For three and a half years, it's been these two. They haven't been apart since the day he got here.
It's been Little Lady and Handsome Guy. PhoenixandCopper. CopperandPhoenix.
He acts like she's only there to get in his way, and she acts like she is just waiting to move until he tells her it's okay. She lives and breathes for him and he tolerates her. If they were people I'd beg her to leave him, but they're horses, and they have a thing, and they seem to get along just fine the way things are.
He's not mean to her, he just tells her where to go and how fast because she lets him. She cries like a teenage girl if he's out of her sight. He occasionally gives a low whinny if she's away from his sight for too long, just to make sure she's still there. It's his job. They seem kinda happy with the arrangement.
For years, I've had just two horses, and it suited me perfectly. When I lived in town and only saw the horses on weekends, I could not have kept up with more than two. Having only one horse means all different challenges. My Champ was an only horse for a couple years. In a way it was great, because his attention was focussed on me, but he developed some strange anxiety habits like biting his flanks. When Copper came into his life as a knobbly little yearling, he flourished as her Great Protector, King, and Pseudo-Stud of the Universe.
Horses like being with other horses. It's just that simple.
After the King's death, I made sure our Little Lady wouldn't be alone.
She spent three seasons with ol' Suzy, the broodmare. Things were very slow and mellow around here at that time, because Suzy wasn't into anything fast. She ate slow, she moved slow, and she had no reason to get all territorial and cranky about anything. Copper never challenged her. Occasionally the Young Lady would see if the Ol' Lady was up for a trot... but she wasn't. She just wanted to eat.
Then this big strapping vigorous young gelding entered the Little Lady's life.
They've become a pretty solid pair over the years. They give each other enough space but like to be fairly close to each other. Even though I was not looking specifically for another Appaloosa, I ended up with a nicely matched little team. At first glance, they look alike.
When I tell people where I live, they say things like, "Oh, the two Appies!" or "You're the one with the twin horses!"
Both of them are easy going and mellow, but curious. A couple times a day they'll take off across the field for a nice little run. They are ridiculously friendly.
Two horses are easy to care for. If you're going out to the barn to look after one horse, two isn't that much more work. One person can manage two horses. For years, I've groomed, tacked up and ridden two. Sometimes I'd pony one with the other. It worked extremely well with Champ, who neck-reined beautifully.
Phoenix is still working on it. He'd rather tickle her nose than walk along beside her like a good boy but it'll improve. Otherwise, I tie one saddled horse to the barn while I ride the other, then switch. One gets exercise and training while the other learns to stand there patiently. It works.
Two horses stabled overnight in the winter adds up to a little less than an hour a day of barn chores. (Of course I can make it last longer.) In summer, they spend their days on pasture without eating the grass down to nothing.
Two hoof trims is $50-60. Hay for two, about $500 a year. Two tubes of dewormer, less than $30. It's manageable.
It's sort of perfect.
I have four stalls in the barn though...and I dream of getting a pony... and since I figure I won't use Copper very often for lessons, it sure would be good to have a third horse in case Phoenix needs a day off, or I have two students at once. Right?
Last spring, I had a line on a 15 year old Quarter Horse mare FOR FREE. She was well broke, healthy, and good with kids. When I was a kid, we had two matched sets: two black ponies, two brown and white pintos. I pictured a red horse in the field with my Appaloosas. I imagined getting a chestnut pony to teach little kids riding lessons, and of course, to match the new mare. It would be PERFECT!
There was nothing wrong with the free mare, other than her unfortunate position between warring ex-spouses. That's why I ended up not getting her. Nuff said?
After the deal fell through, I went back to deciding that two is the perfect number again.
And when I get a nice little chestnut QH mare, then three will be the perfect number... Hint. Hint.