Watch this video -- precious!
If you haven't already invested in that Nigerian scheme guaranteed to make you lots of money, you might want to be aware of the various scams afoot where somehow, instead of selling your horse, you end up getting scammed out of your money.
I sent the photo of my neighbor's Redneck Fence Repair to a friend who lives in Tajikistan. She one-upped me with this photo of how the Tajiks take recycling to a new level (does this make them rednecks?) I guess if you take your truck apart, it goes further for fencing. Wonder what kind of creature gets to live in this not very inviting pasture?
As you have read in my series on "That Horse Isn't Loose, He's Grazing," I have a neighbor whose horses escape regularly. It started out with him letting the horses loose to graze in his yard. Now the horses have decided that they want out when they want out. His fence has had missing boards and gaps for months, but now he's decided to fix them. I almost wrecked the car when I saw this. What you can't see in the photo (because the truck is blocking it) is a section of fence with no boards). What my neighbor has done, instead of fixing the fence, is park his truck by the missing parts. (In his defense, he has had someone working on the fence but I guess they haven't gotten this far.)
This is the third (and I hope final) part of a series about people who let their horses loose and call it "grazing." I call it "Loose Horse!" Click for Part I and Part II.
Sometimes I see things that aren't there when I go to feed the horses in the morning. Like no horses at all (they're behind the barn) or three horses where there ought to be two.
But no, on this particular early Sunday morning there were actually three horses out there. Two inside my fence, one outside. They were having a nice visit. A very exciting visit. How was I going to catch this stray horse -- and whose was it? It was a nondescript dark bay.
So I called to Lily to come help me. She was asleep but she came out quickly, grabbing a handful of carrots from the refrigerator to tempt the stray horse. Note: carrots don't rattle, so they offer no temptation to a stray horse. Use feed in a bucket instead.
Anyway, the mare took flight when she saw us. And we ran after her trail, our horses providing a background of whinnies and thundering hoofbeats. We lost sight of the stray mare, but saw where her hoofprints had torn up several neighbors' neatly tended turf. We followed her trail across our block and across the next street, where I saw a man I'll call Rusty working in his yard. Now, Rusty has two horses. I've seen him ride one of them in twelve years. The stray horse was in his yard, grazing. I called out, "Is that your horse?"
Rusty said, "Yes. She's fine. She's just grazing."
"But she's loose," I said.
"That's fine. I let her out all the time to graze. She doesn't go anywhere," he said.
"She was just at my house," I said.
"Oh. I didn't know she'd do that," he said. "That's never happened before." And then he thanked us for following his horse.
The very next morning I got a phone call from the neighbors behind us who keep elderly QH gentlemen. "I don't know what your new horse looks like, but there's a horse in my yard," she said.
For all I know, it could be mine. Markus is an incredible jumper, and Lucy has jumped one pasture fence before, though not here (she did it with me riding her at another farm, but that's another story). So I went outside and did a head count. Both of my horses were in the pasture. So I got back on the phone and told her to call Rusty, which she did. Of course it was his horse.
So -- surprise -- two days later I hear a stampede. Rusty's two horses are racing around the outside of my pasture while my TBs are racing around the inside. Rusty's paint walking horse is winning, but don't tell the Jockey Club. Rusty's horses are keyed up beyond getting caught, not even with a rattling bucket.
Two doors down some teenage boys continue to play basketball even though there are loose horses flying through their yard. I thought that was kind of funny. The horses must have passed through their yard at least three times. The boys never lose their concentration, they keep on playing. Wow. Wonder if they can do that in math class?
Another neighbor comes out with a golf cart and wants to know if the horses are mine. (I have a dark bay and a chestnut -- there's only one paint in the neighborhood and that's Rusty's. Non-horse people aren't very observant.) No, they're not mine. They belong to Rusty. So Golf Cart #1 goes off to Rusty's house, and then, finding no one at home, goes out searching for the horses.
Lily and I grab halters and run toward Rusty's house. It's a long way and I'm out of shape. We lose sight of the horses, but since this is daylight and after work people are outside and several different men working in different yards all tell us which way the horses have gone. Each one says a different direction, which only means that the horses have been running around for a while. Each thinks he just saw the horse and we should follow the way he's pointing. So we ignore them and go to Rusty's, hoping the horses have gone home.
Golf Cart #2 drives up with two women in it, one is Rusty's wife, Delilah. I don't know the other but she is the driver and is dressed in pajamas at 6:00 in the afternoon and is wearing socks but no shoes. Delilah looks done in.
"Your horses won't even come when we offer them food," I say.
Delilah answers, "That's because they broke into the feed stall and ate every last bit."
"You'll need to have the vet come pump their stomachs when you catch them," I say. "They could founder."
Delilah doesn't look too interested. So Lily adds, "They could get crippled. They could die."
Delilah says, "Good." (She doesn't really mean this -- she's just had it with the horses.) "I told Rusty we need to get rid of the horses."
We see them gallop by and they head of toward the sunset but this doesn't look like a happy ending. Delilah has given up and is ready to go inside.
I feel like shaking her. "If they get hit by a car, somebody could get killed," I say. She doesn't answer. Her son was completing his senior project when their computer crashed, and she'd been trying to recover his files when somebody called to say her horses were loose. I can tell she feels like this has nothing to do with her. These are her husband's horses.
"Rusty called me and told me to catch them," she says. "I can't catch them."
"If they get hit by a car and someone is killed, you could be sued," I say. "You could lose everything. If you can't catch them, you should at least call the sheriff so they can try to keep people from driving in this area."
She's still not motivated, so Lily and I head for home thinking that maybe they'll come back to see our horses. Golf Cart #1 has given up and gone home, shaking his head. Golf Cart #2 doesn't know what to do. And Delilah has turned into a statue.
My friend and hay supplier drives by. He sees us carrying halters and leadropes and stops to ask if we need help. "They're not our horses," I say. "Rusty's horses are out."
He looks disgusted. He was going to help if it was us with the problem, but now the picture has changed. "Rusty's horses get out all the time. Rusty feeds them, but that's it. I don't know why they have horses." And he waves and drives off, his noisy diesel nearly drowning out our thoughts.
When we get home there's a neighbor I've never met standing in the road. "Are those your horses?" he asks. "I've already caught them once today but they got away."
I explain that they are Rusty's horses. And while we're talking to him and introducing ourselves, Rusty's horses -- the paint walking horse and the retired trotter mare -- come flying by. They are unfit, foaming, wringing wet and heaving to breath. But they're not ready to stop. We try to outsmart them, to pen them, to corner them. The area is too big with too many obstacles. Finally, the trotter mare flies by Lily and Lily manages to snag her halter. It scares me to watch from way across the field, a strange horse going too fast and too close to my daughter. But Lily has done it. And with help from the neighbor, she's able to put a halter and lead rope on the paint, who, by the way, is named "Monster." And is actually pretty cute.
Monster and her friend are jazzed up so we walk them back to Rusty's with difficulty. Lily is wearing Rainbows (translation: expensive leather flip flops that advertise her mother's extravagant and foolish love for her), bad shoes for working with strange and agitated horses. But she comes through it all with ten toes.
"Mom, these horses are about to drop," she says. "They need to be hosed off and walked."
"And to have their stomachs pumped," I say. We know none of this is going to happen. Delilah is mad at her husband and worried about her son's senior project.
"What should we do?" she asks. I don't really know. We're supposed to be at a dinner party in town in 45 minutes. We're not dressed and it's a long drive. In fact, we are sweaty and covered with horse sweat. But that wasn't the question. The question was about the horses, and I didn't know what to do.
Delilah is the one who needs to call the vet. Or call Rusty and get him to call the vet. Or do something. Delilah calls Rusty on her cell phone. Then she tells us, "If you don't mind, could you tie them up to the fence posts?"
Wringing wet, blowing, foamy and full of grain. I might be slack, but Lily is a good Pony Clubber and she says, "We can't do that. They're too hot. They need to be hosed off and cooled out."
Delilah looks like she's just been told to push a rock up a hill for eternity. "How do you know that?" she asks.
"That's what you know when you have horses," Lily says. Ouch. But she's right. And Delilah never claimed to know anything other than that she didn't want horses or to be out here with us.
"We'll hose them off," Lily volunteers. Delilah gets the hose for us. I'm worried about Lily's toes in her Rainbows. We hose off both horses but they're still too hot, still blowing.
"Now they need to be walked until they're cool," Lily says. We walk them for a little while, Delilah walking beside us. She's obviously not the fittest person and carries a lot of extra weight. A lot. This escapade has been difficult for her physically. It has possibly also done her some good, as would walking the horses but I didn't just say that.
The mare I'm walking has quit blowing, but Monster has not. I can't keep walking her. We need to go. And here's that fine line you don't know which side to dance on -- you know what needs to be done, you've told the responsible person what needs to be done. If they don't do it, then what do you do?
This isn't abuse. That would be different. This is more bad choices and ignorance. I say again I think she should call the vet, and she says there probably wasn't that much food in the grain bin. Lily says that Monster needs to be walked. Monster's continued blowing says she needs to be walked.
Delilah appreciates all of this, she really does. For some reason, maybe her fitness, maybe who knows what else is going on in her life, she just doesn't have it in her. She keeps marvelling that Lily knows how to do all these things (basic horse ownership stuff like how to tie them and how to hose them and how to check their general condition), and Lily tries to answer somewhat delicatedly that these are the things you know if you own a horse.
I say we need to go. Lily says that Monster can't be left like this, that Monster needs to be walked. She looks at Delilah. Delilah says, "Okay, I'll walk her. At least until you can't see me anymore." And we all laugh. Sort of.
The neighbor driving Golf Cart #2 -- the one wearing her pajamas and socks -- offers to drive us home. We accept. She drives us through her yard, where we meet her husband and get to see his bonsai collection. It is huge and beautiful. We have a nice chat. I'd like to see her again and am glad Monster introduced us. She tells us that she puts on her pjs as soon as she gets home from work, and when she saw the horses loose she jumped in her golf cart without thinking. I like that in a person. She takes us home.
When Lily and I get inside our house, there's a voicemail from a neighbor from down our street. "Your horses are out. That big brown and white one was in our yard." This neighbor is very particular about her lawn and flowers. I know she was not happy to have her turf churned up by galloping hooves.
I just wish she was particular enough to notice that I have no flashy colored brown-and-white horse in my pasture. Wasn't me. Our horses are solid colors, and they graze inside the fence.
This is Part II to a series I'm calling, "That Horse Isn't Loose, He's Just Grazing." You'll find Part I here under the title "some people are even stupider than me."
Okay, I'll admit it. One day I did turn Lucy out in the back yard -- under my supervision -- because I didn't think she'd go anywhere with Buddy screaming for her from the pasture and me sitting in a chair reading and keeping an eye on her. There was so much grass, so much grass. How could she think of leaving?
It all went well for about ten minutes, with her grazing in the tall grass that has overgrown where our garden should have been, but then with no warning she trotted off to visit the elderly geldings that live behind us.... And I took off after her.
Thankfully, I had my cell phone and called my daughter, Lily, to come help me catch her.
"Mom, are you stupid? You just turned the horse loose?!?"
"Well, yes, but I am right here."
"And she's at the neighbor's. You're just reckless." She always says I'm reckless. I'm not, just a combination of foolish optimism and being slack.
Anyway, it wouldn't have been a big deal if Buddy hadn't made it one. Lucy was just visiting, but then Buddy's screams made her down right alarmed. Listen to him scream! What must have happened while she was gone visiting the neighbors? Lordy, there must be wolves, bears and pigs after her! Alarmed over whatever she imagined was happening, she trotted back and forth through the bushes. And I was beginning to have some good imaginings of some bad stuff myself.
But all it took was one good rattle of the feed bucket and she was back home, nose in the bucket. My stupid exploit was over. Lily returned her to the pasture, lecturing me the whole time. I haven't done something this stupid since. Well, not that I'm going to tell you about.
So, while I'm about to call the kettle black, I'm also the pot. Part III tomorrow.
Okay, so I had one dead mouse with two holes in him on my tackroom floor. Then I found another dead mouse, this one obviously fell in a Rubbermaid tub, couldn't get out and died. And then there was the shredded horse blanket, the chewed open bag of feed and the strange piles of things I didn't put in strange piles.
The first thing you have to do, if you want to sell a horse, is convince your daughter that she'd have more fun with a different horse. This may take months and will involve many tears. During this time give her many opportunities to ride other horses and have fun on them.
Yes, it's true that no other horses is as wonderful as the current horse (in this case, Buddy, who is truly wonderful as long as you don't want to jump). Nobody has as much personality or is as friendly (also true, but you don't ride on the personality). If you want a friend, get a dog. If you want a horse that's fun, get one that wants to do what you want to do.
I got a domain name that included Buddy's registered name and put up a web site for Buddy that included videos, photos, his pedigree and what he was good at and what he wasn't good at. It told his whole story, in mostly short categories with their own headings. Visiting the web site was like visiting Buddy, except I didn't have to clean our bathroom in case you needed to come inside. I don't know if this was essential or not but it saved me the wear and tear of sending information to people -- I could send them one link and it was all in one place.
Then I listed him on Horseville.com, Dreamhorse, Equine.com and something else I can't remember. I got a lot of calls from Horseville at first, but it was through Equine.com that he sold. It took about five or six weeks from when I put him up for sale to when he sold.
My advice is to put up as many photos as possible, and not just of the horse standing on a leadrope in profile. Put up photos of the horse being ridden, the horse interacting with other horses, the horse in shows. Put in funny photos as well as gorgeous photos. Put in the best you've got. I think this is what attracted people's attention.
I got a message from a woman in Kentucky that Buddy is the screensaver on all the computers in her house. I got another message from a woman who couldn't afford him that she really enjoyed looking at all his photos, especially with children riding him in things like the egg and spoon class. She said I had the best photos on Equine, which is almost kind of sad because I'm not a very good photographer. But I did have lots of pictures, and I posted them.
Buddy was bought by the sweetest lady. She lives in Charleston, S.C., and I know that she will continue my mission of spoiling him. She doesn't want to jump him, so they should be perfect for each other. He will live at a barn near Middleton Place Plantation and Drayton Hall. We're invited to keep in touch and see him from time to time. That makes it easier.
One of the keys to selling Buddy was to keep me out of it. Yes, I was here. But I let Lily's teacher, who has worked with Buddy for a year, talk to the new owner's trainer. Not that I didn't talk to them, but I just chilled. Once somebody is looking at your horse, I found you should let the horse do the talking.
And you know what? The new owner's trainer and the new owner see how fabulous Buddy is (as long as you don't want him to jump). As they said, "He's very well trained and doesn't have a mean bone in his body."
Goodbye, Buddy. We've been missing you. But we'll come visit and bring you treats.
Winning is never everything, but sometimes winning can be an embarrassment. We have this new horse, Markus (left), who has done a great many things, from racing to eventing at the preliminary level. And also at the beginner novice level and novice level with his previous owner. When I checked online, I saw that they had won one event at the beginner novice level, and been eliminated at other events on the cross country phase. Oops!
We know what he can do. We don't know yet what he can't -- or won't -- or possibly even worse, WILL do that we don't expect or know about.
So, when we'd had the horse a total of three weeks (and two of them are his "on trial" weeks), I was faced with a dilemma. Lily wanted to enter him in a friendly, local horse trials that she usually attends. But at what level should I enter them? She's never even ridden a dressage test on him and has only had three lessons. I don't know what he does on cross country that got him eliminated more than once. Everything I've seen him do is good, or otherwise I wouldn't have bought him. But there's this level of the unknown....
Over her objections (she wanted to go novice, which is two levels up from her previous experience), I entered her in special novice -- the same level at which she last competed. At that time she was first after dressage but ended up fifth from time and jumping faults. Enormous time faults.
We got to the show grounds and unloaded. Markus looked around then started grazing. That's a good sign. He doesn't stand particularly still to get tacked up but he's not awful, either. They had a pretty good warm-up for dressage, but not a very good test. Their score put them next to last (fifth), with a huge difference between them and the girl in first place.
So, that was disappointing but just showed what Lily and Markus need to work on (everything in dressage). Schooling for cross country was good, and even though Lily had been warned by Markus's previous owner that he was very, very antsy and sometimes agitated in the starting box, he walked in and acted like a horse with brains. He knew where he was and was ready to go, but he wasn't stupid.
Lily had to ride him, and he hesitated as if he was going to stop at a downhill jump in a pasture fence line that he had to jump into some dark woods, but Lily growled at him and drove him (thank you, Buddy, for this good lesson) and Markus sailed over. Whew! After that she had a wonderful ride -- the time of her life. I have never seen such a happy smile on her face.
Lily was clean after cross country. But the other girls weren't so lucky. Lily found herself unexpectedly in first place. And though they had a very eccentric, fast and open-jumperish stadium round (giving the spectators their money's worth with hair pin turns, crazy approaches and almost getting off course), they were clean there. So they held on to first place.
I was proud of both of them. And I was also very, very relieved that they had not done well in dressage. The mothers and trainers of the other competitors politely asked me about this new horse, and I could tell there were some ideas that perhaps it wasn't sportsmanlike to enter them in this division. I was relieved that I was able to tell them that Lily and Markus were next to last after dressage, which meant that their first place finish was only possible because the competitors who placed higher than them after dressage lost their rankings through their own time and jumping faults. I did not enter a ringer for my child to beat their children.
My goal for the day was to enter my daughter and her new horse in a competition that would be challenging and safe, where they could come away with a good experience. That's what happened, and now we know (more or less) how he's going to act.
Lily was ecstatic during her victory gallop. She did the whole thing on the wrong lead. She has plenty to work on before next time, when she will indeed compete up a level.
Winning is great fun when you've really earned it.