Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Toothy Tuesday (oops)

I can't believe I forgot what day it was, but I did.

Stillearning said: "Unspoken fear can radiate a very sneaky, negative effect; it often masquerades as common sense."

This says almost everything I've ever wanted to say. I want it in a needle point for my wall.

Right next to the needle point which says, "They're all gentle (horses) until you piss them off."

I credit that one to the Big K, he says I said it, I don't know who did, but I love it.

OK, so I don't needle point, but I can dream can't I?

Here's our Mouthy Monday Entry-

Emilie is from another country, you can feel the flavor of her language in the way she writes. I hope she writes us and tells where she's from.

This is a long one, for wordy Wednesday… I don’t have a blog, but I probably should!

This is the story of how horses got into my life.

We had just ended kindergarten and were moving up to grade school. On the first day of class, I was nervous, I was in first grade, used to having my sister around, my twin sister… but since my mom felt we needed to be independent and learn to live without each other, we weren’t in the same class. I was lost without her… and I didn’t want to talk to any of the other kids.

We had a break for a little snack at about 10 am. Then, out of nowhere, this girl starts talking to me, I’d never seen her before, she was new in our school. We exchanged some snacks and were best friends since. I learned she had a horse and got interested in visiting the barn.

Keep in mind, I was 6 years old. So we went to the barn with my new friend’s mom. This horse was great, she was a haflinger and she was an ANGEL! We couldn’t ride her, because mom was a little reluctant to let us get on this horse.

So, in the same year, I guess we had pestered the mom so much, that she brought us to ride… I will never forget the smell, the feel of the horse moving and the leather in my hands.

From then on… I never wanted to be off of a horse. I asked my parents if I could get a horse, I always dreamed of a tall Palomino that I would’ve named AliBaba. So for about 8 years, we rode that horse every day of the summer when we were off from school, and every weekends.

We’d take turns and ride the horse in a large part of the pasture. One day, we were told we could take the horse to adjacent pastures that were much bigger. We put that horse back into shape on a program we had created without even knowing! She was about 20 and stunning!

We always had the occasional fall, but we always made excuses so our parents wouldn’t know that we fell from the horse, otherwise, they would’ve took our privileges! I think that’s where the “be tuff and don’t show pain” came from.

One morning, I will never forget that day… I was 14 years old, in school, I met my friend, as usual. She was beyond sad; I noticed and asked about it. She had brought a picture of Penny (the mare) and told me that Penny was sold. I could barely hold back my tears, I was in High School now and still enjoyed riding as much as I always did.

Her mom never told us why she sold our beloved Penny, but we would have only a few days to say goodbye before she left the barn. She was going to a nice barn, but very far away… I would never see her again. We all had our time alone with Penny to say goodbye and give her one last treat, I cried so hard.

We had been through a lot together from injury to us and to her (her leg had fallen through a bridge while we were leading her over it, her leg was injured and we were far from the barn, we walked the whole way back, that’s another story, she had tripped once and fallen hard, but had only bit her tongue!).

When Penny left, she left a gaping hole in my heart… I never forgot her, it’s been 10 years. I hope that Penny is enjoying old age and retirement, she would be around 30 years old, I guess.
I lacked horses in my life for about 7 years… I was always looking at sales adds and counting my pennies. My dad had bought a land and we could easily keep horses there if we built fence and shelter.

But it wasn’t for another 3 years that I would buy my own. In the meantime, I took care of a lady’s horses, exercised them… she had 8 horses that needed work. So I learned about training, breaking foals, riding wild horses (she had one mare that was 6 and completely unhandled)… I trained her for saddle myself, as well as her 3 year old filly and regularly exercised a 10 year old mare that was already broke. That was the only contact with horses that I had then, twice a week.

I bought my filly (Dandy) from one of my mom’s coworkers that could no longer take care of her. Dandy was 2 the year I bought her. She knew a halter but that was the extent of her training.

I had taken a course on barefoot performance trimming and had studied the hoof mechanism and the best way to trim them and why for 2 years (every day!), I still refer to my material sometimes, to refresh my memory.

Dandy had severely neglected hooves, she didn’t get the minerals she needed, her coat was dull, she was disrespectful and tried to kick me on my first visit, before buying her.
In short terms… I didn’t like her, at all, but figured I would give her a chance, because she was going to auction in 2 days if I didn’t buy her.

I got a fence up in a day and trailered the horse to her new home! She would be alone, but she had lived all of her life alone since she was weaned. I started to work on her training right away, she would not give her feet and I only trimmed one at a time whilst training her, she was impatient, would not stand tied, could not walk on the lead without running me over.

So in a year, I got her from unruly to giving her feet and being patient while I trim them, riding alone on the trails, not spooking for deer or birds taking off. She now respects my space and would never try to hurt me.

She is a solid minded horse! I am now starting to work on her canters at different speeds, she can lope and jog but I have no intentions of showing yet. I want to get her to leg yield and she does a pretty good rollback.

We’ve got 2 other horses, both rescues from the meat truck, a year after Dandy. They are 2 standardbred ex-pacers. One is 16, the other is 18. They were neglected and emaciated.
They are the best ever.

The 18 y/o mare was in foal and foaled a month after we got her. The foal, a little pure black colt, was very tall and leggy and probably lacked good nutrients during his development, eh was feeble and would not get up, he had a deformity to his back or hips. We bottle fed him and cared for him day and night for 9 days, when he finally passed. He was the sweetest foal, but he was very sick.

His death still came as a surprise, since we saw him gain strength and run around. I was devastated and at the same time relieved. We had given so much to that foal and his dam, I was in shreds. I only felt relief to the fact that I could now sleep full nights and would worry all day.
The Standards have finally put weight back on and are now sporting good sized hay bellies. They are on a regular wormer schedule, but I’ve not yet started to condition them. I do not need very muscular horses and prefer to let them fully recuperate from all the trauma. Between all of the hard times, I would never sell one of them. They are my life and will end their days on our farm.

I don’t plan to ever be without a horse again in my life.

I’ve included some pictures of them:

First one is of my mare Dandy, she is my life. She is a black (true black) Percheron / Quarter horse. She is our best riding horse, but I don’t let anyone ride her too much! She is my first horse and she will never leave our farm.

Second pic is of Pearl (registered name: Minto’s Foly). Pearl is 18 y/o and she is the one who had the foal, she was in no condition to raise a newborn and has made a stunning recovery! She is starting work under saddle, she’s a bit nervous and tends to have a mind of her own. She is an ex-pacer and completely sound. She is smaller at about 15 hh.

Third pic is of Peg (registered name: Mattsabreeze) daughter of Hall of fame inductee Matts Scooter. She is an ex-pacer, at 16, she suffers from a bit of stiffness and arthritis. She has worked under saddle and she is a doll. We only use her lightly for short trail rides… and yes… she paces… she even paces in the field! Peg had a badly matted tail and believe it or not… this is what was left of it when we were done untangling it, she had scratched so much that most of the hair in the mat was broken off. Peg is huge! She is about 16.3 hh.

Fourth picture was to compare Peg and Pearl for height… Pearl (the gray mare) is 15hh! The little horse behind his one that is boarding at our farm, he is a 13.3 hh hackney mix, 9 years old.
Émilie Vallière


  1. Dandy's mom! I was reading this post thinking ... hmmm ... this sounds familiar.
    It's nice to see your story get some attention here, you deserve it!

  2. Wow, you learned a lot about horses in a short time, breaking them, trimming them, teaching manners. Nice story. Standardbreds are terrific horses, aren't they?

  3. Emilie, that is a great story. Shame on that mother for selling Penny. I sure don't understand why parents don't see how important horses are to their children. Would they rather have their children getting into trouble or learning responsibility and love for others (horses or humans).

    I'm glad you are able to have horses in your life and you should be proud of what you've accomplished!

  4. You never forget that first horse, never. Nice story.

    Thrilled with the work you've done with the Standies, too!

  5. Hi Emilie, I'm from Australia and I love Standardbreds too. They used to have a poor reputation as they were considered a bit coffin headed and people thought they couldn't canter. Now they are becoming more and more popular. As a rider of lesser talent I like their relatively calm temperament.

  6. I have a question for Helen. What's coffin headed mean? Thanks!

  7. It means a big plain head FC. Boxy rather than delicate or pretty. SBs in Australia still have plainer heads than TBs although this is changing and they aren't as plain as they used to be. I read on our forum Cyberhorse about someone whose SB had been mistaken for a warmblood at some show! But I don't care about the looks so much, they are lovely and better for the less talented riders such as me.

  8. You have done a wonderful job learning about horses and teaching them to trust you. I am in awe of this story. How did your friend feel when her horse was sold? You are doing a terrific job with these horses. They look great!

  9. YES she has started a blog! she is from Quebec Canada.. Hope you dont mind Dandy, but heres the address for her very new blog!


  10. Thanks Badges! Sorry for being absent lately, I've been sick!
    Yeah, SBs tend towards a big bulky head... see Peg! They also tend towards a longer back for elongated strides and, therefore, speed! Love them so much, they are so versatile...

    Thanks for visiting my blog!