Thursday, July 15, 2010

Catching up: Skipper

The next animal to join our little farm was an 11-yr.-old, Buckskin, Quarterhorse mare named Skipper. She was the horse of my dreams. When I was a young girl, I rode my cousin's Buckskin Quarterhorse mare and she was the best horse I ever rode, and the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. I planned from that time on that someday I would have one just like her. I didn't set out to get my dream horse right away. I planned to take some time to get "back in the saddle", take a few lessons, and find a nice, calm, older, calm, gentle, calm, mare to ride until I was a little more experienced, once again. Did I mention that she needed to be calm? Then, later on down the road, I would look for my dream horse. You see, I grew up riding. I had my first pony (a pinto named Tina) before I could walk. We had horses around off-and-on for much of my growing up years. When we didn't have our own horses, I rode friends' and relatives' horses. But I left home at 17 and have only, briefly, been on a horse twice in the last 30 plus years. Not only that, but I never really handled or took care of the horses. As I mentioned earlier, my dad did all of that. I just got on them and rode them! I didn't even seek out this horse. The girl who was giving me lessons knew about this horse and thought she would be a good horse for me. Well, I had some doubt about whether or not I was ready, but decided to take a look. I loved her the moment I saw her. And, when I rode her, I knew she had to be mine! I went and rode her several times before the final decision was made and, on the 4th of June, Skipper was delivered to our farm. The gal who owned her brought her over (we don't have a trailer yet), and she brought along another horse so we could go out riding. We rode out over the near pasture on the west side of the house, across the creek and all the way arount the far pasture and back. It was GREAT! After that it rained and rained for days on end. Even when it wasn't raining the ground was so mucky I couldn't ride. Finally I decided to ride a bit in the paddock just outside the barn where we had her grazing. That went well. More rain. The next time it was clear and dry enough to ride, I got her saddled, took her out into the yard and got on her. This time she threw her head around and did not want to go where I wanted to go at all. After a few minutes of this, I got off and put her up. I called her previous owner, who said she be out to check the day after next. So, she came out and Skipper acted up for her too. She tried and tried to work with her, but couldn't figure out what the issue was. She left and came back a few days later with a horse expert friend. Turns out the bit and reins on the bridle the girl had sold me were causing the problem. We got that changed out, and then she seemed fine again. The expert gave me a few pointers and everything seemed fine. A few days later I rode again. At first, she didn't want to let me on, but I eventually got on her. I took her out on the near pasture and we rode a little while. She kept wanting to come back to the barn, but I didn't let her have her way. Even when we came back to the barn, I didn't let her go in right away, I rode her around in the yard a bit. Everything seemed fine. A few days later, the ex-owner, the expert, and her daughter and grandson came out with their horses so we could all go riding together. We decided, since the expert's horse and Skipper didn't have shoes, we should ride in the pastures (even though they are extremely over-grown right now) rather than on the gravel road. Skipper did not want to let me on, again, but the ex-owner held her while I mounted, and I took the lead into the pasture. Skipper immediately stopped to eat grass! I saw we were not on the path and there was a big, dead branch just ahead of us, so I tried to get her over onto the path. I don't know if the branch poked her, she stumbled, or what, but the next thing I knew, I was hitting the ground...HARD! Skipper had jumped, bucked and run sideways, all at the same time. I was dazed for a moment and my lower-back/rear-end was really hurting. I was trying to figure out if I could move or not when I heard the expert say, "She's not getting up." I figured I'd better let everyone know I was okay, so I started to struggle to my feet, only to realize my bladder had betrayed me when I hit the ground! How embarassing! I laugh when I am nervous or embarassed, so I made a joke about having to go change and said I'd be right back! I went in the house, changed my clothes, took three Ibuprofen, and headed out the door, much to Greg's discontent! By then, they had Skipper settled down and I got back on her. We rode over the pasture, across the creek, and into the far pasture. After we got over there, Skipper started bucking. This time, I stayed on! I jerked her reins sseveral times and she settled down again. Then we rode over the fields for a couple of hours. She was flighty the whole time, but she behaved. I haven't been on her since! She just has seemed so sad. I think she is homesick and has not adjusted well to our farm. She was born and raised on her farm and has been there for all of her 11 years of life with her pastures, her barns, and her herd. Plus, the ex-owner is much more strong-handed and commanding than I am. I can be firm, but I am a soft-touch. I think all these changes have been too much for Skipper. So, I decided to turn her out into the eastern pasture for awhile, where we have been boarding a couple of horses for the ex-farm-owner while she gets her fences up on her new place. Skipper was immediately a happier horse. I really think Skipper needs some time to adjust to our farm, and I need some time to figure out what to do. I love her, but I am not sure she is the right horse for me. The ex-owner thinks I should sell her to another friend of hers who wanted to buy her, but I am not sure I am ready to go to that extreme yet, either. She and the expert tell me I handle Skipper properly, so it is nothing I am doing wrong. But, I do not have the heart/fortitude, to constantly have to force her to mind me, and I do not have the constitution to always be worried about what she is going to do. In my defense, if she had behaved like this when I rode her at her farm, I never would have bought her. I would have realized I was not ready, mentally or physically, for such a challenging horse. But, I would hope that, over time, she will settle down and adjust a bit more, and I will get some more practice and confidence in my abilities, and, eventually, we will work things out so that she really will be my dream horse.

1 comment:

  1. wow, what a beautiful horse, i hope she gets to feeling better and u can keep her!!