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.
|Wayne, Ebony, and a very sunbleached Lady! - Summer 2002|
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!
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!
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.
|Lady and Cody, like sisters! - Sept 2009|
|Lady as the Riderless Horse - Memorial Day Parade 2005|
|Looking like a little cowpony! - Summer 2010|
|Riding Lessons - May 2010|