Anni (my mare) and Mac (Len’s gelding) are opposites. OK, so not a terribly inventive inter- pretation of this week’s Illustration Friday, but accurate. Yes, they are both Haflingers, yes, they both love to eat, and yes, they both love to go like bats out of hell on a marathon course – however, that is where the similarity ends.
We first met Mac when he was 2 weeks old and he weedled his way into our hearts: a little horse with a great big ego and the attitude to match. At 3 months old he was ours (or is it we were his?). Anni we bought as a 2 year old as the other half of a driving team with Mac. I didn’t like her. She was a mare and every mare I had met until then was a witch and the last thing I wanted was a horse that had PMS when I did! I didn’t believe that she really went with Mac. She was smaller, more delicate, had a short neck, and didn’t seem to move like him. But the friend who had bought her at the same auction we were at buying other horses said to try her out. So we did. She indeed went exceptional well with Mac. And she trained like a complete dream. This friend that told us that he bought Anni and another horse because he felt they should be in our barn. And both ended up in our barn. Ironically Anni weedled her way into my heart and became my horse. Me, the woman who said she’d never love a mare.
Anni is a perfect driving partner for Mac because they are opposites. He’s bold, has no nerve endings and is happy to charge into any situation, his ego flaming without thinking about the circumstances. He’s a real handful and can be very difficult. A farmer once told me that God made the spacing between a horse’s ears so it was sized exactly for a two-by-four. Sometimes when I deal with Mac I really believe this comment. He’s the type of horse that he knows what he is doing is wrong, but will do it anyway – looking out of the corner of his eye making certain that you are seeing exactly what he’s up to. You could literally hit him over the head with a two-by-four and he’d say “Huh? What was that?” No nerve endings. On the other hand he is a real character and very charming. Everyone who comes to the barn ends up loving him in spite of his shortcomings.
Anni is a good girl. She knows the rules and mostly tries to be a good girl. All you have to do is yell at her and she’ll stop what she’s doing – that only makes Mac do whatever you don’t want him to do even faster. Anni is brave, but sensible. She wouldn’t, for example, jump up a 3 foot retaining wall with a carriage like a certain gelding would. I know that she has “conversations” with Mac all the time, like this one:
As a driving team they are incredible together. Mac is hot, ready to go, and a bit spooky. Anni is even-tempered, obedient and steady as a rock. They are both all heart. The combination is a winner and has brought them out on top in competitions. Mac forages ahead in the scary hazards and Anni goes right with him providing the steadiness required for the task, when Mac spooks at a rock, Anni is there to settle the idiot down.
The first photo above shows Mac on your left saying to no one in particular "I don't know about this"; Anni on the your right is saying to Mac "Get over it and get your tail moving"; Jennifer, a very talented young driver, is clicking to them to turn around the drain tile; and yours truly is on the back smiling like an idiot. None of us (except maybe Anni) even saw the photographer - we were having too much fun. In the second photo you can see Mac kicking into overdrive and going for the gold. We came first place in the pony preliminary class in that combined driving event. Such fun (as long as you don't crash!) Teams greet each other and yell as a farewell: "Keep the shiny side up!"