About a month ago, Mimi had a change in her living situation at the barn.
Previously, she’d been in the multi-stall mare motel (Same as at every other boarding place we’ve been), and she was “typical” Mimi: kicking the stall during feeding time, any time she was hungry, or if her neighbor was “too close”; stealing her neighbor’s hay; grumpy mare faces at other horses; crunchy/puffy hind legs (from the constant kicking).
Honestly, it’s something close to a miracle that she’s even remotely sound at this point, since this has been the norm since pretty much forever, especially the stall kicking.
Apparently it had gotten pretty bad: kicking at 3AM so that the barn owner could hear it even in her house (albeit with the windows open, and sheet metal siding on the back side of the stall, which reverberates nicely…), and even the neighbors were starting to say something. (Really?!? You run a cattle operation, which involves almost constant fence banging, clanging and clattering, and relentless mooing and bellowing of bulls. No place to say anything about noise.)
The departure of a couple of horses at the barn opened up a couple of stalls, and barn owner was able to convert a three-stall shedrow that was separate from the main barn into one large standalone stall + mini turnout paddock…all for Princess Mimi.
She’s got about a 16×32 stall that opens up into a mini paddock space…coupled with her “big pasture” turnout with the rest of the herd for the standard 12+ hours a day.
It’s really an ideal set-up for her — there’s about a 15′ aisle between her “suite” and the main barn, so she’s got other horses close…but not too close. She also gets fed first, and turned out first, and her general response to the whole thing seems to be “Finally, I am being recognized for the Princess that I am.”
The change has been pretty amazing: She’s completely stopped kicking, she’s lost weight because she’s not stealing her neighbor’s hay, the “puffy stovepipe” hind legs are looking almost normal (just some permanent windpuffs above her fetlocks), and her demeanor in general is much more cheerful and content.
And yesterday, I had one of the best arena work sessions I’ve had with her in a long time. No hind-end tripping whatsoever, and she was eager and happy. We had the barn to ourselves (peace and quiet at the barn = happy mental place for me), I had music playing, and we danced.
She gave me some beautiful spiral sets, at all three gaits (even the canter…I was shocked), and she was beautifully balanced and light. I swear I even got what would probably be considered trot lengthenings in dressage terminology.
A funny moment: What happens when you’re working dressage-esque moves such as a turn down the center line with your former gymkhana pony? Oh, yeah. Straightaway = go time. All I could do was laugh and gather her back up. After everything she’s done for me, she deserves a change to play.
And finally, it’s been a long-time goal, and after a couple of years of slowly adding to the collection, I finally have a set of Taylored Tack for Mimi. (Her s-hack set-up is also TT.) Just because we’re not competing anymore doesn’t mean she can’t look pretty…and I would be remiss in my duties as a tack hoarder to pass up amazing deals on barely-used-like-new pieces of tack I stumble upon, especially when they’re the right size/color.