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Happy Tail: What were you thinking?

Her granddaughter Amanda's horse Clover is a living legacy to the Quqrterhorse stallion, "Blue Is Impressive," and a wonderful mare named Zada, who had lost so many foals in earlier pregnancies, a mating, at Amanda's insistence, brought Clover into their world. Click on headline for complete story
The next earlier Happy Tail: Happy Tails - A second chance at love Posted September 15, 2013 By Peg Schaeffer

When we lived in Connecticut we bred, raised, and showed Quarter Horses. Our leading sire was a black Quarter Horse stallion named "Blue is Impressive". Every year in April and October we would go to Timonium, Maryland to a registered sale to look for black broodmares that would complement Blue's bloodlines. In April, 2002 I went to the sale with a good friend of mine, Jenn, and Keith's niece, Sierra. Keith stayed home to care for the farm since we had broodmares due to foal, so it was a girls' weekend out.

Before the sale I would get the catalog and go through the horses listed. I would highlight the black and grey mares and proven broodmares. We would go to the fairgrounds the day before the sale to inspect the horses and on the day of the sale we would arrive early to watch the demonstrations. Once the sale began I would find a seat and park there waiting for the horses I was interested in to come into the sale ring. One of the mares I was interested in was a black Quarter Horse mare whose registered name was "What Were You Thinking". She was an appendix mare which means she also had Thoroughbred lineage. Hopefully, she would throw big foals. She was listed as "breeding sound only" which warns the buyer that she has lameness issues.

When she came into the ring and the bidding started I watched to see who else was interested in her. Sometimes at sales they will plant someone to "up" the bid. This is someone who works for the auction company and helps to raise the price of the horse. I bid carefully not wanting to appear to eager and in the end I had the winning bid and bought this big black mare.

I had brought our four horse trailer just in case I found some good deals but ended up buying only one other mare. So on Sunday morning, after completing the paperwork, we loaded the two mares and headed home. My trailer was a stock trailer and since we had only two horses I broke it down into two box stalls so the horses wouldn't have to be tied and could ride free. I put one mare in the front and the black mare in the back.

So we headed home on the highway. Eager to get home to show Keith the two good mares I had bought I was speeding along. A car pulled alongside the truck and signaled to the back of the trailer. It often happens when I leave the horses loose in the back of the trailer people will think I don't know and they will warn me. So when the driver pointed to the back of the trailer I gave him a thumbs up to let him know I knew the horse was loose and kept driving. Another car pulled alongside and again pointed to the rear of the trailer. Again I gave him a thumbs up and kept speeding along. When a third car pulled alongside with the same signal I decided it was time I look into the side view mirror. What I saw sent shivers down my spine. The latch to the rear trailer door was almost undone. Another bump and the tailgate would have swung open.

I quickly pulled over to the side of the road. Jenn and I jumped out and latched the tailgate and then tied it securely. I got back into the truck, shaking like a leaf, and pulled into the next rest area. I kept thinking "what if?" What if the tailgate had swung open and the horse had fallen out? She would've have been seriously hurt if not killed. What if she had fallen out and the car behind us was unable to stop? They could have been killed also. What if my guardian angel had not been on duty? After my nerves calmed we continued home without a hitch and I thanked my lucky stars for watching out for the big black mare.

All of our registered horses have nicknames so "What Were You Thinking" needed one. She definitely needed a very special name. I searched the internet for girls' names that meant "lucky" and found "Zada". So "Zada" it was.

We bred Zada to Blue and had her ultra-sounded. She was open. We bred her again. She was open. We bred her the entire breeding season with the same results. In between breedings we would treat her with this medication and that medication and the same results. She was always open. So after spending $1,400 in veterinarian bills I decided that Zada was not only lame but unsound for breeding purposes. What do I do with this mare? I can't breed her and I can't sell her as a riding horse.

At the time my niece, Amanda, was 9 years old and was in love with horses. She had been taking riding lessons but didn't have a horse of her own. She was light and just starting out so she wouldn't be riding a lot and would probably only be riding at a walk and a trot. So I gave her Zada as a Christmas present. Amanda and Zada were a great pair. Amanda could ride her for short periods of time and Zada cared for her small rider. They were perfect for each other.

The following breeding season we were breeding mares. Amanda got caught up in the idea of foals being born the following year and asked if Blue could breed Zada. I told her to ask her mother. She called her Mom and Karen naturally said "put Peggy on the phone." So I talked to Karen and she said what are we going to do? I told her to relax. We had already bred Zada several times and she lost the foal so we'd breed her just to make Amanda happy. Well we bred her - and guess what? - you guessed it - Zada was pregnant. When the vet ultra-sounded her and verified she was pregnant he looked at me and said "There's no way this mare is pregnant".

I have learned after years of breeding horses that you shouldn't fool with Mother Nature. Apparently Mother Nature felt Zada needed some time off and after a winter's rest she was ready to be a Mom. Zada gave birth the following spring to a beautiful black filly with a perfect maple leaf on her forehead. Amanda named her "Clover".

So Clover became Amanda's horse. Amanda worked with the filly every day, imprinting her, brushing her and loving her. Since Zada had presented Amanda with Clover she was retired. She was ridden on occasion but her normal day was spent in the pasture and in the stall at night. She wasn't ignored by any means - just left to relax and enjoy life.

Unfortunately Zada's lameness progressed. Karen and her husband, Jeff, provided her with the best care. They had the blacksmith give her special shoeing and had constant veterinary care. But over the years her lameness got worse and Zada was not comfortable. So the decision was made to have her euthanized.

This is the hardest decision an animal owner can make. How do you decide to take the life of a pet who has given you so much happiness? Although it gives you so much pain you need to end the suffering of your companion. The most important thing you can do is to be there at the time. It's selfish to leave them alone. Although you don't want to watch them die they need to know that you loved them enough to be there at the very end.

I had to have our stallion, Blue, euthanized 2 years ago. He was 30 years old and having problems getting around. He would still nicker at the mares and be the big stallion but it became more and more difficult for him to move. One day he lay down and couldn't get back up. He looked at me and said with his eyes "it's time". I called the vet and sat on his stall floor with his head in my lap. I brushed him and talked to him and we said our "good byes". He died peacefully and is buried by my garden under the peach tree.

Blue and Zada have left us a piece of them, their black filly, Clover. She is big, black and beautiful. Everything I was hoping for. Every day when I feed her, I think of her Mom and Dad and their present to us. Clover's registered name - "What an Impressive Legacy" - and that she is.

- Peg Schaeffer

Contact us if you would like to help.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue,
860 Sparksville Road
Columbia, KY 42728
Home telephone: 270-378-4521
Cell phone: 270-634-4675

This story was posted on 2013-09-22 07:45:04
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Happy Tale: Clover

2013-09-22 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Bradley Kelley. Clover, What an Impressive Legacy, - Peg Schaeffer
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Happy Tale: Blue, the Sugarfoot Quarter Horse Stallion

2013-09-22 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo By Susan Melville. Blue is Impressive - our Quarter Horse stallion. The photo taken by Susan Melville. - PEG SCHAEFFER
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