Friday, June 26, 2015

memory of a feisty mare

Kate over at A Year With Horses posted today about her mare Missy and a "scrape" she got into yesterday. Thankfully Missy is fine and her story reminded me of a similar tale that happened years back with our sweet (read on for the feisty side) Salina.

She was always turned out with our geldings and she and Keil Bay were best buddies. She tolerated Cody, adored her donkey boys once they joined our herd, but she and my daughter's pony, Apache Moon, aka Little Man, always had a hard time getting along. 

When Salina first came to us she seemed to like Little Man. But she liked him in the way a mare loves her foal. She tried to mother him and he didn't like that one bit. This mama bear behavior continued for a week or so and then one day I witnessed her trying to herd him away from the geldings. He whirled around at her, and she let loose with a double barrel kick. One hoof connected with his rump and a hoof-shaped piece of white fur literally flew through the air and landed at my feet. 

Miraculously she had managed to connect her hind hoof so perfectly that only the fur with the very top layer of skin was removed. He had a bald patch on his rump but it was not even down to the pink skin. It looked like he had been gently peeled.

From that day forward the battle of wills was on between those two. 

They were fine during turn-out but I always kept them on opposite sides of the barn. Salina was on the near side to our house with her two donkey boys and the three geldings, Keil, Cody, and Little Man were on the far side. 

By the time Salina was in her late 20s we had started allowing her and the donkeys to have the run of the barn aisle during "turn in" time. This allowed her to stand in the barn aisle by Keil's stall, or hang out in her beloved "middle" stall across from him. She and the donkeys had the run of the barnyard and their grass paddock. On the other side of the barn the three geldings could go in and out of their three stalls into the paddock behind the barn and out to the larger fields.

This worked perfectly for a long time. But one day while I was out doing chores, the pony came into Keil Bay's stall and wouldn't leave. He stood just far enough away from the stall's front door so that Salina couldn't reach him, but he stood there staring at her with an evil gleam in his eye.

She got madder and madder. She paced up and down the barn aisle, fuming. He was in Keil Bay's stall, Keil Bay didn't want him there, (though not enough to actually do anything about it) and Salina, as was her way, intended to repair this problem. She flagged him with ears pinned and teeth bared. She lunged at the stall door. He stood as still as a statue, knowing she couldn't reach him. I felt her anger rising. That whippersnapper - who did he think he WAS?

And then after 5 minutes of this she did a whirl in the barn aisle. Which was amazing considering she had arthritic knees and by that point was totally retired from riding and had slowed down quite a bit. She double-barreled the stall door and her hooves went right through the oak. I saw 8-inch shards fly through the air like little missiles.

The stall door had a hole in it I could put my head and shoulders through. Salina had minor scrapes on her hind legs. The door was ruined.

And the Little Man stood in the same exact place he had been. Shards of wood were tangled in his mane and forelock. He still had the evil gleam in his eye, only now it was both evil AND triumphant. I had to lead him out of Keil's back door and close that stall off for the rest of the day. It was a hazard with its sharp fragments.

Salina? She was fine. The pony might not have backed off even a centimeter but guess what? He no longer had access to Keil Bay's stall. Neither did Keil Bay, but sometimes that's just the way the stall door splinters.

I miss Salina. The interesting thing that has happened since her death is that the pony has become sweeter. Whether this is age or relief I'm not sure. And the most interesting thing of all - he has become best buddies with Salina's donkey boys. He treats them with the same love and respect she did, letting them share his hay, hanging out with them all in one stall, and teaming up with them in the field if the neighbors' dogs run loose. He has stepped into her hoof prints. I wonder if that was what she was preparing him for all along. 


Matthew C. said...

Thank you for reminding me of that memory, and our amazing Salina.

After I pat the horses for turnout, I always turn to the sky and give Salina her pats too.

billie said...

I love that you do that!

I go to her mound regularly and talk to her. I absolutely feel her presence on a daily basis.

Grey Horse Matters said...

She was certainly a very special mare who left huge hoof prints on everyone's heart.

billie said...

Arlene, she definitely has left her wonderful spirit with us.

Anonymous said...

I love how much their personalities shine through.

A great story about a wonderful mare. Glad she's still with you.

billie said...

Thank you, Kate, for prompting this memory!!