Apples came to us this summer from my husband’s ailing aunt. She is entering the early stages of dementia and as a result decided to sell the farm and move into a retirement community nearby. Though we weren’t necessarily on the market for a persnickety 12-year old Percheron mare, our farm came with stables and an empty paddock and my husband was insistent that Apples stay in the family, so now she’s become the newest member of our household. My daughters are overjoyed but I guess you could say I’m still adjusting, haha!
It’s certainly been an interesting experience so far. Apples has definitely been forced to deal with some sensory overload since she arrived. While she’s familiar with our family – we visited at least once a year over the summer – it’s been a process to get her used to her new surroundings. She gets anxious when she’s tied up on the yard and seems to be the most comfortable when she’s hanging out in the paddock.
We’ve tried to ease her into things. We’ll feed her carrots and occasionally hay out in the yard in order to associate it with positive experiences. It looks like it has been helping, though there’s still room for improvement. At our more experienced neighbor’s suggestion, my husband and I also ride her daily and try to work her fairly hard in her paddock for an hour each day – lots of lateral movement and changes in direction just to get her mind off of things and also to establish a rapport between us. She was a spoiled baby and likes to try to prance around when she’s getting tacked up but the daily work/riding sessions have already cut my average tacking time down to 20 minutes (ha!).
Riding her has been a bit excruciating, given that my aunt-in-law’s saddle is roughly ten years past its prime and falling apart. At the suggestion of our same neighbor, we’ve ordered a Dover Circuit saddle for Apples. We had a good month at the furniture shop and while it definitely seems like a big investment, I’d rather pay for a good product once than buy three cheap saddles in a row.
So far, my biggest concern with Apples has been thrush. It’s been pretty rainy and muddy around here and while picking out her hooves the other day I noticed that she showed signs of thrush. Unfortunately, our local vet was all out of Thrushbuster and Coppertox so I had to order some of my own on the computer. Thankfully the SmartPak site has a store function that will accept credit cards online, so a bottle is on its way now.
While I’m still learning the basics of horse ownership, it’s been a joy having Apples around so far. I’m thankful that we have a network of friends and family who are experienced equestrians and have been able to help and I pray that things will continue to go this smoothly.