Friday, June 30, 2017


A few weekends back I was sitting in the kitchen of Livingtston Brook Farm, after helping load hay in their barn. It was a hot, humid day and all of has had unloaded about 400 bales into Patty's old threshing barn. Once done we had all gathered in the cool farmhouse, we handful of other plucky volunteers. It was a group of mostly horse ladies and kind neighbors, a good crew. As Patty handed out plates of her warm berry pie and ice cream we chatted and enjoyed the reward for our given time. As beers were clanked and pie swallowed, Tabitha from Long Shadow's Farm was looking at an alert on her phone. She then said aloud, half joking, "Anyone looking for a horse?"

I perked up. Merlin had been alone at the farm with just sheep to keep him company for years. I was looking for a horse, had been for years, but not in any position to take the purchase price of a good animal or the medical needs most free rescue horses. I wanted that dream situation of a horse that needed a good home, was already trained to ride and drive, was younger than Merlin, and didn't come riddled with behavior or medical expenses. But as the saying goes: there is no such thing as a free horse.

But there was such a thing as Mabel.

Tabitha showed me the photo on her phone. At first I thought it was a Gypsy Vanner. A mare with proud red and white splotches and built sturdy as a brick house. Feathered feet, a proud red mane, and that short thick neck all draft horses share. This was a mare to be reckoned with. "She looks young?" I said. Tabitha nodded. Around here most animals that need rehoming for free are older pasture pets, unsound, or have never been trained or worked on. This horse was Amish broke to ride and drive, 10-12 years old, and needed a new home.

The story was sad, but not tragic. The owner loved her like a daughter and took amazing care of her, boarding her at a wonderful stable in Saratoga. But for personal reasons she needed to let her go, as it didn't work out as expected, and find her a place where she could live a good life.

Mabel has a lot going for her, but was hard to re-home due to some mild arthritis. She is sound at a walk. And when she's up to it trots and canters but needs some extra medical care like a daily supplement and, on occasion, an injection every six months or so. I had long talks with Patty, Tabitha, and the owner about the whole situation.
So last weekend Patty, Tabitha, and I drove out to meet her, evaluate, and ride her. Between then and today - the owner came to Cold Antler to inspect the place, meet Merlin, talk to my farrier and vet, and generally do the homework you do before rehoming an animal you hold dear. Everyone agreed this was a dream situation - three acres of pasture and a companion horse, run in shelter, an on-farm owner. Today Mabel was delivered to the farm and met Merlin. Both are thrilled with the situation!

I bought Mabel for one dollar. I signed the paperwork and Patty trailered him to Cold Antler this AM. And now the farm has a second horse to trail ride and drive with, at least within Mabel's ability. Mostly I wanted a partner for Merlin and an animal a guest could hop on so they could see my world from the best vantage point I can offer - the saddle. I am thrilled to have her and feel lucky as hell she came into my life.

And now I am going to head outside and spend some time with the herd.

For more pics and videos of Mabel, head over to twitter! I'm @coldantlerfarm 

Also: I should note that the owner and I agreed if for any reason I chose not to keep her she will pick her up and take her back. So if it doesn't work out - she simply goes back to the owner. But I don't anticipate any problems and we have an arrangement to take care of her needs.