Friday, November 26, 2010

Where am I going?

It has been quite some time since I blogged. I had planned to spend the winter blogging about our incredible summer of competitions with Casper. But life has a way of interfering with all plans.

I noticed about a month ago that our Josey Girl wasn't eating as much as she should, walking away from the feeder before the other horses and just standing alone. I noticed she was beginning to lay down more than normal. I noticed her soft rounded body was starting to show a bit of jutting at her hip bones. Then one morning, she just refused to come to the feeder, choosing instead to stand along the fence, hip cocked and sad eyed, turning once in a while to look at her belly on her right side. Was she at the early stages of a colic? Not being psychic or able to speak horse, I drug her to the barn, gave her a dose of banamine and called the Vet. While waiting for the return call from the Vet, I figured I had better walk I did. We walked and walked and walked, through the forest, up and down the long driveway, out to the cattle, back through the forest and repeated this for over an hour. I checked for gut noises...not the usual grumble, but some noise. I loaded her into the horse trailer......maybe an explanation of what kind of horse Josey is would make this easier to understand.

From day one, back in 1995, Josey was a handful. She had the type of demeanor that most folks associate with hyper Arabian horses. She was a wild eyed, nervous nellie! She would never walk next to you calmly, almost always sidestepping with you off to your right at doubletime! She was a challenge to get to calm down. She had somehow managed in her beginning years to become abandoned, as some horses are unlucky enough to experience. Several people said she was crazy and dangerous. Rumor was she originally came from a track near the Bay area. No body gave her a good word. She had been placed in a rented pasture and then left, forgotten or deliberately abandoned. Our Vet at the time figured she was anywhere from 7 to 10 years old, thin, but in good health. So began the challenge, to convince her I was trustworthy and would not harm her, as her instinct to flight was extremely strong! It took a long time, a lot of walks and slowly, slowly, she began to calm down and let our walks become companion time instead of the Josey Sideways Dance Step! And here is where the Appaloosa Adventures truly began, with this sweet and sassy little bundle of energy!

It took a year, a long stressful year to convince Josey I would love to be her friend. Why so long? I don't know, but she was truly afraid of people. Maybe no one had ever given her a chance, maybe no one had ever been kind to her, maybe no one had taken the time ....whatever her past story was, it didn't really matter. She was going to take me riding some day!! And some day does eventually arrive. The excitement of Josey and myself riding down the trail together built over time. Watching her move across the pasture and envisioning her lovely trot under saddle, yes, this kept me going! Hoses scared the crap out of her, tarps she gave in to, loading into a trailer was like asking her to enter the cave of doom! Yes, a year of learning to face her fears was not easy on Josey, but she did it! She became so brave and confident! It was like watching a gorgeous flower bloom! And yes, Josey was beautiful, stunning and so very easy on the eyes!

As time marched on, Josey and I became like glue! She went everywhere with me! We tackled the ocean together, the High Sierra's, the shows, the games, cattle, trail after trail after trail. She led other horses across raging girth deep creeks, led the way over arduous thin trails, learned to be still for Bow Hunting from her back and became the head of the herd. Yes, because of her and her forgiving ways, we became avid Appaloosa devotees and added a couple more Appaloosa horses!

Josey was never able to obtain recognition from the ApHC. Oh, many offers of forged papers were made, but I couldn't do that. I was flattered by the offers, it showed that Josey truly had made an impression as a worthy spotted representative! And her abilities are what convinced me the Appaloosa Sport Horse was the best of all worlds! Brains, soundness, beauty and ability all wrapped up in a gorgeous and memorable package!

And so began the journey of Formula One Farms. Yes, it was all Josey's fault! I registered her as an Appaloosa Sport Horse (ApSHA) and the fun began! She was a challenge and taught me so much more than any ready made horse ever could! Which brings me back to the present, for watching her was a favorite pass time. Seeing her perform her moves freely in the pasture, flat out running and jumping the pasture creek...was always a thrill. I always watch and observe my horses, sometimes to the exclusion of finishing my tasks....and that is how it became obvious to me that my dear sweet Joe was suffering.

This dear mare was so predictable in her behavior! You load her in the trailer and in 10 seconds, you had a nice fresh pile you could fork out before heading down the road! You put her in a stall and ...yep, same same! But not now, her system was having difficulty. We checked her for sand colic, none. She would eat, she would pass her feed and fluids, but her interest in food had waned. Her pain was very evident and keeping her on banamine made her more herself. She was having some internal organ failure and for me, there is no need to drag her through test after test to determine what the cause was only to drag her through a treatment that may or may not work.

Keeping her on banamine was wrong, but it kept her happy and eating until we could come to our decision. Her life had been a good long one, almost 25 years, it was better to put her to rest and remember her as her sweet spunky self than to have her endure another winter and go further downhill. So, on November 21st, 2010, we put Josey to rest beside our sweet old Luke, to forever run the green pastures and tossing her lovely head at the world as if to say..."just try to catch me!".

After mulling over her passing this last week, I took a good long look at what and why was Formula One Farms developed. I felt we were producing the proper type of horses, but I really had to reflect upon why I felt I needed to be a part of the ApHC. What had they EVER done to encourage the none stock horse? I reread loads of old Appaloosa News magazines and stared longingly at horses within it's pages that reflected Josey to a T. What would the modern shell of a glorious old ApHC ever do to really step into the 21st century? My conclusion is...they have their head in the sand and will continue on their spiral of exclusivity. Horses of my greatest idols, the Chocolate Confetti lines, the JG Appaloosa lines, the Buckshott H lines and many more historic and deeply bred Appaloosa Sport horses and their offspring will never be seen within the ranks of an ApHC show arena doing what THEY do best.

It comes back to "Where am I going?".....I see now that I have wasted far too much precious time on the ApHC. It was a dream and will always be a dream. A better reality is to get back on the original path, because that is why Josey came to us to begin with, to show us that a spunky little horse full of spots could do it all!