Thursday, June 11, 2015

Meet Mick

Mick and his mom met each other when his mom was fourteen years old. Mick's mom had gone to a dealer's barn with her family with two horses in mind to look at for her. She was determined to have a horse of her own and that day her dream was about to come true. 

Mick and his mom

Her parents had bought her sister a mare and technically the mare was supposed to be the "family horse," but as his mom said she was really her sister's horse. Mick's mom really wanted her own horse but at that time only one horse was in the family budget. So Mick's mom would and her sister would take turns trail ride on her sister's horse. One day Mick's mom went to get on the mare, and before she could pick up the reins the mare bolted. The mare ran for a long time before Mick's mom finally blacked out and fell off. Luckily she was not physically injured by the incident. However she was terrified of riding her sister's horse after that and became more determined than ever to have her own horse. 


Mick and his mom about a year after she bought him


Mick and his mom on a snow day



Thus the family found their way to the dealer where Mick lived. They were there to look at two specific horses, neither of which worked out. The first one was too green and not a good match for a nervous young rider that was scared of anything faster than a trot. The second horse was very sour when ridden and would refuse to go forward. Mick's mom was hoping for something between the two horses, something sane with a little bit of spunk. 

When the first two horses didn't work out the family went into the pasture with all of the horses. Most of the horses wanted nothing to do with them and backed away. Then, from the side one horse came up out of the group as if he was saying "you're going to take me home." That horse was Mick. His mom rode him at the dealer's and Mick had the perfect combination of sane and spunk so her parents bought him for her. As his mom said, she didn't choose Mick, he chose her.


Mick and his mom warming up at a show


Mick's mom was told that he was a Quarter Horse cross. I'm going to say he is a Quarter Horse/Arabian cross simply from his head and overall look. She was also told that he had been ridden in a hunter/jumper program previously however she doesn't know if this is actually true or not.

Once she got Mick home the perfection of their initial meeting unraveled quickly. Mick was aggressive, possessive and dangerously spooky, and didn't act anything like the horse she thought she was buying. If anything at all scared him he would simply run over his mom. Given that she was already a very timid rider, she thought about selling him often. However she didn't sell him and continued trying to work with Mick. After a few months Mick finally began to trust his mom and things began to turn around in their relationship. 

Mick and his mom started their riding career in the dressage arena. As she said, their lessons consisted of squares instead of circles and Mick being half out of control. However they slowly improved over time. They did a few shows together and always placed well, including winning a few classes. However his mom struggled with her confidence at shows which made them unenjoyable. She was always working to keep Mick's spooks under control and despite their successes in the show ring neither of them really enjoyed their show experiences. 

His mom giving Mick big pats after he passed something that was normally scary to him and he stayed calm.


Mick and his mom schooling at home


After his mom had owned Mick less than a year he began having some issues with intermittent lameness. There were never any obvious reasons for the lameness and a period of stall rest would  make the lameness go away for awhile. Eventually she said it seemed that Mick was lame more often than he was sound. After two years of working with more than one vet to try and pinpoint and then address the cause of the lameness, they took Mick to the vet school at Auburn University for a full work-up.

The news from Auburn was not good. They diagnosed Mick with degenerative joint disease in his left front leg and navicular disease in both front hooves. The vets at Auburn told Mick's mom this wasn't necessarily career ending. However after implementing the recommended treatments, including corrective shoeing and joint injections, Mick still wasn't staying sound. Eventually Mick's mom found a new farrier that did natural trimming and after several months under his care Mick was finally consistently comfortable in the pasture.

Mick looking handsome


Even though their riding career was over Mick and his mom continued to strengthen their relationship. They did a lot of work on ground manners and simply being polite. They worked through all the things that Mick found scary and turned them into positive experiences. As an example Mick used to be terrified of clippers. He acted like any clippers were surely going to kill him. One time he pulled back so hard his lead rope couldn't be untied from the tie ring. Eventually the ring, with the leadrope still attached, had to be removed, and to this day his mom still has that ring. Mick and his mom worked with clippers for months and over time he came to not only accept being clipped but to like it, and sometimes he would even doze off. 

Mick's mom took this picture of him playing in his pasture


Mick's mom said that Mick also spent much of his time with her being an escape artist. She said one day when she was feeding the horses Mick felt she was moving too slow. She was in the hay room to get hay and thought she heard hooves on concrete. She looked out and saw nothing so grabbed some hay and walked to Mick's stall. Mick wasn't in his stall despite the stall guard being done up. Then she realized his stall guard was only clipped on the top (at chest height) and not the bottom, and Mick had done the limbo to get out. From then on if anyone ever snapped only the top part of his stall guard, Mick would duck under the stall guard and leave and take himself for a stroll around the farm.

Mick with his family's herd. His mom and her sister had to do a lot of work to get their three horses living happily together. 



Although Mick actually retired several years before we met him, his mom kept him with her and enjoyed his companionship. He saw her through graduate school and lots of life changes. When she graduated from grad school and knew she would be moving for professional opportunities, she decided she wanted a more stable option for Mick other than always moving him when she moved. Mick found his way to our farm from Georgia last fall.

When Mick walked off the trailer at our farm last fall he did so with a swagger and with his exceptionally large ego on full display. As his mom had spent so many years working not only on his manners with people but also his manners with other horses, he had an easy integration into his new family group. The horse that was initially his nemesis for the first few days he was in his group, Lighty, ended up being his best buddy and we see them playing and having a grand time regularly. Mick is a classic extrovert and loves having a group of horses to play with, groom with, and generally try to bend to his will. 

Mick on one of his first days with us taking a good look and checking things out. He has the alert expression but also the drooping lower lip that says "I've got this."


We have had a great time getting to know Mick over the last few months. We hope you have enjoyed getting to know him as well!

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Mick grazing with Sam and Johnny


Mick and Lighty


Mick 


Lighty and Mick



Mick and Murphy


Renny and Mick


Mick and Africa


Mick and Johnny 


sometimes he takes a break from playing


Lighty and Mick


Dutch and Mick


Murphy, Renny, Taco and Mick; the chestnut club


Lighty and Mick


Sam and Mick 


Lighty and Mick

4 comments:

Kate said...

It's always fun to read your posts about the new horses and their histories, and their families.

Anonymous said...

I GIVE YOU AN A FOR THIS STORY.

GRANNY [FLORIDA]

Anonymous said...

I love all your posts but love the get to know ones the most maybe!

Lori Skoog said...

What a great post. Love getting the back stories.