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Brief encounters of the equine kind.

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  • Brief encounters of the equine kind.

    Anyone had short "relationships" with horses that have stuck in their memories? Lots of horses come and go but it seems there are always a few that stand out, and sometimes not for the reasons you expect. Today I was reminded me of a little mare I rode one summer when I was working at a camp. She was an STB, about 14.2ish, and fugly as could be. I'm talking huge chest, abnormally wide. Nesty too. Narrow back end. I mean she looked like a Freak Of Nature. But her legs were clean and she had a cute head and good feet.

    She was called Baya because, well, she was a bay....

    She wasn't much use to the camp as she couldn't figure out how to canter, would plow through jumps, and her trot was too big for the beginners. So she hung out and went on trail as needed.

    That little horse had the best temperament. She put up with anything and everything. She didn't blink an eye at anything on the trail, would ride for hours, always had a "what can I do" attitude. When I had to accompany a group out on trail she was always my first choice for a mount because she was absolutely rock solid. I don't think I've ever ridden anything more bomb proof!

    Looking back I wish I'd realized what her fate would be and found her a home, I believe the dealer who sent her to the camp also picked her up at the end of the season. Ugly little horses don't do well at fall sales. She could have been the quintessential family horse, the type that lives in the backyard and totes kids around on pony rides, then takes mom out on trail.

    Anyway enough rambling.... it is snowing, I've hardly seen my horse in weeks, and how I wish I was out trail riding on a horse like her right now....
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    I had plenty I'll never quite forget at my old lesson barn, especially Woody, but I rode/showed him for several years so I don't know if that counts as brief.

    Probably the one with the most impact in shortest time was George. He was a huge (17.2-3) warmblood I got to show for a few months to finish a year. We shouldn't have worked on paper (I'm only 5'2") but we got along great because I could trust him to get us out of whatever I got us into. I fit other horses better since then, but SHOOT! I still miss George sometimes b/c he could do anything. I'm convinced he was Pegasus in a former life.
    "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"

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    • #3
      Jeffery-- "The "perfect" horse

      Mine was a big (16.2 h) flea-bitten grey TWH named Jeffery that my uncle owned. One summer, when I was a "pre-teen" my mother died unexpectedly, and I was packed off to the country to stay with my uncle, aunt, and cousin. My cousin actually owned a horse of his very own named Sargent.

      My uncle had four horses on his plantation where he raised Polled Herfords- not cotton. Crops hadn't been raised on the place since the 1920s. He really didn't ride the horses, he rode everywhere in his truck.

      Anyway, Jeffery was a wonderfully gaited, tall horse with the reputation for being stand-offish, or maybe even a little "mean." Of the three horses available to me- Jeffery, Lady or Snowball-- I thought Jeffery was the most beautiful. I spent some of the most wonderful times riding around like a "wild indian" all day on that horse. I even spent the afternoons grooming him and fooling around with him rather than going swimming in the pool. And I swear that horse must have loved me because he was always a perfect gentleman for me.

      He was not so for some other people, particularly one of my cousins from my aunt's side of the family. The two of them Sonny and Julie, came for a month that same summer. They were a year or two older than either my cousin or I-- and they were pushy as a result. (They also cheated at Hearts and Monopoly.)

      They never could take my cousin's horse since it was "his" but when they were visiting, it was a "race" to the barn after breakfast to secure my favorite horse Jeffery for the day. One morning, just after I had finished saddling Jeffery (I had skipped breakfast to get to the barn first) my very pushy and slightly overweight cousin Sonny, snatched the reins from me and took Jeffery over my protests.

      His sister had already saddled the better of the two others in the barn- Lady, a dark bay who would kick if you rode your horse too close to her.

      That left me with Snowball, an old, slow, former show horse about 25 years old, whose only redeeming quality was that he was white. (These were the days when the Lone Ranger TV show was a "must watch.") Snowball never moved faster than a slow "running" walk. Nothing could convince him of the need to canter-- ever!!

      Well, by the time I caught up enough to see the others, I was just in time to see them cantering happily across the pasture toward the big pond. Well, while Lady and Sargent stopped at the pond's edge, Jeffery ran right in until he was about belly deep-- then he started rearing until good old Sonny fell off backwards. He fell off with a great big splash, and Jeffery didn't wait around to see what would happen next.

      He came running back to where I was plodding along on Snowball. Well, I saw my opportunity immediately-- I grabbed his reins, and jumped over onto Jeffery, then I led Snowball over to the pond and left him for Sonny.

      Despite Sonny's protests, my aunt decided it was best if he and Julie stayed off Jeffery since he had been "thrown"-- it really was more like he slid off backwards. For the rest of the summer, I didn't have to worry about either of the "other cousins" trying to ride Jeffery-- he was officially "off limits" to them.

      Despite terrible sadness over my mother's death, I had Jeffery all to myself to tell my "troubles" to for the rest of the summer, and he was a good and patient listener. I had a pretty miserable school year. My brother and I had had to move in with my late father's parents. I had to leave all my friends, and go to a new school where I didn't know a soul-- that's no fun when you are going into the sixth grade.

      I couldn't wait until the following summer, when I would be sent to visit my uncle's family again. Finally it was summer, and I was on the way to the country. As soon as I unpacked, I raced down to the paddocks and barn to see "my" horse. There were Sargent, Lady and Snowball, but no Jeffery. In his place there was a sorrel quarter horse- Scout.

      Jeffery had developed a case of fistulous withers that spring, he hadn't responded to the vet's treatment. And my uncle had had him put down because he feared it was caused by bruscilosis-- the same organism that causes "bangs" in cattle -- and can cause fistulous withers in horses. No one told me because, they explained after the fact, they hadn't wanted to "upset" me. Like running down to the barn to find another horse in Jeffery's stall without any warning wouldn't be upsetting.

      Anyway, I went on to own and ride many walkers in my life, but I never did own a flea-bitten grey like Jeffery. In fact, I've hever owned any grey horses, at all- it just worked out that way. And there have only been a couple horses that I have felt "understood and bonded with me" like he did. I own one right now-- his name is Boy, but the encounter doesn't qualify as brief-- I've had him for 10 years.
      Last edited by elysian*fields*farm; Feb. 28, 2010, 12:08 AM.
      Laissez les bons temps rouler!
      Elysian Fields Farm--
      --An equine refuge

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      • #4
        Love reading these stories!

        When I was a kid, I was horse-crazy but poor. My riding was limited to one week, two summers, at Girl Scout camp, and one year of lessons that I got for my birthday when I was a kid.

        At camp I fell in love with an ancient piebald mare named Pie. Nobody else liked Pie; she was grumpy, stubborn, old and homely. But I absolutely loved her. I was perfectly happy to mosey along, singing "Goodbye, Old Paint" to her. I've always wondered what happened to her... those camp horses were not in particularly good shape. ):

        During my lessons, I fell in love with another mare. It was a QH show barn, and her name was Sally--Colonel Sal's Bet. She was a big bay mare and similarly cranky and mare-ish, but I bonded with her. Would still love to find out what happened to her as well...

        My first horse was also in my life only for 5 short months, but she taught me a lot. Her name was Maya and she was a QH broodmare with navicular. My farrier at the time had "rescued" her from being PTS--which, it turned out, probably would have been the kindest choice for her, because her navicular was really severe and she was three-legged lame. My farrier wanted to save her; she was a barefoot trimmer and thought her trim would work. It seemed to be working, because she seemed much sounder, and the vet suggested that a little bit of very light riding might help--so she was given to me for free, because I'm really small. Things went great for a while, until the weather warmed up--and it turned out that probably the only reason she wasn't as sore was because her feet were cold all winter, and she was getting increasingly worse as it warmed up. I asked my farrier to take her back as a pasture horse, which is where she is now... she was another cranky mare with definite opinions, and her attitude was obviously influenced by pain, but she taught me a lot about horse ownership and horsemanship. We had one really wonderful ride out in the snow that winter, and I will always remember that instead of all of her issues and struggles.
        "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

        Graphite/Pastel Portraits

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        • #5
          Mine was an old barrel racer named Mr T. He was a chestnut quarter horse, a little bit of a brat on the ground, but kind as could be under saddle. I remember when I rode him for the first time, I had just come back from a vacation with my dad where we'd had a horrible trail ride-I fell off my horse going down a hill because in my limited experience, I had no idea how to ride a horse down a hill! So me and Mr T just plodded along and he quickly became my favorite. He always had a lump on his jaw that his owner said was from his teeth, so I just thought "ok" (DOH) I got to spend a week with him that summer, and spent the rest of the year drawing pictures of him and looking forward to going back to camp. When I went back the next year, he was gone. Turns out he had cancer and had to be put down.

          This thread is making me kind of teary, I haven't thought about him in awhile!

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          • #6
            I helped rescue a horse once. He has been and always will be very close to my heart. He was days from dieing when we got him from the animal control guy in our county. He had his feet done, teeth floated and several shots the first day he was there (it was a really long day). He barley made it. I think he had a combination of things wrong with him, he lived for several years after we got him, he was already in his 20s. I had the opportunity to ride him in our local Christmas parade, he loved kids, went right up to them all on his own. The lady that had owned him before we got him believed vets just ripped people off for unneeded things and that farriers are from the devil. The vet that floated his teeth said that when he died he wanted his skull for lectures he gave at vet colleges (his teeth here THAT BAD). I loved just hanging out with him and watching him go and "talk" with the other horses across the fence.
            Courage is being scared to death - and saddling up anyway

            Boots, chaps and cowboy hats... nothin' else matters.

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            • #7
              sounds like one who, left hoof prints on your heart
              breeder of Mercury!

              remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

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              • #8
                These stories are great!

                When I was, maybe 9, we went on a vacation to Scotland. My mom and I went riding (I'd been taking lessons at home) and I rode this black pony with an inch of grown in roached mane (mohawk so cute) named Fonzie. I don't remember too much from this trip apart from Fonzie refusing to cross the railroad tracks, even though all the other horses on the ride were on the other side... the leader had to come and lead him over and about 3 minutes after we safely got out of the fence on the other side of the tracks a train went by... I guess maybe he could sense it coming and didn't want to cross the tracks. Anyway, he was the first horse I ever cantered on... pretty cool cantering up this huge hill in Scotland I had kid fantasies that my parents would buy him and bring him back from Scotland for me haha! ... I have a massive framed photo of him in my room still.
                'Not all those who wander are lost.'

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                • #9
                  That would be Twizzler... a fat, bratty, pushy flea bitten gray (or possibly snowflake appaloosa- my memory fails) pony that I rode for about two months when I was nine.

                  My lesson barn got him on trial, and he was a little demon. He'd refuse fences, plow to the middle of the ring, stop at the out gate... basically he took advantage of kids horribly and would just yawn when they kick, kick, kicked away up there. He was a beast on the ground, dragging kids around and ignoring his handler completely.

                  But for me- he was great. I'm not sure why he was so fond of me, but that pony and I had a lot of fun! He loved gymnastics and any sort of somewhat complicated jump course. He liked to follow me around and cuddle when we weren't riding.

                  I adored that pony, but it was clear he wasn't meant to be a lesson pony. I think he was very much a one rider pony. And my parents could afford to buy me a horse... I didn't even ask. My instructor pulled me aside after one ride to tell me he was leaving, and I cried for an hour. I think she felt bad for me.

                  Ah, Twizzler. I loved that pony. He was great!

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                  • #10
                    When this type of topic comes up, I always think of Arrow. I learned to ride at Watchung Stables in NJ. Watchung had a large number of schoolies who trained the "troops" from D's to A's. Ds were beginners and a lot of the horses had a rep for being beyond quiet. None of us could wait to get to the A horses who were typically more horse to ride. Most of us could talk the parents into lessons, but trail riding wasn't in the plan because in addition to money, there was the time to drive to the stable, wait around for the ride to finish and then drive home. So we rarely got a chance at a non-troop trail ride. But, if you missed a lesson, you could get a re-ride on the trail. Typically over the 10 week session you'd miss one lesson and get the one trail ride.

                    A couple of us A's went up for our re-ride only to find the only horses left were the D horses left. Coming back to try again wasn't an option so we reluctantly went with the D horses and I got Arrow. Danged if he wasn't one of the nicest rides I'd had in a long time. I think those D horses were happy to have better than beginners on them and were willing to try just about anything when asked correctly.

                    From then on Arrow was my horse of choice for re-rides

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