It was a snowy, cold early morning in December. It was almost Christmas. I had talked a friend of the family's to help me get another horse to compete jumping with (later decided not ever happening), so we drove the large van down to the auction in Hillsdale. I was excited. There were horses being worked out on the track, the parking lot was almost empty and there was a ton of stuff that would make great gifts. But I didn't look around long. I snuck off to the barn.
There were cows, sheep, and a lot of goats. I looked deciding if I wanted another sheep to replace Gramps who had been the oldest on the farm and had recently passed leaving the pony mare, Beauty, basically alone. She wasn't friends with the other horses. She was the definition of a grouchy old mare. But more on her later. I was walking towards the end in the last stall. I looked in and a beautiful mare stood in the back. Her ears pinned back, and she had scars covering her hip. I went in and slowly (and if you ask any one that was there stupidly) over to her. I held out part of my cinnamon roll. She stuck her neck out as far as it would go towards me.
"I won't hurt you," I whispered as she took it retreating to the back again. "Like it?" She nodded but huffed at me. I went a little closer and this time she turned to me. I reached out gently petting her neck. "Easy girl. You're beautiful." I ran my hands over her well worked muscles and then down her legs. I didn't have her lift the hoofs. I could see they were in need of a trim. I finished my physical check then let her finish my breakfast. I decided I would just go get a hot dog anyway. I left the stall as the man I later found out was her owner went in. He was smoking a cigarette. One of the workers told him to get rid of it or put it out at least. To my shock and dismay, he went over and put the cigarrete out in her hip. I walked away knowing well I would be back for her with the rest of my group.
All auction long, I spent time going between the warm cafe and the stall. I was going to have her. I didn't care. My limit was $350.
As soon as 1 o'clock came around I took my seat on the back bleacher. I didn't want to be seen this time. The pigs went first, cows, sheep, goats, llama, and then her. The bids started out at $150. I was the first then a guy bid against me. A bidding war began and fear set in my chest. I couldn't let anyone have her. At $300 the man stopped. I won her.
Sadly, I hadn't exactly planned that far ahead. I was expecting there to be no horses again. My mom and the man left me there with my Uncle Mike. He ruffled my hair as I sat outside the stall.
"Are you going to make it a habit of picking up abused horses?" he asked.
I smiled up at him. "Of course. They need just as much love as the others."
He chuckled. "And you wonder why you don't get many visitors."
I stuck my tongue out. "I don't want friends who just want to come and ride my horses."
Soon we had to take her out the stall. The barn was closing, and they hadn't arrived yet. I was nervous. It was snowing again anyway. I led her out on a thin piece of rope. She followed really well. I led her to a left behind hay bale and let her eat it. She munched happily. It was going great until my Uncle Mike made me get in the van to warm up. He took the rope and fished it in the car. She was fine for a bit then something out of the blue freaked her out, and she snapped the rope easily. I jumped out of the truck and reached for her halter. Too late. She took off onto the track. Weird. I remember telling myself to just watch her. She never left the track. Not once the entire half hour I spent trying to catch her. One of the trainers for harness racing ended up feeling sorry for me and came out with a bucket of grain and a blanket. He wrapped the blanket around my shoulders and she went to him eating out the bucket. My uncle Mike got on the phone calling my mom instantly. I led her into the barn and he let me put her in one of their stalls. I smiled thanking him.
"No problem. I have never seen any ne freeze that long just to try and catch a horse. Especially one they knew nothing about." He put a bucket of warm mush into the stall (still to this day have NO IDEA what was in that bucket), and she munched happily.
"I make it a habit to chase what I want. She is a special little mare," I smiled as he offered me a warm cup. I took it and took a sip. Warm hot chocolate out of his thermos. "I'm Shaunie."
"I'm James," he said sitting on the bench. "Nice to meet you. She must really like you. I don't think a horse who got free would just stay in the one area."
"She seemed to like it," I shivered as Uncle Mike came in. "Uncle Mike, this is James." They shook hands and talked while I walked through the barns looking at the few horses in the stalls.
When we got her home, she was happy. She had round bales of hay, friends, and a nice warm blanket on her. I kept her in the small barn to let her meet and greet the other horses we had. She made friends with the stallion (Junior) easily. On Tuesday night, we released her into the herd.
She lived with me happily for four years. She had a young filly her last year. A friend of mine's mother wanted a horse that was broke and a foal to raise. I told her what I wanted and the conditions to which I would allow her to have Precious. She agreed. We transported them to the new farm when Marie Rose (the filly) was just one and half years old as well as Pistol Pete (in his mother's belly). I warned her that Precious could be with foal and to watch out for any signs.