I’m the handsome new horse at ‘The Barn’

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I am a new Canyon Lake resident. My name is Oakley, and I live at number 15 in the Canyon Lake Equestrian Center. I was born in 2010 and grew up in Pomona, California. I am a dappled rose-gray Arabian gelding (neutered male) horse.

Growing up was great fun. My friends and I lived in a really big, grassy pasture where we could eat or run and play all day. I especially enjoyed rolling around and stretching out to sunbathe. Because my mama died when I was born, I had to be bottle fed. I got lots and lots and lots of extra attention and was definitely spoiled. Normally, horses begin working around 2 years old, but I was still running free in the pasture until I was 5.

Then everything changed. A man put a saddle on me. I knew what it was ‘cause I had heard some of the older horses talking about it. He sat on my back. which wasn’t so bad. It was actually fun to do something new. I felt so grown up! A few weeks later, some nice ladies came to visit. They petted me and gave me treats. I was sad when they left.

But one came back! She asked me to go into something called a horse trailer. I was a little frightened, but she was nice so I did what she asked. After traveling for a bit, we arrived at, well, somewhere. I had no idea.

I came out of the trailer, and the nice lady walked with me to show me around. It looked like an interesting place, and there were other horses. I overheard someone say it was my new home and that the nice lady was now MY nice lady.

Nice Lady led me to my new “bedroom,” an outdoor paddock, aOakley laughing copylso known as a stall. I noticed some indoor box stalls and thought they were exceptionally nice. But since I have lived outdoors my entire life, I was much happier to be outside. Everyone seems to call this place “The Barn” – whether you’re indoors or outdoors.

Life at The Barn is very pleasant. I’m still getting to know my next door neighbors. I have breakfast and dinner brought to me, like room service, every day. Nice Lady mixed some pine pellets and shavings with the dirt, so now I have a really soft bed to lie down on at night. A man comes each day to clean my stall and make sure I’m okay. He always talks to me and pets me, and he has a kind voice. I think I’m gonna like it here.

Oh, I have a funny story: At my old home I got water from a bucket. Here I have a little bowl that fills up automatically every time I get a drink. I found that if I splash the water out with my nose, it just keeps filling up. I had a wonderful time splashing and making a mud puddle that flowed into the barn aisle.

Then a man at the barn did something to make it not flood anymore. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted. Nice Lady figured I was bored, so she hung a little ball for me to play with. It’s fun to grab at it and swing it around, but I liked splashing the water better!

Nice Lady comes every day except Wednesdays. Sometimes she turns me loose in an arena to play and buck. Sometimes we lunge (I walk, trot and canter in a big circle around her while she holds a line). Mostly we go for a ride in one of the three arenas. It’s fun to try all the new things she’s teaching me. I don’t always get it right away, but she’s patient and we work together until we understand each other.

I’m learning to lunge, to go in the round pen, to be tied to a post or in the cross ties and to stand still. It feels good to get a bath, but I’m a little afraid to go in the wash rack because of the scary snake (Nice Lady calls it a hose, but it looks like a scary snake to me).

I’ve learned to wear a saddle and bridle now. I’m also learning to have Nice Lady sit on my back while we work and play. Sometimes there are others in the arena with us, and we horses get to visit while our people talk. The arena by the parking lot is next to a place called a baseball field.

At first the noise from people yelling and screaming was kinda frightening. But Nice Lady patted me and spoke gently, telling me not to be afraid. I am still scared, but I’m trusting her. So far she’s been right. I think she’s pretty smart, so I’m trying my best to please her.

Oakley-meeting-neighbor

There are lots of new experiences like lunging and making friends.

Oakley-w-his-nice-ladyThe jumping arena is pretty cool. Nice Lady says jumping is her favorite thing to do and promises that I will learn to jump this summer. I’m looking forward to that!  We go in the dressage/western arena a lot too. I like going around the poles and barrels. Nice Lady says they are for gymkhana racing. That’s not something for me, but I’ve seen some others do it, and it looks exciting.

Another funny story: The first time I trotted around the western arena, I saw a horse appear from nowhere. Then I didn’t see him. Then he was there again. He was pretty frightening, this ghost horse. I would see him and jump sidewise, then snort at him. Finally, I figured out that, since there’s a gigantic mirror there, it was me! Hahaha, no wonder I thought he was such a beautiful horse!

Nice Lady promises that we can go outside the barn and check out the trails soon. I’m really excited to do that too. There is so much to do here!

Other times we just go for walks around the barn. I like to see my new horse friends as Nice Lady and I explore. Some of them live in outside paddocks near me. Some live in the barn where the stalls are smaller, but fancier. There are lots of places for our people to groom us and make us even more beautiful.

I especially love being groomed. Every day, before and after every ride, Nice Lady brushes and massages me all over (I especially enjoy having my neck and top of my rump massaged with the rubber curry). She cleans my feet to make sure I have no rocks stuck in them and brushes my mane and tail. I like all the attention. She also clipped my legs (the clippers tickled), and shortened my mane. I think I’m more handsome than ever!

In addition to the three arenas, there is a small grass pasture and shady trees all around the the whole barn area. There is an automatic hot walker, used for walking horses to cool them down after a hard ride. My favorite spot is the big grass area next to the jump arena. People like to relax on the grass or have a picnic or let their kids play. Occasionally they sit and let their horses graze, which is a special treat!

We horses aren’t the only ones who have great places at the barn. Our people have indoor bathrooms and a room just to hang out in. Every owner has their own little room to keep tack (saddles, bridles, grooming and other equipment). There is also an outdoor pavilion with a ceiling fan and a barbecue and chairs and tables.

Apparently our people enjoy food as much as we horses do because I’ve seen groups gathered to talk and eat under the pavilion several times since I’ve been here.

Last week the farrier came and gave me a pedicure and fit me with some lovely silver shoes. I’ve been trotting around, showing them off all week. Nice Lady promised me that I could get another new set in six weeks. Yay! Who doesn’t love new shoes. Apparently, I get a new set every six to eight weeks.

Nice Lady laughed and said I get shoes more than she does. In fact, she told me that, because she has me, she will be coloring her hair from a box and not shopping much anymore. She said it was my fault, but she had a big smile when she said it. She told me I was more than worth it. She tells me I’m special – I like that.

Oakley-head-turned-I am learning so much and working hard every day. I really like Nice Lady. I like to put my head on her shoulder and nuzzle her. I whinny and nicker when I see her. I love the treats she brings me: carrots, apples and these tasty little things called Skittles. She gives me a bucket of some yummy stuff, every evening too. She says it’s good for me, but I only know that it tastes absolutely delicious.

I’m looking forward to the future here. I get to go out on the trails soon and learn to jump. Lots of the people at the barn take their horses camping and on overnight rides. Nice Lady says we’ll do that too, when I’m a little older, braver and more experienced. Maybe I will share these experiences later.

We horses must be pretty special for people to spend so much time and money on us (not sure what money is, but people are always talking about it). We think our people are pretty special too. In fact, horses and people have had a special bond for thousands of years, so I’m told!!

From the back of my stall I can see kids playing with other kids and their horses. I see adults enjoying the camaraderie of others who share this crazy wonderful life. I’m so glad Nice Lady brought me here! I really, really like living in Canyon Lake!

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Donna Kupke