Call of the wild

Susan
Susan Flanagan
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Lucky Lucy lived like a queen — until her stallion showed up

Lucky Lucy acted more like a lap dog than the wild Alberta horse she is.

I met Lucy this past March after she had jumped a broken fence in high snow on a parcel of land north of Calgary, which just happened to belong to my sister and brother-in-law.

Although she was still looking pretty ragged when I met her, Lucy was apparently in much worse condition when she first arrived. Her coat was matted and hair was missing in places that she had chewed off trying to relieve itch. Her stomach was bloated despite the fact she was near starving from trying to eke out an existence in the Alberta winter.

But all that was before I arrived, before my brother-in-law took to hand feeding Lucy oats mixed with worm medicine and melting snow for her to drink. When he sprinkled her with flea powder, Lucy flopped down in the snow and rolled around belly up. The first time I saw it I thought she was having a heart attack. But just as quickly she hopped up again and moseyed over to the hay bale she was sharing with a half dozen deer.

“Hay,” explained my nephew, Joshua. “… is not nutritious like oats. It’s just to give her something to do. It’s like chips for humans.”

Lucy loved her new life and within days was showing signs of improved health. By the time I arrived, Lucy would trot up to my brother-in-law’s truck as it approached, wait by the door for him to disembark and then proceed to follow him wherever he went.

I had never really been close to a horse before. The odd five-minute ride at the Regatta was the sum total of my experience. No, that’s not true. In Grade 10, my friend Sonia had a horse named Clover down at Clovelly and she brought me down to meet him and take some photographs.

Having grown up in a family of eight children, horses weren’t exactly in our budget. So I was thrilled to meet Lucy, who stood next to the truck as the oil was changed and tried to follow Rocky inside his shed.

Of course I had to come home to my family and leave Lucy behind, but Lucy updates followed me to Newfoundland.

One day in April, Lucy’s stallion showed up on the perimeter of the property.

Now, as you can imagine, stallions don’t like to share their mares. He knew Lucy was in there living the equestrian life of Riley, and he was determined to get her back. So he, along with his harem of other mares and offspring, circled the property until he found the break in the fence. Once inside, he bullied poor Lucy to check out of the spa and return to the life of foraging she had so happily left behind.

I’m sad that Lucy won’t get her oats and hay anymore. In fact, Lucy will be lucky if she’s not turned into dog food, a common fate for some of Alberta’s wild horses.

But I realized here in St. John’s, there are places I can go to get my recently acquired horse fix.

Clovelly Stables, off Logy Bay Road, former home of my friend’s Clover, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Clovelly offers pony rides, birthday parties and riding lessons.

“We are so much more than a boarding facility,” says Erin Gallant, executive director of Clovelly Stables. “As of 2012. Clovelly Stables Community became a registered not-for-profit organization providing a work place for persons with disabilities, therapeutic recreation programs for youth, physical activity for families and partnerships with other community organizations to promote health and active living.”

Check out clovellystables.ca for full details.

For the past 20 years, Rainbow Riders on Mount Scio Road has operated a therapeutic riding program to help children with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities develop and grow.

In Mount Pearl, Equine Meadows on Heavy Tree Road is known for its excellent riding lessons. Jessica Lewis, a high school student, loves spending time there.

“I can even volunteer for free riding time,” says Lewis, who has been taking lessons at Equine Meadows with Angela O’Connell for two years.

Apart from these three mentioned, there are at least four other riding facilities in the St. John’s area: Embarr Stables on Cochrane Pond Road off Back Line in the Goulds; Avalon Equestrian Centre in Upper Gullies, C.B.S.; Cloverdale Farm in Logy Bay; and Willadell Stables in the Goulds.

 

Susan Flanagan attended the Clovelly

Kentucky Derby fundraiser Saturday night. She can be reached at susan@48degrees.ca.

Geographic location: Alberta, Calgary, Logy Bay Road Mount Scio Road Mount Pearl Heavy Tree Road Cochrane Pond Road Goulds Upper Gullies

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