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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Vedas

"She was a big boned gal from Southern Alberta, you just couldn't call her small," sang K.D. Lang. While Vedas' dam was actually from Manitoba, her sire was from Valhalla Centre, considered Northern Alberta. She was at the top end of size allowed by the breed standard and we often referred to her as "Big Vee" or just "Biggest". Sometimes we called her "last hole Vedas" because all the tack and equipment we bought or used on her had to be adjusted to the last hole. She was very feminine and our most affectionate horse always nickering softly at me and offering her soft nose to exchange breath and get a kiss. I had to oblige her.
That's her with her granddaughter Beezer (Bethany Star). She's half asleep with birds getting nesting material from her back during her spring shedding.

She was the Cooker's main riding horse for a number of years and taught her a few lessons on how to stay on a horse. Vedas didn't like water on trails and would do whatever possible to keep her feet dry. This included getting very close to the wet spot, be it a creek or puddle, bunch herself up, and take a great leap with nearly the power to achieve orbit over the offending dampness. This taught the cooker how to stay on a leaping horse. Here is a pic from one of our local horse shows where all four feet are off the ground where she is trying to get airborne by outrunning gravity.
You'd think a big girl like her wouldn't be terribly fast, but you would be surprised. It's true she wasn't a Thoroughbred, but at our local shows she could be quite motivated. She tied for second in the barrel race against an Appaloosa and when they had a runoff, both horses bettered their time by half a second. When Vedas ran like that she reminded some of a freight train as the ground would tend to rumble. She did pretty well in those fun shows and came home with more than her share of wins.
As you can see, Stitch did well with her, too.

She had some funny quirks. She loved being scratched wherever it itched. Her butt itched this one time so she backed up to a fence made of 2x6 lumber and started to rub. I heard a loud snap as the board broke and ran to rescue her so she didn't get a giant splinter in her ass. After that if she needed her butt scratched she would back up to me or whoever was there and look with expectant eyes. Sometimes she would point at the itchy area with her nose and if the itchy part was under her she would lift a leg, usually hind, in order to facilitate the job she needed you to take care of.

One of the things she learned well was to give to pressure. She eventually got very easy to control with the minimum amount of effort from the rider.  If, from the ground, I needed her to back up I would just grab her tail and ask her to back while giving a slight pull. I don't recommend doing this to just any horse.

She got to represent the breed at the Greater Minnesota Horse Expo one year along with our grey gelding, Mirage, seen here waiting to go into the arena in the Parade of Breeds.
  She also loved going to the breed show in Blue Earth Minnesota, where all the attendees at the Faribault County Fair did their best to rub the fur off her nose. She loved the attention. We knew she was special and took her to be evaluated. The evaluation is a process where several judges look over the horse for conformation and movement. They can usually do it in about twenty minutes and everything is on the line for a good score. These scores are most often used to evaluate the breeding program and the quality of the horses being presented. I didn't know much about it, but did the best I could back in July of 1998. I had never even shown a horse in hand for a halter class let alone an evaluation.  Blue ribbons are scores over 80 Reds from 70 to 80, whites are under 70. We got a disappointing 72. It wasn't a terrible score but I was a bit bummed out because I knew she was better than that. I really wanted her to have a better score.

Over the next couple of years I learned a lot more about the process and also how to present the horse in the best way and show the judges her quality. We did our homework, went to seminars, and prepared for the evaluation that was to come in July of 2001. For at least four months preceding the evaluation she was ridden at least four times a week and she and I worked in hand so that she would do anything I needed her to do on a loose lead. When It was time for the evaluation I was a different person showing a different horse.

Vedas was in good shape and so was I. I showed them a big walk and several speeds of trot with me running full out and Vedas in a big extended trot. We pulled up to the judges for a closer inspection and she stood up with head held high and a pride that came from believing in her own awesomeness. The judges were impressed. I knew we would get a much higher Red ribbon. We got the highest Blue at the show of an 83.25. That put her in the top 4% of evaluated Fjord mares in North America. I barely kept my tears of joy in check as we walked up to the judges to get our ribbon. I was in shock, but if Vedas had never done anything else beyond that it would be okay with me.

Of course, her eyes are half closed in the picture.

She gave us a lot of pleasure through the years, but was showing her age for the last two, or so. Here she is about 10 years after the evaluation with her pasture mate, the short and chunky Pookie, but Vedas still knew that she was special.
She was slowing down last winter and giving her older pony pasture mate, Frisky, something to look at and someone to hang out with.
We shared the farm with Vedas for 19 years until she died Friday morning at the age of 24. We will all miss her terribly.


  


32 comments:

  1. My condolences, Jono. She was clearly a very sweet and special mare.

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  2. Sorry to hear; I know it's tough to lose an animal you love ... and she sounds like she was a very lovable horse.

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  3. Oh, Lord God Almighty, I'm so sorry. What a loss to bear.

    Love,
    Janie

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  4. She looks like a beautiful horse with a fun personality to go with her beauty! So sorry for your loss.

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  5. What a beautiful and sweet friend. Sending cyber-hugs your way.

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  6. my condolences. what a beautiful horse, clearly she was a large part of your family.

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  7. I am so sorry. She was indeed beautiful. And has a permanent home in your hearts.

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  8. Jono--

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Having an animal for almost two decades... well, you get extra close to them. Vedas was gorgeous. (Remind me what kind of horse she was. She looks like a totally different animal, compared to horses I'm familiar with.)

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  9. So sad to lose such a big-hearted equine friend. From your words and photos I can tell how special she was.

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  10. Never had much to do with horses myself but I can imagine what it must be like to lose a furry family member. I've lost many over the years.

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  11. Ouch. She was a beautiful and special girl. So sorry for your loss.

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  12. I was halfway through when I realized what was coming ... I'm sorry, Jon. She was a beauty - and a big personality, too, it seems. It's hard to lose a treasured soul, no matter what species they are.

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  13. Thanks everyone. While there are only about 6000 Norwegian Fjord Horses in North America she was one of the best.

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  14. Vedas sounds like she was a very special horse indeed. I've never heard of Norwegian Fjord Horses before so your post in tribute to her was very informative. And man, if she was fast enough to barrel race then she was amazing indeed! My condolences to you and all who loved her so well.

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  15. Indeed, a great looking mare and what sounds like a great companion to the entire family. Difficult to ask for more in a horse!

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  16. she was a true beauty and your story made me weep

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  17. Oh Jono, I'm so sorry. What a beauty.
    Virtual hugs. )=

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  18. I'm glad she received plenty of love in her life. Nice that she liked to be kissed. Did you ever consider fixing her up with a stallion?

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  19. It is hard to lose an old friend. Thank you for the eulogy.
    Horses were part of my growing up years but my father was not an expert horseman. He made do like anyone who grew up before tractors. I wish I could have learned more about working with them, like you and your family do. Seems to me a smart horse like yours could have learned to work cattle as well or better than any Quarterhorse.

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  20. Thanks,all. Gorilla B, She was bred when we bought her and we have the daughter of her daughter still. I also have her full brother, Draugen, who is 19 years old.

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  21. All four feet off the ground. That is one cool picture.

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  22. I had to come back and read it again. Farewell Vedas. You will not be soon forgotten by those who knew and loved you

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  23. We're both really sorry to hear this. She was a damn beautiful horse. And what great stories. The butt scratching one is awesome. The only time my animals ever look at me expectantly is when they're hungry. Or about to puke on my lap.

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  24. Oh Jono - so sorry for your loss! I loved reading about her she sounds like such a lady !!

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  25. She was a beauty and a talented horse. I am sorry that she is gone now and, having been with you for so long, and so close, it is a deep loss for y’all. She was a part of your family. It is difficult to lose such a faithful friend and I know how terribly sad you are.

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  26. Awww. That must be hard. I'm so sorry.

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  27. When I was at your place, I remember meeting her. What a sweet horse. I remember how much you enjoyed showing her to us.
    So sorry that she is gone. I know how hard it is to lose a 4-legged member of the family. Hugs to all of you.

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  28. I'm so late on this, but I am very sorry you lost your beautiful Vedas. What a wonderful life she had with you!

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