Shesa Lil Ichi

The title of this blog probably seems a bit weird. What’s even weirder is that it’s Rosa’s real name. Unlike the rest of the horses on the farm, Rosa has registration papers, and her registered name with the American Quarter Horse Association is Shesa Lil Ichi.

T and Nollind could have called her Shesa or Ichi or some other derivation of her full name, but they thought she looked like a Spanish lady with her long, dark hair and big, brown eyes and called her Rosa. Even when she first came here to the farm, at just eighteen months old, Rosa had a longer mane than I’ve ever had.

Baby Rosa.

Like me, and many other horses, even the purebreds, Rosa ended up at a livestock auction. Auctions in and of themselves are not a bad thing, but some of them are places to get rid of unwanted animals, and too many of those animals end up at a slaughterhouse. Rosa and I both went through the same auction yard about four years apart. I was purchased by a meat buyer, and quickly rebought by T and Nollind (whew!), and Rosa had the good fortune of being picked up by Bear Valley Rescue, along with her half-sister.

She gave up her sister but got this guy.

T and Nollind bought Rosa from Bear Valley as a project horse, with the intention of finding her a good home when she was four years old, trained to ride, and had seen some miles on the trail. On June 5, Rosa will be fourteen. She’s trained to ride, and she’s seen those trail miles, lots of them, but she was just too sweet to part with.

Demonstrating her sweet nature as a 3-year-old.

I wasn’t exactly well-handled when I came here either, but Rosa was a complete untouchable, not much different than a wild horse. Funny story about that. After being kept in a neighbouring paddock for a couple of weeks, T decided it was time to turn Rosa out with the rest of us. We’re not an unfriendly lot, but we are pretty curious about newcomers, and when our curiosity pursued her to the corner of the pasture, she up and jumped the fence, stood there looking back at us from the neighbouring farmer’s field.

From running from the herd to leading it out to fall pasture.

And how do you catch a horse you can’t get close to or put a halter on? Well, you use another horse, or two. T and Nollind led Nevada and Alta, the herd boss and his second in command, out into the farmer’s field near Rosa and when they turned back toward the home gate, she followed.  

Typical Rosa, quietly waiting her turn at feeding time.

T and Nollind looked after all of her initial ground training, but Rosa was sent to some trainers when she was three or four to have those first rides put on her. Not sure what those folks did, but by the time she came home, she would just stand like a statue whenever T or Nollind got on and asked her to do anything. It’s common practice to desensitize young horses during their training so that we’re not flighty about every little thing, but it was like they took every ounce of sensitivity out of her. After a few sessions with no success, T and Nollind decided they’d just ride her in the fields over the winter, see about putting some life back in her limbs, with me along to show her the ropes.

Starting her ground training.

Once she was outside the fenced areas of the round pen or riding ring, she was fine, walked out like a champ, wasn’t afraid of much, and didn’t mind leaving home. Between you and me, I think that’s when she became a permanent resident rather than a resale project, when she showed her solid mind and easy attitude. The following year on the trails, it was like she’d been doing it for years, rarely spooky about anything and always keen to see what was around the next bend.

Water crossings were no big deal for Rosa.

Her timing was perfect because, by this time, Nevada was twenty and starting to experience some difficulty with the steep trails we ride in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It was a natural transition. Rosa became Nollind’s mountain horse and Nevada was semi-retired. Good thing he was reaching retirement age or it might have been me left behind at the farm. I love to go, but I can’t say I have the same relaxed attitude toward strange things along the trail that Rosa does.

Trail horse extraordinaire.

She’s Nevada’s girl for the most part, but the three of us are pretty tight. T often refers to us as the three amigos since we’re rarely farther than a few feet apart. She’s my trail partner and also my diet companion, cursed with the same slow metabolism as I have. Nollind refers to her as rubenesque, which I think is part of the reason she loves him so much. 🙂

She might be Nevada’s girl but she’s my scratching post at the trailhead.

Her ability to put on weight easily is coupled with a tendency toward a condition called laminitis, an inflammation in the feet often caused by too much rich food, like spring grass. And she does love her grass. This year, T is trying some new supplements, Nollind’s got her on a different trim program, and we’ve all got hooves crossed that she won’t have to be locked up in a dirt pen and fed hay for the spring and summer. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Rosa heaven.

To sum Rosa up … you know that girl you went to school with that didn’t draw attention to herself or show off even though she was pretty, and she wasn’t the star or head or president of anything but just a really nice person that everyone liked? Well, that’s our Rosa.

I’m a Regular!

It’s official! Despite my horse-ness, I am going to be a regular on the “dog blog”! Once I’m settled in and Chico realizes he can’t do it without me, I’ll start pushing for a name change. Maybe the “dog and pony blog” or “horse and hound tales” … something like that. For now, I’m happy to stay with the status quo.

Me at home … the first of many horse photos.

Since you’ll be seeing more of us, I thought I’d best tell you about the herd here at Almosta Ranch.

Nevada has been here longer than any of us. He and Alta, T’s thoroughbred mare, were the first horses on the place in 2003 when T and Nollind came to live here. Nevada had been purchased as Nollind’s first horse the previous fall.

Nevada and Alta in the early days.

Alta went on to a new home in 2012. I guess it was kind of my fault. After I grew up and was trained, T liked riding me better than she did Al, maybe because of my smaller size, but more likely because of my awesome personality. I just can’t help it. Alta went to a good home though, where she was spoiled alongside another senior horse and had the easy job of taking a newbie out on the trails.

She looked better in English tack than I do but I’m cuter overall.

I arrived on the scene in 2004 from the Innisfail Auction along with a buckskin yearling they called Dorado (or sometimes Earl – more about that another time.) T chose Dorado at the auction because she’d always wanted a buckskin and he was sweet and well-handled. Nollind liked my colour (lucky me) and bought me from a meat buyer. I told you my story back in 2017 when I had my first guest blog. We were the “project horses” for T and Nollind—Dorado for T and me for Nollind.

Dorado and me when we first arrived. Pretty cute, huh?

It turned out that Dorado was not the clever, sensitive type of horse that T prefers. But, guess who is? 😉 While Dorado was busily showing himself to be the dull, pushy sort, I was snuffling T’s hair and blowing warm air on her face while she was bent over doing some task around the barn. She was such an easy target for my charm. Long story short, Dorado was sold as a three-year-old and I became T’s main mount.

Teaching me to be a saddle horse.

There were a few other horses who came and went along the way—Sox, Calypso, Willow, Eddy—but I’ll tell you more about them in some future post. Now that I’m a regular (I’m a regular!) I have plenty of time to tell horse stories.

Rosa came along in December of 2007 at just a year and a half old. They adopted her from a place called Bear Valley Rescue who’d bought her at auction. Rosa is a registered Quarter Horse but ended up at auction when the people who owned her had health issues. When she first arrived at Almosta, she had never been handled by humans. She was like this wild thing that would move to the other side of her paddock whenever T and Nollind were near, even when they had food! (Chico and I share a love of all that is food so have little understanding of how this is possible.) I’ll tell you more about Rosa’s journey from wildie to complete mush-bucket another day.

Baby Rosa wanting to go home.

In 2012, when T and Nollind were down to just the three of us—Nevada, Rosa and me— they decided to put the extra space to use and started boarding horses. The first boarder, a Clyde-cross named Olga, arrived in September that year and by winter two years later there were eight boarded horses plus us.

Nevada and I are there by the post on the right.

More horses meant more problems including a stretch we were all afraid of the electric waterer because a new horse told us it was dangerous (seemed reasonable at the time), baby buggies in places they had no business being, and fence rails chewed through. And then there was the horse that brought in the winter scourge of 2015. That was the turning point. After the infestation was resolved, the boarders were no longer replaced when they left of their own accord (and I think one of them was given a not-so-subtle nudge when her son was caught tormenting the dogs for the third or fourth time.)

It took many baths to rid the herd of the skin scourge!

By the fall of 2017, the boarders were all gone but Gidget. She’s part of our herd now and is like one of the family, as is her owner Judy, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be here as long as they want to be. You probably think Gidget looks like a sweet little buttercup of a horse with her pretty blonde coat and sweet eyes, but the horse dentist nicknamed her Blonde Diablo and we, her herdmates, are sometimes inclined to agree. More about that in a future post.

Sweet, right?

I could tell stories all day but I’ve gone way over my Chico-stipulated, 500-word post so I’d best shut this horse’s mouth. Until next time … happy trails!