Darby and his mom met each other eleven years ago. After leaving the track Darby had made his way to an eventing barn. His owner at the time had gone through some life changes and had no time to ride Darby. Darby and his mom originally met when her daughter tried Darby. Her daughter was looking for a dressage horse to lease but since she was 5'10" and Darby is not a big horse they really weren't a match. She decided to ride Darby herself and found that they suited each other well.
Another picture of Darby and his mom
During the period when Darby was looking for a new rider he was ridden by quite a few people and it did not always go well. Thus Darby came to his mom with some deeply grounded issues that took quite a while to work through. He was unwilling to work at times and was always ready for a fight when pushed to do something he didn't want to do. As his mom said it took awhile to work through everything but they finally built a mutual trust. Once she figured out he really was a sensitive soul and responded best to patience and praise they got along very well. They did dressage together and schooled some first and second level movements.
Darby's arrival with Bella the dog acting as the official greeter
She said in their last few years together they did a lot of their work in a bitless bridle. Through their years together she tried a lot of different bits with him, but in the end they had some of their best work when he didn't have a bit in his mouth at all. I always appreciate it when people are willing to think outside the box with their horses.
Darby grazing on his first day with us
Darby and his mom had quite a few memorable experiences together although they usually involved his knack for getting himself in trouble! The most memorable was Darby's run to Taco Bell. His mom was away for the weekend and she had someone who was half leasing Darby at the time. The person leasing him was lunging him in the field down trail a bit from the barn when he spooked and bolted. She had to let go of the lunge line and off Darby went.
Darby headed back down the trail to the barn, but instead of stopping at barn he went down a service road and across a busy road and jumped a split rail fence onto a public golf course with the lunge line flying behind him. People in carts on the golf course tried to round him up but, unsurprising to us horse people, all they did was scare him more. Luckily for his mom it had been a dry summer so he didn't do too much damage when he ran across at least 3 greens on the golf course. The golf course charged a penalty for hoofprints on the greens of $50 per hoofprint. His mom only ended up paying $100 total, the greenskeepers were very kind and forgiving of Darby's visit to the course!
Darby and friends grazing early one morning; Ogie, Darby, Alex and B-Rad
Unfortunately Darby didn't stop at the course. Spooked from being chased by the golf carts he left the golf course by jumping over the same split rail fence he jumped to get on the golf course, and proceeded to run up the roadway towards an interstate. About this time everyone at the barn is going every which way to come up with a plan. One woman is stopping traffic on the road as others are just trying to keep track of where Darby was going next.
Darby and Murphy
Next Darby headed up the road out of the park just as another boarder happened to be coming in. Imagine her surprise to see Darby pass by headed up the hill at full speed. Thankfully she saw Darby hit an intersection where he at least chose to go in the opposite direction of the interstate! Meanwhile more people at the barn were hooking up a trailer to follow Darby and hopefully retrieve him in one piece!
Darby was found grazing very nervously in a school yard next to a Taco Bell. When Darby saw his rescue team coming with a horse trailer he whinnied very thankfully and happily got on the trailer for his ride home. Since he was near a Taco Bell the story started that Darby was on his was to taco bell for a chalupa! I've decided Darby was trying to do his own version of a Taco Bell commercial and "making a run for the border."
The story is funny now since Darby survived and he didn't cause any accidents, but I shudder to think at all the things that could have happened during Darby's run for the border. I think one of the best parts of the story is that MyLight's mom was a part of Darby's rescue team.
In the last few years Darby has had his share of health challenges including being diagnosed with EMND (Equine Motor Neuron Disease). Vitamin E intake is essential for treatment of EMND. Since access to grass and regular grazing is the best source of Vitamin E, much better than stored forages or any Vitamin E supplement, we're hoping Darby will benefit even more than most horses from his new life with us. Darby is lucky to have such a caring mom who has spared no effort or expense in treating his health challenges. Since Darby already has first hand experience with golf courses he should take to the retired routine of golf in the mornings followed by afternoons at the pool quite well!