The Red Mare Diaries: A Happy Horse

On October 23rd, Bonnie was a catalyst to some extremely positive change in my life and in her own.  How was she the catalyst?  Well, she dumped me.  More like bucked me off.  Dramatically.  She was playful and “up”  that day.  We were doing lengthenings and she got excited. It was really very quick and I truly think that she was confused as to how I ended up on the ground in the dressage ring, about 8 feet away from V. She bucked twice more after we parted ways, then she turned around and stared at me, tongue dangling.  Unfortunately, I was damaged.  So damaged, in fact, that I went to the ER three separate times.  I had a nasty bursitis in my left knee which later became a fiery cellulitis.  My right radius was broken, and there was plenty of soft tissue damage in that area, too.  I still can’t straighten my arm all the way.

These things happen with horses, though, and I held no grudge.

Bonnie's so happy, her hooves don't touch the ground!

Since I was no longer able to work at the dressage farm,  I brought Bonnie home, which I had kind of been planning to do anyway.  I hated working at the dressage farm and I was really looking for an out!  I live on eight acres with Nacho, two Tennessee Walkers, and a Shetland pony.  My landlord asked me where I planned to put Bonnie, since all of the stalls were filled.  The answer was simple: outside.  Duh.  Bonnie hates stalls and small paddocks and confinement in general.  I had no idea what a positive change that pasture life would have on Bonnie.

At the dressage farm, Bonnie lived in a paddock with a run-in stall at one end.  The entire area was covered with crushed concrete/shell for ease of cleaning and drainage.  When Bonnie would lie down, she would get bedsores on the fronts of her pasterns, so I kept her in flipped-up bell boots.  The mare only got one hour of turn out on most days, because that was what was allowed.   She was grass-starved all the time, and would crib as much as possible.  It made me sad, but what choice did I have?  In order to make up for her miserable time spent in that small, boring paddock, I rode her daily, took her for happy hacks, and gave her long grooming sessions.  I gave her extra turn-out whenever I could, too, oh, and extra hay.  But really, horses like Bonnie are happiest when they are OUT.

When Bonnie came home, the change was INSTANT.  She stopped cribbing, she looked brighter and more interested, she ate better.  She even gained weight (not that she was skinny).  She no longer gets her ulcer preventative stuff, either, because she honestly doesn’t seem to need it.  Within about a month of coming home, the improvement in her feet was obvious, too: no more thrush, better growth, and tougher soles (she does still get a hoof supplement).

Bonnie and Nacho are turned out together overnight, and during the day, Nacho is stalled while Bonnie wanders around the 5 acre barn pasture.  She is obviously happier with the 24/7 turn-out arrangement, and I truly enjoy having her back at home.

I was unable to ride her at all until December because of my injuries, but I’ll tell you more about that in my next edition.  🙂 Needless to say, she’s lost a bit of fitness!

To follow both of my horses: check out Backyard Sporthorse.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Red Mare Diaries: A Happy Horse

  1. Oh Beautiful Bonnie, did you HAVE to break your human?

    At least she’ll probably be a pleasure to ride once you’ve healed up due to her new living arrangements. I moved mine out to pasture 24/7 two years ago and they’ve told me it was the right decision every day since.