Some horses, like some people, just seem to be more accident prone than others. When I was in my teen years, I had a mustang mare I thought had that problem. I used to tell people that if there was a hole anywhere in the grass or in a water puddle, Todo would find it and fall in it. That of course, was many years ago, and before I met my mostly Arabian mare Cali. The first time I saw Cali, she was a coffee brown bay, and a delightful little yearling. She was light on her feet, could run like the wind, and showed great promise as a gymkhana pony. I remember every marking she possessed back in 1997. She had a white blaze down her face, two white socks, and a dove-shaped paint splotch on her belly. I knew the moment I saw her, I was destined to make her mine.
By the time Cali was old enough to ride, her coat became a dark rose gray, and her markings were becoming less obvious. I was saddened to think she was losing them, but for a year or so she was a beautiful grulla with her black mane and tail. Cali is the little mare I’m brushing on the left side of the photo.
As luck would have it, in this picture my kids (on the bay mare in the foreground) and I were preparing for a parade, lead by the Army Air Corp. Cali was four years old and a nervous Arabian, but all experience is learning. We were just starting out, not an eighth of a mile into the route, and an Army helicopter pilot buzzed over the parade. Many horses scattered, and in the confusion, Cali skittered off the road and her hindquarters landed in the ditch. I of course slid off the back of the saddle, as she was standing upright with her front hooves on the road.
As the years progressed, Cali began to lighten up in color, moving from grulla to more of a dappled gray. When we moved from central Maine to Southeastern Idaho, her coat lightened considerably, and the rose tones consolidated into red freckles. She became a true rose gray, a coloration found only in Arabians, and horses with Arabian lineage. Her black mane and tail have lightened to gray, and every year she becomes closer to white. Her color has changed, but her tendency to fall when not paying attention has not.
In this picture, you can see how light gray she is. You might also notice that her jaw seems to be swollen. I was very concerned about this, thinking she may have had an absessed tooth. A couple of years ago, Cali tripped while I was riding her, and severely damaged my left foot. At the same time, she got her reins wrapped around her head, twisting the snaffle bit that was in her mouth. I always suspected she may have broken a tooth that day, and today my suspicions were confirmed.
The vet, after placing the speculum in her mouth, discovered she was doing something horses do instinctively when they have a bad tooth. She was packing chewed hay in her jaw because that tooth was painful. Today my old friend got her teeth filed, and one broken molar extracted with no novocaine. That explains the wall-eyed expression on her face.
Cali is home now, and the veterinary calmatives have worn off. Unlike her human counterparts, this girl with the large hole where a tooth was pulled seems happy and is getting back to normal. Her bossy attitude is back already, and in spite of what can’t feel very good, she’s eating, well, like a horse. This twenty-one year-old mare promises to be around for quite a few more years, getting into more trouble and probably tripping over her own feet again. But that, as they say, is life on the farm.