So let’s talk about that little chestnut pony there.
That’s Shorty. He has the dubious honor of being the first horse I fell off of, the only pony I’ve ever fallen off of, the only horse I met at two barns, and the last one I wanted to see again.
He was super-cute; he’s a little muddy in that photo, but he had a blaze and four white socks – picture-perfect. The story went that he came to the barn I was riding at after getting kicked out of a theraputic riding center because he’d decided he hated having people walking on each side of him. The night I came off, he’d been there all of a week and hadn’t yet been ridden in the covered arena at night.
Guess where my lesson was!
Everything went relatively OK until we started cantering. He’d been a bit flaky about a flower box that was in the middle of the arena, but it wasn’t a big deal. At the canter, though, he’d canter around the arena to that point, and then stop. We did that twice, and the third time, my instructor told me to kick him next time.
So I did. And then I was laying there in the (red Texas) dirt wondering why I was staring at the lights and not the neck of the pony, because the little bugger did a spin out from under me and took off the other direction. After my instructor made sure I was OK, my mom took me up to the barn restroom to get the (red) dirt out of my clothes… my underclothes… my helmet… my glasses… ugh. My instructor, meanwhile, chased Shorty around until he got tired of running and let her catch him and bring him in.
When I ran into him again several years later, I was rather relieved to find out that he was owned by the folks that owned the barn (but not the lesson program), and I was never going to have to get on him again.
That’s Callie – pretty, witchy little Callie. We always had to watch her, because she kicked with little provocation; I never got nailed, but I was there for a couple of teenagers getting kicked or kicked at. (And trust me, a come to Jesus meeting was held immediately thereafter…) She was also a head flipper, although hers seemed to be stress rather than anything medically wrong; a few rides in the round pen without a bridle or with a rider willing to leave her mouth alone would fix her. She had that lovely Arabian trot and a pony’s walk and this little angry face that was really cuter than it had any right to be.
I actually kind of liked riding her, but on the ground, she was such a pain…
And then there’s miss Punky. As far as I know, she was never bred, and that’s a good thing, because everything I know about this twitchy little mare just screams “don’t breed me.” I already talked a bit about her neurotic personality. And… well… you can see what you’d have to work with pretty well in this photo. It doesn’t capture her charming tendency to throw her head up in the air and do her best upside-down-neck/llama impression. And she was a nose-bleeder – never huge amounts, but thin threads of pale reddish fluid were not uncommon, particularly after exercise or if she was left alone in the barn while her buddies were in the arena. We eventually started wiping her nose off when we noticed it; it was easier than explaining to the kids. (She did get checked out, and it was some sort of benign tumor, I believe? I don’t think I ever got specifics, or if I did, I can’t remember them.)
She could be a sweet girl, and I know she had issues in the past – when I first met her, she was too head-shy to put in cross-ties – but she’s also the only one of my instructor’s horses to ever try to nip me and the first one of her horses that made me eat dirt. That was the last fall before I lost my confidence entirely.
She always seemed very worried, especially around her eyes, even when she was being cool, calm, and collected. I wonder sometimes if she really should have been a lesson horse, but she was the beginner horse, and she usually did a good job keeping the younger kids on board, at least. It was just us bigger kids that had issues!