Patience is a virtue

Published 4:47 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

by Pebbles the Pony

Fall is finally in the air, thank heavens. I have waited long enough for my favorite season. I enjoy kicking up my heels as the crisp breeze blows and the leaves dance downward into the pasture water tank. My new plush winter coat is coming in strong. Heather says I remind her of the fuzzy caterpillars we see scrambling across the driveway.

I have my own stall these days in the main barn. Some horses have left for greener pastures, and I have patiently waited my turn. Of course, I cannot see out my stall window which is positioned for a much taller occupant, but I happily munch away on my hay. That’s okay. I am in the major leagues now with big sisters Sophie and Promise, and my pasture pal, Certain. 

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Inca, my best buckskin friend, is away at a neighboring farm. She is serving as a pasture buddy for HERD Rescue, keeping a new horse named Lee company. Lee is a very beautiful 16-hand, 3-year-old thoroughbred from Texas. She is so refined, cleaned legged and graceful. It is hard to believe she was purchased from a meat buyer. If HERD had not intervened quickly, she was headed to Kaufman Ship Pen for a slaughter-bound rough journey to Mexico.

Renowned equestrian and eventer Beth Perkins came to see her and she said I could share that she is an awesome hunter prospect for someone. Beth, like so many of HERD’s new friends, is astonished at the quality of horses HERD is saving that were designated for slaughter. With just a little patience and training, young Lee is going to be a showstopper, maybe not in my league, but for sure very close!

Deco, the barn cat who has been a constant companion, frequenting my paddock and run-in shed, has migrated into the barn with me for the fall season. She likes to enjoy her dinner each evening on the front ledge of my stall. This is just above my reach for toppling the dish with my nose. Deco was saved from a high kill situation in an animal shelter a few years ago, and she flatly refuses to live in the house with Dutch and the rest of the pawed menagerie. She much prefers to case the barn for mice, hide in the wood pile from strangers and nap in the pasture with us horses.

I have another new friend, Nancy Reh. She comes to give me a massage weekly, and I love to torment her when she tries to catch me in my pasture. Charlie is summoned to intervene.  I test his patience for sure. Nancy is getting her feet wet working with horses, and I am the perfect size for practice.

The big news for HERD this month is our handsome paint gelding Cherokee is going to a new home after an adoption contract was signed. Heather has been visiting neighbor Elaine Jankins’ farm, where Cherokee resides, to ride him using only her upper leg and her voice for commands.  She is practicing climbing onto his back from a high ramp. Cherokee wonders about this new approach but takes it in stride. Heather is preparing him for his new home in Ohio for a wounded veteran who has lost his legs above the knee. Cherokee will need to be mounted from a wheelchair ramp for his endeavors in the Wounded Warrior program. This is an ideal match as Cherokee came into HERD with an exploded back tendon. He literally hopped on three legs when he was rescued from the kill pen.

Heather was told not to save him from the kill buyer as he was badly hurt and would take over a year of rest for his leg to recover. “No problem, patience is a virtue,” she replied and paid his bail to take him home. Cherokee was kept in a medical paddock, and with time he gradually moved to larger and larger pastures where he could walk up and down hills to strengthen the tendon. After a full year of rest, he resumed light riding. It was soon discovered he is a nicely trained horse with a forward walk, a big floating trot and a smooth canter.  He is fearless on trails and unflappable around big equipment and road traffic.

Tryon Equine Hospital helped prepare Cherokee with teeth floating and he was measured for a new blanket since he is heading north. Heather called her friend and hauler Delores Riffe to book the haul to take him to Ohio. Everything was falling into place, or so it seemed, until the bad news came. The family is just not ready for Cherokee and the adoption cannot be completed, at least not this fall.

Now poor Cherokee is going to have to be patient once again, waiting for a new partner for life to show up on his horizon. In preparation, a photo shoot is organized to capture just how handsome this pinto beauty is with his very flashy coat and white blaze face. Unlike me, Cherokee is shy and modest. He is a bit worried over all the fuss to position him just right for his best foot forward glamour shots. He manages but would rather be out hitting the trails or grazing with his pasture pal Duke, another big paint rescue Elaine saved from a kill pen in Arkansas. Makes me shiver to think about what would have become of Duke had she not stepped up for him at last call.

So now the waiting game for Cherokee. We know what his favorite jobs in the world are, trail riding and being a pasture pal. Now to find a match. If you know anyone looking for a 14.3 hand, gentle, 12 years young, dashingly handsome partner, contact me, Pebbles, and I will be delighted to do some matchmaking.•

Pebbles is the “spokespony” for HERD, or Helping Equines Regain Dignity, a local nonprofit that saves equines from dire conditions and in many cases slaughter. She dictates her monthly columns about her adventures and what a rescue organization does to Heather Freeman. Pebbles and Freeman can be reached through