In July last year I was trolling through Horsemart when I saw a picture of a 4 year old mare brought over from Ireland as a just backed 3 year old, that was within our very limited budget. The description sounded exactly what I was looking for temperament wise; the only fly in the ointment was that she was 4! Not ideal for someone coming back into riding after a ten year break! Although I had ridden our previous horse Cookie, it was so infrequent due to her becoming so ill I had never really got going. I looked at the photo over and over again contacted the owner who sent me further photos of her side on and said her name was Clonleigh Ebony Rose aka Rosie. I was so smitten that I felt like simply ordering her off the internet without even trying her out. That of course would have been very silly so Simon and I set off to Sussex to go and see her. I walked into the stable and there was this little mare, smaller than I thought. She looked extremely weak in her body, more like a 3 year old than a 4 year old. She had only been at the yard for a week and seemed quite subdued, knowing her as I do now that was her way of coping with change, almost like a toddler that covers up their eyes and says ‘you can’t see me now’.
The school was a good walk from the stables and Rosie huffed and puffed with her eyes out on stalks going towards it. There were other riders jumping with fences clattering and horses cantering off. Rosie just literally huffed and puffed but nothing more. She moved straight had an incredible walk, the trot was ok, nothing to write home about and the canter was of course unbalanced and fast. My first thought when I got on board and picked up the reins was ‘she has no mouth’!! She really did not know the first thing about outline, was incredibly forward going, rushing along with her hind legs going like pistons, unable to take a check on the rein to slow down, her mind was definitely elsewhere. I hacked her back to the yard on a loose rein, got off and thought; I will have my work cut out! I always used to say when trying a horse that you should be able to pick up the reins and the horse drop into an outline, if not walk away but I just couldn’t. I kept thinking when she fills out, if we start her all over again, what an interesting and exciting journey it will be and the journey for me was and still is more important than anything else plus I had back up with Simon, completely forgetting how busy he gets! Although she was far too small for him to sit on, I thought well he can help me from the ground. I had already found a place to keep her which had good grazing and would be a good start for her as she was so weak, plus looking after her myself gave me the ideal opportunity to get to know her inside out and do the proverbial bonding. Lugging hay and straw, mucking out, turning out and bringing in would all get me fitter!
There is nothing more exciting than waiting for a new horse to arrive! It seemed to take forever and then the trailer came up the driveway, I had butterflies in my stomach. Rosie walked down the ramp, went into her stable and reacted just as she did when I saw her, totally subdued. Once everyone had gone I stroked her and told her that everything was going to be ok. She would not even take a carrot and just stood there half asleep.
The first thing to go wrong was that at this yard horses were not introduced to one another over the fence but just turned out together and fingers crossed they all got on. I was worried but there was not a lot I could do about it. I was assured that the mares out there were all fine but it was not to be. Little Rosie went out there to greet everyone as she is so friendly but two of them decided to chase her, one of which kicked her badly on a hind leg, she tried to do her Lloyds Bank rearing horse impression to assert herself but to no avail. Vet was called, ten days box rest!!! Once more I reassured her and said don’t worry I will look after you. In my heart I knew she had not seriously injured herself, i.e. no tendons or bone chips involved but I had to be guided by the vet. We used this time to find her a saddle and I hand walked her every day. Would you believe it but at the end of the ten days box rest I put the saddle on and got on her and walked her down the drive, she did not put a foot wrong!
They say the first sign of madness is to keep on doing the same thing but expecting a different result! I tried to reintroduce her but she got kicked again so the yard owner removed the culprit and everything settled down. Finally things were getting into a routine. Rosie had made friends, she had a nice big stable, good food and forage and time to mature and get a little stronger.
Until next time, Gill and RosieB...