Monday, January 28, 2013

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

It was a hard weekend - a very hard one.  I'm still going to be crying well into the next week, I'm sure of it.  A little piece of my heart has been buried, and I'm a total sobbing mess.

How do you say goodbye to someone you've known for 27 years?  There are no easy "farewells" when you've had an animal for that long.  A long trusted and cherished companion has crossed over the rainbow bridge at our farm.  My beloved cow Gabby.

Most people have a horse, a dog, cat, or some other domestic animal that is near and dear to their heart.  Mine was a cow.  She was my 4-H project that I had kept for what seems like forever.  A long time ago a family friend dropped off an orphaned calf at my parents house.  I was 8 years old, and bottle fed the little heifer for her first few months of life.  She became my 4-H project, and what a good one she was.  Most cattle will only live 9 or 10 years before a rancher sends them to the burger butcher block, but my beauty lived a far longer and better life.  She very much deserved it.  There is some solice in knowing that I offered her a comfortable and quality way of life, but the pain of loss outweighs on my mind at the moment.

We've known that this day was coming for awhile, but that didn't make it any easier.  Craig and I noticed Gabby slowing down in the past few months.  Eating became slower, moving became slower, everything became slower...  But we still babied her along.  She recieved the very best of care in every way, and lived 3 times longer than most other bovine counterparts in the world.  When her teeth were gone we soaked alfalfa and grain mash every day for her to eat.  When it was cold she had a special blanket to keep her warm.  When her arthritis crept in on rainy days we gave her medicine to ease the pain.  Her quiet retirement pasture that she occupied with another old timer is now a little bit lonelier, and her companion is going to miss her very much.

My cattle days have come to a close.  The grand matriarch has passed on, and the last of what was once a small 4-H herd is now gone.   But the many memories are fondly looked back upon. 

Our first show, the Milton-Freewater Junior Livestock Show.  I was 10 years old and Gabby was a two year old.  We won reserve champion in the beef heifer class.  She was so beautiful... 

This is a photo of the same show the following year when I was 11, and we won another reserve champion.  (I began experimenting with curly hair at the beginning of the 90's, and the home perms were a pretty bad idea....)

The ball tail and black hoof polish were quite the fashion in those days!  She was so patient while being groomed.  Most kids had to use stantion stocks while fitting and clipping their show cattle, but I never did.  Gabby was gentle enough to stand in the show barn and let me do whatever I wanted to her.  One year I curled up and took a nap next to her when we were at the county fair.  She won a grand champion ribbon at the fair that year.  We've put her ribbons up on the wall in our house along with a photo as a memorial.

For a brief period of time in high school I didn't have a horse of my own.  So guess who filled in that void....  Yes, Gabby was broke to ride.  My mother still has many great stories about our adventures on the family farm.  This photo was taken by my dad in 1994.
Over her lifetime, Gabby had over a dozen calves for me.  She was definitely worth her weight in gold for producing offspring.  At the time that this photo was taken in 1998, I had a small herd of 19 head of cattle and almost all of them were related directly to Gabby in some way.  The calf in the photo was her 8th, a black bull calf.

And this was her last calf in 2004.  She was 20 years old when she had this little guy.

In 1997 when I was a senior in high school, I showed one of Gabby's grandsons at the Pendleton Livestock Show.  It was a local show for market animals.  I won grand champion showman with the steer.
We were famous...

"Catchy" 1989 - 2009.  This blaze faced cow was Gabby's very first calf that she had when she was 3 years old.  Catchy matured into a wonderful cow that was gentle and halter broke.  I kept her here on the farm with Gabby until a few years ago when Catchy passed away.  She is shown here in 1998 with her 5th calf, a bald face bull calf. 

"Gabby" 1986 - 2013.  Goodbye my mahogany beauty.  I'll miss those sweet gorgeous brown eyes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Donations for MEPSA (Model Equine Photo Showers Association.)  These are two old mold Breyer 3" inch stablemates that I prepped and painted as prize models for the showers.   One is a black and white tobiano and the other is a sooty chestnut sabino, both with blue eyes. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Speaking of Sidesaddle....

By the way, check out this video!  It's hilarious and ABSOLUTELY AMAZING at the same time!!!!  This is a GUY, (yes.... a young FELLOW!) dressed up like a lady riding aside at the arabian youth nationals.  He's from Washington state and put on quite a show in the free-style reining class in New Mexico.  The dude really does look like a lady....  =:)
Wowza!  That's talent.

Winter Riding

I've been doing just a little bit of winter riding lately.  Mostly trail riding, with a slight bit of conditioning thrown in.  It's almost impossible to get too carried away with going very fast right now, as the fields are frozen and very slick - so slow trotting is about as fast of a speed as we can do.  Today there was a schooling show in town, but I didn't go to it.  Tommy has the winter off, and is basking in the sheer glory of laziness.  But Nettie is coming back from a year off and is enjoying being ridden once again...

On Wednesday we went out for a slow hack with the sidesaddle.  I dusted off the old antique victorian and  we had a good ride.  Nettie and I tested out some ditches and small piles of brush along the way.  She's a very cute little jumper, incredibly honest and trustworthy.  (She'll take whatever she's pointed at).  But we were conservative on this ride and only tried little stuff - because the ground is still frozen and trecherous.       

When I got back home I started looking online at sidesaddle jumpers.  There are some really great photos out there!

Cross country course aside.  With a safety vest and steeplechase helmet.

At a field hunt in England.  Country style tweed riding habit with a bowler.

A stadium demonstration in England.  Formal habit, hunt whip, and tophat.

Little girl jumping her pony sidesaddle.

Over the hedge!  This really looks similar to steeplechase, but she has a formal hunt habit on.  So it must've been a foxhunt or other exhibition. 

Havng fun at a hunt in England.  The rider to the left has unfortunately snapped her balance strap, which can happen when you go over jumps and hedges.  It looks like they're really having a blast! 

This is an exhibition at Quenby Hall.  Sometimes the riders start out with a full champagne glass before they jump, while other times they have to grab it while in mid-jump from a server standing next to the table.   Very classy and entertaining.

A european lady jumping a horse that is laid down while riding aside.  Looks like a historical war re-enactment.

This is Susan Oakes, in a jumping competition - she has set the world record for the highest sidesaddle jump!  You can read more about her story here:
That would scare the crap out of me!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Kerri-Jo Stewart captured some good pictures of a few colorful sabinos on her visit to Iran last spring.  I'm honestly not sure if they are purebred Tekes or not, but with the color genetics that are present in the breed - they very well could be.  The Iranians have been known to crossbreed Tekes and Iomuds to other breeds of horses in the past for different reasons, so I honestly don't know the purity of these particular ones in the photos.  But the first colt looks to be very typey! (Totally awesome!)

Also, keep in mind that these horses are in a country that has some slightly differentiated views on animal husbandry practices than here in the U.S.  Blanketing galls and white rub marks on the stallions are somewhat of a common occurance, as is staking them out on long ropes.  But Kerri-Jo was nice enough to take the photos to share with the rest of the world - which is very much appreciated.  So thank you very much for that.  Without pictures, we'd never see such beautiful horses in other countries.  =:)

This little pony isn't a Teke, but he looks to be possibly a caspian crossbred of some sorts.  There are a few other pinto genetics that are present in the middle east....

Love those sabino Tekes, (or whatever these beauties might be in the album).  One day in the *very, very, very, very* distant future.....I hope to own a loud sabino purebred someday.

Thursday, January 3, 2013