Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dusty and Evelyn

Dusty was a nine and a half year-old red roan Appaloosa mare, that was taken from an area where she grew up, and matured into quite the gymkhana horse. Due to her owner leaving for college, and with no one else who felt they could manage this powerful, though trustworthy mare, she was being sold to someone out of the area she knew, and away from everyone and all the other animals she was secure with.

Star and Friends - Appaloosa with an Avian Fetish!
Now, Dusty was going into one of the Inland Valleys of Riverside County. Sue, her life-long rider thought it would be wonderful for Dusty to live in the open, instead of living at a stable where she was boarded.

Dusty had been called "Killer" ever since she was first brought from the sheltered area of Gymkhana arenas to the wide open area where I lived.

Amy's neighbor, Jean bought Dusty, thinking that she was just the right size horse for her to ride in the hills and in the area surrounding the nearby lake. When Dusty was delivered to her new home, she had been hauled all alone in a stock trailer, and she had apparently completely thrashed it during her 60 mile ride over the California freeway system, through all the heavy traffic.

Mr. Phillips, the man who transported Dusty told Jean that if she ever needed "that mare" moved again, "Don't call me, OK? It's going to cost me more to repair my trailer than you paid me to haul that killer mare in it."

Dusty had only been ridden along the dry riverbeds of Orange County, or in arenas before this. She had never, in her nine years seen the wide open spaces she was to face in Riverside County.  Why there was even a lake, with miles of shoreline, mountain lions, coyotes, and heaven only knew what else she would have to face here. The mountains were only about half a mile from her new home.

At night, and sometimes in the early morning hours, she could hear the screeching blood-curdling screams of mountain lions in search of a mate from her paddock, and hear coyotes calling whenever they had made a kill. She was absolutely terrified.

It was even worse when anyone actually attempted to ride her off the property. The world was nothing like what she was used to seeing, hearing, or smelling where she came from. There, she had a nice secure barn to live in, with her own box stall and corral.

Now, Jean the woman who now owned her was kind enough, always making sure she was well fed, well groomed and had plenty of fresh cool water to drink, but she could do little to explain to Dusty why everything was so different than what she had ever seen before.  Jean was kind to Dusty, but during the daytime hours, Jean was at work, and Dusty knew she was alone there, save for Amy's two horses across the way.  With Dusty being so frightened of practically everything now, it made it very difficult for Jean to even try to mount, as Jean was not only short, but also rather heavy, and unable to properly mount, unless she got on something tall and very stable to even get her foot into the stirrup.

Dusty was more accustomed to an experienced gymkhana rider, young and limber, able to mount quickly, and stay well seated with perfect balance, even while running barrels and pole bending, and even keyhole.

Poor Dusty wouldn't think of injuring her new owner, but she was so frightened, that when she was asked to leave the property, that she would totally freak out, and spin, and run for home and the relative safety of her paddock.

Finally in desperation, Jean finally accepted her neighbor, Amy's offer to work with Dusty to see if she might be of some help getting Dusty to settle in, and feel more confidant, enough to at least allow someone to stay in the saddle.

Unfortunately, Amy also worked full time and had two preteens to supervise while riding, as well. Handling Dusty with all her head problems and still making sure her own children were safe while riding their horses was just too stressful, so she finally talked to Jean about allowing her, (Amy's) brother-in-law to work with Dusty, since he and his wife had no children to worry about while riding.

Bill took Dusty down to the lake several times, but many of those rides ended with Bill walking home, and with Dusty waiting at her corral gate when he returned. Bill was also getting tired of landing on the hard ground in his hind-end, too.

When Bill rode Dusty by the lake, she could see all the way across to the other side. She could see dust billowing up from behind anything that might be driven along the shore, even on the opposite side of the lake. It was simply terrifying to her. That was one of the things that turned her into a half-ton spinning, whirling creature that only wanted to take flight, and run back the her nice safe paddock where she could not see things that looked as if they were coming to eat her.

Between the trailering problem and Bill having been tossed into the air several times, Dusty earned the name "Killer,"

Amy's sister, Evelyn was looking to get another horse for herself, for pleasure rides in the local hills, and one which would also take to the local rural traffic, including school buses, and fire trucks. It had been several years since Evelyn had owned or even ridden a horse, but that was her passion, and she had decided that when she was again living in an area where she could have another horse, a horse she would certainly get.  When Evelyn asked Amy if she knew of any good horses for sale, Amy told Evelyn about Dusty, including her problems, and the new name she was being called. "Besides, said Amy, you already have a bad back and neck from being rear-ended a few years ago. I don't think Dusty is the horse you are looking for."

Evelyn certainly wasn't discouraged by the story, as she had already rescued other horses, and a pony that were problems, and they turned out fine, with some patience and hard work.  "Amy, I will be over to see Dusty, please ask Jean if I may ride her at least down to the lake with you and the girls, so she will be more comfortable with other horses that she already knows being with her."

When Evelyn first saw Dusty, she knew she was just the horse she was looking for. And she would be the person that could help her adapt, and eventually feel at ease in her new surroundings. Of course, it would take time and a lot of patience and work, but this horse would never end up being sold to the people called "the killers' who sold practically every horse they bought to slaughter houses, for dog food, or human consumption in some other country.

It did take time for Evelyn and Dusty to become a team, and for Evelyn to gain Dusty's complete trust. After all, Dusty had only one primary handler for the first nine years of her life, so it took patience, and determination to help this wonderful creature to feel comfortable with this new person. She had been though several horrible experiences.  Yet, Dusty and Evelyn became well recognized as a team, a pair, a woman and the horse she loved and trusted, all over the valley, as they covered practically every mountain trail and road in the area.

Evelyn kept Dusty for seventeen and a half years. Dusty was about twenty-seven years old when she finally breathed her last in security and safety with the person who had taken her when no one else would even try.
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