Sunday, 29 December 2013

Henry's Story: A Leap of Faith

When I think about Henry's story, I always think of a leap of faith.

Although I can be impulsive on smaller things in life (choosing a haircut, painting my bathroom etc) I am a very picky when it comes to horses. I have never wanted to purchase a horse with the intention to "flip" or resell it.  Although I can understand that this might be possibility in the future, I try to only purchase horses that have long term potential as my own personal horses.  Height/temperament/breed are all important factors.  Horses have been in and out of my life since age 7 (my first lesson!) and I branched into horse ownership responsibilities at age 17.  I've been working in the horse industry as a stablehand on and off since 2009.  I feel pretty confident about my horse handling abilities but I prefer a quieter type of horse with a basic halter-training foundation.  I sent my adoption application in on Mystic but didn't get a response for 2 months (I think it took a bit longer in the mail or I made an error with the address).  I assumed she had been adopted and I was a little heartbroken.  I didn't really resume my horse hunt - I hoped I would hear something from her rescue.  Something crazy come over me and I did the most impulsive/irrational thing I have ever done!

I was part of a group on facebook titled: Horses Needing Homes In Canada.  They shared horses for adoption from various rescue groups and some being re-homed by owners as well.  In December 2012 I clicked on to my facebook and was absolutely bowled over by what I saw.  I saw a small bay colt and from his description - he was in a feedlot.  According to the information he was one week away from being sent to slaughter if he was not purchased.  He was located in Ontario and within seeing his photo I had purchased him within about 5 minutes.  Certainly the "emotional" part of my brain took over and I could not imagine a world where a 6 month old foal was sent to slaughter.  I was now the proud owner of a 6 month old warmblood foal who was completed untouched.  I had my work cut out for me!

Here is the "lot shot" of Henry:

I cannot fully express how I felt when I saw this photo.  I immediately had tears in my eyes.  I knew I had to do something.  There were 12 other horses in his group that were looking for new homes (and also would be shipping for meat within a weeks time).  Some that would have been more suited to my skill level.  But this was my horse, I knew it from the first second I saw his photo.

He came two days before Christmas and was absolutely terrified.  He fell off the trailer and took off at a gallop to get away from us "scary" people.  Even with his filthy coat and atrocious body score I can say within question that he is the most beautiful horse I have ever seen.  He absolutely took my breath away.

It took almost a month to get a halter on him.  He seemed to really like Todd (Todd actually halterbroke him as I sat on the fence and gave him directions!).  He was more nervous of women.  It didn't seem that he had been abused but he was just unhandled.

Here are some photos of Henry first wearing a halter and hanging out with his new buddy, Todd.

Todd told him that I wasn't so bad and he let me come in for a pet too!

Henry is a very sensitive horse, and he is definitely a thinker!  Henry likes to give things a good look and think before he acts.  It took a long time to earn his trust but now that I have he will follow me anywhere.  He is so sweet and kind.  He has the biggest heart!  

 Here are a few pictures of Henry through out the spring and summer:

He moved to the barn I work at in the fall and is adjusting well to a much busier environment:

There is an interesting twist in Henry's story.  I found out before he arrived in Alberta that he was indeed a warmblood - a very well bred one!  I have tracked down his breeder and will be registering him as Harfleur B.  He is 2/3 Selle Francais and about 1/3 Hannoverian.  Originally I wanted to call him Junior but I find that Henry suits him much better. 

Here is his sire, Piper B:

And his Grandsire on his sire's side, Ilian de Taute (Henry's face reminds me so much of Ilian de Taute, it's uncanny):

And his Grandsire on his dam's side, Frenchman:

Here is the link to his pedigree: http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/harfleur+b 

This was a huge leap of faith that was absolutely worth it.  What a wonderful journey and learning experience it has been.  I love my Henry! I appreciate and am honored by his trust in me more than words can say.

This quote from the movie Sea Biscuit really rings true to me in Henry's situation. Sometimes we are the underdogs.  Sometimes we have a rough start.  Everyone deserves a chance.


Mystic's Story: Love at First Sight

I thought it would be fun to detail how each of my horses arrived with me (especially since I'm so close to our "anniversary" dates).

In early 2012 the thought had been brewing for a while to add another horse to the mix.  I was quite happy in my job and had a lot of flexibility in it.  From day one I had two things in mind: draft-cross filly.  I really like Apollo's size and temperament and I'm pretty safe in assuming a draft cross will be tall enough for all 6 feet of me!  Apollo has always loved foals and has a special soft spot for mares.  I searched through many Alberta horse rescue "available" horses and none really struck me.  I almost had brokered a deal on a 3 year old TB gelding.  I planned to name him Mystic when he arrived.  The owner revealed the day before his pick-up was scheduled that he was a cribber.  And considering I started off looking for a draft-cross filly...it was kind of a deal breaker!  I expanded my search to BC horse rescues and still nothing was catching my eye.  Near my birthday (October 29) of 2012 I saw this photo on the British Columbia Interior Horse Rescue Society website:

My heart melted!  This was my girl for sure!  The information stated she was a 6 month old BelgianXQuarter horse cross who was orphaned at one month old. I filled out and mailed an application this day after asking by e-mail if they adopted out of province.  The eerie thing was her name - "Mystic".  Which was the name I planned to change the gelding's name to once he arrived. 

I did a phone interview, had references called and a home visit done.  She arrived on January 19, 2013 and from day one she was a brave and bold girl!  I have yet to see her spook and she has an absolute heart of gold. We really "clicked" from day one.  She walks or even trots over whenever she sees me coming into the field, which is adorable.  We are planning to use her image as our wedding stamp and donate to the rescue she came from instead of giving our wedding guests favors. 

Here is one of our first photos together:

She loves to be the center of attention and we end up with a lot of photos like this:

She was a great help in training Henry.  Because she is so fearless, he followed her lead into new situations.  They were quite good friends and stuck by each other in the field.

One of my favorite photos of her from the summer:

Love my girl!

Here are a few from the fall:

First piece of licorice!

This is me trying to take our photo together last week...she took over!

She is a very special horse and I am excited to spend our lives together.  She has my heart.

I'm so lucky to have you Mystic!

Here is a link to the rescue that saved her as a little one: http://www.bcihrs.ca I can't say enough good things about them, they are a truly wonderful organization!

Monday, 23 December 2013


I'm in the process of re-vamping my blog and am starting fresh.  First off, a few quick introductions are in order!  Currently I am owned by three horses and they will be the focus of my blog.

Year Foaled: 1999
Breed: Clydesdale X Paint  (registered Pinto: Eternally Blue)
Height: 16.2hh
"Anniversary" Date: June 2007
Background:  I purchased Apollo as an 8 year old, recently gelded and started.  He is a very sensitive horse that has taught me a lot over the years.  He is generally a pretty "steady eddie" type but he can have moments of nervousness/insecurity as well.  He is a very special heart horse!
Goals:  Improving both of our confidence, feeling confident out on the trails and maybe heading to the mountains together some day.

Year Foaled: 2012
Breed: Belgian X QH
Height: As of December 1st, 2013 she is just over 15hh.  According to the "string test" she will make 16hh even.
"Anniversary" Date: January 19, 2013
Background:  I adopted Mystic from the British Columbia Interior Horse Rescue Society.  It was love at first sight when I saw her photo.  I had been dreaming of a draft cross filly to be a companion to Apollo and a future riding horse.  She was orphaned at a month old and was lovingly cared for by a rescue volunteer named Susy.  She is a brave little girl and is pretty unflappable! 
Goals: I hope she will be a great lower level event horse and be a trail buddy.

Year Foaled: 2012
Breed: Canadian Warmblood (registration pending)
Height: As of December 1, 2013 he is just under 14.3hh.  According to the "string test" he will end up between 16hh and 16.1hh.
"Anniversary" Date: December 20, 2013 (approx)
Background:  Henry was adopted from an organization in Ontario.  Unfortunately it came to my attention after he arrived that they did not have the best interests of the horses at heart (essentially they were brokering horses with meat dealer to make a profit for both of them).  Henry is the sweetest boy, it took him a while to trust people but now he absolutely loves being groomed.
Goals: We will see what he enjoys but I have some lower level dressage and possibly endurance/trail competitions in mind for Mr. Henry!

Me! (with Mr. Apollo):
Year Foaled: 1985
Breed: Unknown
Height: 6 feet tall
Background: I've been riding since age 7.  I have had some time off due to work and injuries over the years but horses have remained a great passion for me.  I married the love of my life in May 2014 and he is a wonderful horse husband :)
Goals:  My goals include competing in dressage, trail and eventing.  I would also like to ride in the mountains.  I intend to use this blog as a training journal, as well as just a scrapbook of life events.