Can one look from you make a 1200 pound Tennessee Walker go back in his playpen?  Yea, me neither.  I have watched our smallest and oldest mare, Sugar, run the show around here for years in complete awe. Horses have come and gone but the one constant has always been the mare in charge.  I tried to employ her techniques with my kids and husband but they do not respond well to head tossing and stern looks and I could never figure out how to flatten my ears back. She hardly ever resorts to physical contact but the threat is there if a member of the herd does not get the message.

Our gelding Beau towers over her but his massive size does not intimidate her even slightly. From the very first day  we brought them home together, she has been the ruler of his universe. When she got ridden and he was left behind in the pasture (with nine other horses for companionship I might add) he would pitch such a fit that we feared he was going to hurt himself. I, being a complete and total softy at the time, would halter him up and take him to where he could SEE her and he would immediately calm down. Sugar practically rolled her eyes at him as if to say "Silly boy", but you could tell she enjoyed the spell she had over him.  Back then she was his whole world. It's been years now. He has found his place in the herd and can survive with her out of sight, but he still adores her and Sugar continues to remind him daily who is in charge.

Beau is susceptible to grass founder, a condition that has painful and possibly deadly consequences. It is brought on by the high levels of sugar stored in seed heads in Spring and Fall. Because of this, Beau's pasture time is limited during these crucial times of year. The daily routine has been memorized by the herd. When it's time for Beau to be released, they are gathered by his gate.  When I call for him to come in, no one else rushes the entrance. 

However, there is always that herd mate - like that friend of your child's that thrives on mischief - that figures out a way to get them both into trouble. At the C4 Ranch, that little devil goes by the name of Derby. ("The Devil in Derby" may be a future blog title.) Just yesterday I watched from the window as Derby worked for twenty minutes unlocking the latch to Beau's corral. He anxiously observed her skills  from inches away and practically danced with Derby when the gate swung open......

Enter: Sugar. 

She had been grazing a few acres away when she witnessed  this great escape. She quickly made her way to the scene of the crime. Both Derby and Beau froze in their tracks when they saw her coming. She scolded them, tossing her head around, and herded Beau back into the coral.  Her rear was pointed at Derby in a threatening manner just daring her to intervene! However, the stance was unecessary.Derby's head was already hanging low in shame. Sugar stood guard at the gate until I got out there to lock it again, this time with my extra special Derby-proof loop.

Sugar waited for me to offer my thanks in the form of a hug and a kiss on her graying face and then went back to grazing. I was, as I always am, amazed at her confidence and conviction. She knows her "job" and she does it well. She is mother to our herd and she loves them all with a firm hoof. 

Most of us would benefit from going through life with Sugar's philosophies. She pays attention to what those around her need and realizes that what they want is not always what's best for them. She takes care of things quietly and with authority. She demands and gets respect because she operates with common sense as her guide. She is the epitome of an alpha mare.

I, for one, should take to heart the lessons I have learned from observing her. What about you? Are you paying attention?


06/02/2012 7:14pm

Wonderful story, I need to be more like Sugar for sure! :)

06/02/2012 7:27pm

I need some Sugar wisdom and fortitude at times! Loved these thoughts--could picture it all happening.. Story just flowed. More please. Yes, more.

06/02/2012 7:32pm doubt, the things I learn from my horses!

Kelsey (Sugar's mom!!!)
06/02/2012 10:23pm

THAT's MY GIRL!!! haha Love these stories!! Makes me feel like I'm back in Farmersville!

06/04/2012 6:41am

Amazing story about Sugar. She obviously has total clarity of her mission in life. We should all be so clear and committed to our calling. Have recently started a book about souls of dogs and what they know that has some similiar info. Amazing. I've been convinced for many years that dogs, horses and other domesticated animals are here to not only show us teach us about grace and unconditional love , but as angels to demonstrate his love for us and to "instruct" us in how we should live our lives. This story about Sugar, Beau, Derby is a perfect example of that. I know I have many times been both Beau and Derby, but rarely like Sugar. Sign.


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    My name is Jamie.

    I left the culdesac for the country. My life is run by two Welsh Corgis. I discuss the biggest obstacles life throws at me with a horse named Belle. My family has suggested that I consider having my camera surgically attached. I pride myself on the fact that my armchair psychology has only caused a few disasters. And I love to write. I am not certain if I'm finding my sanity or losing it. That's where you come in - YOU decide! 

    Welcome to the C-4 Ranch!

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