Life in Our Foothills – March 2024 – Our Amazing Grace

Published 2:47 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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Grace. This one little word conveys gratitude and importance. As a noun, Grace is a short blessing before a meal, a title of address for a duke or duchess, and a reprieve. It is also approval or favor, as to stay in one’s good graces. Grace is unmerited divine assistance, as well as a charming trait. The verb Grace means to adorn, embellish, and confer dignity. All these impactful meanings are conveyed in only five letters. I should know. I am the epitome of grace.

Last spring, our rescue team, Helping Equines Regain Dignity (HERD) saved a lovely small gray quarter horse. Her benefactor took one look at her and named her Grace. The young mare’s expressive, kind eyes kept a protective watch over her newborn foal, Mia. The two were a beautiful pair and arrived with a slightly larger gray mare, Calypso, and her colt, Sloan. It was clear to all of us that the mares were tightly bonded. The only thing we knew about them at this point was that they came from the same farm. Their previous owner had taken the pair of gray mares to a livestock auction when they were heavy with foals. Both babies were born in the auction holding facilities. How utterly stressful for these mares. The blessing is that they were kept together in a small pen away from other horses in the sale. All four equines were healthy and of reasonable weight. 

The mares with their foals were transported to us in a four-horse trailer that was set up with two box stalls. This way the foals could rest and sleep in deep shavings for most of the long trip. The mares had plenty of hay and water for the cross-country journey from Oklahoma. Calypso and Sloan were unloaded first into their new pasture. Grace and Mia were given the field just across the alleyway. At first, Calypso called out for Grace and paced the fence line in panic. Grace called back consistently. It was clear to us these two had not been separated from one another in a long time. 

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Six months zoomed by with the mares and foals making wonderful progress. Mia and Sloan learned to lead, trailer load, and stand nicely for the vet and the farrier. Grace started her groundwork training as Mia was weaned. Mia moved into a neighboring pasture with two-year-old filly, Bambi. 

HERD was contacted by an equestrian in South Carolina, Shelby Dobbins, about fostering Grace and continuing her training to find her a good home. Our mare was welcomed at Three Nails Ranch in Gaffney. Shelby has consistently shared updated photos and videos of Grace’s progress under saddle. Their partnership is going so well that Shelby wants to adopt Grace from HERD.

Grace entered our rescue with a negative Coggins test, which revealed the previous owner’s identification. Shelby went to work researching what she could find out about Grace’s past. She was able to speak on the phone with the horse trader who took Grace and Calypso to auction. He had bought them from a larger ranch in Oklahoma, owned by a husband and wife. The spouses were splitting up and 50 horses had to be removed quickly. They sold the horses with registration papers, only if they could find them easily. In the case of our mares with foals, the papers did not convey to us with the horses. 

The horse trader was informative and helpful to Shelby. He hunted through his files and sent her a screenshot of one set of quarter horse papers. They most likely are a match for our Calypso as they are for a teenage mare and Grace is only five years old. One key fact is that out of all the mares he bought from the Oklahoma dispersal sale, only two were gray. So, the papers had to match one of our mares. He also shared a copy of the papers of the stallion that sired Mia and Sloan.    

The stud was a gray quarter horse, DOC OLENA MATE. His lineage was exceptional, connecting back to SMART LITTLE LENA and POCO POCO DOC. He was owned by the rancher who also sold all the mares. The stallion was purchased in the spring by someone other than the horse trader who bought our mares. A few months later in July 2023, DOC ended up at the Bowie Texas Livestock auction as a consignment horse.

His advertisement at the catalog sale stated that this AQHA 2008 gray stud, DOC, was a 14-year-old stallion. He produced several great roping horses and has been on one ranch his whole life. DOC was ridden until age 4 and then was turned out for 10 years to pasture breed mares. After buying him, the new owner rode him, and he gave them no trouble. DOC never bucked, and was well-mannered, 100 percent sound. They guaranteed he would produce well-minded colts.   

Shelby contacted the AQHA records and found that this stallion was now deceased. He fetched only $900, meat weight pricing, at the Bowie sale. The lot owner bought him. We surmise he was shipped to slaughter in Mexico. This was shockingly horrible to discover. Unfortunately, it happens far too often for middle-aged stallions and broodmares alike. 

Our beautiful Mia and Sloan are a testament to DOC’s exceptional mind and athletic build. What a crying shame this happened to him. This is why it is so important to commit to a horse one loves to be their forever home.

Luckily for the two gray mares and their beautiful offspring, fate dealt them a kinder hand. We are optimistic for them to have safe, happy equine careers. Calypso will stay here with us as a solid-minded babysitter. She is exceptional at tending to young newcomers and is pasture-sound but not suitable for riding. Both Mia and Sloan are top quality with lovely conformation. Our amazing Grace, well she too is one special horse. Just ask me or her new foster trainer, Shelby Dobbins.