Monday, November 17, 2008

The Girls . . .

As I reflect on the last two horses that I had the privilege of owning, my post touches on an earlier subject: geldings versus mares.

My first horses were geldings, the last two mares. When I went looking for my third horse, I was well aware of the “rumor” that mares were annoyingly temperamental, but I decided that I’d give them a try. If my future mare was injured and could no longer be ridden, at least I’d have the option of breeding her.

I must admit, now that I’m better educated on the issues of horse slaughter and equine overproduction, I would not have that mindset today if I were looking for a horse. Breeding a horse is a huge responsibility. You need to be certain that there’s a high demand for the resultant offspring, and you need to be willing and able to socialize and train the colt so that he grows up to be a desirable mount or the horse runs the risk of being unwanted and unsalable.

Okay, I can see I’m all over the place topic-wise tonight, but after researching for my next book, the whole, ugly slaughter issue is on my mind. As I look out my window, at my neighbor’s pasture, I’m reminded of the importance of breeding wisely. They have seven “miniature” horses—a concept I have a hard time understanding--and an unknown (to me) number of horses, and they are rarely handled. I never see a vet’s truck and can’t remember the last time I saw a farrier visit the farm. But they had a miniature stud, and for that very reason, they felt compelled to breed their stock. But where will those unschooled and poorly cared for animals end up if they’re sold? They’d have to be extremely lucky not to find themselves in an auctioneer’s lot.

So, if you’re going to breed your mare, please make sure that she’s a quality, highly-sought after animal, and be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into the foal.

Okay, off my soapbox and on to my lovely mares. My first one was a delicate, dark bay thoroughbred who’d raced but was none too fast. She was a little grumpy and didn’t much care for being groomed, but I had some wonderful rides on her. When she was in the mood, she was like driving a Ferrari. Soft mouth, round back, nice easy gait. I swear, I just had to “think” the move, and she’d do it. When she was relaxed like that, she was a dream to ride. Other days, she’d swish her tail and grind her teeth and generally be a pain in the ass to ride.

So, Missy supported the temperamental myth, all right, but I didn’t care. She was special to me. I know some friends couldn’t see what I “saw” in her, but that was okay. Next time, I’ll tell you about my Appendix Quarter horse mare.

Happy reading and riding,

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