Sunday, September 5, 2010


This is Princess, the Palomino mare. She's the one on the right although the one on the left is a bit of a princess too. Princess the horse is a Thoroughbred albeit a small and dainty type, never raced and never been trained to race but was born and bred just over the hill from here at a specialist Palomino stud. Her life has included some rather successful dressage and a lot of years that I don't have the history for but obviously trained her well before I got her from a beautiful and well-meaning young girl who hadn't the foggiest notion about horses.

This girl bought Princess, because she was pretty, and an old cob she called Troy to keep her company and discovered that being a horsey person often breaks your nails. Long, acrylic ones painted bright pink anyway. It also makes your expensive jodpurs and designer clothes dirty. But the girl was sweet and loved her horses and her parent's had no clue about horses either so Princess, or "Hayley" as the girl re-named her, and Troy were put on show in a paddock.

The paddock was full of Salvation Jane, a Declared Weed also known as Paterson's Curse and rather bad for animal internal organs when eaten long term. The oblivious family simply saw green plants in the paddock and thought the horses had sufficient feed. Princess served her purpose looking pretty in the paddock for another year or so before the poor feed and liver damage took it's toll and she lost condition, the sheen on her coat and it's rich golden colour.

To be fair to the young girl, she knew something was wrong but not what. Princess was not injured and still ate carrots when offered, so she didn't call a vet. She threw up her hands, said "I can't look after her" and went to Japan with her boyfriend. Her father asked around his friends and business associates as to who wanted some horses, and so Princess and poor old Troy found their way to us. In a surprise move at the last moment he handed me Princess' Palomino registration papers, a real bonus for a rescue horse. Troy was more typically anonymous with just a few details passed by word of mouth. The papers told us Princess' real name and where she was bred, not 2 km away from where we ended up ten years later too.

Luckily no lasting damage was done and a good diet and decent care brought her and Troy back to their former glory within a season. We never found out Troy's history, real name or even his actual age, which was old even then. Whilst Troy eventually got inoperable cancer and had to be put to sleep, Princess went from strength to strength and became a lovely, if rather springy, riding horse. During the years I had to agist horses I kept her in various places all over the Adelaide Hills, and she carried me many miles in training although far too excitable to make it through the vet checks at any actual Endurance event. She loved being at events, perhaps the bunting, horse floats and general atmosphere reminded her of past success at shows, but she was too busy socialising, chatting, laughing and waving to all her friends to keep her heart rate down. I retired her to just hacking about - although at 28 years old she doesn't do that much anymore either.

Princess will never be moved on from here now. She's a part of our family. She may have travelled all over the place during her life, but she's come back to her home district for good.