This is a follow up story to the Educating Lisa, posted Jan 30, 2012.
On May 10, 2007, I was on my way home from our shop for supper when Dale called me on my cell and said “I think that you had better come back here and bring your camera with you”. It turned out that we had a new addition to our herd, a pretty little Clyde filly. During the first two or three hours she stood as many times. You can imagine what a labourious task that was with her long, long legs.
Her mother, Dolly, was very stand offish and as they were always close together as soon as we tried to make friends Mom would move away and the little filly would follow. One day when Dale and I were working in the back part of the barn we slid the back door open to gain a little light and there she was hunkered up with her side against the building just snoozing in the afternoon sun. I thought “For sure she’s going to wake up and move off” but she just stood there dozing. I thought “Perfect!”. She couldn’t get me because although I was at the “business end”, I was still standing inside the building and protected by the wall. I reached out and gently started to scratch the root of her tail. After a second or two, her head came up, her lip started to tremble and she looked back over her shoulder to see what the source of this new sensation was. She was ours after that and whenever she saw us in the field she would come up and present herself for a thorough scratch from her tail all the way up to her ears. Because she was such a sweet heart we decided to call her Lisa.
Educating Lisa photos by Terry Bailey on Flickr via SlideMyPics.
It’s funny sometimes how things just seem to come together. Turn back the calendar to the year 2000. We had taken one of our Clyde mares to be bred by Dayton, a shire stud that was not far from us. The following spring the mare delivered us a colt and he turned out to be exactly what we had anticipated. Tall and leggy, in the end he grew until he tipped the scales at close to a ton. We called him Mac. We had taken his mom back to Dayton hoping to get a match for Mac but the she didn’t catch. We tried again and this time she caught but aborted at about nine and a half months. Mac’s mom passed away during the next winter and the next time we saw Dayton’s owner we found out that Dayton had passed as well. You can imagine our frustration! Now we had this big leggy gelding to try and match up. Matching size and conformation is one thing. You can have them look good together but if they don’t have the same heart it doesn’t make for a nice team to drive and try as we might we couldn’t find a good match for Mac. We started hooking him with another of our Clydes and although they were a trustworthy team they weren’t what you’d call a good match. They weren’t bad visually but the “heart” just wasn’t the same.
Now turn the calendar forward to 2006. We buy a Clyde mare that is in foal, the one who would deliver Lisa in 2007. Are you starting to see where this is leading? I thought you might. Over the next three years Lisa roamed with the rest of our herd and we didn’t pay much attention to her. Don’t get me wrong, we got her used to being touched all over by brushing her and picking up her feet but we didn’t give much thought as to what her future would be. Sell her? Keep her? Try to find a match for her? Ah, we’d figure that out later. Well, “later” came when Lisa turned four and by that time we had to really look to tell the difference between Mac and Lisa. Hmm. Could it be? We began to see a distinct possibility. She was a definite conformational match but what about the heart?
It was time. We always start new horses with an older, experienced horse and we also use a 2 wheel cart instead of a 4 wheeled buggy or wagon. The reason behind two wheels? There is always a chance that some Tom foolery will happen such as a sudden and uncontrolled back up. In this situation a four wheeled vehicle would likely jack knife. The other thing that could occur is an uncontrolled turn when the new horse decides to try and get away from the training horse, jamming the front wheels against the side of the vehicle’s body. In both of these situations a four wheeled vehicle would more than likely wind up on its side or upside down. The technical term for this is “Bad”. A two wheeled vehicle allows you to go with the flow and stay just where you’re supposed to be, right behind the team with the shiny side up. Lisa had a couple of “moments” but got over them quickly and for her it was a good thing. We had decided to use her future team mate, Mac, as the training horse and as a precaution we had worked him extensively for the best part of the afternoon with another of our horses so he was tuckered out. If she hadn’t come to her senses she would have been trying to drag a two thousand pound boat anchor around. After three or four hooks we gave her the winter off.
This spring her education began again, first with harrowing our hay fields. The first time she tired quickly but she gained stamina with each successive hook and soon it wasn’t a harrows but a plow that she and Mac were pulling. She was quickly discovering that she could pull and she seemed quite happy to do it. Next we went to multiple hitches, four wide, and then six, two rows of three and Lisa handled it all. She had the looks and the heart. She was a perfect match for Mac.
The Dark Side photos by Terry Bailey & Shelby Befus on Flickr via SlideMyPics.
She had a two week break during Calgary Stampede as we were taking our horses down for the show in Draft Horse Town. We thought that because of her age and inexperience, it would be wise to have her sit that one out. A week before Stampede started we took the other six of our draft horses in for an evening rehearsal, leaving Lisa at home with the saddle horses. Dale’s mom said she paced the corral the entire time we were gone and she was at the gate calling to us when we pulled back in the yard. It was prudent decision on our part but she’d let us know in no uncertain term that she was not impressed with being left at home with the “little” horses.
Our next outing was to the mountains for our yearly camping trip and I drove Mac and Lisa. Then it was off to the Bar U Ranch to bind their oat crop. While we were there I drove Mac and Lisa in the Bar U’s Chore Team competition. As it was her first year I didn’t expect to do very well and went in with the sole purpose of just making it through the course. The competition is based on time and your score for completed obstacles is used in the event of a tie. I didn’t have the best time but I did have the best score that I’ve ever had there. Mac and Lisa are quite the team!
I had always considered myself a “Black Clyde” guy but a couple of years ago I started driving a team of our grey Percherons. Being a Star Wars fan I jokingly referred to it as coming over from the dark side but after spending the summer with Mac and Lisa, I think I’m headed back there.
Alberta Carriage Supply