Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sonita and Reality Checks

Sonita hollered over the fence as I drove past. She shook her head and trotted up and down her run. She was agitated at the sight of my truck. She knew we were going somewhere.

I drove around back and hitched my trailer. Driving to the front of her pen and parking the truck and trailer revved her up. She squealed and bucked, pinning her ears at the horses on either side of her. Her stall mates, used to her temper, looked back at her mildly enough, but I noticed they stayed carefully out of her reach.

It was impossible not to take a minute to admire my cherry red monster. She had grown into such a beautiful, powerful animal. All solid muscle and beautiful action, her hot, high temperament suited her. I knew her well enough to know she was eager to go, looking forward to the hard workout ahead of us. So was I.

I loaded my tack into the trailer and ticked off the automatic check list in my head. Two bridles, a ring snaffle and my full bridle, two sets of romels, and extra set of split reins. My grooming tools, Sonita's protective boots and skid boots, my saddle pad and my saddle. Two heavy coolers. I remembered to grab a spare halter and lead rope and toss it into the truck.

With a horse like Sonita it paid to have spare equipment.

She waited in her run, looking into the stall with pricked ears and white-ringed eyes. She stomped to show her impatience, but didn't cross the threshold into the stall. I opened the door and went to her, knuckling her forehead and smoothing her forelock before I tied her halter.
Sonita sighed, tolerating my attention, her mind was in the alleyway behind me.

As we walked down the barn aisle Sonita alternately jumped and blew at shadows or squealed and threatened to kick at the other horses watching us from their stalls. She made sure to stay behind my shoulder, her striking feet never actually make contact with the walls and she was careful not to touch me with more than a whisper of breath. My lead rope stayed slack in my relaxed fingers, so I ignored her.

Sonita waited until I shut the trailer and was checking the air in my tires before her resounding kick vibrated through the air.
"Hey!" I yelled and slapped the trailer with my hand, she quieted and the trailer quit rocking.
I whistled my dogs and headed out to the Big K's.

Sonita stood quiet at the tie rail, ignoring the other horses tied on both sides of her. She knew I had left plenty of room, she couldn't reach them, so she stood content, waiting for me as I worked through my rides. She watched, interested and relaxed. It looked like she was enjoying the sun.

I tossed the saddle on her back, she pinned her ears, but looked away from me as I tightened her cinch. She kept her feet still as I put on her front boots, satisfied with lipping at my hair. I reached up and pushed at her nose, but she kept up until my braid was undone and she had grabbed my CRCA hat and tossed it to the ground.

When I came out of my tack compartment with my bridle Sonita was busy reaching with her hind foot, trying to drag my cap close enough to stomp it. I dropped her halter and lifted the bit to her face. She shifted a step and lipped at my nose. As usual I cracked up. I never understood her fascination and let her slobber up my nose and steam my glasses before I pushed her away. Happy, she dropped her head and carefully placed the big half-breed bit between her teeth.

We long trotted into the big outdoor, I ignored the Big K's amused, yet slightly disgusted look as I wiped the Sonita spit off my face.

"You took long enough."

"I'm hurrying."

"Get the edge off her and we'll work the buffs."

Wahoo, I thought. I was still a little afraid of cutting the buffalo, but Sonita loved it. They were as big as she was and twice as fast as the cows, smart and wily. I was in for an exciting afternoon.

I started loping my circles and Sonita bucked a little the first times through. Her feet never came off her directed path, so I enjoyed her play.
"Sometimes I think she understands what you say, " I called over to K. "look how happy she is!"

"She just smells them in the indoor, now quit messing around and kick her up!"
The Big K sounded cranky but I could see his grin. He liked seeing her fire up as much as I did.

Once we were warmed up and Sonita was quick enough off my leg to make the Big K happy, we went into the dim light of the indoor. Normally she would be jumping and spooking at the bars of afternoon light streaming across the dirt, but she knew important work was at hand. Her eyes drilled into the five buffalo standing in a group at the end of the arena. Her hind legs stepped deeper underneath me and her shoulders became light as she shook her bit and took tiny mincing steps with her front feet.

"Go ahead and cut you one. She doesn't need to wait," the Big K said.

When Sonita realized we were going into the herd her head dropped and she began to take slow, quiet strides. She gave a brief pause before each step, careful not to scatter them. I took a cue from my mare and relaxed, taking even deep breaths.
The buffs stared back, insolent. Unlike cows I could see the wise assessment in their eyes as they sized us up. They were as intent on the game as we were.

We sidled up the side of the arena and eased between the buffs and the back wall. They began to run and boiled around us, circling to get back to their turf. I stepped Sonita up and across, slowing their motion, watching, watching, until one of the buffs volunteered and veered away from the others.

In some ways the buffalo were easier than cattle. They didn't crowd or grow dull. They would turn away from Sonita instead of towards her, giving us a split second more time to read the turn. But they were so fast. They didn't quit. They relished the game and tried to fake and duck their way past.

We stepped up and began to cut, lightening fast with no respite.We got six, seven, eight turns with no break. Finally, the buff broke off.

"Good, good!" The Big K hollered.

I rode out and traded places, doing turn back for him while he worked his horse. We spent the afternoon cutting, resting talking. Sonita was solid, I was getting there.

We sat on our steaming horses, having our "good ride beer", watching the buffs mill around and lay in the dust, chewing their cud and glancing at us in the half-friendly, half sizing up way they had. The horses shifted their weight from one hind foot to the other, ready to rest, but breathing too hard to completely relax.

"You're going to make a go of the World Show at this rate."

"You think?"

"You're making me proud."

I fell silent under the rare praise.

"Do you know what you're going to ride next year?" The Big K asked.

The question had merit. As an up and coming trainer I needed to be showing more than just Sonita. My daughter had pretty much taken over my three-year-old. I didn't have a client base which could provide me with show horses, I kept attracting poor, earnest, hard-working people who loved their horses and wanted to show themselves. The Big K got the monied folks.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," I said, "I can't afford another horse, much less cover the show fees on three head."

"You know, you're sitting on your bank roll," The Big K's voice was soft, he kept looking over the buffs.


"Your mare, she's your bank roll. She's how you can afford your next horse."

My heart almost stopped. My hand flew to Sonita's neck.

"But she's finally getting good."

"That's right. You've proved yourself and the mare. Now's when you sell them, when they're good. It's how we move up to something better and hoist ourselves another step up the ladder."

"What about the Worlds?" I was breaking out in a sweat. I had never thought of selling her.

"A horse like Sonita isn't going to be easy to sell. You start talking about it now, it could take a year or more for someone to want her."

I must have looked like I was going to faint, or scream, or throw up.

The Big K's voice was still soft, but hurried, serious.

"I'm not going to tell you to sell your horse. If anybody has earned the right to hang onto their horse it's you," he said, "but you have to decide. Is this cowhorse thing a one horse deal to you? Or are you going to become a trainer? You're gonna have to think this through."

I couldn't think of anything to say. I just kept rubbing on Sonita's neck until she shook her head, annoyed.

"Do you want another beer?"

"I think I'd better go home. I've got to think."

"Janet, I'm not telling you to sell your horse. I'll never tell you that."

"I know."

Somehow his kind words just made everything worse.


  1. thank you thank you thank you!!! i've been waiting for a new sonita chapter!!!

  2. Yay, another Sonita story! One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was sell my 6 year old Hanoverian mare that I had had since she was born. She had a permanent injury so her riding career was over, but she was still very valuable as a brood mare. Since I wasn't going to get into breeding, I felt I needed to sell her to someone who could use her to her full potential. I could never be a person who trained horses for resale, I just get way to attached :(

    I can't wait to find out what happened with you and Sonita...or maybe I can, I guess it depends on how the ending goes ;)

  3. oh yeah, I forgot...working buffalo??!! Too cool!

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  5. Oh gosh, I've been wondering what ended up happening to Sonita.

    Still though, I'm glad to see another Sonita post, she's an amazing horse.

    My big debate has been whether or not to sell my horse. I'd like to take her to college with me, but logically, I know she's not competitive enough to take me where I want to go. So it would make sense to sell her so I could afford the next step up. But... I've taken her from a barely halter broke two year old to a generally pleasent little show horse, with a kick butt personality, so I really don't want to get rid of her!

  6. Wow. My heart dropped into my stomach when Big K brought that up... wow. What a great post!

    Um, cutting buffalo? Aren't those things mean? Do they ever come after you?? I just remember hearing stories of the dumb people off of I-70, near Morrison/Evergreen letting themselves into that pasture with the buffalo to get pix and being mauled...

    Damn that Sonita is TUFF! So cool!

    Thanks for the fun read this afternoon!!

  7. Great post. I've never worked buffalo. It sounds like it was really fun. One you get over the "scared factor". And I know just what the Big K meant. The cutting horse trainer I rode with told me to sell Gunner, who at 15.3 was way too big to fit this guy's notion of what a cutting horse ought to be. I couldn't do it. I became the one horse wonder, or whatever the Big K called it, not the trainer. It was definitely a choice.

  8. That is deffinately a tough decision. For me the only way to get a better horse is to sell a horse, my parents aren't really into the whole "buy a safe, solid, moderately expensive (in my budget) horse for their kid" idea (in fact they Never did buy me a horse that'd had a sadddle on its back before), so if I want a better horse my only option is to sell one, sometimes just to buy another one to start and sell before I can afford something worthwhile. Post again soon, please, I really want to know how you decided!

  9. Quit making me teary.

  10. Yeah I had a coach tell me that a hockey player never names his sticks.

    And its true, and not true at the same time. Its bothered me to sell horses or to hand it back to its owners to go into the show pen. Ive managed to keep tabs on alot of the stock I've worked on (including one that went to florida... saw him and meet his owner and trainers at congress) But if I didnt feel for the horses would I ride as well? Or would the pressure get to me?

    Anyways you had me crying when Big K said its time. Im worried about where she would end up (being special like she is :)) I still know where my first horse is, at 27 years old he babysits his owners sheep :)

  11. Lovely work. You're definitely getting even better in your writing. Good job!

  12. Buffalo are fun....once I was able to get over being afraid of them anyway.
    They are incredibly quick and agile, and smart like a goat. For the most part the buffs seemed to like working. The big K was always careful not to wear them out, and they would go all day.
    I still don't think I'd be comfortable having my own group. They are hard to contain and need to be trained to work. They have tempers too.We didn't pet them, or go in their pen unless we were mounted. But I trusted K so I felt safe enough and they were a great school.
    justaplainsam-Sonita would eat sheep.
    joycemocha-thank you!

  13. Great post...I can sooo relate.

    I've had my gelding since he was a weanling (five and a half years), trained him under saddle and in the showmanship, put some points on him, received numerous year-end and daily championships, and trained him to be a great show horse.

    So, this past summer, when my trainer suggested that we put him up for sale, I wanted to puke, cry, smile, scream, cheer, and swell with pride. All at the same time.

    Thanks for the post!

  14. I could never sell my riding horses. I train horses for others but always tell myself they aren't my horses. Some of them I have shown too.
    Not my own though. Especially Indigo. She was almost sold to a riding stable 4 hours from here where she would have been kept in a stall 23 hours of the day in a city. I know she would have broke down.
    Here she is happy, outside 24/7, breathing easier (she has allergic pharyngitis, aka summer COPD) and much healthier. I couldn't see keeping her in a stall out of all my horses.

  15. Thanks for the great bedtime story!

    That was the perfect end to my first day back to school. I am going to take a serious butt kicking this semester, you provide a much needed escape =)

  16. Buffalos. Oh my.
    Well then, moose should be a piece of cake.
    Sonita really was something.
    My heart sinks at the choice to be made. Not an easy one, either way.
    AAArrgh. You really keep us on our toes to hang in there for the follow-up, don’t you?
    I understand from earlier discussions that getting a book published is not that easy.
    But what about horse magazines? Have you checked? This is so good stuff, Mugs.

  17. Yeah!! A Sonita story!! I too am hanging in suspense. Good news : your horse is good enough to sell for enough bucks to get a better one. Bad news : you would have to sell YOUR horse. I could never do this as a business, I too get way too attached. Keep up the good work! Next installment soon I hope!

  18. Mugwump, I love all your stories about past friends/horses. Can't wait to hear what happened with Sonita, hope it wasn't sad!

  19. oh, wow. Waiting to hear about Sonita. Like several said, there is a difference between business horses and personal horses. I've been through a lot of business horses, but my personal horses die of old age right here. It does limit you though.

  20. From the first post about her I wondered where she was. From every thing I've read by you ... I think you still have (or had until she passed) Sonita. I think you carefully choose your words in other posts to not let us in on that... that's my guess. I may be wrong. However it's still my guess and I'd like to know the answer sooner than later ;).

    What a great read... I always heard buffalo were slightly agressive and VERY smart. I'm from the east so I know little about them except what I read and watched on tv or over fences at zoos/exhibits. I bet that's a rush to cut them.

    This is a somewhat timely story for me... I haven't written much lately because I'm struggling with a horse situation. Reading horse stuff makes me think of it. Gator's owner offered him to me - she needs space. I've never bonded with a horse like I have him & he's my perfect 1st horse. However the timing is all wrong financially for us. I know what it takes (time + money + responsibility) to have my own horse. I am in the process of going back to school, working full time, riding/visiting/taking lessons on Gator when I can. My husbands response was he wished I could be jumping up and down in excitment with my own horse right now but it's just beyond our current means (he isn't horsey but listens enough to me to know how well I'd keep one and what that costs - in all ways). I can't bring myself to just tell her no. I keep thinking of where I'd put him and doing the math... hubby doesn't realize it but we could feasibly do it at the right place and me doing some of the work etc.
    Do I chance she won't find another home for him (she's not so much looking... and says it'd have to be the perfect situation) until I'm full and ready to take him on or suck it up and try. My fear is it will be too much if not financally, for my marriage. That pretty much answers it for me but my heart is just breaking over it. I feel like I'm giving up my baby but he's never really been mine... every time he unzips my coat out of excitment to go ride, I want to just burst into tears. I hate reality sometimes... write more Sonita or Mort stories soon so I can live in yours for a minute.

  21. Thanks for the sonita post...I was wondering how long you were going to leave us guessing...
    I remember the first time I got offered $25,000 for my mare. Granted I was not a trainer nor did I want to be a trainer, but when the offer came, I got a huge knot in my stomach and almost cried. I was excited because I just got offered alot of money(to me it was alot of money)for my horse, but the thought of her going to someone else...I couldn't bare! She was my first cutting horse and we were like you and sonita. we were just getting the hang of it and starting to win. I was consistantly marking 74s on her and an occasional 75. After I moved to Texas someone else offered me about $35,000 but I was quicker with my response that day...I said, "NO WAY!" she is mine until her dying days! and she was with me until the day she died...I still can't believe that she is gone and its been over a year now since she died.
    Can't wait for the next story!

  22. Autumnblaze-Can you lease him? Help pay for his feed, figure a compromise? This is so tough. I'm sorry.

  23. Autumn Blaze- I was thinking along the same lines as Mugs, maybe leasing would work for a little while. That way you can see if you can make it work without making it a permanent commitment. If it works, great, then you can buy him, if it doesn't at least you know you gave it a try and won't have to live with the horrible shoulda, coulda, woulda, thoughts. It might make not buying him a little easier to swallow if you know you at least gave it a try. And I have to tell you, the best thing in the world is a husband that is supportive of his horse crazy wife. I thank goodness for mine everyday and it sounds like yours is supportive as well. I hope it works out for you!

  24. It's a weird situation... see it's not about money. It's only about space - she's running out (I showed you the website, lots of nice offspring...).

    I'm picky about where he goes. Also, previously working for a local equine vet, I know things about people in my area that most don't when it comes to how they're kept and treated at boarding barns. Even excellent ones. Most places are REALLY far to drive which makes how often I could see him unacceptable to me. A lot of the good places don't have decent grass or decent feilds with runins. He has mild COPD and I'd prefer him out with a run in all the time - cheaper right? Usually, but that's if you can find it here.

    Plus, my husband is just sort of baffled at the whole concept. Our friend kept her horse at a local A hunter jumper barn with the big name trainer riding him, lessons, all the extras and THOSE are the figures he has in head for the cost. He's supportive but freaked out beyond belief - doesn't fit the 'horse ownership' timeline we'd discussed.

    Plus, leasing him, man... again I'm picky. Being the first horse I will own I'm afraid I'd bea nazi leasing him out and being around. It has crossed my mind - my trainer suggested it. However, I'm not even sure his current owner would be okay with that... then again, if he were mine, she couldn't say much. I am going to look into all my options... without driving myself crazy.

    She ALWAYS said she'd keep him for life though I knew if I could probably get him if I wanted. However, I was thinking a year + down the road. It's a great opportunity but is extremely distressing and overwhelming when not being ready to take it on. She also keeps saying 'no pressure', 'no pressure'... HA! I want to yak.

  25. The money space thing = she just needs him off the property and I doubt she'll lease him to me while she's paying full board somewhere... she's also super picky about his care (which is WHY I don't understand why she's okay with just putting him out...)

    However, she REALLY wouldn't need to do that until fall. I have a little time...

    Sorry I'm writing completely spacey but you can understand the stress.

  26. Autumnblaze-I meant YOU lease him from his current owner.It will put money in her pocket and $$ are always the great equalizer.I get the space issue, but one horse is not a big deal in an established barn.
    It will help your husband get used to what your after also. Another approach is to look for a private home who will board an extra horse. Times are tight for everybody and lots of folks with nice facilities are hurting for money.
    Just a thought.

  27. Ugh, I can totally understand. I had my young hanoverian in training board(for the tune of $700/month) so money was tight. But I had just bought a house with a barn and tons of trails with nothing to ride. My friend was selling a little QH mare that he had brought back to Vermont from Montana a couple years before and he had decided he wanted to sell her...asked me if I wanted first dibs. She was (is) adorable and the perfect trail horse and I had liked her from the first time he brought her home. Timing was terrible, and at first I told him I couldn't. I stewed over it for a couple weeks and thought, eh what the heck (had to get a loan from my mom to actually buy her and was too scared to tell my husband what I had done for a few weeks ;). Mocha has been one of the best horse related things that has happened to me and she will be with me for the rest of her life. I'm so glad I went for it. But I was lucky and had a barn in my backyard and 10 acres to keep her on. I hope it all works out for you in the end.

  28. Thanks for the explanations to Ezra, re: one-sidedness. I am having that same problem with my mare right now too. I have been using her just on trails (leasing her last 2 years) and doing endurance. I just started lessons in an arena, and am really noticing it now!

    We have figured out that it isn't that she "won't" pick up the right canter lead, but honestly can't figure out how to!

    So we are going back, working on balencing her. Sidepass, leg yields, etc...

    Another thing that helped us figure things out is by trying out a sidepull. I wanted to get in one for my distance trial rides, but prefered to try it out first in an enclosed arena. She loved it immediately! Picked up use of it right away. Her responses are quicker and quieter too. It is a Lindell sidepull (specially designed for Linda Tellington-Jones) and is very nice. Sigh, more tack to buy.

    While it seems to lack some of the fine detail a snaffle has, it has her more relaxed (and me realizing to get off her mouth more!). And we can isolate her problems better. Those "holes" you were talking about!

    Thanks for making me think of it!

    BTW, I love these Sonita stories...

  29. See, she won't let me 'lease' him. I've offered. She says that's what I'm already doing, for just help with vet stuff/on call if someone colics/help watch the place when they leave town. She thinks of him as mine and has said so for a looong time. Turned down almost 10 grand for him last year. I know it's all rather strange. I've offered to take care of his feet (he only wears back shoes when being ridden) she adamently refuses. I buy shampoo, brushes, stirrup leathers, bell boots, anything I can that I just leave there to try and give something more back. I also told her if he stayed there I could take him. The real condition is that he goes.

    It is 100% a space issue, which is why it's so bizzare. Next foal crop (2) is weaned this fall. She has sold ZERO of the last 3 years... can't because her trainer says they don't know what they will do, they must sit on them! I find this crazy when you're out of space and willing to kick out a horse you said you'd never ever sell. Despite never wanting to sell him she called the old trainer A rated, national trainer (who supposedly she severely dislikes and abused him rather badly) to see if she knew anyone who would want him... no pressure though.

  30. mocharocks - I know he'd be the best thing ever. If we had our own land, hubby even said he'd be ours, no question. Thanks to myself and other friends he just seems very agaist boarding one... expense + bad stories. He's supportive about me riding but not yet about owning. It would be a stretch for us and it's a sacrifice he's willing to make.

    Sorry for highjacking the post mugs...

  31. correction - he's *not yet* willing to make*

  32. Autumnblaze. Lot of sensible advise here, and it seems as if you have given this a lot of thought yourself.
    I have the feeling that deep down you know what you want. Why not follow that gut feeling, and if you are unsure then take the time needed to make a decision you feel is right.
    Apart from that I beleve that we sometimes have to do something crazy. One life you know, and why be sensible all the time?
    If Gator is what you really want, I'm sure that the practicals can be sorted out somehow.
    I'd say go for the horse, but only if you get your husband onboard. It will take time and money, and if he does not accept and support you in this decision, your joy will be gone out of the window over time as well.
    And remember, this issue is ultimately created by the horse owner. So don't feel guilty if you turn the offer down. It isn't worth a husband. At least not if he's sensible.

  33. HorseOfCourse - That's exactly where I am. I know one day we'll have horses if I take him on now or not. I've just wanted my own so long and to have one I really care about dangled in front of me when the practical side of me says not yet... ugh. I'm going to keep looking for a place nearby that would suit his needs... just in case something falls into place in my favor.

  34. I can't get rid of the feeling that there's something more to this than meets the eye, though. Maybe I'm just suspiscious, but - you are sure the horse is sound?

  35. No... not lame. I'd be the one to notice it. Plus I've seen all his vet recs (used to work there) that's how I met him.

    She's living her dream breeding these very nice horses via recs of BNTs. She's not being advised to sell any... except one. Just keep making more and they'll see what they become. That's not my business. I just never thought it would come to getting rid of him simply for space to make more.

  36. This is a trap I often see with breeders getting into the business. She is trusting in the word of trainers who are not taking on any personal risk. Of course they want her to keep breeding and hanging on to them. It's at her expense and risk, not theirs.

  37. I too had been waiting for more about Sonita, thank you.

    I won't try to guess what you did with her, but I know I couldn't have sold her if I was you. It's not that long ago I was plainly told I had to sell my horse if I wanted to get somewhere with my riding. Said horse is very talented and very injured and most likely wont ever be good for more than trails and breeding anymore. I was trying to find a place as a student in which I could learn, but was told by several trainers I respect that working students never get to ride the good horses, that you need to have your own with you to get any real training. This is European dressage barns by the way. And there's no way I could keep my mare with me AND get a schoolmaster horse, those are expensive. So I was told to sell her, and I know it was perfectly sensible advice. This is a nice mare with a great pedigree (and a beautiful filly already on the ground), she would make a good broodmare. But she's my horse. The one who was so thin and sad and scared out of her mind by the mere idea of riding, and who became such a joy to ride. She decided she was my horse and I was her human and no, I couldn't sell her. So I was miserable and resigned myself to the fact I was never going to be a good rider. Until I got this wonderful opportunity to lease a retiring GP horse right at the barn I rode at anyway! And even better, the vets say my mare just might become a dressage horse after all if I do the contitioning right. Sure, I'll do whatever it takes. She's my horse.

    So I feel for you Mugwump, what ever you did.

    And Autumnblaze: Don't give up on your dream! You never know how it turns out. I'm having so much fun with that retiree, first ever piruettes today :)

  38. autumnblaze said...
    "This is a somewhat timely story for me... I haven't written much lately because I'm struggling with a horse situation. Reading horse stuff makes me think of it. Gator's owner offered him to me - she needs space. I've never bonded with a horse like I have him & he's my perfect 1st horse. However the timing is all wrong financially for us. I know what it takes (time + money + responsibility) to have my own horse."

    I will tell you that I was in that position 2 years ago. I did buy my horse, it forced me to find a better job, and my hubby was nice enough to give me 6 months to be able to handle all of the increase in the bills by myself. Sometimes when love hits you just have to do what your heart says must happen. Things seem to work out in the end as long as you can stay determined and motivated to make things work. My horse was my reason and my why for everything and it all did work out in the end.

    Talk to the owner and tell her that before she sells him to anyone else to please contact you first. It might give you some time to get things to fall into place.

  39. Mugs, I have been catching up on your old posts, and I found something interesting. It seems as if your aids to turn are different from mine. I’ve given this some thought, and I have a theory as to why, but it might be all wrong. Would love to discuss this sometime.

  40. mugs - THAT is exactly it. They've been screwed by 2 other previous trainers too. Gators trainer (who kicks a horse so hard repeatedly in the belly he has a hematoma the size of about 4 half grape fruits at his girth? that surely ain't all she did either...) and another young horse whose brain she FRIED. Another ruined one of her now broodies by taking her for training, decidng he didn't like her and never turning her out. She began weaving so hard her front legs are ruined for anything but babies and very light riding.

    I don't know how to tell her she's being taken... at least not any more politely than I have. They're wonderful people and treat me like one of their kids almost but I worry about where they're headed.

    I did have a thought yesterday on my drive home. There is a small dressage barn who I know the owners and they have the turnout and horse sense could trust. Plus they're older and I know would let me work off board when I could. You guys got my wheels turning... I already got the better job in hopes of a horse in a year or two. I'm being more hopeful today and giving them a call. :) Maybe by fall I can work it all out and convince hubby we can do it. I'll take him out to the barn more too... Gator will help me convince him too ;).

  41. Your description of Sonita getting all excited when she saw the trailer brought back memories of my own red monster horse!

    My dad does a bit of welding, and whenever someone brought in a stock trailer for repairs, that horse was right up by the fence, snorting and trotting, thinking it was time to go somewhere.

    And like your horse, he knew what I wouldn't allow and what I'd cave in on. Guess what- he lipped my clothes constantly. When he was content he'd just stand there with a fold of my shirt between his lips.

    He was a lifer. Who else would want him? And if so, who could understand him better than me? Who would put up with all his little quirks and weirdnesses?

    I'll tell you though, keeping him meant compromising so much. Only seeing him on weekends and summer holidays, never getting a chance to really learn waht I wanted to with him. It was a tough choice and I questioned it constantly, but I was selfish and kept him.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  42. I didn't know your name was Janet! Funny, I always think of you as 'mugwump' - flattering eh.
    I've missed stories about my favourite skinhead electro singer (Sonita)
    The buffalo are crazy, I never even knew they could be cut (actually, to be honest I barely know what they are, but the wildest thing we have here are badgers)
    I hate selling horses too - it SUCKS - I'm trying to track mine down atm and its just one dead end after another. I'm sure that if you did sell Sonita (and I have a feeling you did), she ended up someplace nice.

  43. Every time I look at my budget realistically, I know that I should sell the VLC. He's valuable. I could sell him for more than I paid for him, already. Sending him to training is going to further tank my personal finances. Dave Ramsey would tell me to sell him, right now.

    I'm not going to, though. To hell with logic, I'm keeping him and I'll figure out how to make more money. :-)

  44. Hi Fugs; Selling VLC couldn't possibly be an option for you! For me the issue is not money, it is my health and what I now can and cannot do. I have agonized over it over the past year and I am no where close to an answer.....Like Sonita my mare is opinionated and I am not sure she would happily settle in anywhere else, she was already a rescue at the ripe old age of 8 months....sigh, guess I will continue to soul search.