Monday, August 13, 2007

Nessarose and Elphaba, and the other horses

We’ve named the two new horses Nessarose and Elphaba, who are, respectively, the Witch of the East and the Witch of the West in the book Wicked, which is also where we found Glinda’s name. Glinda was also the name of the good witch in The Wizard of Oz, but I’m not sure if the original story ever named the Wicked Witch of the West or her sister. In the story they’re sisters, but even though they’re mother and daughter here, we named the mare Nessarose because she’s lame in the front, and Nessarose in the story didn’t have fully formed arms. Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, fits the little filly, who is well on her way to being a witchy little mare.

We’re not sure we’ll ever be able to do anything with Nessarose, but we figure we’ll give her a good home since she looks like she deserves it. Not only does she have the fat fetlock, but she has a scar around her neck where the hair is gone, and some white hair around that, where it looks like she was tied by the neck and the rope was allowed to grow into her skin. She also has saddle sores all down her back – which I don’t get because she supposedly wasn’t being ridden because she’s lame. The sores on her withers are enough to make me cringe, but what’s even worse is they run all the way down her backbone, which sticks up a bit higher than it should since she’s so thin. She has other old scars rimmed with white hair where something has rubbed her, and she has another rope burn scar around her right hind pastern. She has fungus under her mane and, until we gave her a couple of good groomings, she was filthy and loaded with ticks. Selwyn doesn’t know how old she is, but we guess around 10, although we’ll ask the vet for his best guess when he comes out to give her and the filly their shots. She’s not as lame as we’d thought she’d be, although it looks like she hasn’t used that leg properly in a long time because the hoof has grown too boxy. We’re wondering if a good hoof trimming might not make her almost sound, at least at the walk, so we could get her out and get her some exercise. But, before we do anything with her, we’ll feed her and get to know her. She’s very sweet, and loves to be rubbed and groomed, and so far has been very willing to do anything we’ve asked.

Elphaba is a little piss-pot. The lack of an eye doesn’t slow her down for a second, and while she’s also happy to be fussed with, she’s a little too reciprocal in her affections and we need to teach her not to bite. She seems to be in better shape than Nessarose, probably because she’s still nursing so she’s getting more nutrition. We kept the two new horses separate from the others on the first day we brought them home, and then tried turning them out with our other three and Burrito (Selwyn’s horse who lives here periodically when we need to use him). Esmerelda and Glinda checked them out and seemed to accept two new mares as part of the herd, and Tony didn’t really care, but Burrito, for some reason, decided that he didn’t like the filly. He went after her, bit her good, and went after her with his teeth out when she ran away. Tom and Wilton were clearing coconuts out of the pasture so they saw the whole thing, but I got over there just in time to see Elphie still running from Burrito, but attacking Tony. Tony, the poor guy, was just standing by the gate, and she ran right at him with her teeth out, and bit him on the shoulder! Being the good guy he is Tony just hopped his back end like he was thinking about kicking her, but she had to run off anyway because Burrito was catching her. She did another lap around the pasture to get ahead of Burrito, and came back for another go at Tony! He did the same thing, but by that time I was there so I was able to herd Burrito out the gate and into the other pasture, and then grab Tony so I could swat the filly away from him. She left Tony alone once she was no longer pursued. We ended up tying Burrito out in the yard, which was probably a good deal for him since he gets more grass there.

Our five horses seem to be getting along just fine in the pastures. Esmerelda seems to be the self-appointed boss mare, because she makes sure that Nessarose and Elphie are in the front pasture while she, Glinda, and Tony eat in the middle pasture. I finally got to see her jump – and she looks as good as she feels – because as I was distributing feed, she saw Nessarose and Elphie come into “her” pasture. I was on the path where I can step over the log, and Es had to pass me, so she made a pretty big jump over the log and all the stuff that’s growing on it in order to put the two new horses back where they belong.

In other horse news I rode Glinda yesterday for the first time since I tried her when we bought her. She bucked Tom off (he actually stepped out of the stirrups at an opportune moment), then bucked Selwyn off a couple of times, and since then Selwyn has been taking her on trail rides with the draw reins tied to the horn of his Western saddle so she couldn’t get her head too far up or down to buck or rear. It seems to have worked, since she was good for me. I was glad I had the Tucker training I’ve had to get on her, since she did a lot of dancing around and threatening to hump up her back, but I got on slowly, steered her around before I was all the way in the saddle, and when I got on I didn’t even have to pull her too far in with the draw reins. By the time we got out on the road she was pretty relaxed, and while I kept a grip on the draw reins for the whole ride, she was, if anything, a little too quiet. She doesn’t use her back like Es and she feels really hollow – a lot like Shawn – but I think a little work getting her to reach for the bit rather than just avoiding it will get her moving better. The bucking had to stop before we could do anything with her.

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