Bud is having his best year ever. Twenty-one is a great age for a horse! I have never had my own horse live this long though I have taken care of other people's horses who were "elderly" in the past. Those horses seemed aged to me but Bud still seems like a little kid in a lot of ways. I am certain there are many factors for this. One, he has had an easy life. Low mileage if you will. Two, good bloodlines make a huge difference and his are very good. And more than likely the most important factor is ownership. He's been mine since birth and he will be mine until death. For his entire life, he has only known kindness. When I tell people about his temperament, I always tell them he is like a dog - the best dog you ever owned. He is cute, cuddly, playful, silly, willing, trustworthy, entertaining, always hungry and most importantly, he is full of love. I then tell people they simply need to understand "Bud Logic" when he has one of his stubborn mule moments which are fewer and farther between these days. And it's been over a year (world record) since he destroyed something (of his) just because he was bored, or mad, or whatever his Bud Logic was for that event.
Last summer we were able to find Bud a smaller pasture with several other horses where he did not have to wear a grazing muzzle.
It was a nice change for him after being alone for the past several years. I enjoyed the fact that he did not have to be muzzled in the hot summer. Unfortunately, life after laminitis demands grass intake be limited in the growing seasons and while he seems to have accepted this reality, I still feel badly for him wearing the "Hannibal" mask for six months out of the year. The time spent at this particular property was short mainly due to humans and mud more than horses but I realized that Bud had grown accustomed to living alone and having "friends" was optional. As he was the odd one in the lot of seven, he wasn't always treated nicely by the other horses and often I'd find him alone - with a new cut or several. I thought he'd be hanging out with at least one of them after some time had passed but he really never bonded with any of them.
So I didn't feel bad at all when we pulled up with a trailer to take him to the most perfect home he has ever had.
Bud hasn't been trailered since 2008 when we brought him home from Morton which was about 90 minutes away. He has been trailered several times in his life. Once when he was only a few months old with his Mommy. A couple years later, we had him moved a few miles down the road and I actually rode in the trailer with him.......not one of my finer decisions but he did fine. He was only two at the time. That was the first time he was trailered alone so my rationale was that he'd be fine as long as I was there. And he was but it was a very long couple mile ride in a one horse trailer. But I digress.
I always wonder how he'll do. Will he load? Will it become a training session? The last time we loaded him it took some work. We only needed the rental trailer for a five mile trek this and we had five hours rental time to make it so no problem. It didn't take more than 20-30 minutes last time to get him in.
We pulled the trailer up into the yard and find Bud already waiting at the gate. He seemed ready to get away from his horse frenemies. Mark opened the trailer and I lead him to it like it was no big deal and said, "So, you are getting into the trailer now." I got in and he just walked on in like he does this every single day. I swear I heard him say, "Okay, whatever," as he got in. It was so cute! Just makes me grin for days to think of it because he was SO good. We closed the door and that is when he realized none of his frenemies are coming because they are all going nuts in the field. Back to my own logic that he'll be fine if I'm with him, I stood on the side of the trailer so he could see me and told him it was all going to be fine. That helped a little. As long as he could see me. So off we go on the five mile trek to the new place and Bud is hollering and I am yelling out my window that he's fine and everything is okay. After a couple miles he quieted down. It is always nerve wracking for me to be hauling Bud, my baby, anywhere. I am sure I drive Mark nuts telling him to drive slow, take the corner slow, etc. I know some people do this all the time but we don't and it seems totally surreal to be hauling your horse behind your van. I'm glad we got some pictures of this trip because it was really a standout.
We arrived at the new place in good shape and of course I was anxious to get Bud out of that thing. I was hoping he'd get out better than he did in 2008 where he cut himself somehow on the way out. We opened the stall and he first backed out, put two feet on the ground and then reloaded. He was still a bit upset. I managed to turn him around so he could see where he was going thinking things will go better but that was when he took a flying leap out unfortunately sending me flying as well. Thankfully we both landed on our feet and it seemed we did it without injury until we noticed him holding up his back foot and kicking it repeatedly. At first we didn't see any reason for it but then we found the blood oozing out from the inner part of his leg. Appears he kicked himself on the way out. Mark said it looked like he jumped out of the trailer and stepped on himself trying to avoid landing on me since I hit the ground before he did. Poor boy. The good news is, this new place actually has running water which we actually can use so getting the wound clean and dressed was quickly done. And this is yet another thing to remark upon. It's been about 15 years since we had access to a hose and how well I remember those days - Bud was NOT impressed at all. Yet, how easily I was able to tend to Bud's wounds because even though it hurt, he knew I am taking care of him. Mark was concerned he might kick at me because he was hurt and because the water was cold but he never did. It appeared he thought it felt good.
Bud has been at the new place for a month now and has settled in well. He is alone again, at least horse wise though there are some horses he watches and calls to one pasture over. After seeing him with horses for a few months, I think he is fine with this arrangement. He does have three goat friends to graze with and a friendly dog to visit with at the fence line so he technically is not alone at all. And then there is the landowner. She used to have horses but no longer does and is thrilled to have a horse back on the land again. In short, she loves Bud, spoils Bud, which is music to my ears. It's been ages since we've boarded him at a place where the owners really seemed to like the animals more than the money we paid to keep them there. I have never had Bud at a place where on the day I moved him in, the owner sent me a text telling me that he was doing fine with this picture attached.
I already felt great about the decision to move but that solidified it. And it has been nothing but bliss ever since. The place is wonderful. Very little mud. Two huge shelters. 3.5 acres which I can actually ride on which seems weird and wonderful after spending 6 years at a place where the owners were adamant I NOT ride on the property. There is running water, power, a real hay barn and a real tack room none of which Bud can destroy because he cannot get near them. These seem like givens but in this day and age, they haven't been. So having them again seems surreal as well.
Some may remember how I found Bud's first home here in 2008. I dialed a wrong number thinking I was dialing for one boarding place and it ended up being another. What are the odds of that? Only God could make that happen obviously. Well, this one wasn't based on a wrong number but it did come from a lot of prayer for a decent place. Years to be exact. Bud is obviously getting older. He needed a real shelter, not a tent. We also wanted a field that did not flood for 8 months of the year. Boarding from a decent human being was also high on the list as well as affordability. There were other things too but those were the biggies. So when this place popped up, I almost didn't call on it because it is not just down the street like the most recent two, but instead in the next town and that is the only thing that isn't perfect since I cannot drive. But aside from that, if I were to have my own place, it would be set up much like this one.
Bud gets to wake up every day to Mt. Rainer peeking at him. How lovely is that?
And he can watch the people in the gym (large building on the right) work out if he's bored. And they get the pleasure of watching him eat and poop. Yeah!
Currently, he can go ice-skating if he wants....
Mark can just jump on for the heck of it...in our own field! Dare to dream!
And here Bud is doing what he does best. Being curious. He needed a new blanket because it is very windy up here and he's checking it out hoping it's food. Sorry Bud.
What do you think? Cute?
Definitely a cute butt!
And a cute face with applesauce dripping from the lips!
There are some interesting places to ride here apart from the field. Mainly back roads, as you see, town is just around the corner, but we are on the country side of it. In 2008, I would have not been as interested in this place simply because the riding areas, aka trails, are miles away and you must travel roads to get there. These days, no problem. Since I could never ride in the field, Bud was taken from green to golden on roads and pedestrian trails. He has seen it all and is good to go. Roads? No problem.
I took him out for the first time a week ago wondering how he'd feel about the new roads and places and things he's never seen. Here's what happened...we had the most wonderful time. No issues whatsoever. And even that seems surreal. Even my "bombproof" first horse would be weird for the first few rides at a new place. But Bud, he was ready to get out of his field and go exploring. Something somewhere finally clicked and he realized that me on his back equals satisfying his curiosity bump. He does not get barn sour. He is opposite. He does not want to return to his field until he's had enough outside adventure. He's been like this for a few years now so it's not just the new place. It's pretty funny that he wants to explore everyone elses driveway except his own. But once he grows tired, then it's fine to go home.
I've come home so many times this month and asked Mark, "When did he get so good?" Mark laughs and says he's always good. But the thing is, he wasn't always riding good. Ground good, yes. He's had years of ground work put on him before I ever met Mark and ever had kids. Years. And it's interesting to think of Bud in the time frame of decades but in truth, he is only remaining animal from the days when I lived with my parents, was not married, not even thinking about marriage, and had no kids - except Bud. Mark put this another way. He likes to tell people that I had Bud before I had him. There's some Mark humor for you! Bud was about 18 months old when I met Mark and one day as he watched me working with Bud he said, "I can tell you'll be a good mom." I laughed because I wasn't planning to have kids.
Well a few years later I became a mother to a human and Bud's training went to the back burner for about 12 years. He was green broke very early in life and other than a few free days here and there, I didn't do a lot with him because mothering children came first and there just wasn't time or babysitters. And of course Samuel changed everything and that is how Bud eventually moved to Morton. Way too far away but at least with a person we trusted. And then Samuel went to Heaven and Bud came home. The next year was spent healing his broken hoofs. That was horrible. A couple years of some very annoying rides! I remember thinking that it was supposed to be relaxing and it was simply frustrating instead. He was balky, scared, and barn sour. Not a good combination. And I knew I did not have the patience for it. So I let him sit for a long time riding sporadically here and there but nothing much. Each ride was better but still had bits of frustration. Mainly because all of the training had to be on the road. And then in 2010 he got laminitis which is pretty much a death sentence for most horses. If it's not, it usually limits their use significantly. And their lifespan as well. And that was horrible! I still have nightmares that he cannot walk. But as I ask Mark when he got so good, I already know the answer. It was when he got laminitis.
I believe Bud has always known I was his owner even when he was away from me for so long. He still came when we called even after years of not seeing him. But I think the special bond we had so early in life was - not broken - but significantly lessened during that time. And even after we brought him home, it wasn't just there again overnight. It took that horrible laminitis to really bring back the trust and love we had in the early years. There was a marked change in Bud, not just as a riding horse, but as a complete horse overall as he healed from that. And I began to notice it immediately as we started getting back out and about together. Rides got better and better. Time spent seemed more like old times and less like strange times. For awhile I'd tell you Bud would go with me anywhere......on foot. But these days I think Bud would take me anywhere on his back too. That is a whole different level of trust. A whole different level of love too.
There are a lot of horses that anybody can ride. My first horse was that way though it took a solid two years of training to get her there. And much of that training revolved around me having a whip and not being afraid to use it more than love and trust. She was an eight-year-old green broke broodmare who was very herd bound when I got her. She was not interested in being a teenager's riding horse by any stretch. She did become an excellent riding horse and I loved her very much. She was also very trustworthy. I cannot be sure if this love and trust ran both ways. I am sure it was there, but not to the degree I have it with Bud.
My relationship with Bud was built on love and trust from day one of his life. Looking back, there were many turning point moments with him. Similar to the laminitis turning point. Certain things would be awful and then one day, the awful was over and it never came back. This wasn't the result of having a whip and not being afraid to use it. It was the result of patient perseverance on my part as well as loving training. This is why I stopped riding him soon after he came home; I knew I lacked the patience to do it right so I went back to the basics of good ground work and excellent care. I did not want another horse I had to beat into submission. I wanted a horse who enjoyed being ridden as much as I enjoy riding. I wanted a partnership, not a dictatorship. And that is what I now have. Strangely not from riding hours a day for two years straight but instead from being consistent in love and care on the ground.
With all that said, Bud is not the kind of horse anyone can ride. Case in point here.
Bud was not pleased to have Mark on his back. We found this picture hilarious because it captured the moment so well. Bud planted his feet, laid back his ears and just looked overall annoyed. Mark can ride him, Bud will carry him around, but it is with this very same look and reluctance that he does it. It's simply because they have never bonded and Bud is the kind of horse who needs that and that is perfectly fine. There are tons of movies made about horses who bond with only one person that depict very well the very special bond between them. Bonding with a rider makes a horse a better mount. Mark needs his own horse....and hopefully some day that will happen. In Bud's lifetime would be even better.
While I've owned Bud his whole life, I have waited a long time to have the horse he's become. And I think it's pretty special to have such a wonderful bond with a large animal. It's pretty special when a horse would injure himself before injuring me most especially when he is upset and not thinking right. He still thought about me. It's pretty special to have been able to ride him all over the roads of his new place for the very first time with a bridle that was basically a halter with two reins attached. Now that's trust
So, it's wonderful to finally get Bud to a nice home. A place he has settled into nicely and seems to really like a lot. I love that the owner loves him and treats him with a very special kindness. I don't know why she no longer has horses but I sense that she regrets the decision. I told her that I might sound braggy when I say that she could not have a nicer horse than Bud but I have been around quite a few horses and none of them even come close. She told me today that she believes this too. Bud is a very special guy. I hope and pray I have at least another decade to enjoy him. Horses, like people, are not replaceable. And if I didn't say it already, Bud is doing GREAT!