When Lady joined our miniature horse herd it was the beginning of a 16 year relationship. I answered a for sale ad, and when I arrived to inspect them, I was dismayed, but not surprised. The man who was selling minis was one of “those” people who got into minis to make a quick buck. He had no overhead, because he provided nothing to his horses. They had an automatic watering set up, and they were kept on a pasture. No shelter, no vaccinations, no deworming, no hoof care, no handling. According to him, they stayed on the pasture year round and he proudly told me how they can scratch under the snow to eat the sparse, dead grass buried there. If they got skinny, he tossed them some hay. Wisconsin humane laws at that time stated that as long as the animal had water, food, and shelter (in this case trees for windbreak) on the premises the requirements were met and no worries. Lots of people with puppy mill mentalities bought minis, and in fact, this particular breeder also had dozens of cages of dogs on his farm. I went there with the intent to look for a bred mare. I left with Shamrock and her 4 month old colt Irish, and Lady and her 1 month old filly Annie. Shamrock and Irish still make their home here with us. Annie lived here until 2 years ago when I knew I needed to cut back and sold her to a gal who bought her for her daughters to show in 4H.
I always try to do a “background check” on any new horses, and I was able to speak to a woman who had owned Lady for a while. I learned from her that her young teenage daughter had been responsible for Lady’s care, and the girl didn’t like her. She had been abusive to her, hitting her and yelling at her. The girl’s Mom was NOT happy and took the horse away from the kid, and sold her (the horse, not the kid). Consequently, Lady came to me with a few issues. She hated kids, raised voices, and the sight of a whip. She threatened to bite strangers, especially children, and fiercely protected her foals from everyone, including me. She despised the vet with a passion, and fought like a wild mustang whenever we had to give her a shot. Over the years, Lady and I came to an understanding. I left her alone unless I absolutely had to do something for her, and I kept her healthy and her tummy full. For her part, she listened to me when I told her to back away from that juicy toddler. She allowed me to pick burrs out of her forelock, and clean out her feet, and put on her fly mask. She even tolerated an infrequent bath. I gave her respect and she returned the favor. In her horsey way she appreciated her safe and comfy home, and me for providing it. She had 5 more foals for us, and each of them was beautiful and a special gift. Over the years she did mellow a little, but she always kept her “leave me alone” attitude.
Lady never treated her friends as badly as she treated people. She was good in the herd and was never the boss mare. Her special BFF was Star, who has a story of her own. Star was an outcast in the herd until Lady befriended her.
A few years ago Lady foundered, which is the acute form of the hoof disease, laminitis. It took several months to bring her sound again, but she did eventually improve. Unfortunately, she had periodic flare-ups over the ensuing years and each one left her with more hoof damage. The attacks are terribly painful. We finally had to make the decision to end her suffering, which is why I’m writing this tribute to Lady. She was beautiful to look at, crabby beyond belief, and she left her mark on my life and my heart. She’s going to be missed by me, and by Star.
Thanks to everyone…you know who you are 🙂
As always, click on the pictures to see the full size versions.