We are currently back to two horses (Duke and Shadow) and our mule (Arthur) !


We got Shadow on April 15, 2014 -- a solid black Tennessee Walking Horse.  She's was 11 years old on May 2, 2014 (born 5/2/2003).  I thought she was a year younger than Duke, but when I entered her birthdate into my records I discovered that Duke actually turned FIFTEEN years old in May 2014.  Gees! 

I thought I wouldn't want to get any more horses after Lizzie died last fall, but I was really tempted the moment I saw the ad for Shadow.  And once I actually met her back on March 30, well . . . there was no decision to make.   I had to have her -- even though she's 16 hands tall!  I had previously insisted on only having a horse short enough that I could get on without a mounting block in case I had to get off out in the woods somewhere.  That's why I got Arthur - he's INCREDIBLY short!  And he was carrying a guy 6'4", 255 lbs. on a daily basis so he could easily carry me. 

But come on . . . now that I'm pushing 70 and don't actually go ANYWHERE to ride, why not have a fine horse of any size whatsoever.  Using a tall mounting block at home is obviously NO problem. 

Here she is being ridden by her original owner the day I went up to meet her.
She moves soooo smoothly!

This was on her first day here at our place -  before she was allowed out with Duke and Arthur.
(You can see that single white mark on her forehead here.)
Compared to Duke she looks a bit thin - but THAT won't last around here, that's for sure!

This was one of the photos in the ad for her.

Another photo in the ad I saw for her.

And the third photo in her ad - my favorite. 
She is super-black once her winter hair comes out.
(The winter stuff is a dark brown, not black.)

And now that she is here, she's even more wonderful than I expected!  She was born and raised at the place where I went to check her out, so she has never been treated badly.  And whenever I go out into the pasture she runs right over and hangs with me all the time I'm out there!  She absolutely LOVES being around people.  What a joy!

She does look significantly less sturdy than Duke, though.  Her legs are about half the size of his!  And she is waaaay less stocky.  No doubt way more comfy to ride, though.   

Both Duke and Arthur adore her, too.  The three of them hang together all the time.
I love that.  Her life is going to be fine here.
(This pic is taken from inside the dog yard - the exterior fences are NOT chain link.  They're electric.)
People who don't recognize Arthur as a mule might think Shadow
has a colt since Arthur stays RIGHT next to her most of the time now!

They DO all hang out together generally - but Arthur is always closest. 
And Shadow had never seen a mule before!  We were a little concerned.  Ha!  Forget THAT!

NOTE:  From the beginning I was certain that Shadow was just the sweetest horse I've ever had for me (other than Duke, who IS the sweetest one we have).  But then in early November 2014 -- after I had her for six months -- while I was tightening one of the fasteners on her winter blanket, she swirled her head around and bit my arm BIG TIME and threw me down!  Fortunately, I had on two layers of shirts and a thick jacket.  I still got some holes in my arm from her teeth but at least that arm didn't have to be removed!  And it took months to recover.  Wow!  Maybe she never had a blanket on before or something like that, because she's generally just fine when I brush her or add a saddle.  But now when I do anything much with her, I fasten her up first so she CANNOT turn her head far enough around to bite me.  Gees!


My husband Mark's horse is Duke (Hazzard's Grand Man Duke), a Missouri Fox Trotter.  He is such a wonderful horse -- so kind and easy to deal with . . . except when you turn for home on a trail ride, of course.  Then he tries to go into a full-out, uncontrollable gallop if anyone other than Mark is riding him.

We spent a lot of time trying to find a GAITED horse short enough to be easy to mount, while still large enough to carry a 6'4" 250 lb. man.  It was quite a challenge.  But Duke is perfect for Mark.  He's a VERY sturdy 15.2, about 1100 lbs. with thick pasterns and big ol' feet.   He can carry ANYONE.  And he's calm and gentle enough for aging riders, as well.  What a guy!

Duke is a beautiful dark sorrel everywhere EXCEPT the underside of his tail, which is a gorgeous flaxen color.  Too bad that part is generally invisible!
Mark haltered him and led him in with a lead rope at first.  Now, as soon as he sees us pull up, he runs over to the gate.  And it doesn't matter if Mark heads to the barn or walks around the pasture.  Duke ambles along beside him like a huge puppy.   I'm SO grateful that we found him.  Mark had never been on a horse in his life before then - except that picture on a pony as a little boy!   (No riding teachers in our town had any horse or saddle large enough to fit him so he couldn't try out riding with some lessons.)   Luckily, getting Duke has made horses far more attractive to him that anything else I could have ever come up with!

Here he is once he got "home" -- we cut back those bushes all the way to the ground to keep him from eating them.  (And bought a pasture vacuum to pick up leaves and nuts in fall as well.  He is SO bad about eating virtually EVERYTHING!)

This is Duke meeting the neighbor's horses for the first time.  He's a very friendly guy.  He is such a different sort of horse.  There are never any threats.  No posturing.  I never see any signs of aggression from him.  And yet he definitely WAS the dominant horse of the 9 at that barn where we kept him originally.  We could hang his feed bucket on the fence and he would calmly eat while the other horses formed a ring around him a very respectful distance away - they NEVER came close to try and take anything away from him.  I always say he's just like his "dad."  Mark never gets excited, never raises his voice, but he is still respected by everyone he deals with. 

MIDNIGHT a/k/a Knight

My own very first horse was this 13-year-old black Tennessee Walking Horse by the name of  Midnight.  Unfortunately, he wasn't gelded until the month I got him!  He was a wonderful horse, but no one told me that horses, unlike dogs, do not just "get over it" once they're gelded.  He was great with people, but he insisted on rounding up all the mares at the boarding barn while constantly trying to kill the other geldings to keep them away from the mares. 
       I had never been on a horse in my life until I gave myself riding lessons for my 62nd birthday.  I got Knight just 4 months later.  I see now that there was no way I could have known how to handle him - I just didn't have enough experience.  But I became so attached to him -- he was, after all, my very first horse -- that I just couldn't return him to the rescue group and never know what had become of him.  We had no barn or fencing on our own property yet, and there was no boarding facility anywhere near here where he could be kept separate from the other male horses.  It was a really traumatic time.  Thankfully, my friend Janet, who has been riding virtually her entire life, agreed to take him.  She has the facilities to keep him separated from her other horses.  Over the past several years since he's been with her, he has mellowed considerably.  I'm not sure if that's due to the passage of time since he was gelded, or just that Janet knows how to handle him and make him behave - or both.  Either way, I am incredibly grateful to her for giving him a good home where I can still see him and know he's happy.  
Here's Knight separating Ladybug from a gelding in a separate pen. 
She is obvious NOT happy - but she IS heading away.

In the picture above, Midnight (now "Knight") is herding Bug away from the horse back there in the roundpen just outside the pasture fence.  She is obviously not pleased about it, but is going along with him at that moment.  (Later than evening while Al, who owns the property where we board and is a very experienced horse person, was leading Knight from the pasture to the barn when Knight bolted and attacked that horse shown in the background above, destroying two panels of the round pen in the process.  Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt.  But that was the last straw.  I knew he HAD to go somewhere else before he REALLY hurt someone.  Thank goodness for Janet!

Here he is today -- a much calmer boy.  What a sweetheart.

NOTE:  Knight had serious breathing problems for a number of years, but Jan and Mike kept him in good condition almost all the time.  But finally in September 2015 he had a serious breathing problem through the night.  He laid down in his pasture and by morning when they went out to deal with all their horses they discovered that he had  lost his life. They were really sorry to see him gone, but I think it was a better thing for him to simply go to sleep and fail to wake up than it would have been if it had become necessary for them to have him put down.  And he has had a fine life.

LADYBUG   a/k/a   "Bug"

       My SECOND horse, Ladybug, is also supposed to be a Tennessee Walker -- although her veterinarians and farrier say they think she looks and acts more like a Paso Fino or something stockier than a Walker. Whatever she is, she's SOMETHING gaited (at least when she feels like gaiting). When she stops feeling like gaiting, however, she often goes into what would otherwise appear to be a perfect dressage half-pass -- except that she continues to move on that diagonal until she literally runs into something that stops her -- like a fence, a tree, or the side of the barn, for instance! 

Since I have a lot of trouble mounting as a result of a lack of leg and hand strength, I often use whatever is handy to climb onboard.  Often it's something like that steel fence in the picture, or a flatbed trailer or the fender of a horse trailer.  Unfortunately, Bug is not only a very cantankerous horse, but also a very SMART horse.  So when she feels like quiting, she simply ignores my cues and goes over to the nearest thing she thinks is the correct height (she is almost always correct) and sidle up to it sideways so I can conveniently dismount -- she hopes.  At that point, we often have to have a serious discussion about continuing our ride!
       Until Duke arrived, "Bug" was always the alpha horse in the pasture, despite her small stature (14.1). If she were a guy, I'd say she had that typical "short guy" personality. She kicks and charges other horses at the slightest provocation -- like if the horse comes within 50 feet of her, for instance . . . or sometimes even just looks at her. She's also difficult with people she doesn't know -- or doesn't like.  And don't even THINK of letting your dog run in the pasture with her unless he's used to horses and can stay out of her way!  She would kill a dog who attacked her without a second's hesitation.  Before I bought her from him, Al used to put her in with his cattle when there were calves because she would protect them from coyotes better than even a donkey would!  In fact, just last summer she stomped a coyote to death in her stall.  We sent it out for rabies testing because why on earth would ANYTHING go into the stall with Bug unless it was really REALLY sick, but it came back negative.  I'll say one thing:  if anyone ever decided to try and steal one of our horses, you can rest assured that it definitely wouldn't be Ladybug!

**** Ladybug was euthanized on 11/13/2011 due to a colon rupture.  I can't begin to say how devastating that was, and how very much I miss her.  There's something especially wonderful about a horse who is cold and unfriendly at first but later comes to love you and to love being hugged and petted by her "mom" and her "dad."  A horse who loves you and does not love other people is special.  She was a very special girl and I miss her beyond belief. ***


Actually, if anyone wanted to steel a horse it would no doubt be Lizzie since anytime she sees an open trailer she tries to run over and load herself up!  She obviously LOVES to travel, another feature that will make her the perfect trail horse --- IF we ever have solid ground around here again instead of one huge swamp!

And here is Lizzie.  She's a Missouri Fox Trotter like Duke, but Lizzie gaits naturally with no encouragement necessary.  Ask her for anything faster than a walk and she automatically goes into a beautiful, smooth gait.  It's wonderful!  Even in the pasture, if she is moving quickly, she gaits.  Beautiful.  She was owned previously by a woman who's more than 10 years older than me (practically ancient!) so I hope I'll be able to continue to ride her until I'm 80!

When I first got her, back in the early fall of '09, her short-cropped mane stood up like a mohawk!  She had gotten some wire tangled in it and her owner - rather than spending the time to detangle it - had simply cut off that part of her mane, leaving only a few inches at the bottom and the top!  I had to go ahead and cut off the rest of it and now we're just waiting for it all to grow back.  But in the picture above, taken just a couple months later, it's already long enough that it had begun to lay down, so I'm hoping that by this summer she'll have a lovely mane again.  I LOVE horses with long, beautiful manes and tails.  If I ever win the lottery, I'd love to have a Friesian!
Here's poor Lizzie with her chopped up mane just before we bought her.

For more photographs of Lizzie, see the Lizzie Spring 2010 link at the top of the main blog.



And here is "Arthur" -- my mule -- in his current tack.

And here are the photos I took when I first went to look at him up in North Baton Rouge.

He is a real sweetheart, but he is NOT horse-like.  Frankly, he's much smarter -- NOT necessarily a good thing!

When we first brought him home, Lizzie acted like she absolutely hated him.

This was the first hour Arthur was here.  I don't think Lizzie had ever seen a mule before!

She would race up to the fence and turn and kick at him.  He would move back a bit (above), but as soon as she moved away he would be right back up at the fence sticking his head across toward her and doing that odd mule "talking" that I'd never heard before!  He never made a sound when I was looking at him before I bought him.
Well, eventually, Lizzie gave in and now Arthur follows Duke and Lizzie everywhere.  Lizzie still ignores him - and occasionally turns and runs at him to keep him a bit further away from her, but Duke absolutely ADORES him.  The two of them would be more than happy to share a stall, I think!

Duke and Arthur standing just outside the dog yard

Eventually those three were a very happy group  - and so were we!  But Duke, Shadow and Arthur seems to be just as content.  SO glad!

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