Thursday, April 10, 2008

Winnie Mapu

There was some sad news earlier this week – my pal Anne’s beloved old mare Winnie passed away. She’s not my horse, but I’ve known her for as long as I’ve known Anne - somewhere around 18 years - and she was really quite remarkable, as horses go. Largely Thoroughbred with a smattering of (fairly apparent) Clydesdale thrown in for good measure, she was certainly not what you’d call delicate. And that Clyde blood made her a pretty bouncy ride at times. I am going through my photos trying to find a snap of her for the blog, but I realized that since I went “digital” most of my shots are of the revolving door of "younger, prettier, flashier" horses that Anne has bred over the years – a herd in some ways you could consider a result of Winnie, as Winnie couldn’t hold a foal to term…which meant that Anne had a stud fee paid for that she needed to use on another horse, which meant acquiring another horse, and so the herd started. Really, it’s all Winnie’s fault ;) And it was in part because Winnie was the “constant” that I don’t have more photos of her. You just expect her to be there.

I remember hacking her on the road when a couple of big dogs came running and barking out of nowhere, I just about jumped out of the saddle but Winnie just flicked an ear and marched solidly along, confident that she could take them out with the flick of a hoof I’m sure. And that was her nature. She seemed to have the ability to assess things with a great deal more reason than most, apparently including me. As Anne says, she only stopped at a jump if she wasn’t sure she could take it safely. And if Anne fell off as a result, Winnie would just stop and wait, slightly confused as to why Anne wasn’t still on her. And that sense of reason – or responsibility? – spilled over to the barn as well. She was the babysitter and “manners coach” for a slew of foals who had mothers far less…sensible…that Winnie. It will be interesting (and a bit daunting) to see how any future babies turn out without her influence.

Her age was starting to show – her teeth had worn to the point that eating was a challenge, and she was having a harder time keeping her weight up (never an issue in her earlier years, that’s for sure). She ended up with an infection, and then colic, which she didn’t recover from. This sort of thing isn’t completely unexpected – she was in her 30s, which is OLD for a horse – but it doesn’t make it easy.

Very appropriately, she is buried on the farm now, in the field near the rest of her herd - close enough for her to keep an eye on things - particularly those troublesome youngsters - of that I am sure.

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