I was nominated on Face Book to do one of those stupid challenges. This one was about posting a picture of a horse everyday for ten days, and telling the story of the horse. I am playing along. Why? Because I love talking about my horses. Clearly writing a book about them, wasn’t enough.
Writing about them again, briefly for the benefit of FB is kind of fun, actually. I figured I’d repost them here. I am writing about them in the order of which they came to me. These are the “last” 6. Yes, I have 12 horses, and I was not about to leave two out, just because it only was a ten day challenge.
This is Saleem.
I found Saleem in a sales add, eight years ago. My boyfriend wanted an Arabian, I wanted a stallion so I could get a foal by Amalia, and so we compromised and got an Arabian stallion. Truth be told, I never wanted an Arabian, but the second I came across Saleem, I knew that he was the one.
I have to say, Saleem completely sold me the Arabian horse. Today, I can’t believe that I never wanted one. Now I have three, (and a half,) thanks to Saleem.
Saleem was a year old when we brought him home.
Saleem and Amalia had a beautiful foal, Apocalipse, in 2010. (The one attacking him in picture three.)
I will say that Saleem has been a bit of a challenge. Never in a bad way, he has never been aggressive or dangerous, but all the same, he is probably one of the most difficult horses I have ever worked with. Which is why, aside from his obvious beauty, he ended up on the cover of my book, Surviving the Equestrian World. He earned that spot.
Saleem is a headshaker, and a rather violent one at that. For years, I wondered how to help him out with that. It wasn’t just when ridden, but it was while playing on the pasture as well. He would shake his head so violently, he would tackle himself and fall.
When I first started riding him, I did wonder if I was ever going to get a handle on that.
In many ways, Saleem has been my transition horse. The one where I truly decided that it was time to stop surviving the equestrian world, and start living instead.
Removing the noseband did wonders for Saleem. I never wore it tight, but it always bothered him anyway. Cutting his mane, to eliminate it touching him, helped a lot as well. He is THAT sensitive. Luckily he looks awesome as a punk…
And removing his shoes, got rid of his tendency to trip himself while playing on the pasture. For years, I thought I was doing him a favor, having special shoes made for him, and it turned out, I was really just clipping his wings. Everything I thought I knew about how to help horses with issues, Saleem has made me revise.
Getting rid of the bridle altogether is still a bit of a challenge for us, but I am sure this is the way to go. He has been much more happy and content since I stopped trying to force him into the “what normal horses must be able to do” box.
The only trouble is, that without the bridle, Saleem is so attentive, to careful, so desperate to do things right, that if he has the slightest doubt, he doesn’t dare to try at all, and I get no response from him whatsoever. He has always been like that. Terrified of messing up. My biggest obstacle with Saleem wasn’t really his headshaking. It was always, making him feel confident enough to try, even if he might be wrong. And reminding myself, that whenever I got a response from him, it was the perfect response, no matter if it was what I had wanted or not. Saleem is a horse that needs to be trained completely without criticism, or he just shuts down.
Saleem was born in 2007. The boyfriend and I bought him in 2008. I am looking forward to spending many more years with him in the future, because I am done losing my babies. He is stuck with me until he is old and grey, whether he likes it or not.
I am looking forward to learning much more from this horse as well. He is an open book, with his gentle mind and his fragile soul. I just need to figure out how to read it.
And I know, I am totally cheating, posting more than one picture. Sorry. He is just so beautiful.
This is Legacy.
Legacy was born, raised and broken in every possible way, on the race track.
When I met him, he was 5 years old, having been retired from the track without ever doing a single race due to his “bad attitude,” and having been sold multiple times since then. He was one of those horses that had been labeled “dangerous,” which was why he came to me. I used to train horses like that.
Long story short, I ended up accepting the horse when his owner didn’t want him anymore, even though I knew that he would probably break my heart, if I could not save him.
I will say for Legacy, that I have never met a more beautiful soul. He was warm, trusting, and gentle. He always tried with everything he had, to make me happy, even though the pain he must have been in, seems impossible to describe.
He did have demons. Mostly he would suffer from panic attacks and throw himself against the walls of the stall, sweating and foaming and completely unreachable no matter what I did. The times I experienced that, I ended up opening his stall and letting him run out blindly. Clearly, he carried something with him that he found it hard to let go of, but mostly our biggest issue was his body.
Legacy was lame on three legs. It took a while for us to figure out how and why, because the amount of damage that had been done to this horse, was so extensive. In the end, the X Ray’s turned out to be his death sentence.
As much as this horse truly deserved to live and be happy, there was nothing I could do to give him a pain free life.
I know that I have cried more tears for Legacy, than for anyone else. He was so kind. He was so loving. And there was nothing I could do to undo what had been done to him.
Legacy was born in 2003 and euthanized in 2011 due to, amongst other things, a broken bone in one of his legs.
I will repost this poem, that my friend Jen wrote for him.
It just meant so much to me, that somehow, all across the world, someone else had heard of my Legacy, and mourned his passing. Thank you Jen. Truly.
You walked the Earth
On crippled legs,
Complaining not at all.
Now Heaven’s pasture
To enter proud and tall.
Roam far and wide,
Brave angel horse,
For pain can’t touch you here.
With wings of gold,
You’re free at last,
And nothing shall you fear.
A gentle soul
Seeks no reward,
But finds one anyway.
At rainbow’s end
Is your reward this day.
Send love and light
Back down to Earth,
To ease the ones who mourn.
May troubled hearts
Find solace in
A Legacy reborn.
This is Apocalipse Ibn Saleem.
Apocalipse is, in every possible way, my perfect foal. Born to our very own Amalia and our wonderful Saleem, Apocalipse is one of a kind.
He has his mothers charm and persona, and her ability to be strikingly adorable whenever he want’s to. He has her calm, her cool way of viewing the world, like he knows that he is, in fact, a little superior. He has her explosive temper as well, and as much as he is the easiest, sweetest horse to work with, just like she was, if he says “no,” you are screwed. There is no arguing with him. Everything I do with him, is because he wants to let me. Just like his mother.
I see her in him, so much, it is almost too painful sometimes. Not to quote Harry Potter, but he has his mothers eyes. He really does. At the same time, he has a good deal of Poseidon’s spirit as well. Apocalipse was clearly raised by those two. What he did not learn from Amalia, he learned from Poseidon.
Apocalipse has a cool way of keeping the herd in check, that I have only seen in Poseidon before. Even if Saleem is the Alpha at the moment, it is still Apocalipse that has the last word, if things get shaky. Like on New Years Eve. He was the one who was calm, and led the little ones through the fireworks.
I could keep writing about how awesome he is forever. He is like the perfect mixture of two of the most important horses in my life- Amalia and Poseidon- with the added trusting and gentle spirit of Saleem.
Apocalipse is not broken in yet. I keep looking at him and I keep thinking that his back and shoulder is not ready yet. Who knows, maybe someday, I’ll find that he is grown up enough to carry a rider. I have been sitting on him a bit, and he is pretty cool, only he has the same over sensitive skin as his father, which makes him rather interesting, when you mix that with his mothers explosive temper.
Apocalipse is a semi headshaker as well, like Saleem, which means that he hates wearing anything on his face. Even a simple halter is bugging him beyond words. So I am working around that, by now, having finally given up on trying to force him to be normal.
Apocalipse was born in 2010 and remains to this day, (knock on wood) a star on my pasture. Who knows, maybe I’ll ride him some day, maybe I won’t. These days, I don’t really care. I just want him to live a long and happy life.
He sure is one of the reasons why I get up every morning, and he is one of the few persons in my life, who can always make me smile.
This is Marble Dane.
I bought Marble when she was about a year old. Mostly, I guess, I was looking for a thoroughbred mare, to fill some of the empty space in my life after Amalia died.
Marble turned out to be quite a challenge. Where as she fitted in with Apocalipse right away, since there was only about 6 months between them, my two red boys did not like her much, and Saleem helped them bully her. She had a rough start at my pasture, until things settled.
Once she started growing that spring, she became horribly lame on both front legs. Having learned my lesson from Legacy, I did X Rays on her right away, but luckily, the her bones were not injured. As it turned out, Marble was growing too fast, and her tendons were not keeping up.
I don’t know how long she was on painkillers, just to make her walk, and stretch those tendons. On/off, for years, I believe. During that time, she grew defensive, and aggressive towards humans. I won’t say that I blame her, it has been very hard watching her go through this, and feeling that I was losing her, day by day.
Once her tendons finally started catching up, she developed locking stifles, launching us into another immediate problem, as she would spend days on the pasture, being unable to move at all. That is the kind of thing that I cannot stand by and watch for too long, without wondering if this horse has a chance or not, but luckily, our Farrier was able to help us out a lot and by now, it looks (fingers crossed) like we are pulling through this too.
What remains is her defensive behavior. She is pretty dangerous at times, aiming to injure, when she bites. She did manage once, to bite one of my friends clean in the face, while I was standing right next to her. Luckily, it wasn’t serious, but that is the kind of things that puts her into perspective. I still have a long way to go with this horse, before we can say that we are out of the woods.
Lately, her mood has been better though. Also, I don’t really have any friends visit my pasture much anymore, which gives me the chance to work things out with her without adding the stress of her, might injuring someone else.
One thing I know, is that I am not fighting her about this. I made that mistake with Apollon, because I was young and ignorant, and he never forgave me, or learned to trust me. I am determined to not fight fire with fire with Marble. She is acting out of self defense; if I answer her anger with anger, I will prove her right. So, for now, its just her and me, most of the time, finding a way to coexist without feeling threatened by each other.
I know that there is the sweetest, most gentle little mare in there, underneath the dragon scale armor she is wearing. I just need to find it. Luckily, most of the time these days, I am seeing the sweet horse underneath. We will get there someday.
Marble is not broken in and I am not planning on riding her anytime soon. I need her legs fully recovered, and her mind fully healed and able to trust me, before I will even consider riding her.
Marble was born in 2011 and came to me by the spring of 2012. I am looking forward to seeing what our future holds. She has been hit and miss for a while, but I am starting to trust that we can make this horse recover after all, and that we will have a long and happy life together. I am keeping the faith in the future, and in her.
This is Ac Bahiyya Jawahir, AKA Tardis.
I bought Tardis when she was three years old and pregnant. She came home by the end of September 2012, as it turned out, about a month before Apollon died.
Tardis has been to quite a few different homes already, and I do feel that she is skeptic when it comes to humans as well as horses. When she moved in, she bonded with Apollon instantly, and then he died, leaving her rather alone again. She seemed disinterested in getting to know the other horses on my pasture and I did worry that she was so alone, but I kind of wrote it off with her being pregnant.
Once Ablaze was born, she loved him instantly and even if she was clearly a teenage mother, not hoovering over him, she grew to be very close to him nonetheless. The night he was born, I was sitting on the pasture, keeping an eye on her, and she walked right up to me when her water broke and delivered him at my feet. I was astounded by her level of trust in me, because I did still feel that she had this wall around her, but clearly, she was happy that I was there that night.
Tardis has been growing closer to Apocalipse lately. He has made it his life mission to make her part of the herd, for which I am very grateful. The gang accepted Ablaze instantly as well, and helped her raise him. She has never been alone with that foal, he was a team effort. He still is.
I have been riding Tardis a little, but she has a strong dislike for wearing a bit, and even if I could work around that, I find myself reaching a point in my life, where I don’t want to. Since I have a crusade going against nosebands, we can’t just jump to bitless bridles, so I kind of have to go all in and ride her with a simple cordeo, if I want to ride her without teaching her to wear a bit.
So far, I have mostly let her grow up and enjoy her foal.
Tardis is a fantastic mare. Born on April the 1st, just like my old girl Amalia, I never questioned that she belonged with me, and I am happy to say that by now, she doesn’t question it anymore either. She is loving, attentive, and a happy horse to work with, and she has a mind of her own so strong, it is hard to put into words. She brings so much joy into my life on a daily basis, not to mention how she gave me Ablaze.
I am looking forward to spending many more years with this girl, as she is without doubt one of the more perfects creations of this universe. If I may say so myself…
Tardis was born in 2009.
This is Ablazing Legacy.
Ablaze is named after the two of my horses that died before their time- Legacy, obviously, and Apollon, the sun God- hence the blaze. He is too, named after his father, Aparan, and his mother, Bahiyya. (The AB first letters of his name, which is why I spell Ablazing in one word.)
A lot of history comes with his name and one could argue that it may be a heavy legacy to carry for one so young, but Ablaze comes with a personalty that can handle it.
In fact, the night he was born, the second he opened his eyes, he spoke, greeting the world, his mother and his humans with a confidence that was quite astonishing.
Ablaze is my foal, all the way. He is my perfect creation.
I know that this is going to sound slightly insane, but part of me feels that I got my soulmate back, with Ablaze. Like he is an old soul, that has found its way back to me.
I bought his mother when she was pregnant with him, so I did not “make” him, but somehow, he always belonged with me.
I keep seeing similarities between him and Poseidon, even though Ablaze never knew Poseidon. I guess that it is mostly me, raising this foal to be everything that Poseidon could have been, if he had grown up with no concept of violence.
And that is exactly what Ablaze has. He is turning three years old in a few months and so far, I have managed to raise this foal without force or restraints. It does mean that he doesn’t respond well to the halter, or to being told what to do, and it means too, that I may have raised him to respond to me, and no one else, much like Poseidon did, but Ablaze and I have an understanding.
In my world, he is the most perfectly well behaved young man. I know that my boyfriend views him a little differently, since Ablaze has been spending the last three years attacking him any chance he got and I haven’t done much to stop it. Ablaze is not aggressive. He is just testing the waters and I never want him to be told to not be outgoing and curious.
One could argue that he needs training. I know the boyfriend argues that a lot. Just the other day, while we were trimming his hooves, Ablaze was helping me out, by biting my arm a little while I worked. I swear, I didn’t even notice that he was doing that, I just loved that he was so attentive. But the boyfriend had to point out how good it was, that he doesn’t bite people… (I keep insisting that he doesn’t…) Once I realized that he was, in fact, biting me, I found myself smiling and growing warm all over and instead of telling him not to, I stopped what I was doing and hugged him.
I know that may seem strange, but I lived with Poseidon for 15 years, and he never had the courage or the faith in humans, to interact with me like that.
Ablaze is my perfect , wild and untamed spirit. He is so pure, so innocent, and so honest. He is everything all of my other 11 horses has taught me, combined into one, untamed and loving soul. I hope I can keep him that way forever. I hope I can make sure that he is never broken, in anyway. He will be my legacy. Our legacy. All of us. How we should have been.
He will be my redemption.
He sure is the one who always makes me smile. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t lick my face, especially if he can feel that I am sad. He always make sure to corner me at some point and slobber all over me.
His joyful persona has been the light I have followed since I lost Poseidon, Apollon, Amalia and Legacy, all four of them, in two years.
Ablaze kept me going.
Ablaze and the chance to do things differently. To have one horse I can look in the eye and say, that I did not fail.
Let’s hope, I am not failing him. Time will tell.
Ablaze was born in 2013 and he has been keeping me sane ever since.