"Free to Good Home: Aged mini-mare, great for companion horse, personality plus, no health issues."
We had acquired Katie as a freebie in 2009 for a companion for Cass after Ginger had been put down. Now that we had Thunder, we had to remind ourselves that we had really wanted to be a two-horse homestead. Katie has always struck me as the type who would benefit from a job to do. In other words - she thought too much. Katie was all of 38" high, older than mud (our best guess was 28, although ponies live forever), and all attitude. Her personality from the get-go was "I am not here to be your friend," and she made it clear that it was our privilege to have her.
I put an ad on Craigslist and Whinny.org and then proceeded to say all the good things about her while leaving out anything negative, but I was honest about her cough. I felt like I was selling a used car, trying to paint the best possible picture of her. Larry said, "We’ll have that pony for another year."
I immediately began getting numerous emails of interest. Keeping track of them was like doing the on-line dating thing – keeping track of whom I had told what, who seemed serious, who had potential, who sounded like a bit of a nut job, who was interested in a date.
Katie knew that something was up. She was spending too much time in her stall (where she was held prisoner until potential owners came to look at her), and the boys were wondering what was up. People came and looked, poked and prodded, led and petted.
In the end she was adopted by Shannon of Plattsburgh, sight unseen other than the photos I had emailed her. She had a small horse that her eight year old daughter was a bit intimidated by. She was looking for something she would be more comfortable with and thought Katie would fit the bill. We emailed back and forth all week; she didn’t have transportation, so I asked a favor of an acquaintance who had minis and had actually looked at Katie. I knew she had a truck and trailer – would she be interested in making some quick money for a road trip? Fortunately for all of us, Jan said sure.
We made final arrangements to bring Katie to her new home yesterday, about an hour and a half away. Jan came with truck and trailer; she asked how Katie would trailer. I said I had no idea, but I bet we’re gonna find out. Like all equines labeled "pony" and not "horse," Katie walked on the trailer without a moment’s hesitation. When she saw there was nothing to eat inside, she began to have second thoughts. By then the butt-chain was up (which made no difference, because she could walk right under it) and the door was closed and off we trundled down the road. She squealed on occasion, but otherwise traveled well.
Halfway up the Northway we stopped at a rest stop to check on how she was doing. I opened the side door and she whinnied and strained to look out the door. She seemed fine, not breaking a sweat, comfortable within the space. As she stuck her nose out the door and made some Katie noises, an older couple with (presumably) their grandson, who was maybe five years old with thick glasses and perhaps some cognitive limitations, said "Oh, maybe the nice lady will let us look at the horse!" They came over and Katie was all eyes and ears, as was the little boy. "Her name is Katie," I said to him. "She’s going to her new home in Plattsburgh." Everyone was very impressed with her. I remember being a little kid traveling on the Northway to Lake George and craning my neck every time we came across any type of horse trailer. Every glance was magic, to see a head! A tail! I have never forgotten the people who took the time to let me see, pet or visit with their horses when I was a horse-crazy little brat. I try to do the same now for any interested kid.
A half hour later we parked in the road in front of a modest home situated at the top of a little crest, where I could see a shed-like structure and wire fencing to the side. Katie, who had had quite enough of the trailer by now, thank you, hopped out, and looked around. At that moment I saw, at the top of the drive, a little blonde-haired girl, in a tee shirt, shorts, and cowboy boots, who began waving frantically. I waved back and walked Katie around to the driveway.
Suddenly the little girl squealed "WOW!! Is that her?" We walked to the top of the driveway and were met by Shannon. Her husband, an amicable sort who was holding the halter of their large pony, a lovely Appaloosa mare who was unimpressed by all the goings on, smiled and said "My wife’s the one with the horses. I just do what I’m told." A sullen teenager picked manure out of the paddock ("He’s grounded," Shannon said. "That’s why he’s on manure duty.") and a little boy about the age of the one at the rest stop was busy with a Tonka truck in a mud puddle, completely ignoring us.
"What’s your name?" I asked the little blondie. "Isabelle," she said. "Is Katie for you?" "Yes!!" "I guess I should give the reins to you then," I said, and handed the lead to her. Katie, who hadn’t given me a second glance once she started digging into their lawn, was happily led away by Isabelle, who chattered away. "Oh! You are so cute! You’re so shiny! But you’re kinda dirty, I’ll brush you off!"
I gave Shannon all the pertinent health and feeding info for Katie, and we made horsey small-talk. She said that ponies and minis had become all the rage in their area, and she was hoping that Isabelle would get interested in 4-H and maybe do a little showing with Katie next year. At any rate, the goal was for Isabelle to gain confidence and experience with Katie, since she found the Appaloosa a bit much. I think once she gets older and bigger, the Appaloosa will be a great fit for her.
I gave Katie a last scratch behind the ears. "Be a good girl," I said, but Katie just kept ripping the grass out by the roots. So much for a sentimental send-off. Really, what did I expect?
I watched Isabelle practice leading Katie. "Have fun with her," I said as I turned to leave. "Oh, I will!" Isabelle said, and I have no doubt that will be the case.
I had run the gamut of emotions all week – sadness, hopefulness, frustration, concern, more than a little guilt – but as Jan and I walked back to her truck I could hear Isabelle chirping away to her new pony. I said, "You know, I don’t think I could have asked for anything better." "Nope," Jan agreed, and we headed home.