Thursday, January 28, 2016

In Memory of Alex

The unfortunate part of a retirement farm is the ongoing goodbyes that we have to say to our residents. We said another sad goodbye a couple of weeks ago to Alex. Alex had been retired with us for six years and the farm feels very different without him. 

Alex and his young rider participating in a costume class, dressed for a Hawaiian Luau

Alex teaching his rider how to ride well

Alex was a lucky horse, having been with his family for 14 wonderful years. Alex had a coveted position in their family, that of the first horse. The daughter in Alex's family began taking riding lessons when she was seven years old and she begged her parents for a horse. They finally told heir daughter they would purchase a horse when she was in the fourth grade, hoping that over the next couple of years the pleading for a horse would end. As you have already guessed, the pleading didn't end, and two years later the horse search began. 

Alex enjoying his role as the first horse with his young rider

the classic grumpy Alex expression that he used to try and hide his lovable side

The family tried several unsuitable horses during their search. In the midst of their search their daughter began riding at a different farm, the farm where Alex lived.  It was suggested that their daughter could ride Alex while the horse search continued. Alex had been at this farm for a few years when his family came along, they had originally purchased him as a resale project. The farm had been unable to sell Alex and they ended up leasing him out to a few different adults who showed him in the adult hunters. 

grooming with B-Rad

Taco, B-Rad and Alex


There were a few reasons why Alex had not sold. Alex was a bit on the small side, and he was far from an automatic ride. Alex firmly believed that his rider had to do their share of the work and ride him correctly. Combining his small stature and belief in sharing the workload along with a bouncy canter that was hard to sit and a big, springy jump that could be hard to stay with, Alex went unsold. 

Alex on the run

Darby, Alex and B-Rad

B-Rad and Alex


Their daughter didn't care that Alex was small, that he had a bouncy counter or that he tended to jump hard. She didn't get the memo that Alex was not supposed to be the first horse for a child. She loved riding Alex and thought he was perfect. The farm waited a few months before selling Alex to his family. He had never been ridden by a child and he wasn't an automatic ride, so they wanted to make sure the match was going to be a happy one. After a few months Alex finally won the approval of everyone and joined his family. 

Alex and B-Rad

Darby, B-Rad and Alex


Alex taught his new young rider not only how to ride, but how to ride well. If he caught you not paying attention or not working as hard as he was, he would simply do a drive-by past a jump. If you wanted a lead change you needed to ask for it, correctly. Alex rewarded his young rider for working hard at home by being perfect at horse shows. At horse shows Alex was all business and marched around the ring like a perfect gentleman.  

Alex and B-Rad

B-Rad, Alex and Darby


Alex and his young rider started out showing in the cross rails division. They then moved up to the short stirrup division, and eventually made their way to the pre-children's division. They were successful at every level they showed, and earned year-end awards in their respective divisions for three years in a row.  

Sam, Sebastian and Alex

Alex and Darby


Eventually his young rider was ready to step up to showing in the children's hunters at the three foot height. At that point Alex was aging and no longer consistently able to jump comfortably at that height. Alex's young rider ended up getting a new horse to move up on. At that point her mom, who had grown very attached to Alex, started riding and taking lessons on him. When life and family obligations made it difficult for her to find time to ride they leased Alex to a family friend. Their friend showed Alex successfully in the pre-children's division, and her winnings with Alex helped her earn a college scholarship. 

Alex and B-Rad



After the lease ended Mom began riding and taking lessons on Alex again. Alex came up lame soon after returning home, and a vet exam and x-rays revealed some very arthritic hocks. The vet felt the arthritis was extensive enough that Alex shouldn't jump anymore. 

B-Rad and Alex

Sam and Alex


The hope had been that they could keep Alex partially leased out to help cut down on the expenses of boarding two horses at a show barn while allowing Mom some time to ride him occasionally. However, once they learned of his arthritis his family decided that Alex had earned a life of leisure after taking such care of both mom and daughter for several years. They made the decision to retire him, and we were the lucky farm chosen for Alex. 

Johnny and Alex

Darby and Alex


We met Alex almost exactly six years ago when he traveled to our farm from Florida. When Alex first arrived he was very quiet and submissive both with people and horses. His family had warned us that he liked to sit down and pull back on cross ties. We didn't see this out of Alex, he was always perfect Alex all the time. He was the same in the pasture, always super friendly to the other horses but submissive as well. 

B-Rad and Alex

Lighty watching Alex and Johnny nap hard


We learned after about six months that perfect, quiet, submissive Alex was simply Alex getting the lay of the land. Once he decided he had everything figured out and had the routine of life at Paradigm Farms down, Alex was no longer meek or submissive. He quickly began working his way up the chain of command in his group. He showed us how good he was at sitting down and pulling back in the cross ties. Alex always had what we referred to as his minions in the pasture. He was one of those horses that inspired devotional attachment from other horses. He always acted like he didn't care if the other horses in his pasture followed him around or not, but his minions were always attuned to his every step. 

Grazing with Murphy and B-Rad

hanging out with B-Rad


Sadly, due to complications from old age, we had to let Alex go a couple of weeks ago. Alex made the decision very easy for all of his people. He was perfectly healthy and happy until the day that he wasn't. We immediately took him to the clinic and received bad news with a very poor outlook. His family made the only reasonable choice they could, and we gave Alex a peaceful passing.  

Alex napping with Darby, B-Rad and Murphy

napping with Sebastian


Alex had a long life and well lived life, and was so fortunate to spend his last 14 years with his family. We don't know exactly how old Alex was as some of his history prior to joining his family is unknown, however we know he was somewhere in his late 20's. Alex was notorious at Paradigm Farms for his grumpy expressions that covered up his lovable interior. We typically feed his group first in the mornings, so his grumpy expression was always there to greet you and start off a new day. He always let us know that we weren't getting his food to him quite fast enough as his eyes followed our every step, his ears were pinned back on his head and he nickered at us repeatedly. His grumpy look combined with his excited talking always got my day started with a little laugh, and I miss my Alex greetings each morning. However, I'm glad that he was able to live life completely on his terms right up until the end as anything less would not have suited his personality. Alex liked to be in charge.

Rest in peace Alex, we miss you.

Alex and B-Rad

Alex with Sam and Renny

B-Rad and Alex

Alex and B-Rad

napping with B-Rad

Alex

Mick and Alex

eating hay with Mick and B-Rad

enjoying retirement

Alex, Dutch,  Murphy, Renny and Taco

snow day

Darby, Alex, B-Rad and Chili

B-Rad, Alex and Taco

B-Rad, Alex and Mick

5 comments:

EvenSong said...

So sorry for your and the family's loss.

Anonymous said...

I have been stalking your blog for years!! And I have to say I have such a love/hate relationship when I open the blog and see a "In memory of" title. It makes me feel kind of bad because I get this little twinge of excitement because you are such a gifted writer that I love reading about the horses life but I hate that it is because of their passing that it makes me feel a little guilty:)

Anonymous said...

READING ABOUT A HORSE PASSING JUST MAKES ME SAD BUT TO KNOW THEY HAD A FEW GOOD YEARS LIVING IN STYLE ON YOUR RANCH MAKES IT EASIER. I DON'T KNOW WHY I FEEL SO MUCH LOVE FOR HORSES BUT I DO. FAIRWELL ALEX.RIP. GRANNY.

Lori Skoog said...

So glad that Alex had six years with you. Looked like a very sweet boy and he sure gave a lot to his family.

Toni Smith said...

As an adult lucky enough to have ridden and shown Alex, I am so happy to know he went on to have a wonderful life with his family. He was truly a special guy to me, to know this horse was to love him. I enjoyed any time spent with him and he made me a stronger rider for sure. He had a unique sense of humor and it is wonderful even in his old age it was appreciated. RIP sweet boy!