Pixie and Patches - they did not start out together but the parallels in their stories are uncanny. Life started out well, circumstance's changed and life became harsh, going from bad to worst. When they came into ours lives it was at their lowest point. Ironically, it all
came about because of a prank I was intending to pull on Denny......here are their stories ~
Pixie was born in Oregon and purchased by a couple who were homesteading in Interior Alaska. While with this family she had two foals.
After a few years, Pixie was sold, then sold again, where she worked hard. She wasn't so much abused as neglected. Basic's such as vet and farrior care were ignored and feed was a bare minimum.
Patches was born in Alabama and brought to Fairbanks, Alaska. He too was sold, then sold again, ending up with the same man who now owned Pixie, suffering the same fate....
I saw an advertisement about several horse's for sale, of which one was a Clydesdale mare. Denny had been teasing me about needing a "Bud" horse since he works as a truck driver for a company that sells Budweiser Beer. I thought this would be a great joke if I had a Clydesdale in the horse yard - no more excuses to not go riding with me! If he didn't want to keep her, why, we could always sell her in the spring. So I called and obtained driving directions. I was not prepared for what I saw when I arrived.......
....eight horses of various breeds, sizes and colors were standing at the far side of an enclosure which consisted of a single strand of electric
fencing connected to trees. All looked towards me but not one of them moved until I stood inside the gate; then slowly, one by one they began walking towards me. As they moved closer I began to realize something wasn't quite right .....
.... as the group came closer it became evident that they were in various stages of emaciation. One wore a ragged blanket, a small chestnut Arabian with a white blaze. As I ran my gloved hand across her blanket, I could feel the outline of her ribs. Lifting the blanket away from one side, my fears were confirmed. Although her hair was long, it was thin, dull-looking and coarse to the touch, with patches appearing to have been rubbed off. As I repositioned and secured the blanket, she nuzzled my arm. Looking at her, I took in the hollowed, gaunt features of her face, large brown eyes gazing back at me and wondered what had happened to bring these animals to this sad condition.... I turned from her to find that the rest of the horse's had come to stand close and formed a half circle around us (I must admit it can be a bit intimidating to find yourself the intense focus of several horse's, especially one the size of the Clydesdale!!). I would like to think it was because they recognized a kindred soul but I'm sure it was because of the hopeful expectations that I might have food to share!!
As I approached each horse, they were friendly but lost interest quickly when it became evident I wasn't there to feed and they began to wander away, except for the Clydesdale and an Appaloosa gelding. The mare seemed to enjoy being touched and talked to. The gelding on the other hand was wary of letting me get close enough to touch him. If I stood with my back to him, he would come up and put his nose close to my head and shoulders but the second I faced him, he'd back up just out of reach of my outstretched hand. I remember thinking 'what odd behavior,' but then as I really looked at him, I saw bites and bruises and patches of skin that were rubbed raw. He had bloody, open wounds on both sides of his body that would be consistent with having gotten hung up on a wire. All four legs below the knees and hocks were crisscrossed with cuts, scrapes and scarring. He was just a mess. Maybe the reason for his 'odd behavior?' There was something about the Appy that keep drawing me back to him,... a de-ja vu' feeling, like I should know this horse even though he didn't look familiar to me. I struck a deal with the man for the Clydesdale and offered him a couple hundred for the Appy. To my surprise, he turned me down. Instead he told me to just take the D---- horse, he didn't like him anyway!! I made arrangements to pick them up the following day.
My brother and I arrived the following afternoon, a balmy 25 below. Both were easily haltered and the mare loaded with no hesitation. The gelding walked calmly towards the trailer but about 15' from the door he suddenly bolted to the right, jerking the man off his feet and face down into the deep snow! The horse ran thru the single wire fencing, making the rest of the small herd scatter to the far side of the enclosure. He stopped and turned to face us. While the man got himself up out of the snow I began talking while walking towards the horse. He stood and let me approach then willingly walked back with me to the trailer and loaded right up. We headed home and our adventures began.........
The thirty mile ride was uneventful. We stopped at a friend's, about two miles from home and unloaded the horse's. He had offered the use of his heated barn while they were recovering their weight.( January and February are usually the coldest months and horse's expend a lot of energy trying to stay warm.) Once we settled them into their individual stalls, we set about watering and feeding. They each drank nearly five gallons of warmed water and as to being 'hungry' - that was an understatement! Not wanting to cause any digestive upset, they were given a small flake of brome hay, which disappeared in what seemed like a couple blinks of the eye!! Over the course of an hour we fed more small flakes of hay and took the opportunity to really check them out. They were in worse condition than I originally thought. Because of their long hair, the ribs didn't appear so prominent - until you ran your hand across them. They were full of worms and lice-infected, having rubbed themselves raw in places trying to relieve the itching. Their manes were knotted and ragged looking. Pixie's tail had been cut short and Patches tail looked as ragged as his mane. Patches had several injuries that had to be cleaned and medicated. Some were in need of stitching but were too old. His hooves had been trimmed unevenly and until they had bled. It's a wonder he was not totally lame. One shoulder was noticeably smaller, the muscles having begun to atrophy after an injury sustained when hit by a moving vehicle in October.
I soon discovered why the appy seemed so familiar ~ I had ridden him two years prior! At that time he belonged to a friend and neighbor that lives around the corner from us - and he had bought the appy from the friend who was letting us use the barn! Small world, or what?! Our farrior and vet knew both of the horses so we were able to obtain information on where they had been and what had happened to them and which of the previous owners still possessed their registration papers. The folks who brought Pixie to Alaska had kept a journal about her so we have a detailed accounting of her life on the homestead, including photos of her two foals and details of their births. We were even able to obtain an aussie saddle that had been custom made for her.
Despite their ordeals, both horse's are trusting of people - although it took a good year for them to relax and figure out that food and
water was an every day occurrence again. Pixie is a hit with the little kids - they're drawn to her like a magnet! She truly is a gentle giant. And Patches, well, he likes everyone, especially if you've got carrots!!