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Monday, 15 August 2016

Horses I've Loved: Isabeau

In 1996, my sister Jen and I went down south with a horsefloat (something you should never do!) to look at a Clydie cross who'd been advertised in the paper.  We came home with this beauty.

She'd been called Toffee when we bought her, but by the time we got home from our long drive, she was Isabeau (apart from a short period in the middle of the drive when we'd got silly and decided the perfect old-fashioned name for her should be Fanny!)

She was certainly an old-fashioned sort of beauty.

She was six, but hadn't done a lot.  Her feet were overgrown and the size of dinner-plates.  She was very green to ride and also, it turned out, she had a ticklish girth area when saddled, something we hadn't seen because she'd been already saddled to show her to someone else when we arrived to see her.  Oops! 

Ah well, we worked through that after the first time I saddled her at home and she tried to jump into my lap when she realised the girth had been done up. All our time together after that, we had a routine where I would do the girth up a little, say, "Have a little walk," and she would take a step or two backwards and forwards, have a treat, and we'd do the next hole.  She was always a good girl who tried very hard to please.

We had a lot of fun together.  

Never having had a draft cross before I overfed her heating foods at first, treating her like a normal horse,  and she got overly fit and lively.  I'd ride her miles and miles and she'd be still be going like a train with all her veins out like a Thoroughbred!  It stood us in good stead later.  At first she was quite prone to shying and terrified of kangaroos, but once we'd done all those miles, she became pretty much bombproof, no matter what silly things we did with her.

Andrew joined the family, and Keech left us, then Tam and Buffy came into the family too. Through it all Isabeau was a part of my life.

She roamed the property most days, mowing for us and being sensible around the gardens and fences.

For a while she had a friend, Numbat, my niece's naughty pony, but mostly she was happy on her own.  She found living with other horses and their pecking order shenanigans stressful.

We started going to adult riding club, and in those days I didn't have my own float so I would ride there, we'd do our two lessons and ride home again in the twilight.  I must have had a lot of energy in those days!

We were just a tad wider load than most of the riding horses at our club.  :)

That was a LOT of horse to wash!

She learned to jump and enjoyed it too. She was aces at gridwork and always got her piece of carrot, that I generally kept in my helmet to give her after a jumping round! 

We did clicker training.  This is her doing 'touch' but she could do many things.

  She taught my oldest niece, Tee, to ride. (But not like this!)

I had her for six years, then sold her. I regretted it many times afterwards.  That horse and I had done so much together and had such a bond. She would cross a huge paddock at gallop to me if I called her.  If I stood up on something she would come over to me form anywhere and let me get on, no saddle, no bridle. She may have looked like a Clumper, and I never asked her to go collected in a way that did not suit her build, but she would move sideways, forwards, backwards, spin, at the lightest touch of leg or hand. 

Why did I sell her? I had Lyme Disease by then but didn't yet know it. Everything felt so hard and joyless.  My coping skills for stress were gone due to what Lyme was doing to my brain and body.  Our darling Sally had been killed and we no longer wanted to live where she had died, but to move meant moving closer to town and that meant we had to move to a smaller, cheaper block.  I don't know.  Lyme does in your decision-making abilities too. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  Maybe it was. 

I did my best to sell her to the right home but despite that she was moved on a year or so later.  It's a sad fact of horses that once they leave you, you have no control over where they go.  She did fall on her feet and end up with an experienced person who loved her and loved all the clever things she could do.  I met this lady only a few years ago for the first time and she told me Isabeau had only died a year tor two before of colic, something that had always plagued her.  Intellectually I knew that she was likely dead, because she'd have been quite old, but I cried and cried all the same.  When you don't know, you can imagine them still alive and happy.

Isabeau is the horse I have been closest to after Mono and perhaps Sherry and Uggy (yet to be written of here).  Unlike Sherry and Possum, she hasn't shown up in the beautiful pasture in my inner landscape where the horses graze.  I hope that is because she went on to be even closer to her new owner.  I hope so.  She deserved it.




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