Visiting Freedom

After Zelda died, I had an overwhelming need to visit Freedom. He’s been retired in Virginia since October of 2021, after I broke my ankle for a second time. Too much time had passed since I’d seen him and although I’d gotten regular updates from the retirement facility, I needed to touch him again and know that he was okay.

Retiring a horse is a tricky business, especially with a horse like Freedom, who is a hard keeper — a horse that wasn’t going to be able to hold his weight on grass (or hay) alone. How pleased I was to find him not only in good weight, but with a best friend! Freedom is living in a large field with three other geldings and is very bonded to Emmett, another chestnut who came from the North Shore of Massachusetts. During the time I spent with them, Freedom and Emmett were always together and often touching.

Freedom and Emmett
Freedom and Emmett were always right next to each other, often touching.
Emmett and Freedom stayed close together.
Emmett and Freedom are quite the matched pair. They even both came from Massachusetts.
Emmett and Freedom
So nice to see Freedom with a friend — and with so much space and grass!

Freedom is now 25. Sure he looks older (who doesn’t). He and I both have some grey hairs, and yes, he’s pretty deaf (that started before he moved down), but he’s living the good life, out in a big field with friends. I hope I get to enjoy a retirement like his.

I wondered if he’d know me — I’m sure that every horse owner hopes their horse doesn’t ignore them! To stack the odds in my favor, I picked up a few bags of mini carrots on the way (smaller carrots are easier for older horses to chew). But I needn’t have worried, Freedom accepted me back into his herd after sniffing me all over.

Freedom sniffed me all over when I showed up. The carrots didn’t hurt. I’m pleased that he no longer needs to wear a cribbing strap.

The first day I arrived in time for dinner. The horses get generous servings of soaked grain. They all lined up to eat out of buckets hung from the fence line. Remarkably, there was no food aggression, not even when Emmett came and took a turn from Freedom’s bucket. I got the sense that these horses are not worried about their next meal and are willing to share.

Nice to see my old friend enjoying his retirement.

Kristen Hickey, who runs Shadowfax Farm, told me they have almost 70 horses in a variety of herds (and a waiting list). I asked her if they’ve ever had a horse that didn’t get along and she said they’ve always found a spot for every horse, even when if it takes a few tries to find the right group. Freedom has always been a gentle soul who gets along with most horses. I’m so glad that I can picture him now, enjoying the green grass and gossiping with Emmett about their times back in Boston and how their owners never bring enough carrots.

Have you retired a horse? Are you happy with the care he or she is getting?

3 thoughts on “Visiting Freedom

  1. Lovely to see him enjoying life. My past lease is down in North Carolina and living it up. Especially for a horse who spent his whole life turned out solo in a paddock no bigger than a large medical paddock, he’s roaming free in a massive field and is the “herd manager”. I want to go visit him at some point with his owner.

  2. Freedom looks fantastic! How wonderful that you got to visit with him again. I loved the photos you shared of your reunion. And what an idyllic environment. Is it weird that I am jealous of where Freedom is living? Side note, I really like the blog post title for a Fourth of July weekend too.

  3. Oh, how nice. They look like brothers! He looks good for 25. Liz, how can you think that he wouldn’t remember you? My gosh, they don’t forget a THING. When I first started massaging horses, my client had a 15 month old Dutch Warmblood. I massaged her monthly for a year, then had to leave the state. Fast forward ten years later, I’m back in that area, and my firend said, She’s at such and so barn, I don’t get off a work until 5, go say hello and I’ll catch up with you in a while.
    I went into the big was a polo and dressage facility, and the mare was all the way at the end. I could see her (she was enormous..17 hands) with her head way up in the air, sniffing..and then she started calling. She kept it up til I got to her stall, I asked her if I could enter…she was that way, her stall was her kingdom..and she came over to me and whuffled and hugged me. Hell yes, they remember.

    And I so definitely understand the need for ‘horsey time’. I’m horseless, now, whenever I need a fix, and my friend Sue can’t accomodate me with her ‘new’ horse, I call my neighbor down the road, can I come down and pet the ponies. (they’re not ponies, but you kknow what I mean). And she of course, says, come on down.

    We’re horses, Liz. Bipedal ones, but stll, we need that horsey time.

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