There were several horses coming. Maybe more than several. The equine market of Breyerfest had come and gone and Redbird Ranch had purchased a number of horses.
This appaloosa sport horse mare, Dani Girl, was among the first to arrive. Well rounded in both English and Western performance, and pretty as they come.
Two more arrivals followed, a fabulous American Saddlebred stallion, and an endurance style blue-black arabian stallion. He was big, with a ground covering trot and a simply gorgeous coat.
And there was a treat for Skye. Kaleidoscope, a decorator model in wonderful, rich colors...something to hopefully inspire Skye and fuel her imagination and creativity.
The big horse delivery was still a day or two out. So Grace tried her hand at making something they would need. She studied her handiwork. She had made a number of lunging whips. They needed a little perfecting, but overall, they were colorful and functional.
Then she broke out something less artistic, but equally creative.
"It's a poor girl's fence" Grace explained to a puzzled Skye. You'll know all about it by tomorrow morning."
On August 21 they assembled the poor girl's fence, making extensions to their existing "rodeo fence" as Skye liked to call it.
"How is this going to work?" Skye asked. "Not the fence, but the horses. Didn't you say they are all stallions? How are we going to manage them?"
"Just like Circus Knie" Grace answered. "When they come into the turnout pen they will be in a completely new environment and they will be looking for their place in it, both physically and socially. And we will be the lead horses. We will establish that straight away and expect them to respond accordingly."
Grace had to sound convincing. Skye needed to believe beyond any doubt that this was going to work, and smoothly. Fact of the matter is, Circus Knie spends years training their horses to work together. Grace and Skye were about to receive five stallions whose only previous experience with each other was in the horse trailer. And they would have been in the trailer for several hours before their arrival.
They got the fence up just in time...the trailer arrived before dawn. One after another beautiful horse emerged...two golden horses, a stout pinto, a tall, blue-eyed cream-colored stallion, and a small but feisty part-arabian. They entered the rope and rail arena just as Grace said they would...observing their new space, and looking to find their place within it. So far so good.
Skye had never done this kind of ground work before. She watched Grace, and listened carefully to her direction, spoke in an even, confident tone.
"See if you can get everybody going in the same direction. Use the lunge whip to move them. They will move away from it, so go to your right."
All the horses were moving in the same direction as the sun began to crest the mountain.
"Ready to try a direction change Skye?"
"I'm going to turn them in now..."
"Keep pushing them in the new direction, toward the fence...good...good..."
"Okay Skye, one more time around in this new direction and then we're going to do the circus move."
Skye imagined all the stallions in a semi circle, rearing and walking on their hind legs. She was pretty sure they weren't going to be able to do that particular circus move.
"When they come around use your whip, your hand and your voice and ask them to halt."
Grace brought in the two stallions on the left flank
Skye addressed the three stallions before her.
And they halted, all five stallions facing inward, attentive, supple to Grace and Skye.
"And there you are...just like the circus! Good job Skye!"
While waiting for the last of the new arrivals, Grace saddled up one of the new stallions, the one she thought might be a Morgan.
"I think I am going to name this one Moose" Grace said to Skye. "I could barely get my tack to fit him. This boy is Big. If he's a Morgan, he's old school."
Late in the afternoon the final trailer pulled in. Grace hadn't mentioned anything about a bull. Or two cats. In fact, Grace didn't know anything about the bull coming with two cats."What is he?" Skye finally asked.
"An Argentine Criollo. For the Hertina breeding program. He'll be bred to Hereford cows. The bull calves should be ready to go to market about the time of Breyerfest 2022."
"He's scary. Scary big too."
Grace and Skye were speechless as one of the cats approached the bull. Not like there was much they could say. They couldn't call the cat back...they didn't know it's name. But after that, they gave the black cat a name...Mojo.
In the days that followed, Grace spent time with each of the new horses. One of the golden stallions was a particular favorite. She brought him into the big arena pre-dawn, beating the summer's intense heat.
"He's gorgeous" Skye said. "What is he?"
"I'd say he's...part Friesian. I don't know that a pure Friesian comes in any color other than black. But I don't know much about Friesians."
She spent a little time with him on the ground before she got in the saddle.
He was in fact very smooth, his steps bold but measured, as if upon his back were precious cargo.
"I think we'll call this one Dream Boat" Grace said. "He is really wonderful under saddle."
then the Akhal Teke. More like a speed boat.
No name for him was really coming to mind. He seemed a bit aloof yet, his true personality shielded under all that gleam and muscle.
"I was going to talk about the triangular dimension of lunging a horse, guiding with the head and driving forward with the whip and the balance in between...but I'm going to be dizzy pretty soon if this one doesn't slow down."
Grace could picture him English; an eventing horse, an endurance horse, maybe even racing. He didn't neck rein, and she didn't have a snaffle.
So she plough reined, and it worked. He appeared to enjoy poles.
The white barrels seemed to spook him, so Skye hastily painted one blue to see if that would help. It seemed to help.
"I am sure he has a fancy pedigree name" Grace said as the big horse covered ground across the arena, "but I'm going to call him Gunner."
Grace let Skye do ground work with Dani Girl, the lovely sport horse mare. "Let her move forward into your triangle a little bit more so you are right in the middle of her."
"Good, good...keep working her in that direction, I'll be right back. I have a surprise for you."
Skye was focused on the mare and didn't pay much attention about the surprise.
And what a surprise indeed.
She was an elder, and although Grace did buy her, it was a bit of a rescue purchase. The old girl looked tired, and Skye seemed to have a soft place in her heart for old horses. One more mouth would hardly make a dent in the feed bill.
Hi, my name is Corina, the official story teller for Grace and Skye. Grace owes her beauty, style and charm to Anne Field, Field of Dolls Studio. Skye does too, for that matter, as Anne fostered her for a while, giving Skye a complete makeover in the process. The horses, dogs, cats, saddles, bridles, furniture and so forth are the work of many artists. I'll do my best to acknowledge them as we go from day to day.
This is the ongoing, unfolding story of grace little, manager of redbird ranch, and her little sister, Skye