Happy Sweet 16, Liberty!

Happy birthday to my big, beautiful mare! One day shy of being an Independence Day baby…but close enough. Born on one of the hottest days of the 2006 summer, in Lake Havasu City, she got an early introduction to water/hoses, getting frequently sprayed down to help keep her cool. She also didn’t get enough antibodies from her dam’s colostrum, so within the first couple days of her life, was experiencing a rush trip in the trailer to the vet…and during said trip, her dam stepped on one of her hind pasterns. (To date, it’s never seemed to have affected her, other than that hind hoof grows slightly wonky.)

Needless to say, she didn’t have the smoothest start to life…but if anything, it’s made a tough, strong war mare out of her. I’ve never seen her quit…she might slow down, or need to regroup at times…but she never quits. She may be tough, and she may live up to her name and love her freedom…but she’s also the kind of horse that seeks to connect with her people…she’s not just looking to get the job done; she wants to do it together.

I’ve been fortunate enough to know her for almost a decade now, and have watched her grow from a sometimes-silly, still-green, coming-7-year-old (who still had an amazing brain despite her lack of exposure to much of life)…to a solid, mature mare who still has an amazing brain, and who seems to get better every single year.

It’s hard for me to believe she’s 16 — physically, she doesn’t have a lot of miles and wear and tear on her, and Shagyas are notoriously slower-maturing (both physically and mentally), so I feel like being in her teens just might be her prime. I certainly hope that’s the case, because I’m looking forward to many more miles and years left with this special girl.

(Such an amazing brain. When I pulled out the garland and headbands, she looked like a little kid who just got their favorite “dress-up box” handed to them. She loves these photoshoots, and getting festooned with ridiculous get-ups. Also, I’m pretty sure that’s only the second time in her life she’s been ridden bareback. I hopped on her once last summer, and then again this morning to get these pics. She just sidled right up to the fence and let me do my awkward “slither aboard” thing, and didn’t even blink while I got myself all situated. SO out of practice for riding bareback.)

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