Introducing Lady Gray…

May 6, 2011

Once the snow started to fall, it did not let up for quite some time.  Image and Ember loved playing in it.  The hours of daylight continued to fade and the air became crisp with a chill that went straight to the bone.  We were glad we had gotten that third cutting of hay back in late summer since winter had settled in early and didn’t feel like it was going anywhere anytime soon.

Toward the end of December, we had gotten word that an ex-racehorse was in need of new home.  She would not be able to stay at her current home come the beginning of the new year for a variety of reasons.  We made arrangements to meet this horse to see if we could give her a ‘forever home’.  When we arrived, we learned that she had been alone for over a month.

The ex-racehorse when we first met her

All of her other ex-racehorse herd mates had found new homes and she was the only one left.  She was a bit nervous when we went in to the round pen with her.  But she settled down quickly and let us touch her all over.  Terry walked her around a bit and she was quite receptive to him.

The ex-racehorse with a western saddle on her for the first time

Next Terry put a saddle on her.  This was probably the first time she had ever had a western saddle on her.  So far, so good.  Now the true test – see how she would act with a rider on her.  (She had not raced or been riden in over 2 years)  To our surprise, she did quite well.  Terry asked her to walk and she did.  He then asked her to stop and she stopped.  The only thing she did not know how to do was back up!  There is plenty of time later to teach her how to back up.  We were very happy that she exhibited no signs of wanting to bolt when Terry was on her.  We made the decision to give her a home….

We made arrangements to pick her up a few days after Christmas to bring her home.  She loaded into the trailer without any problems and we made the short journey home.

Abi knew something was up.....

Abi knew immediately that something different was going on when we pulled the truck and trailer into the paddock.  All of her senses were in tune to the new girl.  We let the new girl out into the small paddock area above the main barn to let her see her new surroundings and take in the new sights, sounds and smells.  Abi squealed a greeting that was a bit high pitched and spoke volumes.  It was enough to send Image and Ember high tailing it over to the main pasture.

The new girl ran around a bit, clearly nervous and excited with all that was new around her.   Wanting to comfort her, Terry brought Touchy in to help calm her down.

Touchy is like the gentle grandma who just has a steady presence and a calm demeanor.  After she settled down and started to graze, Terry made himself comfortable in the middle of the paddock and waited.  She soon came over to him, curious now.  They started to form a bond at that moment.

Gray and Abi, very much aware of each other and that a fence separated them

Terry started to call her Gray.  I was a bit unimpressed with such a boring name for such an elegant being.  But until a better name came along, Gray it was.  We knew it was time to introduce Gray to her new herd mates without the barrier of a fence between them.  Abi, our alpha, was going to be the test.  We led Gray out of the paddock and into the barn yard.  She tentatively  walked around, already knowing that Abi was the new boss.  She just needed to meet her.  They eyed each other curiously.  And Abi knew she had to let Gray know that this was her turf.

They had a few things to discuss and it was over within a couple of minutes.  No contact was made, but the gestures were quite easy to read.

Curiosity got the better of Image and Ember and they came back over to meet Gray, who seems like a giant compared to them.  With Abi’s alpha status still intact, they all started to get to know one another.  It was an introduction that we were well pleased with.  Abi has a way of exuding her authority in a non-contact way, much to our relief.  To our surprise and Ember’s dismay, Image fancied himself in love with the new girl in town.  He was quite smitten with her.

Ember stayed back, not sure what to think of this new girl who had captured Image’s attention so easily.  She just didn’t see what all of the fuss was about.

The next test for Gray was crossing the creek.  She had never seen a creek, let alone crossed one before.  We led her to it, let her sniff it, see it, get used to it.

Instead of walking through the water, she chose to jump across.  It wasn’t graceful, but she got to the other side.  Once on the pasture side of the creek, we walked her around to show her the lay of the land and her new boundaries.  Not wanting to have his new ‘girlfriend’ out of his site, Image soon followed.  Image thought it was a good time to exude his authority as her next-in-line boss and have a chat with her.  Didn’t he realize that if she kicked, her leg would stretch for a mile????

Gray and Image figuring it out

After Gray and Image figured out that Image did indeed have status above her, they settled in to grazing the winter pickings of the pasture.  When it was time to feed hay, they all had to re-establish boundaries and hierarchy’s.

Gray found that she couldn’t go anywhere without Image tagging along.  They became inseparable.  Ember had always taken for granted that Image would always be by her side, ready to run and play whenever she wanted.  With his new fascination with Gray, Image spent less and less time with Ember.  This made Ember quite jealous.  She was not happy with the new girl who had taken Image away from her.  She became a bit angry and very grumpy.  She didn’t hesitate to let Image know how she felt about all of the time he was spending with Gray.

Ember, upset with Image

When Image ignored her pleas to leave Gray and come back to her, Ember turned to me, as if begging me to do something about the new girl who was ruining her life!

Ember, pleading with me to send the new girl packing

I just told her that she had better get used to Gray, because she was not going anywhere…..

Not getting anywhere with me or Image, she vented her frustrations with Gray.  

It did not take long for Gray to establish her higher ranking with Ember.  My heart went out to Ember.  She was struggling with letting go of Image and welcoming a new friend into her world.  She needed to work through her own selfishness and realize that she just needed to deal with it.  Gray kept a calmness about her even in the midst of such turmoil and heated emotions.  She had truly earned her new name: Lady Gray.

Image carried on with his infatuation of Lady Gray.  He just couldn’t get enough of being in her presence.

Once Ember let her animosity toward Lady Gray go, she soon realized that this new girl could be someone  she could run and play with!  And Lady Gray proved to be much more challenging to run with than Image.  As Lady Gray’s stride is so much longer than Ember’s, it didn’t take long for Lady Gray to catch up to Ember when she decided to run. 

As winter wore on, Image, Ember and Lady Gray found themselves forming a tight bond that would be hard to break.  I think we can all learn from Ember’s experience with Lady Gray.  When we are faced with something or someone that we want nothing to do with, keep an open heart and mind.  You just never know who might turn out to be your next best friend…



  1. What a story. It would make a wonderful children’s book.

    • Thank you Crystal. Maybe some day it will make it’s way in form of book.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  3. This will certainly help with my bring a new lil mare into our tight band of Mother and son..Mother being 28 the gelding 14 and the new lil mare is 12. We’re hoping Kokopelli will wall in love with Willow she is so sweet…and also hoping the two mares work it out…big diference in size. This was beautiful and very helpful, ❤

    • Hi Rose,
      You might want to let your new mare take in all of the new sights and sounds of her new home before introducing her to your other horses. I hope they all get along!


  4. I used to own horses, truly enjoyed your pictures and story. It sure brought back a flood of memories, amazing how they communicate and get their pecking order in place. I miss the horses, but not all the work that goes with having them. Thank you for sharing

    • Thank you Doris,
      I am glad this brought back some good memories for you. Yes, they are a lot of work, but well worth it all!



    • Thank you Shelva,
      I agree with you, they are all beautiful horses, but then I am a bit biased…..


  6. That’s awesome. So neat to adopt an OTTB, they so rarely get homes, they usually get a long one way trip to Mexico. Lady Gray is beautiful! But I have a gray so I’m a bit biased! I wish I had the land you have, there are so many to adopt.

    Just wonderful!!!

    • Thank you Serena,
      It is quite sad how humans can be so irresponsible in their treatment of animals. Lady Gray has been nothing but a joy and pleasure. Her demeanor is so calm.


  7. Lady Gray is a beautiful mare and I cant believe Image has a girlfriend now. I was sad for Ember since she thought Image was leaving her and was she very sad? Now Im glad that Ember is now best friends with Lady Gray and Im proud of Image and Ember. My horse Poet has a girlfriend as well and her name is Trigget

    • When Ember was happy again, I was saying “She’s back!”.

      • Hi Jonathan,
        Ember was more angry than sad when Image started hanging out with Lady Gray. She was jealous and that caused her to be angry. But they are all getting along very well now.

        I’m glad your horse Poet has a friend.

        • How has Lady Gray been doing in her new home? She, Image, and Ember looked like they were having a blast running together. Poet’s girlfriend Trigget is friends with some of the mares at my riding barn. She has a best friend named Belle. Trigget neighed for Belle when I was riding her and she was wondering where her friend was.

          • Hi Jonathan,

            Lady Gray is doing really good in her new home with her new family. She is so connected with them now that she really doesn’t want to be away from her new friends.

            I am glad the horses at your stable are all friends.

  8. Love, love love this post, Deb! So glad all the kids are getting along well. 🙂

  9. DEAR DEB,



    • Thanks Cindy,
      But the credit really goes to my 4-legged kids. They are all truly amazing.

  10. Deb,

    I just love the scrabble piece pendants. They are especially wonderful!

    • Janet, I am so glad you like them! Thank you so much for your support of the Cloud Foundation and all of our wild horses!

  11. Debbie… you have a done a superb job of bringing this story to life and your photos are even that much better!

  12. How’s Lady Gray, Image, and Ember doing now and does Image still have a crush on Lady Gray?

    • Hi Jonathon,
      Lady Gray, Image and Ember are all doing very well! As you can tell, I am way behind on posting a new entry. I will try to get an update up within this next week. And yes, Image still has a HUGE crush on Lady Gray.

      • I wish people could understand why we should protect all the wild mustang and burro herds and let the wild horses and burros to be running free and wild. They deserve to be that way and I really want to visit Cloud’s herd.

  13. So Touchy helped Lady Gray calmed down? Does that work when a new mare or a younger one is at a new barn?

  14. I think Ember and Lady Gray are BMF’s. Best mare friends

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