Wow, where do I even start the story of Shylah? I guess it all begins back in the summer of 2003. My Morgan/Shire mare Guinevere was not pregnant, and I was not too happy about this. I'd had her bred to a Bay Andalusian, and had hoped she would give birth to a beautiful black filly the following spring. But Around the time that Gwen went to spend some time with this stallion, I had decided that if she didn't end up pregnant, I would adopt a PMU foal in the fall of 2004, which gave me a year to save up the money. But I couldn't stop myself from looking at all the PMU websites a year early, just to see what I would adopt if I could actually afford one right then. There were some beautiful babies, and I wish I could have taken them all. I looked at several different groups before stumbling upon one that was working with a ranch that had a herd of black Canadiens.

Now I had never heard of a Canadien, but I was intrigued, so I did some research and liked what I found! It's a rather rare breed, grows to 14-16 hands tall, long mane and tail, a little bit "drafty," nice action, etc. So I started thinking that this might just be what I needed to take the place of that "Shmorgalusian" foal that Gwen would never have. I wrote to the group and asked if they would still be working with that ranch next year, and told them I would for sure get one then but couldn't afford it now. Well, no, they were not going to work with that ranch again (and now that so many of the PMU ranches are shutting down, that ranch shut down too). There was only a little over a week left until the adoption deadline, and I so wanted one of these Canadien horses. And then glory be, I was able to take out a loan from the International Bank of Mom! Yay!

Only a few of the Canadiens had been photographed and put on the adoption website, since there were about 40 and they looked more or less all the same. So I sent off my money and contract and ordered a black filly with no white markings. And I crossed my fingers.

Then things got complicated. Every possible delay happened. The blood testing took forever, the foals got sick and quarantined, nothing seemed to go right with the vet checks. It was an exercise in patience, and there were times when I got pretty worried that I might never get her. I had never even seen a picture of my filly...

Three months after the original delivery date, they were finally on their way!

I drove up to the drop-point in Kelsey, CA on the day they were delivered. There were about a dozen foals in that trailer and I didn't have a clue which one was mine. I certainly knew which ones were not her, but there were several black ones and for all I knew she could have been any of them. They were unloaded into a corral, and all of us just stood there and admired them as they wandered around and munched on some hay. There was one that kept catching my eye--a little solid black filly, no white, with lots of "feather" on her legs and a sticker with #004 on her butt. I told the other adopters how much I hoped that one was mine, but I still didn't know! Finally the paperwork came out, and numbers were matched to owners. Most people had adopted foals who were pictured, so they had a number to reference. On the list mine said "Katherine: Canadien Filly." The other Canadiens matched up to other owners, and at the end the only paperwork left was for "#004, black filly." Yay, I got the one I wanted!!!!!

With the help of some friends, she came home on December 21st, and I was pretty much glued to the fence the whole day. She was wearing a halter (and to this day I am still not sure how they got that on there!) and clearly wanted it off. The first day I couldn't touch her. She'd eat out of my hand a little but that was all. I think it was the second day I was able to pet her shoulders and her back. And she seemed to have found a use for--I could scratch the itchy spots. She quickly got used to me and became very friendly. After two weeks she was finally not head-shy anymore and I haltered her and taught her how to lead. About a week later she learned to stand tied, another week after that she was good about having her feet picked up. I just figure there's no rush to do anything, so although I will come right out and admit I have no idea what I'm doing (this is all new to me!) I just take it slow and it seems to be going very well.

It took me a little while to pick a name, I had to get to know her. I had several on my list of possibilities, but finally settled on the Celtic name "Shylah" for the simple reason that it sounds pretty and somehow just totally seems to fit her.

She is GORGEOUS. And oh my gosh she is soooo friendly. She will walk to anyone, anywhere, just to say hello. She loves people. She has been, for the most part, extremely easy to train and work with, and she learns very fast. Shylah is truly a joy to be around, and I can hardly wait until she's old enough for the two of us to go off on great adventures.

She and Gwen get along decently, though Gwen gets pretty jealous, and doesn't like Shylah to get very close. So although they hang out together and are always in the same place, they have no friendly physical contact (except sometimes I can trick Gwen into "grooming" Shylah if they are next to each other and I scratch Gwen's back). Sometimes Shylah will run around and act playful enough to get Gwen riled up, and it just takes my breath away to see the two of them galloping around the pasture.

I remember being so disappointed that I wouldn't get a Gwen baby, but I think this is how it was all meant to turn out. If Gwen had indeed gotten pregnant, I would not have adopted Shylah, and I can't imagine not having her. If I had not adopted her, she would have gone to a feedlot, and that just brings tears to my eyes. And you know what, I think she looks exactly like what Gwen and Cal would have had anyway. :-)

How about some pictures? :-) If you want to see them bigger, just click on them!

I don't keep this page update, but you can read a lot more about Shylah on THE BLOG!

This was the first view I had of her after all the foals were unloaded. She's the cutie on the left. At this point I had just found out which one was mine and I was totally overjoyed. The foals pretty much just wanted to eat. It's hard to tell with all that fur, but she was pretty thin, and sick too.This was taken up in Kelsey, but she went to Dixon later that day thanks to one of the other adopters, and so it was a much less treacherous drive for us to pick her up the next day. Thanks Joy and Jan and John! :-)

12/21/03: Welcome Home Shylah! She looks so determined...I don't even think we were herding her at this point, she was just heading over to the small corral/stall, which is exactly where I wanted her to go.

12/21/03: Boy she was a sight. She was a rough-looking filly. Pot-bellied, tons of hair, cruddy eye, snotty nose, and not to mention crawling with lice, ewww! She looks wet, but actually her hair was all just kinda stuck together. She was so dirty, and smelled awful. But oh well, I knew there was beauty lurking in there...somewhere! Oh, just FYI she's about 11 hands tall here, and roughly six months old.

12/21/03: This may be the world's most unattractive head photo. This is also the first day she got here, snotty nose and all. I can't even begin to explain how thin that neck was, there was just nothing to her! Compare this to the head shot at the bottom of the page!

It didn't take long at all before she was leading quite well (except for the occasional moments of utter dorkiness, which I guess goes with the age!...uh, her age, not mine!) This was two weeks after I got her. Already she looked a lot better. She was still very thin, but at least I was able to brush her. When I look at these now I am just amazed at how fuzzy she was!

She's pretty curly to begin with, but on rainy days she gets VERY curly! I took this in mid February, so she was about 8 months old.

Mid March 2004, she was still really really fuzzy but not black anymore!

Taken April 15th, 2004, Shylah and Gwen, who couldn't seem to keep her head out the photo. :-) I kept waiting for Shylah to totally shed out so I could take more pictures, and she was pretty well shedded out by this point. As you can see she's a different color again. Note the tan color under her eyes and on her muzzle...she loses this later on.

April 15, 2004, with Gwen in the background. The only way I can get decent photos of Shylah is to tie her up, unless I manage to sneak up on her in the pasture. Otherwise, she's kind of glued to me...I'm sure I could get lots of closeups of her nose though, lol.

Same day as before, just facing the other way, and saying "look at my butt!" She is, I think, what's called a "fading black" and not really a bay horse. Her color seems to change all the time.

Mid May 2004, she was just under one year old here. Hmm, a new variation to her color! She's lost the brown on her face, and lightened up a lot on her body. The top of her mane, which you can't see all that well here, is bleached out almost blonde! I think she's gorgeous. :-) At this point she is just over 12.2 hands.

Mid May 2004. What a lovely mane! Compare this to head shot I took on her first day here, wow, I can hardly believe she's the same horse.

September 2004: She was really fat! Changed color again too. This picture doesn't show it too well but she was almost what I would call a "seal brown" color. She wasn't quite black, and she had tan in her "armpits" and on her muzzle.

Ha ha! You can't see me in this picture but I was sitting on the fence right next to Gwen (on the right) and was scratching Gwen's back, so she reached forward and started grooming Shylah. You should have seen the look on Shylah's face--enjoying it, but terrified that Gwen was going to really bite her... like usual ("do I run, do I stay?") If you look closely, you can see Shylah's "zebra stripes" on her chest.

November 2004: fuzzy again!

November 2004: Just think, people pay to get their own "manes" that pretty! She's got natural curl and highlights, what a lucky girl!

December 2004: she's a year and a half old now, still way too little to fit the saddle but I think it's time for some pre-saddle-training. I cinched her in tight to a stack of saddle pads (had to really load her up so I could fit a cinch around her... she's small!) She didn't care. No bucking, no spooking, just sort of inquisitive about the whole thing (sort of like her trailer-breaking in November, she followed me right in, no fear or hesitation).

December 2004: just another view. Everyone asks me if she's a pony. No! Her body and face are still very babyish, but I think the abundance of mane and tail often makes people think she's older than she really is. She's about 13.2, and I'm hoping for a BIG growth spurt!

Spring 2005: looking lovely. She's 14 hands at the withers and 14.3 at the hips. Ok, so I can deal with a short horse, but I sure hope the front end catches up!

Spring 2005: saddled! No big deal, she didn't buck AT ALL, even when I cinched it up and ran her around. What a cool horse!

Summer 2005: Modeling Auntie Gwen's custom headstall (since Shylah's a better model...Gwen looks grumpy all the time)

Isn't she pretty!

I don't keep this page update, but you can read a lot more about Shylah on THE BLOG!

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