Tag Archives: horses i know

…And the Miscellaneous Whatsits

Laura got in a single PMU mare some time after I’d stopped riding with her regularly. The above is she. I have the photo labeled as “PerchShireX”, so I’m guessing Laura told me she was a Percheron/Shire cross; I mysteriously have a second, virtually identical photo labeled “Keeley,” which I believe was her name. Whatever she was, she was huge compared to everything else on property. I had to do a serious double-take when Heather took me through her pasture; she has a broodmare that looks just like this mare – only she’s branded on the other side, and her number isn’t 39.

This is Tex. I was not and still am not a big fan of Tex. He belonged to a friend and student of Laura – one of four horses, I think, this lady owned. Two of the other three were gorgeous chocolate Rocky Mountains. The third was a skinny guy whose breed I don’t recall but whose story I do; he was pretty much born wormy, and nearly died from it. I know they brought Tex back from a Rocky Mountain show, but I have a hard time believing he really was a Rocky Mountain, considering he was barely pony sized. He also stayed a stud colt way longer than he should have, and he was a serious handful to lead around. Somebody had missed getting him ground manners the last time I dealt with him, but he seemed a lot more relaxed when I took this photo.

It must be something about the ponies. I never had issues with Tolanka and her babies, but every other pony I’ve handled has had some quirk or tactic that drove me insane. Zoe here was terrible to lead for years – she had this quick little pony stride that would have her up on top of you in no time flat, and out in front almost before you realized it. She was a good girl otherwise, the few times I saw her worked, but leading her was work… even after a few serious training sessions in the driveway where she spent most of the time being backed up (and backed off) with a dressage whip. The frustrating thing was, Laura had acquired her as a mount for the little kids… but she wasn’t saddle trained at all until the summer before I really stopped lessons, several years after she’d shown up. I’d say she’d come in as a baby, but she never really grew; I think Laura was just short on… well… short people to ride her.

Speaking of PoAs…

In addition to Tolanka and her babies, there were two other PoAs around the farm.

Penelope came in as a youngster, and to be honest? I don’t even know if she was ever saddle trained. When she came out of the pasture – which was rare – it seemed to only ever be for pony petting time. Granted, I wasn’t out there all the time, but for this cute of a pony, it seemed something of a shame.

Of course, thinking about it – I seem to recall that most of the cuteness was on the outside

She only had a few flecks of white on her butt when she arrived, I remember that; I was actually kind of surprised to realize when I took this photo just how much she had roaned out.

Twister was a set of peculiarities all his own. He was registered, but some time after he got his papers, he outgrew the pony category. He’d been abused at some point in his past; according to my instructor, some idiot took a 2×4 to his face, which had a peculiar bump on his nose that’s hidden by somebody else’s tail in this photo. He was pretty laid back, despite the past abuse, and was great for the kids to love on.

There was one big problem with Twister: holy crap, did that horse like to put his mouth on things. He didn’t seem to chew unless it was food, and he didn’t crib – he just seemed to want stuff in his mouth. Including lead ropes. Including cross-ties. Including – and this was his favorite trick, and I suspect why he didn’t get ridden often – the reins, if you happened to be standing still, walking, had enough slack on the reins for him to suck back and nab one…

Bear

My last instructor had a single Thoroughbred, in her sea of Quarter Horses and PoAs and miscellaneous whatsits. I actually rode him for quite a while, fell off of him once, and always kind of felt bad for him, sweet horse that he was. I’m not a gelding person, but he was generally a nice guy, and I always felt like he deserved better than being a lesson horse; he needed a little girl of his own to love on him all the time.

We called him Bear. I haven’t the slightest clue what his registered name was, but I know he had one; he was tattooed with the Jockey Club and had a three-race record. I don’t remember if he won any of them, and I never got confirmation on whether his bum leg was why he didn’t race more, but it seems like a reasonable guess.

I can never remember which leg it was that he’d limp on – and he was a clever limper; sometimes he really hurt and sometimes he was clearly just trying to get out of work – but I’m guessing by the funkiness of his left knee, it was probably that one. He was usually a bit thin in comparison to the horses around him, and I think I only saw him get “up” and put on speed once. The rest of the time, he was more than happy to stand around or plod around.

As for the fall – it was more hilarious than anything else, especially in comparison to previous falls I’d had. He spooked at something – neither my instructor nor I saw what it was, but talking later, we figured it was probably a rock thrown up by a passing car – and did a teeny buck and half-bolted.

The funny part? It wasn’t that bad, but for some reason, I just kind of stopped riding, tried to wrap my arms around his neck, and just kind of came off. Whoops. I landed on my right hip/thigh, with one arm on the fence; either he accidentally nicked me on the way by, or I whacked my shin pretty hard with my other foot. I think my first words to my instructor after I landed were, “Well, that was stupid.”

The best (worst?) part was, this was while I was in college – and in the morning before a full afternoon of classes. The fall was around 9 or 10. By the time I got home around 5:30 that night, the outside of my right thigh looked like I’d had an unfortunate encounter with an usually large eggplant: purple from knee to hip. It didn’t hurt that badly, but damn, did it look ugly. My shin and upper arm weren’t too much prettier, but had vastly smaller bruises.

Poor Bear seemed quite embarrassed about the whole thing, to be honest.

Sunny No-Tail

Her name was just plain Sunny, but my mother gave her that nickname…

It was sadly apt.

The story we were given is that one of her previous owners had put a rubber band around her tail, with sadly predictable results. She had a little nublet of a tail – three, maybe four inches long. (This was an early lesson very firmly pressed into my mind: rubber bands go around hair – never, ever around the tailbone.) There was one memorable evening where some of the six or seven inches of tail hair she had got stuck in her butt; it took us forever to figure out what was wrong, and I still kind of feel bad for laughing at her once we realized what was going on…

To be honest, I don’t remember much about riding her any more – nothing, that is, but the wholly disasterous show we did.

Yeah, that show.

We were doing a single dressage test, and the silly mare completely flipped out about the trailer the judge was sitting in at the end of the arena. She just lost it. I ended up leaving the arena, because I didn’t realize I could speak to the judge and get instructions, and came back in at the end to do the test again… this time much more successfully. No score, of course – I gather I wasn’t supposed to leave the arena – but at least we completed the test!

Evil, evil pony

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.

An Arabian and a Half

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!

Silky

More old pictures – and I only have one of this pony that I was able to crop me out of, so please excuse my pre-teen awkwardness. And those glasses. :roll:

Silky was the step up from old Roman. No idea what she was, if she was registered, if she had a show name, how old she was – nothing. I do know that lesson pony wasn’t her favorite job; she hated kids. She was a confirmed nipper; I clearly remember her taking the fuzz off the sweater of a girl one day. I also clearly remember her trying to take a chunk out of my instructor’s butt when she was tightening the girth and not paying attention to the pony’s head. I don’t remember her ever trying to bite me, though, and my mother confirms – of the kids out there, I seemed to be the only one she’d tolerate.

She was a good jumper, and a pretty safe ride once you got on, as long as you didn’t mind dragging her out of the clumps of grass on the sides of the arena every time you passed at a walk. This is the pony I rode when we did an off-site dressage show and I got 2nd place despite having no clue what a diagonal was. I seem to recall that braiding her perma-mohawk was a pain in the butt…

This was 1992-1994. In 2006, I ended up back at the same barn under new management and found out that they had “inherited” Silky when they took over the site. Her nipping had turned into biting, and was extreme enough that the previous owner said the little mare had broken her arm. After a couple of attempts to teach lessons with her, she was deemed a risk to the health of the students and shipped off to be sold.

Old Roman

This is the very first horse I rode in lessons – and I have the photo to prove it! *laugh*

Roman was the old trooper of the barn. He was 26 when I started taking lessons, probably 28 when we left; they told me he was an Appaloosa, although I don’t recall them ever specifying his color. (Looking at the photos… I’m going to take a wild guess and say his base coat was a chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, maybe? With a blaze… and probably a varnish Appy at that, given the indeterminate color…) I never did learn his registered OR show names.

They let him roam loose around the barn and paddocks – he was often found back in the back near the pasture where the babies were – and he’d reliably turn up in his stall for his grain. He was a terrible chow hound, and apparently had an iron stomach; I heard, although I can’t verify, that he got into and ate most of a 10-lb bag of “wormer feed” (feed-though deworming, I’m guessing) and was perfectly fine. I know he was always up for apples, carrots, pretzels, and anything else us kids could think to feed to him.

Five or six years after we’d left that barn, we heard through the grapevine that he’d been retired to “the farm” (somewhere in south Texas) finally. I hope he ended his life well; he was a sweet old horse.

Birthday twin!

We’re digging way back for this photo. Yes, that was a polaroid. And yes, it has a frame. *laugh* I have no excuse. I was 11, ok?

This is Star – or Gronostar, I do believe, if I remember his stall plate correctly. He and I had the exact same birthday, and if he’s still alive, he’s 29 this year. I was told he was a breeding stallion for a few years, before he was gelded.

He actually made it in the local paper at one point; his owner used him for a trail horse and I believe was training for endurance, and they were a common sight in the area for years. I haven’t heard of them for several years now; the owner was elderly, and let’s face it – the gelding is getting up there too!

I got to ride him for a lesson once; he was a lot more lively than the lesson horses I’d been on up to that point, let me tell you. He was also incredibly silky, because his owner used to bathe him in mayonnaise every week or so. (I’m still kind of grossed out by this for some reason.)

One year, he got a purple blanket for his birthday. Unfortunately, it rained the next day… and he turned pink. *chuckle*

Every time I pass by the area where I last heard Star was boarded, I think of them.

The babies I could have bought

I knew three of the foals by that mare I mentioned.

Sabrina was the oldest, and the only chestnut:

She was kind of a cool horse, but I never really clicked with her. She was already full-grown by the time I met her.

Next was Lola:

If I remember correctly, her show name (registered name?) was going to be Good Lopin’ Miss Lola; I don’t have AQHA access to find out if she got registered as that or not. (I was able to find mom here on allbreedpedigree, but I can’t find Lola.)

She did some damage to her legs as a young horse, and spent ages stuck in a stall and mad about it. I never really liked her, to be honest.

Now, the one I really did like was Tallulah (registered name Hot Jesuit Jazz):

I actually got to see her the day she was born – and the poor thing was the dullest colored baby you could ever see. She was just… muddy brown, nothing special. (I have pictures, but they’re mostly Mom and a blurry brown thing – I was trying not to scare her with the flash and she was wiggly.) Daddy was Sonnys Hot Jazz, so I’m pretty confident that even though I don’t remember her registered name, that’s the right name. If I’d had a choice, she’s the one I would have purchased. She turned out so gorgeous, and as I recall, she was a pretty friendly thing. She was 2 or 3 in that photo.