The first time I laid my eyes on Jo-Lee, she was being unloaded out of a trailer and being turned out into the front paddock of my boss's farm. She was skinny, dirty, and had a straggly little tail, but she had a flashy trot and a "look at me" attitude that was hard to ignore. And most of all, she made me smile, a lot.
My boss had pulled her out of New Holland. She soon found that she had nice papers, and had won over $116,000 on the track after racing about 7 years, hitting several claiming races and eventually moving up to the higher end races.
My friend Sarah and I saddled up Jo-Lee a few days later. We had cleaned her up and she had a nice shine to her coat. Sarah got on first. Jo tossed her head, throwing white froth all over Sarah, and did a prance all around the arena, as Sarah struggled to get her into a walk. With three times around the ring, Sarah was done, and Jo was mine to work with for her extent of her stay at the farm.
I worked hard with Jo, teaching her her gaits and that it was okay to walk for a change. I started to learn how her mind worked, exactly what she was thinking and how to get her to do what I wanted. Never in my life had I connected with a horse more than I had with her. Anything new that I wanted to try she would take in stride, happily performing to the best of her ability, from jumping to barrels to trails. I gave pony rides on her. I had always dreamed of having a big quarter horse for rodeo and western pleasure, but Jo-Lee captured my heart quickly and changed my plans all around.
It had been almost two years since me and Jo had met. I had bought her and moved her to a new farm, and our bond only grew stronger. I would spend hours with her, grooming, riding, just talking to her.
The day came when I watched her start to become lame. I could see that she struggled when she walked, although she tried her best for me and to do whatever I wanted her to. I put her on stall rest and called the vet, who told me that she had had a prior fracture in her front knee that had been healed improperly, as well as two fused back ankles. She wasn't quite sure how Jo had managed to stay sound with everything that I had done with her, but she told me it was time to retire her.
My heart was broken. This mare had been my dream horse, and my best friend from the day I had met her. For the extent of the summer I babied her, giving her treats and taking her on long walks, grooming her and letting her stay long hours in the pasture. Despite her pasture puff life, of doing nothing but eat eat eat, she was loosing weight.
Soon came a sunny day in September. A girl at the farm and her friend wanted to go on a trail ride, but they couldn't go without supervision, and my other horse, Mack, was out from an abscess. It was going to be an easy, all flat trail ride, no trotting, cantering, any of that, so I figured why not take Jo? She had been showing no signs of pain. I pulled her bridle out of the cobwebbed corner and dusted it off, and brought it to her stall. Instantly, her eyes lit up and I was rewarded by a nickering mare, happily putting her head down and grabbing the bit from my hands.
I don't think that I'd ever been so happy to ride a horse in my life. She pranced happily throughout the whole ride, and didn't turn up lame the next day. So, I started gently working her again on english walk, then trot, then slowly canter. She started to gain back the weight that she had lost and I watched a new life come out of her.
My goal, to show her in 4-H and other small funshows, and have her as my trusty trail horse once again. We're still working on that.
My little miracle mare, nothing could ever replace her, in a million years.
[] just hanging out in the pasture, jumped on for a quick picture while Jo's foal, Storm, nursed.
[] practicing for english pleasure class, just in a western saddle
[] bareback brideless demonstration at the barn
[] practicing barrels in the barnyard
[] she has the prettiest face
[] again, practicing barrels
[] she is such a good girl !