The Unexpected Song:
In Part Two of this unexpected journey, an exquisite, purebred Paint mare had arrived at the barn where I had become Spirit’s human and where he was training, She was to be trained up and finished to sell as a show horse. Certainly, her lineage was impeccable and pricey and her conformation (simply described, the way her different body parts size up in relation to each other) brought gasps of admiration from those who know and understand such things.
All this Novice Horsewoman understood was that this horse was gradually emerging from her tranquillized and shut down state after her four-day journey and that she and I were bonding.
She would call out to me when I would arrive at the barn, we would spend time just hanging out together with much snuggling and softly voiced “conversations” and one day she was actually able to communicate with me, in my mind, with a clear sentence, ” Please, I don’t want to be a show horse.”
There was no way I could afford the steep price that would be asked for her. I was determined, however, to find a way.
In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, when this mare had arrived, the vet had noticed a slight hitch in her right shoulder when she went in a circle. She and trainer Bryan were going to wait for thirty days and recheck her to see if it was just soreness from the trip or something else.
Things were just beginning to get interesting :)…
Time passed swiftly in that month of August. It was a hot, rainy summer here in Florida. I was learning to ride better, still not very well, but better ;), learning and relearning about longeing, different tack, feed, hay. I was noticing many things at the barn, where trainer Bryan was leasing about 12 stalls, that were very disturbing. I was spending time with both my little Appaloosa AND the exquisite Paint mare.
The thirty days were ticking away.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it, told my dearest friend the story up to this point, confessed that my heart was breaking with love for this mare and asked him for a loan. A BIG loan!!!! Much to my surprise all he said was, “How much?” “Um….fifteen grand?”, I stuttered. “Okay”, he said simply.
While trying to remember that breathing is sort of essential to remain living ;), I immediately called and texted trainer Bryan (it was ONLY 11:30 at night) and told him I wanted to buy her.
(For the record…I can’t stand that we humans buy and sell horses and call ourselves their owners. It reeks of slave trade to me but, for now, it’s the way it is.)
The next day I arrived expectantly at the barn to encounter a scowling trainer Bryan. The folks who had bred the mare and sent her to him were longtime business friends of his and had, for almost 20 years, sent him horses to train and sell. The last horse they had sent had come up un-show-worthy due to some rear leg tendon issues. It was the mare’s full brother, Fritz. Now, it turns out, the vet had rechecked the exquisite mare and the right shoulder hitch was a chronic condition which deemed her un-showable.
What? She can’t be a show horse?? My heart was pounding with joy and wonder!!
Sometimes horses will find ways to cause “lameness” to themselves when there is a job they are asked to do that isn’t right for them. Conventional horse people will tell you that those of us who understand this are delusional, but when one is around horses, reads incessantly about horses and is obsessed with horses :), one begins to see this is not anomalous.
Trainer Bryan had determined that he was going to send this beloved mare back to these breeders and demand money for her transport, board and training up to this point. He was livid. He was incensed that they had done this to him a second time!
They claimed that somehow her four-day journey was responsible and were not going to pay him a dime. In fact, the male breeder threatened, if Bryan sent her back they would put her down because now she was of no value. (Welcome, Novice Horsewoman, to just a glimpse of the dark and nasty underbelly of horse breeding and the various ways horses are utilized for human pleasure).
Thus ensued 48 hours of me weeping and pleading for him not to send her back, he arguing back and forth with the breeders and many petitions to heaven that things work out for the best for this exquisite mare.
Well, the angels definitely are on the side of the horses, ultimately. That 48 hours ended with ME paying trainer Bryan for her transport and training and board up to that point (considerably less than $15,000!).
The exquisite Paint mare was mine!
And though it’s considered bad luck to change a horse’s name, there is an opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe (by Douglas Moore), in which the title character is described thusly:
“Warm as the autumn light, soft as a pool at night…deep in your lovely eyes, all of enchantment lies, and tenderly beckons, Baby Doe, dearest Baby Doe.”
So apt were those words in describing the exquisite mare, that I knew that was her true name. She IS Baby Doe.
Afterword: To this day, when I call her to come to me from the edge of the large paddock, I sing those words to her and she comes running to greet me… and my song ❤