Madera was gone and now it was time to find a replacement. Word was put out that we were once again looking for a nice little pony for Carli. We were put in touch with a western style trainer who leased space at a large stable in the southeast part of town.
When I spoke to him on the phone he told me he had a nice little bay pony mare, about 3-4 years old, and he was just getting ready to break her. He said he found her doing nothing in a pasture in Tehachapi and bought her, thinking she would be a good pony for the stable owner's young daughter. But it turns out the stable owner didn't want another pony at that time, so the pony was available.
I made arrangements to take a look and I brought Carli along with me. As soon as they brought the little mare out I knew we had a keeper. We made all the necessary arrangements. She was to have at least 60 days' training and we would assess how ready she was after that.
Carli's new pony, Flora.
Something really strange happened during that time. Unfortunately I was totally oblivious and I didn't have a clue. I should have known when the trainer said he didn't want me to see any of the training for the first 30 days. But I thought at the time, he's been doing this for a long time and he knows what he's doing. We did come several times after the initial 30 days, but our new pony was always just standing saddled and tied to a rail, or back in her stall.
Then came the time I tried to call the trainer. Finally, after several days, he called me back. He let me know he had moved his entire operation to another stable, this stable was at an old, well known golf course/country club on the eastern most side of town. He explained he was having legal issues with the owner of the other stable. In fact, she started sending me board bills and threatened me with legal action if I didn't pay her. I explained to her that my agreement had been with the trainer and my understanding was my bill went from the 15th to the 15th, which was paid up to date, and not from the 1st to the 30th of the month as she was claiming. I still don't know who was legally right, but she finally stopped bugging me.
We visited Flora, as we'd named our pony, a few times at the new place. Carli tried her out and I thought she was ready. We were finally able to bring Flora home. About six months later I heard through the grapevine that the trainer had up and moved again, this time to Oklahoma. He had allegedly taken several valuable horses, including a stallion worth mega bucks. The word going around was "stolen". This made me wonder if the first stable owner had some merit in her claims. Another thing I found suspicious was my vet told me Flora was actually 6 or 7 years old, not 3 or 4 like the trainer had claimed. You'd think someone who had been training for that long would know how to tell a horse's age properly, like the vet. I also began to wonder if Flora had been stolen from that pasture, but I pushed those thoughts aside. That was something I most definately didn't want think about.
We're not really sure what breed Flora is. If you just saw her from a distance in a pasture, or in a photograph without anything to reference her size, you would think she is a horse, not a pony. After going through some horse and pony breeds books, my best guess is that she's a Quarter Pony. But that's just a guess.
She's got a very "A" type personality. Despite her small stature she makes sure the other animals know who's in charge. And that would be Flora. Besides that she's a very decent pony. She doesn't like it when adults ride her, but she'll put up with it, albeit a bit grumpily. But when a kid is on her back she doesn't seem to mind at all.
Flora is a very easy keeper too. She can get quite chubby if she gets a regular flake each feeding. I have to tear the flakes apart if they are too big. The worst thing about her is she's allergic to flies. Without a fly mask and weekly fly spraying her chest gets bitten up and her eyes will get very swollen and goopy. It ain't pretty. So in order to keep her pretty I do that small bit of maintenance and we're all happy.
It's funny to think that Flora is actually Carli's age now. Carli doesn't ride Flora too much anymore but she does visit often and grooms her and brings carrots and other horsey snacks. Flora's face is just beginning to get gray but otherwise she still is full of her usual vim and vigor. Her funny thing now is for the last several months she's been in a large pen next door. Next door is where Bandit, the very fat goat lives. Flora's gotten attached to him and when he wanders to our yard (the grass is always greener...) she whinnies frantically because he's gotten out of sight.
We're expecting our first grandchild (a girl) in December (along with the calf and lambs). It's looking good that Flora will still be here when that baby is ready to start riding.