With a retirement farm it comes with the territory that you experience a lot of loss. Sometimes the residents are younger when they pass, sometimes they are very elderly, but the bottom line is we regularly experience loss, and we have had to say goodbye to several residents in the last few months. In the last year I've had a lot of loss in my life as well. I had to euthanize my own retiree Hoffy who had been with me for a long time, my father passed, we lost our dog Bear, and just two weeks ago I had to euthanize my mare Sky who was only 10 years old. I have not talked much about the loss of Sky and not written about it on the blog, mostly as an avoidance tactic. If you don't talk about it then it isn't real, right? Her loss was sort of the proverbial straw and I have not taken it well at all.
However the other blessing of a retirement farm is meeting new residents. With all that had been happening in our lives the last several months we had put something of a moratorium on new horses and had not been having new horses come even after we had to say several goodbyes. We changed that in the last few weeks and have welcomed what I have dubbed Class of Spring 2013 to the farm. Five lucky horses, all geldings, from our waiting list are now officially listing their address as Paradigm Farms. Greeting each of them and welcoming them to the family has been nice timing for me and distracted me from the loss of Sky.
All of these horses had a connection to our farm in some way. You know the game six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon? Well we are getting pretty good at playing six degrees of separation from Paradigm Farms.
Below is Donovan who is recently retired from his dressage career, and he joined us from Ohio. Donovan had lots of ties to us as several other horses from his barn, including Kennedy, Largo, Clayton, and the recently deceased Rampal had already found their way to the farm. Interestingly Donovan has found his niche in the group where these same horses live. I sometimes call this group the "mean girls" because they often try and ostracize a new horse at first. Over a couple of weeks they slowly start to get curious about the newcomer, and all of a sudden one day the new guy has gone from being an outsider to being one of the gang. Once you are "in" with the mean girls you are IN. They act like they would throw themselves in front of a bus for each other.
Donovan struck as having lots of self confidence from the start and he seemed to have the right personality to handle the initiation period of the mean girls. Amazingly he handled them even better than we expected and he is already in, and now has several friends that would throw themselves in front of a bus for him.
Donovan with new friend Johnny looking very intently at something
Donneur came to us as his "people" know Walden's people and Fabrizzio's people. Donneur also competed in dressage through the Grand Prix level. We had Donneur stalled next to another new arrival, Flyer, and they decided that they could not live without each other. If we took one of them out of a stall the other one would go nuts if they thought they were getting left behind, and they currently see themselves as a package deal. Flyer's mom also owned Buffy so he had a very strong connection to our farm. Flyer is a retired show hunter.
Donneur and Flyer have also started their transition into a group, together of course, and they have been doing what I refer to as boomeranging. Sometimes they are right in the middle of their group, sometimes they are are off with just the two of them together. Each day the spend more and more time with the group and less time away.
The first day they were out in a big pasture with other horses they were both so excited to find themselves in such a big space they ran around like crazy. The other horses looked like they were watching a tennis match or something as they watched Donneur and Flyer trot, canter and gallop around the pasture over and over. I think the others got tired just from watching them, I know I did. That is not an uncommon response from a new horse. Many of our residents had very limited turnout for any number of reasons. First they get excited about just being out in a grass paddock, then they are over the moon when they have a friend in the paddock, and it temporarily blows their mind to find themselves in a big pasture. It is fun to watch them be so excited about each of those steps. It will also be interesting to see if they remain BFFs or if they gravitate towards other horses over time.
Donneur exploring the paddock
Flyer says "turnout wasn't like this in California"
Flyer and Donneur making laps around their big pasture, note no other horses are with them. Like I said it was tiring just to watch!
Gibson having a look around the paddock
When Gibson and Donovan first met Donovan wasn't sure if he wanted to be close friends. Gibson was not ok with that and demanded that Donovan be his BFF right now. In this picture Gibson is running after Donovan when Donovan tried to walk away when they first met. When Donovan moved on to group introductions Gibson was inconsolable for about five minutes. Then he met Lofty and Donovan was forgotten. Gibson says love the one you are with.
Lofty rounds out the Class of Spring 2013. Lofty and Cuff Links the pony are "brothers" and that is how he came to retire with us. Lofty is a retired show hunter. He is a Virginia bred horse so at one point in his life grass turnout was part of his daily routine. He spent his last few years in California living the west coast lifestyle. I am assuming he thinks he got off the trailer in Virginia since he now goes out in a big grass paddock. Lofty has been very exuberant about everything. He had a great time exploring the paddock on his first day, he stuffs his mouth so full of grass when he is turned out it literally is falling out of his mouth, and he has been beyond excited to have Gibson as his turnout partner.
Lofty is saying "wow, it is very green here!"
I wish I had been standing in front of Lofty when he made this exuberant leap into the air as he ran around with Gibson. It was Lofty's version of doing a fist pump.