I’ve been on a lot of horses in my lifetime. A few years ago Colleen and I tried to total up the horses we’ve been on. Came to well over a thousand for us each. Drop in the bucket for the Peter Campbell’s of the world but quite a few for the rest of us.
I have also studied horse behavior, their psychology and what changes in how they move depending on how educated they are or what their temperament is. The result is I can tell a really good horse in about three minutes. I can tell you one I want no part of in the same amount of time. Or less.
It’s the in-betweens that cause my brow to wrinkle. Red flag here . . . but something really willing . . . here. Been jacked with by human beings but not so sour or explosive that I don’t want to take the risk of trying to help them past it .
Pulling into the ranch about this time last year the tall flashy Paint on the rail catches my eye immediately. He's big, rangy and put together decent. I am no Paint fan or so I keep telling myself but I like this one.
He’s wearing the obligatory Tom Thumb bit bridle and a tie down. I scowl. Everybody out there knows how much I hate that set up. I’ve shown over and over again success in a snaffle bit and it looks like I’m going to have to, at least one more time.
Not today. They are adamant. this is what we use him in, see if he’s going to work. The Paint is a prospect for my car parking crew and we have to make sure he’s steady enough that if they can’t ride him, I can.
I do a couple little things on the ground. He’s braced like no tomorrow. No surprise there, right? Locks up, no idea how to move his feet. Looks like one that will get light in front.
He’s solid enough and doesn’t strike me as broncy so I step aboard. I blogged about this horse last year. How dicey those first 25 minutes felt and how I kept riding him trying to discern where he lay in the balance. More good? Dangerous? Definitely a mix of both.
Good enough. I rode him, he got softer, happier every time and I gave him to a crew member to ride.
End of the season we all tried to buy him but the money was not right for me. I am still horse trader enough I know where the value lies in a horse and I’m not making retail deals except the one I made on Royal and never looked back.
Flash forward to a few weeks ago, I call Charlie looking for a project. The downside of having one horse is if that one is laid up you are essentially horseless even in a world of friends with lovely animals who invite you to ride. He says, yeah, there’s that Paint.
The money is right this time. My trader buddy knows what to do when it’s really time to sell and so do I. Trailer is hitched fast before he can change his mind and Huey now Huckleberry comes home.
I had asked Epona, the Goddess that cares for horses to let me help this guy if at all possible. I thought that chance came and went last year and I only hoped I’d given him enough to secure a future not on someone’s plate.
It doesn’t matter to me what I call God and it matters even less to me what you do. I believe we have Something that looks out for all It’s creations and gives thick headed humans many ways to find It. That’s what I have to say about that.
Smart, defensive, essentially kind and incredibly willing. That is my new young horse. He’s seven so not a baby but young in his education. Huck seems the type of horse no one really taught anything to, just got on and rode. Even with never having had a chance to develop confidence, balance or much faith in human beings he’s still a pleaser who offers his heart up.
I put eleven miles on him, slow easy ride down the road with my friend Corie and her steady Zip. I am thinking of this horse as a project I will develop, put some nice ride on and find him a home with someone that can prove they like him more than I do.
As in the old days when I sold horses for a living I need to know what I have. Education matters not, that’s what I am for. Soundness? Temperament when he’s tired? What’s his go to move when he’s bothered enough? I don’t want to bother him but things are going to eventually and what happens then?
I was ready to pay for him from the get go and Charlie said, Terri, you haven’t seen this horse in months. Take him, try him, make sure you like him. If you do, come get him paid for. If you don’t, then bring him home and I will give you back your deposit. Simple as that.
I liked him. He doesn’t know how to move out, doesn’t know what to do with his feet and has a worry down deep inside. Because of Peter, I have some good ideas what to do to help him until we ride in Peter’s Foundation Class in September and get the real stuff.
Sound all the way. Barefoot on gravel roads. I didn’t MAKE him ride on the rocks but I didn’t spare him either. No problem. Not spooky in the least, even tempered and a Zen horse in the making.
Huckleberry tells me over and over, sinking his head into my chest, nickering at me when he sees me, following me with pretty blue eyes (finally a horse that matches my dog!) how pleased he is with his new life. I’m thinking we have a ton of fun in our future.
Oh yeah, I flagged him and Royal yesterday in the indoor to get Huckles relaxed and loping under saddle. Ummm, that sucker is FAST. Hmm