Huck’s New Digs

 

Good Friends, Good Times

Good Friends, Good Times

For days I’ve been coming up with excuses to not write about retiring my Quarter Horse Huckleberry.

A month ago I decided it was time he went to pasture. Wednesday the hauler pulled into the Los Angeles Equestrian Center early and there went my plans for a long goodbye. Huck stepped into the trailer and, as instructed, I closed the door behind him so he wouldn’t back out. The trailer echoed the whinnies and kicks of impatient racehorses also destined for Northern California. “Thank you for looking after my boy,” I managed.

“You’re welcome,” the hauler shook my hand. “I’d better get going.”  I caught a fleeting glimpse of Huck’s face through the trailer window before the truck rumbled out the long driveway and I broke down in the parking lot.

Eight years earlier, I’d stood in the same spot as my dear friend Mike Chipko trailered in my sorrel trail buddy. On account of his good nature and penchant for laziness, I called him Huck. People frequented his stall to offer him carrots or a pat. He liked the company.

In fact, Huck insisted on it. If anyone ambled behind us on the trail, no matter how much I egged him on, he’d show me who was boss by slowing to a crawl until those riders caught up and he could flick his ears back and forth at their horses.

Always Making Friends

Always Making Friends

In this way I met a fellow USC alumna riding her Thoroughbred.  We talked about college days and soon I received an invitation to join the Friends of the USC Libraries Board. Because of Huck, I reconnected to USC in a fun and meaningful way.

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Another riding buddy became Huck’s “Aunt.” Whenever he saw her, he nickered for her attention. I brag he took Blue Ribbon for Talkiest Horse. When I loaned him to a high school student taking lessons at Bennett Farms, Huck made me proud and won a real Blue Ribbon.

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He also brought me into a circle of wonderful horse people at Bennett Farms like trainer Jim Bennett, trail buddies Patty and Kellian Ladd and groom/problem-solver Leo.

Leo could cure many horse ailments but he couldn’t solve my own dilemma: How to justify the cost of caring for a horse that I now barely rode once a week. Traffic snarls and constant canyon road closures on top of teaching, parenting and working made seeing Huck a push. The hurry-up-and-ride headache, just so I could rush to get back, seemed ridiculous.

Mike introduced me to Judy Adams and the answer became clear. She and husband Jack Adams own The Adams Ranch in Clements and they agreed to bring Huck into their family.

Huck's new digs

I think about Huck all the time but I don’t miss seeing him in a 12×12 stall. Judy sends me progress reports and photos. When she writes, “He acts like he’s been here his whole life” I believe her. He looks amazing. The freedom. The green grass. The new pasture pal. The mares in the next pasture…He must figure this is Horse Heaven. I just figure Judy Adams is an Angel.

 

 

Author Description

Cynthia Baseman

Cynthia Baseman is the author of 'Love, Mom: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Hope.' She writes about motherhood, the environment and education.

There are 24 comments. Add yours

  1. 4th May 2013 | charlesmashburn says: Reply
    I haven't had a horse for about 30 years, but riding Amigo is still one of my best memories. It looks like Huck has definitely found horse heaven on earth, the key aspect of his new life: freedom! Great name, too! My all time favorite movie line: "I'm Your Huckleberry." All time favorite movie, as well; Tombstone. Val Kilmer was great as Doc Holiday. I'm rambling, ain't I... sorry!
    • 4th May 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      I can see why Amigo left an impression. By definition, he was your buddy. Time to ride again?
  2. 26th April 2013 | mattsteiner says: Reply
    Huck is beautiful. I imagine it was incredibly difficult to let him go. On a sidenote, I think your adventures with Huck could turn into a really terrific children's book. I love the idea of a horse taking you to meet interesting people and helping you learn surprising things about yourself. :)
  3. 25th April 2013 | Katie Hurley (@katiefhurley) says: Reply
    Wow. What a beautiful and heartwarming story. And just a little bit sad :(
  4. 24th April 2013 | Elaine says: Reply
    A loving tribute to Huck. I'm sure you will miss him, but good to know he is in such a great place. I only hope that I am treated with such love and respect when the time comes!
  5. 24th April 2013 | Mia J. Photography says: Reply
    A painful move, Cynthia. But a brave one too. xoxo
  6. 23rd April 2013 | MAMACITA says: Reply
    You are quite a woman. Wonderful wife, mother, daughter, and loving person.
  7. 22nd April 2013 | Louloudi says: Reply
    Sometimes, love is letting go and loving more Sure looks happy too
  8. 22nd April 2013 | elegsabiff says: Reply
    I had to retire my 20-year-old polocrosse pony after horse 'flu swept SA for the first time - his lungs were so damaged regular or hard work would never be an option again and he hated being left behind when the other horses went out. He went to a friend's farm where he lived with 2 semi-retired geldings, with occasional gentle weekend hacks with the family. He settled very well - in fact when I first went to visit him the ungrateful old sod hid behind a tree in case I was taking him away!
    • 22nd April 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Great story. Huck's coffin bone collapsed and that took a long time with corrective shoeing to straighten out. He also had some kind of infection that we ultimately treated with antibiotics, which also took him out of the running for a while. Huck had no papers but he was about 19, give or take, according to the vet.
  9. 22nd April 2013 | Carpool Goddess says: Reply
    Aww, that sweet face. Looks like Mr. Social will be very happy. Hope you're doing well too.
  10. 22nd April 2013 | Christina Simon says: Reply
    I grew up riding in Topanga and its incredibly hard to say goodbye to a horse. But, he's happy and lucky!
  11. 22nd April 2013 | ChecklistMommy says: Reply
    I retired my amazing Johnny Tremaine QH -- who ALWAYS had hoof problems -- to a rancher in Colorado who happened to also be a farrier. He LOVED Johnny to pieces and my adorable horse lives with a man who can care for his feet the way he needed! Best retirement ever. I love this post. I have lost horses, I have sold horses -- and I so prefer to find them great old-age homes!
  12. 22nd April 2013 | MAMACITA says: Reply
    There comes a time when we have to do the right path for our loved animals. Huck brought you great companionship and enjoyment. He is on a lovely ranch for retired horses that spent most of their lives giving their all to their owners. You are a loyal and unselfish soul. HUCK loves you. So do I.
  13. 22nd April 2013 | Sandy says: Reply
    Sounds like Huck found HUCK HEAVEN... happy for you both sandy
  14. 22nd April 2013 | Hayley Kaplan says: Reply
    Huck's a very lucky horse. Not every owner would care enough to "put their horse out to pasture" instead of selling him or resorting to other less pleasant options. You're a kind and humane person and Huck thanks you!
    • 22nd April 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Most of the horse people I know are very responsible and loving to their animals. Those that aren't are banished....I wish.
  15. 22nd April 2013 | Michelle says: Reply
    It sounds like Huck finally got his Man Cave too - his Man Stall - full of friends, fun, & games! Good luck, Huck!! Must be so difficult, but sounds like the right thing to do. I'll be thinking of you both!
  16. 22nd April 2013 | Jim bennett says: Reply
    Huck looks like he is really happy. We will miss both you and Huck. Agree with you tho, time for him to rest. He is very lucky to have you to help him find a place to be happy. Good job
    • 22nd April 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Bennett! I will be around to pester you...frequently.
  17. 22nd April 2013 | OpinionsToGo says: Reply
    Such a sweet post! How lucky you and Huck were to have found each other. Sounds like you had great adventures together and you have the photos to prove it.
    • 22nd April 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      I could dedicate a blog just to the adventures, misadventures and all the lessons I learned from Huck.Thank you for the kind words @opinionstogo.

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