"Smile! It keeps your brain from falling out when you're frustrated!" - Clinton Anderson (Downunder Horsemanship)

"They say boys never grow up, their toys just get bigger. I say I never grew up, my 'My Little Ponies' just got bigger!" - Me

Saturday, August 28, 2010


So another really long one......but then Lady has kind of a unique story as to how I came to own her and her history......

I first met Lady in the summer of 2002 while working at Scheid's Quarter Horses. She'd just made the trip up from southern Texas and stepped off the trailer with another mare. Both were recipient mares, one 60 days pregnant and the other 30 days pregnant, both carrying a foal for Scotch Margarita via embryo transfer. If you're not familiar with embryo transfer, the basic jist of it is, they breed a high dollar mare, flush the embryo out of the high dollar mare when it's a couple days old, and implant the embryo into another less expensive mare. That less expensive mare will then carry the foal to term, give birth to it, and raise it as her own, that way there is no risk of losing the high dollar mare to complications and/or that mare can return to showing and continue her show career. And the recipient mare is usually sent to live with whoever owns the high dollar mare, and stays there till the foal is born and weaned, then is shipped back to Texas to start the process all over again.

2002 was the first year you could register more than one foal per mare per year via embryo transfer with the AQHA, so we received two recipient mares, each carrying foals that were full siblings, who's sire and dam were both world and congress champions several times over. And unfortunately, recipient mares are often considered "throw away" horses, and not always treated the best. Their feet usually aren't trimmed very regularly, they're often half wild, they're usually thrown out to pasture till it's time to foal, then only given enough care to get their job done, then back on the trailer they go. Thankfully Scheids took much better care of their embryo transfer mares than most, they were part of the family while they were there, and treated to the same care and kindness as the rest of the high dollar horses in Pat's barn, going out during the day, coming into a stall at night, blanketed to go outside in the winter (since they were living in a heated barn), regular vet and farrier care, they had it made in Pat's barn!

The recipient mares that arrived never had a name, they all went by a number on their paperwork that matched the number tag around their neck. Thankfully Pat always cut that number tag off first thing, and gave them a name while they were at her place. The black was named Ebony, and the sorrel (or what we thought was a sorrel at the time, who turned out to be an insanely sunbleached and malnurished liver chestnut) was named Lady. The two had obviously velcroed themselves to each other on the trip up from Texas, and while Ebony was a big pushy brute, Lady was very shy and skittish. Ebony needed to learn some manners, and Lady needed to learn to trust people.

And our first sight of Lady had Pat and I both in tears. She walked off the trailer head down and thin as a rail, literally a 1 on the body condition scale! She was a skeleton. It was awful! Why on earth did they put a foal inside this poor mare!!! Pat called the vet who owned her and promptly chewed him out. In the vet's defense, he had received Lady back in this horrible condition from the previous farm she had been at, and had actually gained a little bit of weight since then. So I don't even want to know just how thin she was when she was returned by the previous barn. He said he didn't want to use her for Pat's foal, had wanted to give her a that year off to get her back up to weight and in better condition, but didn't have any other mares cycling at the right time other than Lady, so he went ahead and used her, knowing she was going to Pat's barn and that she would get exceptional care there.
Wayne, Ebony, and a very sunbleached Lady! - Summer 2002
So Lady put on weight, and we discovered she was a very easy keeper. She learned to trust us, and Ebony learned some manners. Both mares spent their days outside turned out with Wayne, who was a happy camper to have his own girls. As winter came, we were surprised to see how dark Lady's coat got as her health improved. She was definitely a liver chestnut, not the sorrel we first thought!
Spring of 2003 came and Ebony foaled first. A nice chestnut colt that got the barn name Marty. Lady foaled a month later, an adorable little chestnut filly that literally had a small letter "i" on her face for a blaze, and got the barn name Lilly. Lilly's first week went well, but then it became obvious that something wasn't quite right. So Lady and her baby made a trip to MSU. Lilly had stomach ulcers. So we followed the treatment plan word for word, but Lady and her foal made a couple more trips down to MSU when things just didn't improve.

Then one day out of the blue, Ebony coliced severely, and twisted her gut. Pat called the vet who owned her to get permission to ship her to MSU for surgery to save her, but the vet said no, she was a grade mare that wasn't worth that kind of money, and requested she be put down. Pat and I were just sick, but without her owners permission, there was nothing any of us could do. So I ended up having to help the vet put Ebony down, which didn't go well at all and still haunts me today. And 2 month old Marty was an orphan, and Lady was lost without her buddy.

Lady, the awesome mama that she is, happily took Marty under her wing and let both foals nurse off her, but Marty was too big and started pushing Lilly out, so Marty had to learn to drink his milk from a bucket. But a few days later, Lilly stopped eating, and they rushed her and Lady back to MSU. The ulcers had spread up her esophagus, and she had gone into kidney failure from refusing to nurse. They ended up having to put her to sleep, and Lady came home without her baby and was an absolute basket case for days, screaming and carrying on and looking for her baby, trying to jump out of her open front stall or push her way through the fence to go find her baby.

With her baby gone, Pat had to ship her back to Texas within a week, so she could be gotten ready for the next embryo to be implanted. But my mom decided she wanted a horse too, and mom and I weren't letting sweet Lady go back to Texas and back to that life. Not after everything she had been through in the past year. So we paid the fee to keep her, and Lady was ours!
We didn't know much about her, just that she was a 9 year old Rocky Mountain Horse/Quarter Horse cross with ringbone in her front feet that didn't seem to bother her at all. Had no idea if she was broke to ride or not. But we didn't care. I could always train her. I called the vet to see if he had any history on her, and it basically went like this.....

He bought her at an auction somewhere on the east coast early in the spring of her 3 year old year. She was very lame at the time from the ringbone in her front feet. She was herded through the auction, bought by a meat buyer, and herded into the kill pen. The vet went and bought her from the meat buyer to add to his herd of embryo transfer mares, because she was young and because supposedly Rocky Mountain Horses make great mothers. She was implanted with an embryo that year, and had a foal via embryo transfer every year after that till she arrived at Scheids. So she had a total of 6 foals in 6 years via embryo transfer.

And apparently the time out to pasture just being a mom was what the ringbone in her front feet needed, as it doesn't bother her at all now, and though we haven't x-rayed her front feet, a couple vets that have seen her suspect the joint affected by the ringbone has likely fused itself, hence the reason she's now sound. But how on earth did she end up with ringbone that bad by the spring of her 3 year old year?

Well, I've since discovered, entirely by accident, that Lady knows how to barrel race, and she knows the barrel pattern very well!! The barrels were set up one day in the arena I was riding her in, and as we trotted past where the pattern starts, she suddenly spun and bolted, catching me completely off guard and nearly jumping right out from under me, and as I'm getting left behind and clawing for the saddle horn to stay in the saddle and get my balance back, we're rounding the first barrel nice and tight and heading for the next one. So we tried the barrel pattern a few times, and yup, she knows how to run barrels better than I do! I just get in her way. And she has a preferred direction for the pattern too, right barrel first, then left barrel. If you do it the other way, she gets confused! So she's definitely been a barrel horse at some point in her life. So my guess is, someone ran the hell out of her on barrels as a 2 year old, ruined her feet and lamed her by the start of her 3 year old year, then off loaded their now ruined horse at the nearest auction. And considering the white marks on both side of her withers from being ridden in an obviously ill fitting saddle, I have a feeling my theory on this is probably pretty close to what actually happened!
So Lady's been to the east coast, to Texas, to Michigan, and who knows where all else those other five foals took her. But Michigan is definitely home now! I had started a new job about the time we bought Lady and stopped working for Scheids, and moved Lady and Wayne to a new barn. I think the move was good for Lady, she had gone from being a basket case over her baby, to being dumpy and depressed acting. The new barn had an 8 month old colt out in the pasture with Lady that had recently been weaned and was looking for anyone to mother him, and Lady was happy to play the role of mother hen!

Thankfully it turned out that Lady was broke to ride, and after a couple months of riding her to refresh her memory under saddle, she turned out to be a nice quiet trail horse. Didn't really seem to know a whole lot performance wise (other than running barrels which I discovered later on), but knew enough to be a nice little trail horse. And definitely adjusted to her rider. While she'd give me a little more spunk when I rode her, especially working in an arena, put my mom, who was a completely beginner, or a kid on her, and she'd plod along like an old plow horse.
When I got Cody a short time later with a leg injury that kept her stall bound, and needed a ton of hand walking daily to keep her from stocking up, and was a horrible handful to try to hand walk after being in a stall all day, Lady was awesome at helping me hand walk Cody, letting me pony Cody along side from her back for her walks, and giving me a saddle horn to dally Cody's rope around whenever she exploded and wanted to run off and act stupid. Lady just took it all in stride.
Lady and Cody, like sisters! - Sept 2009
Unfortunately, the novelty of owning a horse and riding wore off my mom after about a year, so Lady went from being mom's horse to my horse. Which was fine with me, but Cody was healed up by that time, so I was riding and showing her a lot, so I didn't really have time to do much with Lady. So she mainly hung out in the pasture, or ponied along side Cody on the trails so I could exercise both at once, and was always there for me whenever a friend (horse person or non horse person) wanted to go for a ride with me. Eventually I moved to another barn that held 4-H meetings twice a week in the summer, so several of the 4-H kids would ride her for workouts if they couldn't bring their own horse with them.
Mom and I also started doing parades with Lady and Cody, and mom would lead Lady as the riderless horse in several of our local Memorial Day and 4th of July parades. And Lady would often tag along to shows with me for the trailering practice, and hang out at the trailer while I showed Cody.
Lady as the Riderless Horse - Memorial Day Parade 2005
In the summer of 2005, a handicapped girl joined the 4-H club. She was wheelchair bound, and really wanted a horse, but her parents refused to buy a horse until they knew how much she could actually do with horses. So we worked out an agreement, and she part time leased Lady from me for the summer. Lady was unphased by the wheelchair, so they started doing halter and showmanship together, and even showing and placing against non handicapped kids in those classes. And eventually was able to ride Lady with the help of a leader and side walkers. And Lady was a total angel. And you should have seen the looks on people's faces at the county fair, who had seen quiet little Lady carefully following Jessica's wheel chair around or carefully carrying Jessica around on her back when I showed her in barrel racing and other speed events at the adult show at the end of the fair! "That can't be quiet little Lady out there!"
In 2006 I met my fiance, who enjoyed trail riding, and used to have horses of his own. So Lady has been his trail horse ever since. He doesn't ride nearly as much as I do, but Lady is always his girl when we do ride together!
Unfortunately this past February, my Cody girl got kicked in the knee by another horse and has been lame ever since. I haven't been able to ride her since then, and it appears that surgery is the only thing that's ever going to make her sound again, so I've been riding Lady a whole lot more this summer. Though I get bored with trail riding all the time, and love doing arena work and training, so Lady's been getting a lot of arena work this year! Which has been good for her, since she's always been a bit of a spazz in the arena with an experienced rider, which I'm assuming stems from her barrel horse days! But she has definitely improved a great deal this summer, even doing a little bit of reining type stuff! Thank you Clinton Anderson! lol! It's been fun working with her! Though she's 16 now and has developed some arthritis in both of her hocks, so I have to be careful how much I ride her or do with her.
Looking like a little cowpony! - Summer 2010
But she's a good girl! And even started being used for riding lessons one night a week this summer for a friend of mine who gives lessons. Originally she only did walk/trot lessons, but has finally learned to canter sanely enough in the arena to start teaching her students to canter as well! She's even done a couple of shows this year! She's definitely one of those horses that's worth her weight in gold!
Riding Lessons - May 2010
So there's Lady's story, now on to Cody when I have a chance!


  1. What a wonderful story! It's heartbreaking how horses are used/misused in the name of profit and winning. Lady has a perfect name and you were very lucky to find her, and she to find you.

  2. I love the stories of your horses. I didn't think you could top Wayne's story, but this story is at least as good. What a great horse Lady is.

  3. All three of my horses kind of have a unique story behind them. lol!