Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Boy's Girlfriend

My Boy has a girlfriend. Her name is Brandy and she is my sister's Arabian/Paint (registered Pinto) mare. You have probably seen her in a lot of my trail riding photos. My Boy and Brandy have never been pastured together, but they enjoy nuzzling muzzles, trail riding together, being in proximity of each other, moonlight walks on the beach....oh, wait, wait, that last one is mine! Of course, Brandy does get a little moody and squealish around him at times. Mares.

My sister's co-worker purchased Brandy for $400 as a weanling from someone who had confiscated the filly from her previous owner. The co-worker was hoping the Pinto would work out as a future gaming horse for her teenage daughter. When the mare was a yearling, the co-worker put about a month of round pen work on her by a horse training friend. But in the end, the mare and the daughter never really got along. At one point the mare spooked on the trail and bucked. The daughter was able to stay on because her belt got caught on the saddle horn. She got off of Brandy and said she'd never get on her again.

The filly was a bay and white tobiano when the co-worker brought her home. I point this out because Brandy has greyed out more and more every year since then. Even in the 4 years my sister has owned her, she has lightened considerably. You wouldn't guess she was the same color of horse she was as a yearling! My sister secretly wishes Brandy had stayed this color.

Since Brandy wasn't working out for her daughter, the co-worker offered my sister the opportunity to buy her. The mare was about 4 or 5 years old at the time. My sister looked at pictures of the mare, but at the time, she lived in the city and could not afford to board a horse. Four years passed, and the co-worker offered to give the mare to my sister. She wanted to give her to someone who was experienced around horses and would give her a good home, and she trusted my sister. By this time my sister and her boyfriend had moved to property in the country, so owning a horse was doable. They went out to look at the mare on a sticky, 90-degree day. Brandy had only been ridden about two handfuls of times total, in her nine-year old life, and she had only left her pasture during those 9 years when she was hauled to the 4-H club vet appointments. Although the co-worker took relatively good care of her horses, it was not up to my sister's standards. Brandy was a little underweight and her hooves were long overdue for a trim. It took the owner forever to catch the mare. She saddled her up and rode her, doing a basic walk, turn, back, and an attempt at a side pass. Afterwards she asked my sister if she wanted to ride. My sister said no. She doesn't remember why she declined the ride. She said I just figured she was free and heck, what could go wrong, right? Oh goodness.
My sister and her boyfriend put up a fence, built a shelter, got a couple of goats as pasture companions, and brought Brandy home. My sister spent almost every day brushing Brandy, leading her around the property, and getting to know her. The mare was head shy. She was very nervous. She pulled back when tied. After about 3 weeks my sister rode her for the first time. She wouldn't stand to be mounted. She was terrified if you rode up to a puddle, and would start to crowhop in any uncomfortable situation. She spooked and jumped at everything. Once, when my sister wanted to go one way and Brandy wanted to go another, she turned and tried to bite my sister on the leg in protest. If you look at these pictures from their first ride, you can see how Brandy is standing. She is very unbalanced and unsure of how to even carry a rider on her back.
Poor little thing. She looks so physically uncomfortable and ready to bolt of buck at any moment.

Most of these mare's problems were obviously due to a lack of handling and training. For example, at one time her previous owner wanted to give her a bath and tied her to one of those old metal children's swing sets that sits on top of the lawn. You can probably guess what happened next. When the water came at her, the mare pulled back and nearly toppled the swing set back on top of herself. No wonder she had issues with tying....


A couple of years later my sister's boyfriend got himself a mare that needed some additional training, so my sister had the trainer ride and evaluate Brandy, too. By the way, this trainer was the trainer that leased and sold me My Boy! Just thought I'd throw that tidbit of information in there for you! Brandy had never loped with a rider on her back before. The first lope the trainer did on her, they ended up all over the yard and through the horseshoe pits (this was pre-arena) and nearly ended up in the pond. It only improved from there. Brandy was moved to a barn and was stalled and ridden every day. After several months of training, this little mare was moving like a dream, collected, side passing, leg yields, you name it. She learned to stand in cross-ties and get a hose down in the wash rack after every ride. Her trail ride skills improved greatly. She still spooks at the occasional daisy or culvert, and gets a little claustrophobic on the narrow brushy trails, but it is night and day from the trail horse she used to be.

Brandy, blazing trails.....

That little mare has my sister's heart. She taught my sister a lot about horses, and about herself. In retrospect, my sister realized that getting a green broke 9 year old mare probably wasn't the best decision for someone who hadn't ridden or been around horses in 12 years. However, in the 4 years they have been together, and after all that they have been through, she said that she will never sell or get rid of this sweet horse. None of this mare's issues were really her fault. Her previous owner meant well, but she just procrastinated. With a lot of hard work, some patience, trust on both of their parts, despite a few doses of frustration, Brandy has come around to be a very nice horse. Despite her slow start, she still has amazing potential to do great things.

Besides, My Boy wouldn't let her go, anyway!

12 comments:

  1. Oh, my sweet little Brandy! I love her!
    I have learned so much from this horse. I probably shouldn't have taken on such a green horse considering I had not owned horses in 12 yrs. I was just so excited to be getting a horse again after being away from them for so long! But I worked with her myself for 2 years before I hired my trainer and boy am I glad I did!
    It is amazing how much better she has gotten. Yes, she still has her "issues" but as each year passes she gets better and better. I trust this horse 100% and I know she trusts me 100%. If only I could have gotten her when she was 5 yrs old this horse could have gone in any direction. She would have made an excellant dressage horse, huntseat, western pleasure horse...you name it she could have done it.
    As my Sis said, I have a special place in my heart for Brandy. I will never sell her. She has her forever home, right here at the Painted Creek with ME!

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  2. Its so great o hear a GOOD "ending" to a story like that! Brandy is one lucky horse! She is a cutie too. I can see why My Boy has a "thing" for her ;)

    Hey Paint Girl, whadda ya mean she COULD have been? ;) I bet she COULD STILL BE! :) But it sounds like you two were meant to be together there, out on the trails. (Which is a great life!)

    Have fun you two, out with your pretty ponies!

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  3. Loved that story too. Brandy is a lucky horse to have a forever home. A lot of owners would have just sold her at auction but thankfully the original owner cared enough to give her to a good home.

    I can relate to mares, I own one and she is coming 7 and has not been ridden a lot. When I went to see her and rode her she was poor, had very tender feet (I found this out when I got her home) and had been used as a brood mare and also for training kids in a round pen. Now that I have her healthy (she is fat!), wormed, shod and happy she has developed that mare attitude. But I still love her. Even tho she did bite me on the butt a few weeks ago when I was grooming her. She has issues w/her legs and feet and has to be drugged to be shod. But she had an injury to her hoof when she was young and there is no telling what she went through with that. But she and my daughter's gelding are happy together.

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  4. What a wonderful story with such a happy ending. She is one lucky lady to have found such a good home with an owner that was patient and kind and got her through so many issues. Good job Paint Girl!!!!!!

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  5. Mrs. Mom, I couldn't agree more! Brandy is only 12, she is in the prime of her life. There is still so much she could do, she is just beginning! I really want my sister to do some dressage with Brandy....she has such nice, fluid movement.

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  6. Nice story, the pictures are great !

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  7. never look a free horse in the mouth! I just had to say that not sure why...

    Brandy looks like a sweetie. and obviously she and your sis are a match :)

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  8. What a great story. Brandy and My Boy are both lucky to have such loving homes. I know you feel the same way about them.
    I liked Paint Girl's comment on the story too.
    You all have a great day!

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  9. Neat story! It is always fun to hear success stories like this one. You sure wouldn't know she was a bay except for that patch on her mane now!
    How old is she now?

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  10. Nevermind the age question, I saw your comment to Mrs. Mom. :D

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  11. I am glad that your sister was able to "rehab" Brandy. Unfortunately, there are too many horses, just like Brandy, who do not find a loving and patient home.
    Kudos to your sister!

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  12. What a fantabulous beautiful story about a very special and beautiful horse and her relationship with your wonderful sister who completely changed Brandy's life and gave her a better one.

    Hooray!!!!

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I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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