I just have to do a separate entry to say how proud I am of our horse Nessa. April rode her on both trail rides to Sapodilla and Big Rock Falls, and Nessa was a star! This was Nessa’s first time out on the trail with anyone other than Tom or me, and it was the first time she’s gone on the really long, ten-plus mile rides. April was the perfect person to be our test rider. She’s been riding since she was a kid, she loves horses, and she has the perfect personality to let Nessa know that she wanted to work with her without being rough. Nessa responded in kind, and the two ended up loving each other.
Since very few of you have met Ness, it might be hard to understand why this is such a big deal to me. We got her from a man in San Antonio who had rescued her from a person who had inherited her and had no idea how to care for a horse, and the original owner had apparently been less than kind to his animals. The man from San Antonio had cleaned her up and fattened her up some, but she was still a bag of bones with a dull coat, scars from misuse all over her, and a front ankle twice its normal size because of a tendon injury that hadn’t been treated. She’s been pretty roughly handled, and was extremely head shy with everybody, and wanted nothing at all to do with men. Elphie was eight months old when we got her and had never been weaned, so Ness still had to tolerate the filly shadowing her constantly and trying to nurse.
We weaned the filly and turned Ness out, giving her lots of food. We’d groom her and fuss over her, and we gradually got her to the point where we could tie her and groom her without her having a complete meltdown and flying backward every time we lifted a hand with a brush because she thought we were going to hit her. Marjie fixed her feet so the injured ankle wasn’t so painful, and about seven or eight months after we got her, she was walking sound, she’d gained some weight, some of the scars had healed, and we could work around her without her being afraid of us. I decided to try to ride her one day, and found out that she’s extremely broke (I probably don’t want to know what methods were used for that), and I started to take her out for walks to get her in some sort of shape. Then, a couple of months later, we realized that Lodo was on the way, so she had another vacation while being a broodmare. When Lodo was a few months old and could be separated from her, I started working her again. I quickly realized that she’s very well trained and safe to ride (although we did have a wheel and spin incident with some birders, but I couldn’t blame her, and we weren’t with any other horses), but I didn’t think she was in good enough shape to do the long rides, and I wasn’t sure if her ankle injury would bother her. A couple of months ago we had Josh ride her to the Butterfly Ranch, but that’s only a mile away, and 10-year-old Josh wasn’t much of a load for her.
She’s now pretty fat and shiny, sound at all three gaits, and I’ve been taking her out for six or eight mile rides and she’s been doing fine. Since April was the perfect person to be her first “tourist rider,” we decided to give it a go – and she was great.
Perfectly well behaved on the trail, able to ride anywhere in the line, comfortable for some trotting and cantering on the trail, and able to do two days back to back without getting sore, lame, or even grumpy. So kudos to Nessa for making such a great comeback, and many thanks to April for making her first gig as a trail horse a good one!