Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sue Weaver: Imbir’

In my last blog entry I wrote about going home. Home to Minnesota. And one of the pictures I used was of my colt, Imbir’, playing in the snow with his dam. Since then I’ve gazed at that photo many times with sweet memories flowing through my mind. Imbir’ is the horse of my heart.

Imbir’ now

Imbir’'s story began when we rescued his dam from a bad situation. When we took up rescue, we’d placed her with her original breeder, who subsequently fell on hard times; instead of returning her as was agreed, she leased Keira for breeding purposes to a horrible home. We still owned her, so when we found out, we reclaimed her. She was snake thin and had a purulent uterine infection. After extensive treatment our veterinarian biopsied her uterus and pronounced her unable to conceive.

Imbir’ with paternal half-sisters Southwing and Sweet

Keira, officially Kismet Fancy Fire, was a regally bred Arabian by Firebrand, firstborn son of the immortal *Bask, and out of an impeccably bred Crabbet bloodline mare. In her youth she’d been bred to some of the biggest-name stallions in the high-dollar Arabian industry of the 1980s, and she’d given us two daughters, one by the Friesian, Nero, and one by a Curly stallion. We thought she’d earned a happy retirement.

Keira and new baby Imbir' walk by the outhouse at Pooka's Pond.

We had at the time a handsome Curly stallion, Rush River Slash, whom we’d raised from foalhood. He had a crush on Keira, so since he needed a companion and Keira couldn’t get in foal, she became his pasture pal.

Rust River Slash was Imbir's papa.

Then late in the summer of 2000, we noticed that Keira was getting . . . fat. John and I compared notes. “Have you noticed Keira in heat for a while?” No. Uh-oh.

So it came to pass that on the bleak, chilly night of October 4, 2000, I spent the midnight hours alternately writing an article for Hobby Farms magazine and walking the short distance to the barn to check on Keira. At 3:20 a.m. on October 5, she delivered a petite, adorable, ginger-colored colt with flashy white leg markings and a strange, horned blaze on his face. I named him Imbir’ (EEM-BEE’r), Russian for “ginger.”

Baby Imbir' was always on the move.

Because he was born so late in the year, we attached a temporary shelter to my office building so Imbir’ and his mom could stay in the yard. Whenever we went outdoors, Imbir’ was there. He was a cheeky little sput from the start, rarely still, always investigating, always looking for trouble. When turned out with the other horses, he mercilessly picked on Matisse, his enormous half-Thoroughbred half-brother by Slash who was born in May (we called them the Moose and the Mouse). He took turns pretending the other mares were his mom, shadowing a given mare for hours until she finally chased him away. He pushed the outhouse door open, then got stuck. He was not your everyday colt.

He always enjoyed dress-up.

Two-year-olds Imbir' and Matisse, the Mouse and the Moose

John was working second shift at a group home in Pine City at the time, so half past midnight I’d walk to the road gate to open it for him. Even when he was very young, Imbir' always, without exception, left his mom and came along with me. He’d hang around awhile, sometimes watching the Northern Lights or catching fat snowflakes on his nose; then he’d hide behind a hawthorn thicket near the gate, peeking out to check on me from time to time. When John drove in and stopped the van, I’d climb in and then I’d call, “Imbir’!” Imbir’ would fly from his hiding place, buck and whirl, then race beside the van, mane and tail flying, all the way to the house. He grew into a beautiful horse and has done some remarkable things since then, like walking up the steps to a friend’s house when we weren’t looking and making himself at home in the kitchen; tap dancing on the hay trailer (he’d still do that if he could reach it); and one night denuding every vehicle in the yard of its windshield wipers (he no longer gets to stay in the yard). He even modeled for fantasy artist Lori Karels’s painting of the Celtic god, Cernunnos. If a horse I’ve owned has made me smile, it’s been Imbir’.

He posed for Lori Karels's painting of Cernunnos.

Imbir' posed for our Christmas cards in 2000.

Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including the Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, the Appaloosa News, the Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and the Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and The Backyard Goat. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

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