Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bud's Physical Progress

I just finished making a new saddle pad for Bud and was out taking pics of it today when I noticed something pretty amazing.  It's obvious from the last post that Bud's body is changing, however; I did not have a basis for comparing how his back is starting to come up as seen under saddle until now.

 
This pic above was taken in June after making the saddle pad shown intended for use with a different saddle that had not arrived yet.  The saddle shown was not fitting well mainly because of the huge dip in Bud's back.  It is obvious now that that saddle was made for a horse with a near perfect topline which Bud obviously did not have.  I've circled the dip in his back behind the saddle in orange.  The straight(ish) blue line shows where the bottom of the saddle aligns with his croup/rump.  Ideally, if one draws a straight line back from the bottom of the saddle to the croup/rump, it should run parallel and above the back.  Notice the air pocket below the blue line.   The back is obviously not parallel to the line.  With proper work on his topline, that dip should fill up, meaning, his back will lift and his entire confirmation will change.  Remember this takes about a year of consistent work of which we are now about 5 months into.
 
The saddle I purchased to fit Bud does fit him well; however it fits Ruby better and as such, I decided to test out the above saddle again to see if it was fitting Bud any better.  I was amazed when it did - still not perfect but MUCH better.
 

So the above is from today, two months from the first pic.  Now the blue line is still not parallel to his back BUT there is no air pocket.  There is still a dip - his back should come up hopefully close to level with his rump/croup.  The hole is filling up well,  Bud was not standing in his best posture in this image either - I took it prior to working him.  Generally after a workout, he will have a better posture as the muscles are more engaged.  So had I taken one after his workout, it would have probably looked even better.  But the thing is, his confirmation is changing regardless of posture and that is the goal.  As the muscling continues in the right direction, better posture all the time will follow.
 
Something else about photo #1...the saddle is on a pretty large riser and a double density pad mainly due to the poor saddle fit.   It fit his shoulders fine, however due to the large dip in his back, it sunk so much that I was literally sitting on the top of the back of the saddle.  Padding did help but it wasn't ideal.   So if photo #1 had been taken without the extra padding, the line would have been drawn mostly below his back the entire length falling well under the croup/rump showing how sunken it was at that time..  In photo #2, the padding under the saddle is significantly less - the saddle still wants to slope back more than I think it should, hoever; when I sit in it, I am a lot more centered.  At any rate, the improvement in the last two months is pretty dramatic.  I knew it when I put this saddle back on and rode in it, but the pictures really do justice to what I was feeling.
 
I remember beginning this work with Bud in March and wondering if we'd ever see results.  It really could not happen fast enough but then patience was never my strong suit. 

Ruby had no top line to speak of when she arrived; however, she also did not have a huge dip in her back from old age so her progress has been a lot faster compared to Bud who literally started out in a hole.  Still, pretty cool, eh?
 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Horsing Around

Mark and I got our conditioning work done with the horses before the heat set in and decided to try something new.  Well, new for Bud.  Not new for Ruby.  Not new for me.  I decided to see what Bud would think of ponying Ruby. 


When Bud was still little, I used to pony him alongside his mommy but other than that, he has never been asked to be the pony horse.  As Ruby spent four years on the track, we know she has a lot of experience being ponied.  What was unclear was first, how Bud would react since he hasn't been too keen on her following him loosely when I ride; and second, if she'd flashback to her track experience and get way too excited to keep under control. 


Ponying is a great skill for a horse to know.  As we plan to take Ruby out trail riding as soon as she is fit enough to carry Mark, Bud having this ability might just come in handy for a green trail horse, Ruby, to feel calmer as she gains confidence.   There are some prerequisites before starting to train this skill.  The rider must be able to multitask.  You have to be able to direct and control two horses.  It' one needs a correction, you need to be able to do that without  affecting the other horse.  Sometimes easier said than done.  Both horses have to have good manners toward each other.  No biting or kicking is allowed by either party.  The pony horse has to stay even or slightly in front of the horse being ponied which means the horse being ponied has to stay even or slightly behind.  The horse being ponied must yield to pressure from the halter if they get too far ahead or behind and also to being directed/pushed by the pony horse which is the only way you can turn successfully.  The pony horse is the leader....period.    And I am the leader of them both so they must both obey my commands.  In an enclosed field, it's not such a big deal if there are mistakes but obviously in an open area, mistakes can be a lot more costly. 


As an aside, Bud was a miserable horse to pony.  Of course he was a baby and a stud back then, but I remember all sorts of episodes with him that are funny now but were not so funny at the time.  Pretty much all the afore mentioned mistakes he made and more.  The last thing you want is to loose the horse you are ponying due to error on part of one horse or the other and let's just say that Bud got free more than once.  I should also mention that his mommy was not a trustworthy steed by any means so I basically set myself and them up for disaster.  Those disasters taught me to have both horses better behaved before even trying this.   Bottom line: don't set the horses up to fail.


So it really went well. It only took a lap of reminding them that we don't play bite each other while we work.  And another lap of reminding both of them to stay at the same pace which means Ruby needed to slow down and Bud needed to speed up.  I reminded them that they are a team and they have to work together and stay together.  Ruby took that to mean that she should be snuggled up to my leg most of the time which worked out well because when she got a little fast, I bumped her with my heel to remind her to slow down.  It was really good for them both to realize they had to listen to me and do what I asked of them at the same time to ensure success.




After the first two "behave, I mean it" laps, Mark took some video on his phone.  By this point, they looked like pros.  Looking forward to the day when we can try this at the canter.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Getting to Know Ruby (Alternate Title: LOOK AT BUD!)

Ruby has been with us just over a month now.  To refresh your memory, here is how she looked when she arrived.
 
 
Below is how she looks today.
 
 
After one consistent month of work, she is muscling up quite nicely.  It's been an amazing progression mainly due to how fast it is occurring.  Ode to youth!
 
However, insert alternate title here, look at Bud.
 
 
This is how Bud looks today.  Remember his picture from April?  If not, here it is.
 
 
I could not be more pleased!  Four months of hard work is paying off.
 
 
Tell me truly, does he look 22 now?  I expect him to continue to improve physically as we continue to do daily work.  I also expect that when the grass stops growing and he loses some weight, things will go much faster.  However, I am absolutely ecstatic about his progress and everyone in this house knows it - no one has passed my computer without being told to "Look at Bud!"
 
Getting back to Ruby.....
 
 
I'm not sure how she accomplishes this but in the confirmation photo, she looks like a Thoroughbred and in this one, she resembles an Arabian.  Either way, she is perfect and is fitting in with our family very, very well.  The number one thing is, Bud is not lonely anymore.  He is quite happy.
 
 
Sadly, he cannot keep up with Ruby when she runs around.
 
 
But he still tries.
 
 
It's been an interesting experience suddenly having two horses - I'm definitely loving it.  It took a few days to work out our new normal as far as grooming and working sessions go.  Mainly the heat has been the deciding factor.  Ruby, being a Thoroughbred, has a very low heat tolerance so I generally work her first.  Bud seems to do his best work in the later part of the day and he doesn't care about the heat as much so the decision was simple.  What I did not expect was that they would both really get into this groove and be willing participants in it.  Ruby knows she is first so after she has eaten her feed stuff, she will wander in to meet me.  Bud, knowing he has some time, will wander out to eat.  However, like clockwork, when Ruby is to about the last five to ten minutes of her session, Bud will take a big pee, go get a big drink, and wander over to the grooming spot and wait for his turn.  Sometimes, if he is feeling extra cuddly, he will come in with Ruby so they can be groomed together, then wander out to eat grass, but still returns about the time I am finishing up Ruby.  When I take Bud out for his session, Ruby comes along, sometimes lunges herself around Bud, occasionally takes a good running lap around the field, but eventually settles down and eats nearby.  She doesn't want Bud too far away.  Bud, however, doesn't worry so much about her whereabouts and he certainly is not going to lunge himself, LOL!
 
Here I shall stop and say that horses are such amazing and rewarding creatures.  There is nothing better than a good relationship with one, not to mention two.  I remember horse ownership in my much younger days being about making my horse do thus and so.  These days it is about having a more than willing participant.  They are not my slaves, they are my partners.  It is so much more rewarding this way.

 
 Mark is able to come out three days a week to share in the work/relationship with them.  Ruby's destiny is to be his mount but it will be awhile until she is strong enough to carry his weight.  I've gotten on her once a week to check where she is at and each ride, though short, has shown significant improvement in both strength and training.  It was obvious to me on my second ride on her that she had never ever been ridden without a guide person or pony horse except while running the track.  She was extremely uncomfortable walking by herself.  I thought that might be problematic, however, after another week of groundwork, I got on her and rode her all over the field without a problem.  This girl learns fast and absolutely wants to be pleasing in all her efforts. 
 
I believe the main thing from the get-go was trust.  My initial impression of her was that she wanted to be treated with loving kindness and respect.  She was craving a relationship that had been lacking in her life.   She reminded me a lot of Bud in mannerisms, but the strongest emotion I got from her was desperation for the afore mentioned items.  We immediately clicked. 
 
I mentioned that she had some major anxiety issues and definitely had ways of making it known.  My goal in this last month was to hopefully move past that at least as much as possible, and mission accomplished.  She shows significantly less concern in all things and isn't as sensitive to even the most minor correction like she was in the first week or so.    I hope she is knowing she has found her family and is very much wanted and needed and loved.  She is definitely showing signs of affection toward Mark and I and of course, Bud, and also knows her name which is most helpful.  How would you like to call your horse and have her come like the picture below?  Ruby does.
 
 
Last week, I got on her for my weekly ride while Mark rode Bud and we had quite a nice jaunt around the field together for the first time.  Ruby led, Ruby followed, and neither were an issue.  It was lovely.  She just needs to build her strength for longer rides.  Bud is currently stronger than she is which says a lot given his age and condition.  Mark has taken to calling Bud a tank.
 
 
Speaking on my beautiful tank, look at his nice butt muscles.  Okay, moving on.
 
 
When Mark and I are both there, we make a point of playing hide-n-seek with them.  The shelter pictured above is a great hiding spot.  Doesn't matter which horse hides in it, the other come calls and comes running.  Bud still plays "it" better than Ruby but he's had a lot of practice.  
 
On the days I ride Bud, Ruby generally comes along with us.  Following behind, running in front, either/or is really cute.  Sometimes I chase her on Bud which is hilarious because he cannot catch her and will never catch her even if he were in his prime.  She is a fast horse who can turn on a dime.
 
 
One thing the starting gate taught her was how to dig her heels in and GO!  It's still amazing to see in person.
 
 
It's good to see her play knowing she didn't get to do a lot of playing time in her younger years.  I keep making up new games to play with her and Bud and they seem to enjoy it too.  Ruby has certainly brought back another element of Bud's youth.  They are a perfecct fit together, each having a lot to teach the other.
 
One of the things I most appreciate about Ruby is her ability to "come back" to me after being overstimulated.  My first horse took a long time to come back after she freaked out over something.  Ruby simply needs a moment and it's over.  We've had some "moments" in the last month but they mainly revolved around her not knowing where Bud was more than anything else.  So of course, we've taken that as a training opportunity when both Mark and I are there.  Little by little, she is worrying less about Bud and listening more to whomever is working her. 
 
Today we had a bit of an odd day - our field got mowed which it really needed and the horses got to check out a tractor first hand.  As you see, Ruby was quite worried.....
 
 
Bud was the chicken but then I know Bud's history with tractors.  He hates them, let's just leave it at that.

 
The land owner wanted me to be there when the mowing occurred just in case.  But seeing their non-reaction, I figured it'd be no big deal.  Ruby was quite curious and not fearful period and I figured Bud would follow her lead.  It was all fine until the driver started the tractor......then this happened.....
 
 
Get out of dodge!
 
So, they got some good exercise and as a result I got some very good pictures of them doing something other than eating.
 
 
Look at Bud!
 
 
Check out Ruby's very feminine and gorgeous face!
 
 
Awkward.....
 
 
Girl power!
 
 
As is typical for Bud, he isn't into running for long.  Here he is coming in to get some Mama love and reassurance that the big bad tractor isn't really after him.
 
 
And cue eating.
 
 
This is one of my favorite Ruby action shots.  Can't wait to ride this trot.  It'll be awhile yet.
 
 
This is one of my favorite Bud shots.  He's happy and is feeling as good as he is looking.
 
The end result of this day was that both horses got a bath.  They both love baths so we tried setting out a sprinkler for them and found they liked that too. 
 
The bottom line is that we've had a very fun yet hard-working month the results of which are picture perfect.  All as it should be.   I think we are all looking forward to some cooler temperatures but on the bright side, I am somehow managed to become quite tan.  I don't recognize my own skin.
 
A few parting shots.
 



 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Settling in Well

Ruby has settled in with her new family nicely. 
 


 
Pretty cool herd!
 
The landowner agrees; it's like she has always been here.
 
 
She naps under this tree in the big pile of hay which we made even larger than shown here after the landowner let us know she was using it as a bed.  Apparently, she naps and Bud stands guard over her.  How adorable!  I haven't seen it yet though.
 
Ruby is beginning to show signs of bonding to me and not just happiness over food.  I spent some time driving the Bronco through the field today to flatten out our riding track and lunging circle and when I returned to where she was tied, I did not greet her, but instead spoke to Mark and then walked away and she let out a huge nicker because I ignored her.  I didn't ignore her after that and then she was happy.
 
Our weather has been in the 90's for the past several days and high 80's before that which is "hot" for our neck of the woods.  Feels like hell actually.  The horses are not enjoying it either.  I find them nearly breaking sweats in the afternoon so that has meant a good cool bath each day for them.  It does help.   I've been trying to get out there to see them as early as possible and get our work done before the real heat sets in.  Bud does better in the heat than Ruby - it's a breed thing.  He doesn't mind the hot but she is often in the shade or drinking lots of water.
 
It's been interesting to find a new normal having two horses.  Bud and I had a good system going but now with Ruby, one of the two has to be tied.  For now it is Ruby.  She can get impatient and stompy as I groom them both together, moving from one to the other.  She ground ties fairly well but will walk off so tied she will be until she gets into the groove.
 
Bud is still smitten.  But he has come down to earth a bit and is getting back into "our" groove.  I groom them together but work Ruby first due to her lower heat tolerance.  Bud watches from afar and I can hear him thinking, "Better you than me, lady!"  However, after I bring her in and get her end grooming done, she leaves and I find Bud waiting for his turn.  He still wants Mama time.   He got poked in the eye by only God knows what a couple days back so he's had a few days off to recover from that.  Today he was fine so after working Ruby and turning her loose, it was his turn.  He was nearly begging me to mess with him.  He's not as jealous as he used to be but it is obvious that he doesn't want to be left out either. 
 
I worked him first on the lunge for warm-up.  The dynamic for Bud and Ruby when Bud is doing his work is quite different because she isn't content to watch from a distance.  Midway through his lunge session, she joined him and lunged herself for several laps.  She was quite clever about it because she stayed on his outside and did not interfere with the line at all.  I wonder if she thought it was a race.  She won hands down.  Pretty cute.  I haven't ridden Bud since Ruby arrived - too hot and then eye poke - so got on him today.  She followed us around and ran and played and just had a ball.  It was hilarious and fun.  Bud wasn't impressed however; he didn't want to get kicked.  She was a good girl that played without kicking though.  This I did not get a video of; however, I did get a video of her workout today and some quick pics while Mark was there.  She is coming along wonderfully and fast.  Mark and I are just thrilled with her progress and how wonderful the whole experience with her has been thus far.
 
Pics first...
 



 
 
Boring videos here if you are interested.  They give a good glimpse of her personality and presence.
 
Lunging
 
First ride since bringing her home.   Went exceptionally well!

Monday, June 29, 2015

She's a Lady....and the Lady is Ours

There's a new lady in Bud's life.
 
 
Meet Ruby.
 
 
Ruby is a 9 year old Thoroughbred who became part of our family today.  We've been talking about getting another horse to keep Bud company and for Mark and I to ride for years now but the time and place were never right.  Well, the time and place was finally right a couple months ago ( basically since we moved to the new place and established a family type relationship with the owner) and we began searching.
 
Finding the right fit for our family and Bud was extremely frustrating at times - you would think finding a horse that was younger than Bud and in better physical shape would be pretty easy, right?  Wrong! After calling on ads and visiting several horses in person, then walking away either sad or angry, I decided to put an ISO ad up.  I did not think it'd come to anything based on my requirements and what we'd already seen but within 12 hours I was contacted by a lady who had what seemed like just what I had been searching for.   We conversed for a few days and she sent many pictures and videos for my inspection and things just kept looking better and better.
 
Let me stop and say that this was another of those instances that you KNOW was a match made by God.  Everything just fell together and clicked.  One of the main issues we were having with sellers was blatant dishonesty and this lady left me with a sense that she could be trusted and that the drive to her place would be worth our time.  So we went out to meet both her and her horse yesterday....during what ended up being a really awesome thunderstorm.
 It made for an interesting backdrop which Mark is kicking himself now for not videotaping.  We both wish he would have based on how things went.  It would have been really fun to share.
 
Ruby's owner saved her from a slaughter buyer at Emerald Downs (race track) last August.  Apparently she went to buy a specific broodmare from a specific seller who had several other mares up for bid.  She got her desired mare but after the auction found the mare's owner in tears over a kill buyer getting Ruby.  Ruby's owner sought after the kill buyer and bought her from him.  Her plan was to re home her but time just got away from her last year and she never listed her.   She was just about to list her last week when she saw my ISO.   She thought Ruby might be a good fit for me and reached out and I am so thankful she did.
 
When my first horse died, it was SO hard to search for a new horse.  None of them compared to what I had.  We ended up with Bud's mom, ten months pregnant, and while this sounds harsh, Bud's mom was no prize.  I tried to love her.  I really did.  But I didn't.  My mom picked her out thinking it was a really good two for one deal.  And it was because I ended up with Bud.
 
  When Bud was born, my lack of love for his mommy didn't really matter because I gave Bud my full attention.  But he still wasn't anything like my old horse.  And the pain of loss lingered for a long time.  Looking for a horse while Bud is still alive so that he can impart some of his "Budness" to has always seemed like a good idea.  And when the day comes when Bud is done with this world, perhaps it would soften the blow to still have a horse who knew Bud and learned from him.   I hope to not know for sure about this for many years but it seems like a good plan for now.  Anyway, looking at the perspective horses that we did not buy sent my emotions back to the loss of my first horse.  The feelings of disappointment when we looked at horse after horse and none of them even came close.  Only then, I just went home feeling the loss even more and there was no remedy.  This time, I'd come home feeling sad/angry and then head out to see Bud for some Bud therapy.  At least he was still alive and it wasn't as horrible to find nothing as it had been in the past.   Mostly I felt sorry for the horses we'd seen and hoped they'd find owners who could help them - some of them were in BAD shape.
 
Anyway.....
 
We went to meet Ruby yesterday.  I told the owner what I wanted to do with her and the plan was agreed to so all was set before we arrived.  Ruby was out in her pasture with her mates and walked right up to me.  She stood with great interest while I looked her over and picked up her feet, still loose in the field.  Her owner gave Mark and I space to really get to know her which was nice.  It didn't take five minutes before I knew she was the one.  She acted a lot like Bud, in girl form.  And I didn't think it was possible for a horse to be more loving that Bud, but she was, right there in the field.  What is funny is that when we were looking for a horse to replace my first horse, I wanted a horse I could ride anywhere.  Personality didn't enter in because my first horse was pretty bland.  And now, it isn't so much about riding anywhere as it is about personality.  Being sound and free of metabolic issues was also a must but having both of those AND personalty makes it a win.
 
I wanted to be able to catch Ruby, bring her into an open space and groom her.  Then work her on the lunge, tack her up and ride.  That was the plan but as I told her owner, I was going to assess where she was and take her as far as I could take her.  If she showed me she wasn't ready for any step in the process, I would not push her.  The owner didn't really know what Ruby was capable of.  Ruby was on the track for her first five years and she won a few races.  Then she was a Mama.  Then she was back at the track for auction.  Then she came to her current owner.  The owner did not ride anymore and never bonded with Ruby so didn't do much with her.  I figured that if we didn't buy her, at least the owner would have a better sense of what Ruby could do from our visit and that might help her to place her with another family.
 
The main issue the owner had with Ruby was that Ruby was bonded so strongly with her other mare that they could not be separated.  She was concerned about this being an issue when we came to visit.  As Mark and I groomed Ruby, she got nervous when the other mare left her sight so I took Ruby out to lunge.  This was during the lightning storm.  It was far enough away but interesting to note that Ruby did not care about any of it.  I got her going, which she did not initially like, so she started racing and bucking in the round pen.  Her owner was a little worried so Mark went to sit outside with her to comfort her.  I'm serious. 
She really needed him to feel assured that I had this under control.  We later found out that the owner was never able to control Ruby, was fearful of her in certain circumstances and she assumed the same would happen to me.  It did not.   Bud acts like an idiot just like this on the lunge at times and I just ignore it, let him get it out of his system and we go on.   After a few minutes she settled back into a nice trot and I said, "Would you like to walk now?"  Her answer was to walk.  A nice under control walk.  I then asked her to stop and then asked her to come in, motioning with my hand, much like I do with Bud.  I really didn't expect her to understand but in she came showing me all the signs that she was calm and ready to mind.  I hand walked her for a bit telling her how good she was, then took her back to tack her up.   I never tied her up once in this, same as I don't with Bud, he just stands and so did she.  It was wonderful.
 
The owner was really not wanting me to ride.  It'd been awhile since she rode because she had an unfortunate accident that has left her afraid to get back on.   I think she was afraid for me.  Like she was having flashbacks.  I assured her that I would not get on if I did not think Ruby would be fine.  It wasn't as if Ruby was having her first ride.
 
  I ended up spending ten minutes fixing her tack which was sized for the owner's former horse before I could even put it on, all the while Ruby watched and waited.  She no longer cared about the other mare.    She was 100% tuned in to me.  I had to sign a release that I would not sue for injury and the owner was still really leery about me getting on.  Note:  I used to exercise race horses, I know what they are like.  I assured the owner again that I would not get on Ruby if I didn't think she'd be fine.  At that point, I knew we'd be buying her so I definitely would not want to set her up to fail.   Where Bud is, we don't have a round pen, so it was safer for me to actually take the first ride there.  I had Mark come help at this point, keeping Ruby on the lunge with Mark holding it:  ground support.  I got on with no issue.  I felt Ruby tense up a bit and assured her that she was doing very well.  I had Mark lead her, keeping her close she could just get used to a rider again.  She was tentative, but relaxed quickly.  The tight circles got larger and larger until I was on the rail and Mark had a loose attachment in the center of the ring.  I was steering and Ruby was listening.  She felt like a racehorse.  Very responsive to leg, but a bit hard to steer.  Within a couple minutes, she was understanding what I was asking.  I was SO impressed.  This horse has most likely not been ridden since 2011 so it was just awesome.  I was probably on for less than ten minutes and it was enough to know what I needed to know.  She was like Bud in that she was extremely teachable.  I got off her with a flying leap, just like I exit Bud's back and she acted like that was common for her.  It was awesome!   There were absolutely no red flags. 
 
We untacked Ruby and did our final groom as I do with Bud before turn out and she remained focused on us, never caring what her mare friend was doing.  Her owner walked up and I told her that I wanted to buy her and then asked if she was comfortable selling her to me.  It was a big resounding YES!  Her owner has told me several times during the final transaction that she knew Ruby was meant for us based on how everything went.    She said she knew it on a spiritual level.  She said she believed God cared about horses and He made this whole thing possible.  So, I am not the only one who feels this.  It is nothing short of God to both buyer and seller.
 
You might think it doesn't get better than this but it does.  We went to get her today.  Always nerve wracking hauling a horse trailer...but even more so when you really don't know how the horse will react.  With all the formalities taken care of, I walked Ruby in her field to make sure she remembered me and was going to be attentive and react how I wanted her to.  She did.  Then I led her out of the field away from her friend.  Her nervousness was immediately apparent.  I kept walking, ignoring it, just walking like it was normal.  She settled.  Her owner told Mark she was astounded that Ruby left the field like that.  Apparently she was never able to take Ruby out of the field without the other mare in tow.  I am not saying I am SO AWESOME, I am just saying that Ruby and I connected and she was as okay as she could be leaving her friend.   We allowed her to get into the trailer in her own timing which only took a few minutes.  She was still nervous so I asked her to stand a minute and then allowed her to exit.  She got out well, unlike Bud who seems to get hurt every time he gets out so I was happy.  I took her around the yard another few laps and told Mark that we would load her this time and it would be for real.  Again, in her own time, now less than 30 seconds, Ruby got in and stood.  We secured her, said our thank you's again and were off.  Ruby did not cry for her friend.  She stomped the floor a few times and after that was quiet.  It was just over an hour home with much prayer for safety.  We arrived very safely thank God and found her standing calmly waiting to get out.  She exited the trailer just as calmly and we led her into the field. 
 
Bud had been watching all of this from afar.  I think he recognized the trailer and did not want to approach.  The trailer, to him, means he is moving and trust me, he doesn't want to move.  So he kept his distance which allowed us to show Ruby the smaller field, the water, hay, fence line, etc.  And Bud calmly stood outside and watched.  A gentleman.  Or maybe he was just dumbfounded.  Mark brought him in and I turned Ruby loose.  Their first meeting was uneventful in that there was no kicking, squealing, etc.  They smelled each other's noses, and then proceed to lick each other's faces.  I have never seen anything so cute in my life.  It was like they were long lost friends.  And after that, they stayed together.  Bud following her kindly as she checked out the field.   A bit like a doting father or even a loving grandfather.  It was awesome. 
 
These are some pics I took in the first ten minutes.
 



 
 
 
I just had a thought....it shouldn't surprise me that a horse that reminded me so much of Bud would be able to fit in with Bud like they were old friends.  It's still cool.
 
We left the horses to get to know each other for a few hours and returned later to see what they were up to.  Bud is smitten.  He nickers to her in a low soft voice much like his mommy used to nicker to him when he was a baby.  It is so cute.  They touch noses and lick faces about every ten minutes.  If Ruby gets too far away from Bud, he prances around like a stallion to get her attention.  Now that is hilarious.  We got them both groomed and good for the night and then went to top off their water.  They both, being super curious, came to watch.  I used the hose like a sprinkler and they stood under it of their own free will.  And then it just got funny because Bud got one side sprayed and then turned his butt to us for it to get sprayed.  And then he turned to his other side for it to get sprayed.  Ruby did the same.  They loved it.  And after that I got out the video camera to capture what they did next.
 
 
It is surreal.  Ruby will get a few more days to settle in before she begins her training.  I look forward to getting her going.  The thought is that following the same workout that Bud is doing, she will be ready for some good trail rides next year.  She looks pretty good for a former mommy, but like Bud, there is a lot of room for improvement. 
 
Mark and my biggest impression of Ruby was that she needs a real family to thrive.  She is an amazing mover and as I mentioned, learns very easily, but what I did not mention is that she has a few nervous habits.  My belief is that they came from life on the track as I've seen them before.  So we will work with her slowly and gently so that trust is consistently built and hope these will just vanish.  She is super loving already and I think once there is a good foundation of trust, there will be no limit on what she will do or be.
 
But the most important thing is: we love her and Bud loves her and she has found her forever home.  I am excited to see what the next days, weeks and months will hold.  One thing I am assured of, I will definitely be entertained.  And on another note, Bud's joy on earth is complete.  His loneliness is over.