We have a lovely older mare named Peppy. She was the go-to horse for Garris while he learned how to compete in rodeo. He used her for barrels, poles, breakaway, goat tying, calf roping, and ribbon roping. Cyris used her for calf roping and heeling. He even headed a few on her, when his heading partner missed. She’s not a big horse, but she pulled those steers for Cy, which saved their team roping runs.
She was one of those horses that was willing to do whatever was asked of her. In addition, she has an awesome personality. She’s laid back, friendly, and just a solid horse. Cy took a different horse to college, as his calf roping horse. A year ago, his heeling horse came up lame, so he came and got Peppy for a Wrangler roping. After being off her for over a year, he won a saddle and had an absolutely wonderful day roping on her. He said she just felt like home.
Garris took her to the National Junior High Rodeo for two years. We made the tough decision to retire her after his seventh grade year. Her front end had started hurting. Not all the time. And not severely. But enough that it was getting hard to back out of the trailer. When she was standing at the trailer, she’d try to find a comfortable position.
I hated to take her out of competition. But I wanted her to have a few years to simply be a horse and enjoy life. She looks great, about half of her age. Her back is great shape, so she’s still healthy.
We tried to breed her last year, but the pregnancy didn’t endure. This year, we tried again with a different stud, and with more veterinary assistance. I took her in for pre-natal care. We had an ultrasound and blood work done, to ensure that she was a viable candidate for pregnancy. The vet said if he didn’t know her age, he’s guess he was looking at a two- or three-year old mare based on her ultrasounds.
Sometimes, older maiden mares simply cannot carry a foal to term. They have lowered progesterone levels in their bodies. They often times get pregnant, but can’t stay pregnant because of the deficit of that hormone.
Once we bred her and checked to make sure she had caught, we started her on a hormone regimen. She’s been taking Regimate, a synthetic progesterone, to keep her pregnant. I started putting it in her grain daily, and just last week switched to injectible, which is required every eight days. If we can make it one more month, she should be out of danger of spontaneous abortion of the foal.
Other than the added care for her advanced age, this is very exciting for us. I’m usually not crazy about breeding mares. The last time I did was 24 years ago when I had my barrel racing mare bred in order to get a colt out of her. Most of the time, people can go out and buy a colt that’s just as good or better than the colt they’re trying to breed. But in our case, because Peppy has been such an integral part of the boys’ rodeo life, we wanted to extend her genes.
She’s one of those horses that should have babies. She’s a natural athlete. She’s easy to ride, shoe, and care for. In fact, I can give her a shot by myself while she’s loose. She doesn’t even flinch or move when the needle goes in. She comes when you call her in the pasture. And she’ll choose her own halter.
The stud we found is also of the geriatric demographic. He’s 22, but looks ten years younger. He has a similar personality to Peppy: easy going, loves attention, and willing to try anything thrown at him. If we get a colt from him, I’m positive it’s going to be a gem.
Now, the boys are fighting over who gets this colt. Cy thinks he should get it, because the foaling date is close to his birthday. Plus, since he did most of the roping training on her, he thinks of her as his horse. However, Garris thinks the colt should be his, since Peppy was basically his competition horse from the time he was four years old. She took care of him while he competed in the pee wee dummy roping and goat tail tying. And as he advanced into the older age groups, she advanced with him. So he thinks of her as part of his family.
What I’ve told them both is that the colt should be MINE. It’s been about twenty years since I’ve had a horse of my own. I’ve spent those years focused on making sure all the boys were competing and riding. But it’s time for me to start again. And I think this colt is my sign that it’s my turn.
After all, if this goes well, we can breed Peppy back to this stud. His owners have already said they’d love to have her back. They have been cutting back the number of mares they breed him to, simply because of his age. But she is a mare they want to breed to. So, if we get a good colt next May, I’ll be calling them to set up a time to get her back over to the stud.
I’ll keep you posted and hopefully get some pictures up as she goes through her pregnancy. The other kids have missed seeing Peppy this past year at the rodeos. All the girls have asked Garris where she is. But when they hear she’s pregnant, they’re all excited and anxious to see the foal when it finally gets here.
I’m anxious as well.