Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lacey, our free range horse.

Lacey was born April 8, 1986, I knew from the time she was born that she really belonged to Heather and they made an adorable couple. Their first trophy at about 2 months old.

Heather riding Missy, Lacey's mother and leading Lacey in the July 4th parade in Whiting.

They were both growing up into beautiful young ladies a year later at another horse show.

Lacey turned out to be a handful and she went to 'horse school' for several weeks to learn to be a well mannered mount. She and Heather hit the horse show circuit in earnest but in time, Heather realized she wanted a different sort of horse, Lacey was too fired up to be a pleasure horse.

That was when Lacey came back to the farm with me and, after I lost my mare, Sparkle, became my favorite mount. Every year older did nothing to quench the fire in her and we had some interesting discussions on how to handle situations, such as crossing bridges. One early spring day I took her to the home place to see how Bruce was doing in the field, she said she would not cross the bridge.

I said she would.

She said she wouldn't.

We went round and round until she crossed the bridge.

She wanted to run, I did not.

We got to the home place and she said she wouldn't go by the bins.

I said she would.

She said she wouldn't but we finally went by the bins.

Then we were in the yard, there were cattle, she wasn't going by the cattle.

Yes you are.

No, I won't.

We went by the cattle and when we hit the fresh disced earth, I let her run, all around the big field, running out her frustration.

And then I made her walk home.

She was so ticked! She stomped every step home.

But she never held a grudge and we had lots of good rides. When Lacey turned 26 she noticeably was going down hill and required better feed and work on her ageing teeth. That is when I lobbied for my new mare, Lady, I felt guilty riding Lacey, I told Bruce it was like riding my grandmother.

Lacey was still a great extra mount for visiting riders such as little Sophia, who took control and could not be pried out of the saddle.

Last summer she was Ian's trusty steed when the California cousins came to the farm, even at 27, she still wanted to be first all the time, especially heading home from a ride.

But age does catch up, despite the best care we can give our animals, now she is 28 and has been failing more. While Bruce and I were at the MN cabin, putting on a new roof, we got a call from our animal caretakers that something was wrong with Lacey. Tim said he thought she got down in the barn and couldn't get up, that she was very dirty and wasn't eating. We were headed home the next day so we left early, not knowing what we would find when we got there. Lacey was standing in the barn, a filthy, dirty mess but she raised her head and pricked up her ears when I spoke to her. I understood why Tim called, she looked terrible. I saw the gaunt look of her body, the ribs that were showing. Lacey walked like an old lady, shuffling along and when I got her out in the light, I saw her body was caked with mud. I think she fell down crossing the creek that runs through our pasture and must have had a hard time getting back on her feet. She had to have spent all her energy climbing the hill to the barn.

"Did someone say Oats?"

So now Lacey's days of running with the herd is over, she is officially our free range horse headquartered in the stall at the south end of the barn and set free every day to graze. It took a couple of warm baths to rid her beautiful coat of all the caked mud and get the tangles out of her mane. I have her on a better senior feed, she gets three square meals a day and it's paying off, the ribs are not so prominent and she is growing a soft winter coat.

She waits patiently in the doorway while I fill a scoop with feed....

....and leads the way to her stall.

She enjoys a good roll in the dirt to scratch her back ......

.....so it gives me a reason to get the brush and curry comb out to put her coat back in place.

Lacey and I hang around together during the day, reminiscing about the old days, she finds me in the back yard but I'm not fooled, she just wants to make sure I don't forget a meal. She likes me to rub the hollows that time has carved into her head above her eyes.  

No one, man nor beast knows how much time we have here on earth so we need to love and be loved every day and I want Lacey to know how much I cherish her.


  1. This about brought me to tears! Such a gorgeous horse!

  2. Thank you, Lacey is a gorgeous horse and I had despaired of her making it through another winter until I switched feed, now she seems to be thriving. She also likes her status as head horse and doesn't seem to mind having the yard to herself.

  3. Great story, with pictures to go with! She is lucky to live with you!

  4. She is a lovely horse, and Sophie had a BLAST riding her! This made me teary too! :)

  5. how lucky the both of you are to have 28 years together; she of course owes her very life and support to you but I know how much she has given you over the years as well! Reading this account one can see the love you give your animals, I can imagine how you talked to her as you bathed her and brushed away the matted mud and made her coat and mane shiny and pretty again...they ARE lucky to be in your life and I know you feel the same way.