a smaller refined body that was solid and well built. He loved to run and play…you couldn’t tell him he was in his twenties.
We were his home for a year and in that time I had the joy of learning who he was and earning his trust. He was a bit nervous under saddle but on the ground, he’d do anything. We did obstacle courses together and he even allowed me to try archery with him.
Due to the contentious ending between myself and the rescue I was cut off from contact and I am not sure as to what he is up to now. Not knowing that he is safe and happy is the most difficult part of the whole ordeal; as for the people, there is no love lost.
ZENO BAY: AKA “OLD MAN”
Zeno Bay came home with Vai Via as a package deal. The two were inseparable best buds. Zeno Bay was also a 20-year old thoroughbred. They were rescued from Moore’s a week apart and spent their quarantine together. Zeno Bay also lived with Vai Via in Maryland all summer until they were returned to NY to live with us.
Zeno Bay did not arrive looking as good as he did in photos. In fact he looked better in the killpen. While on the farm in Maryland he developed a quarter crack that extended to the coronet band and lost a lot of weight.
In only three months Zeno Bay was back on a healthy road. He had more minor and easily remedied health issues. Due to a large belly and ribby look, we opted to administer a Panacur PowerPac to address any worms. During a wet week he stood in the run-in shed all day and stocked up…hand-walking and cold hosing took care of it. I noticed he became aggressively itchy and upon investigation found he had lice (not transferrable between species but still gross). I treated all three horses preventatively (and again two weeks later) and washed their blankets well. During a frigid week in January, I came out to find Zeno had a swollen sheath (after talking to a few farms it seemed they all had similar issues with at least one or two of their geldings). Since it seemed to me like edema (and with a phone call with the vet) I hand walked and exercised him daily and the swelling went away.
Aside from these minor issues, Zeno Bay was the most personable horse I have ever met. He got along well with the other boys but was happy to leave the herd and wanted to be with you and in your pocket. I could do anything with this horse and as long as we were together he was happy.
One day while bareback riding I walked him over to our flagpost to fix the flag…the pole had retracted. In trying to extend the pole back to normal height it instead came off in my hands. I used this as an opportunity to train, but Zeno Bay was completely unphased by the waving flag.
Again, since things ended poorly with the rescue I have no contact with Zeno Bay any longer and it breaks my heart. As far as I know, he has a very loving home and is enjoying his life. If that home ever found me and reached out I’d be happy to send him my love and a bag of his favorite treats.
R TOMCAT: AKA “TIGER”
As things heated up with the rescue and stipend payments became later and later I knew the time was approaching to say goodbye to my sweet old boys. I began my search for my second horse. I made the decision to get a second horse to eliminate the drama of having anyone else’s on the property (I do not offer board). I wanted a horse that was more sound than Blade the I could take to hunter paces and that I could jump.
A twist of fate connected me with R Tom Cat, a then 6-year old thoroughbred gelding. His family was looking to place him in a good home. He had raced a couple times and didn’t do well, so he was re-trained and brought to Kentucky for the Retired Racehorse Project. He showed promise in the eventing world and his sire, Dance With Ravens, is among the desired sires for the sport.
Tiger came home in September just before Zeno Bay and Vai Via went back to the rescue. He and Blade had about a week to establish a bond and get to know each other. Tiger was smitten with Blade instantly.
Life with Tiger wasn’t easy at first. I had flipped his world upside-down. From a cushy stall life to 24/7 turnout. From arena riding to the backyard hacks. He took to pacing the fence and it drove me nuts.
Over time, however, Tiger has become accustomed to and satisfied with his new life. He happily eats his hay, lays in the field, or in his bedded run-in shed. He always comes to greet me and enjoyed being loved on. He especially loves his face rubs. He also still loves to work. Recently we have been given permission to ide the neighbor’s cornfield and that’s his favorite since we have the room to gallop and stretch out.
When Blade passed on suddenly in December a friend of mine reached out to me to offer Nahe on a free lease with the option to buy. Nahe is a large paint (16.1/16.2hh?) gelding she acquired while she led trail rides in Hawaii. That’s right. Nahe has come 5000 miles. He’s been in New York for about five years now and grows a perfectly well-adapted winter coat. He has a giant head and we THINK he’s about 15/16 years old.
Nahe and Tiger became best friends within 5 minutes. They eat side by side and lay next to each other for their afternoon naptime.
Nahe is another in-your-pocket type and loves to visit with people. He’s laid back in true Hawaiian fashion. He makes his time getting around but on the trail is happy to kick it into a higher gear. Like Tiger, I trust this horse and have many times ridden him in the cornfield bareback with a halter.
He also takes wonderful care of my neighbor who also enjoys spending time with him and giving him extra grooming sessions. Right now he especially loves it because he is shedding white hairs everywhere!
Sadie is our most recent and temporary resident but she is still part of the family regardless.
Sadie belongs to my trainer…another morgan mare. She is the largest morgan I have ever met standing at 16/16.1 hands. She has a thick cresty neck and her ribs are quite squishy but her whole presence is simply stunning. Watching her move brings a sense of royalty.
Sadie went immediately into intense work. I round penned her daily. I also added in lunging on a line. After that, I added in trot poles. Sadie is a high energy girl and I have to be in the right frame of mind to help her find a sense of calmness and ease. She carries a lot of tension so working with her requires me to be calm, quiet, and patient. She thrives on praise and LOVES to hear she’s a good girl. Sadie also loves to cuddle. Being groomed and having her face rubbed is her favorite.
In only a few weeks she seems at ease but I am still working on getting on her. To be honest I am quite nervous and I’m making it slow. So far I have saddled and ridden her for I’ve minutes in a bitless bridle at a walk. When she starts to get fussy I look for something she knows and does well, parties her, and get off. I plan to build from there if the rain will ever let up.
SEVEN HORSES in only two years. Our property has seen a lot but we’ve done a lot of good. All seven of these horses have thrived here and all enjoy people. They enjoy being around people and they have had a good life here. I am always working to improve our home and quality of care but I am satisfied with what we have done so far.