My Horse

January 16, 2009
My first horse was possibly the horse from HELL! I guess I can’t really blame him. When my parents saw the ad in the paper that stated he was an “experienced kid’s horse”, they weren’t aware that he was going to be completely kid-sour. After getting bucked off numerous times, we decided it was best old Rocky went down the road. After that, my mom’s good friend, Laura, told us she was trying to get rid of her show mare, Foxy. Foxy was NOT a kid’s horse. She didn’t buck or anything like that. She just had so much power. The thing is, Foxy really never had the opportunity to full-out run. She was strictly a show horse before she came to us, so her job was to look pretty. It didn’t take her long to realize that she had a tiny kid on her who didn’t exactly know what to do when she took off at a full sprint. We would go to horse events in different towns where kids would be on their well-behaved kid horses. The second Foxy got into that arena I didn’t stand a chance. All I could do was hang on for dear life. As years went by, I got stronger and more experienced, so I gained more control over her, and things started going more smoothly. We finally started winning. After eight years, we were finally starting to clique. When she turned 18, we thought it would be a good year to breed her. The pregnancy went fine, and she had a beautiful little boy who we named Reggie. I will never forget that day when I got a phone call from my mom while I was at my friend Kim’s house. I didn’t go home right away, because I didn’t think it was anything important. Finally, my mom showed up at Kim’s and told me that Foxy died of colic. I don’t remember much, but I remember screaming and locking myself in Kim’s bathroom. I had grown to love Foxy and didn’t want to accept the fact that she was really gone.

Nothing is more sacred as the bond between horse and other creature can ever become so emotionally close to a human as a horse. When a horse dies, the memory lives on because an enormous part of his owner's heart, soul, very existence dies also...but that can never be laid to rest, it is not meant to be...
- Stephanie M Thorn

I didn’t have a horse ready to compete in o-mok-sees, so we borrowed a horse from a friend. The Horse’s was Pebbles. I used a saddle the first couple of times on her, but soon I just started riding her bareback everyday. When riding Foxy without a saddle, the fastest I had ever gone was a gallop. That all changed with Pebbles. At first, I tried to keep her slowed down, but I realized that she wanted to run. I got more comfortable with her, and pretty soon we were flying. I would grip her sides with my legs and hold onto her mane for dear life, and we were gone. Now that I think back, we should have wrecked a lot sooner than we did. One evening I decided to saddle her up and go on a ride. I decided to go through Denton and to the airstrip instead of the usual trail we would take. The second we stepped on the field she was chomping on her bit and throwing her head around. This was her “I want to run!” routine that we went through every day. I released the pressure on the reins and let her fly. I remember the stumble, and that’s about it. The next thing I remember was seeing Kathy in a swimming suit looking down at me. I still hit myself in the head realizing I could have easily killed Pebbles thanks to my stupid mistake. I remember the relief I felt when I was told she was fine, and I thanked God it was me that was hurt and not her.

Some horses come into our lives, and quickly go. Others stay a while, make hoof prints in our hearts, and we are never the same.

After my wreck, my parents decided to give Pebbles back to Stacey. They didn’t blame Pebbles at all; it was just that I wasn’t going to be riding any time soon, so she wouldn’t be used. After I was told I could finally get back on a horse, the only horse that was available for my use was Dan. I’ll be completely honest, I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t think he would ever be able to live up to Foxy, and in the beginning he didn’t. I was afraid of Dan. The first time we went on a ride by ourselves, we were quickly back at the trailer. A little ways down the trail he decided that he wanted to go back. I tried to change his mind. All of the sudden, he started hyperventilating and rocking back and forth. I knew he was going to buck, so I let him do what he wanted, which was going straight back to his pen. We went through this same routine several times. One day, I decided I was either going to get bucked off or make him do it. The second we got to Rob's old house he started his usual thing. I was scared out of my mind, but I was going to make him do it. I finally realized then and there that Dan didn’t know HOW to buck. He had perfected the act of almost bucking, but he never really got around to the real deal. Soon after that, I returned to the classes that I had attended with Foxy. Let’s put it this way. It was a wreck! Dan didn’t have the skill Foxy did when it came to this kind of stuff! The only thing he knew was that he had to work, and that sucked. At this time Daniel was severely overweight, but he didn’t exactly care. He was completely comfortable with obesity. Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t. I was going to make him into a good horse whether he liked it or not. I would get so frustrated with that horse. As time went by though, I started to realize how much we had in common. We both panicked over little things. We didn’t catch on fast, but once we did, we did the best we could. We both had a HUGE love for all kinds of food. I realized we were both total goofballs. It finally hit me that it wasn’t him at all. It was me. I was treating him like a machine that didn’t have any feelings. I never praised him when he did well, but always corrected him when he was wrong. I decided that the way I was doing things had to change right away, or I was going to ruin him. I began to look at him as my friend, not my horse. It was amazing to see the transformation we went through. We formed a bond that I had never had with any animal.
There are no problem horses, just problem riders.

Dan is a genius. Okay, maybe not a genius, but he’s very intelligent for a horse. The big problem with this is that he uses his powers for evil, and not good. About 6 years ago, when we grained our horses during the winter, we had a 500 gallon molasses tank that we had in the field, so we could just open up the lid and pour a bit of molasses onto their grain. We thought this was the perfect idea. It wasn’t like any of our horses could open the tank! Well, Dan showed us how simple it was. We showed up to the ranch the next day to find 500 gallons of molasses all over the ground. As mad as my parents were, we started to notice a difference in my little brother’s elderly horse that wasn’t looking so well. By the time spring came along, Tighty Lil (Tucker’s horse) looked better than ever, thanks to the extra molasses. So, we figured something good came out of Dan’s mischievousness. On an ordinary summer day, my Grandma Audrey was driving through Denton and stopped to visit Dan on her way through. When she arrived, she noticed that the gate to his pen was wide open, but oddly enough Dan was in his pen looking innocent. Later, we figured out that he had let himself out to graze, then like the polite gentlemen he was, he put himself back in. After that, Dad decided to buy clips to put on the gate so Dan couldn’t undo the chain.

“I think we should go back up to the horse trailer and wait for them to get done,” my brother said, as we waited on our horses for our parents to return from feeding cows. It was a beautiful Easter day, and my parents decided this would be a glorious day to go retrieve a sick cow and her calf, so we could bring them into town to make sure that the calf got fed. It had all gone as smoothly as it possibly could, except I was a bit upset with my beloved horse Dan for attempting to eat the calf of the sick mother, but other than that I was pleased with his performance. Once we finished getting the cow and her calf into the trailer, my parents had to feed the cows. Since it usually took a while, my brother and I decided we would ride the half a mile back to the trailer and get our horses brushed down. We got to the trailer with no troubles at all. We made sure our horses were watered and brushed. We tied them up, and retreated to the pickup to listen to the radio and wait for our parent’s return. We had been dozing for about 15 minutes when I heard a loud thump. I figured it was the horses moving around, so I looked in the side mirror of the truck. “TUCKER, THE HORSES ARE GONE!” I yelled as I jumped out of the pickup to further investigate. As I ran to the back of my trailer, I was hoping to see my parents loading the horses so we could go home, but I found nothing. I looked down the deserted dirt road to see two horses galloping off with their lead ropes flailing in the wind. I let out an angry roar as I started running after them. I yelled at Tucker to hurry up, as I tried to keep my eyes on the horses. Since we were about 20 miles away from town, and the horses weren’t used to the country we were in, I figured that I was never going to see my horse again. I was sobbing as I slowly ran down the road hoping my horses would stop. They eventually did stop to munch on some grass. Unfortunately, when I got within 10 feet of them, they started running AGAIN! By now, I was thinking this had gone way too far, and the horses needed to stop before I went into a hysterical break down. I gritted my teeth and once again started jogging down the road after the monsters. Finally, after chasing them for two miles, which doesn’t seem like a lot but it is when one of the miles is through a muddy field, I caught them. I can’t even describe the anger I felt. I snatched the lead rope that was attached to my horse and ordered him sternly to walk. I refused to look at him or even talk to him as my brother and I stomped the two miles back to the trailer. When we were about a half a mile away from the trailer, I told my brother to go on with his horse. Since my horse Dan was the cause of all of this for untying himself AND Hobo, I decided his punishment would be to face the other direction so he couldn’t see Hobo. This had to be the worst thing I could have done to Dan, since he has separation anxiety. He had a break down. He started sweating and nervously whinnying, trying to find the location of Hobo. Every time he tried to turn around and look at Hobo, I turned him around so after enduring enough torture, we made our way back to the trailer. When we got there, I tied Dan up, and I tied his rope into the most confusing knots you could think of. After I was POSITIVE he couldn’t untie himself, I went back to the pickup, and my eyes never left the side mirror. When my parents returned, instead of sympathy, we got laughs and “I told you so’s” from my parents, because Dan was a master at escaping, and it was my fault for not putting the tail through the loop. So, a bit of it was my fault, since it wasn’t his fault he was a mischievous soul. After a short time I forgave my horse, and warned him the next time he did something so irresponsible there was NO way that I was forgiving him, but I’m pretty sure he knew I didn’t mean it.

"Riding is not a sport, it is a passion. If you do not share the passion, you do not know the sport, and therefore are wasting your time." -Anonymous

Dan is the one living creature who I can tell literally everything to. I can’t tell the humans in my life everything, because at one point or another, someone would get offended. I don’t have to worry about him laughing at me or telling me I’m not capable of the things I want to achieve. I tell him about my boy troubles, arguments with the family, and fights with friends. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried into his shoulder while he stood there solemnly. I get so many frustrations out by just talking to him. When he is loose in his pen, I’ll just swing up on him and tell him what’s bothering me. I get worried that he may get sick of me and take off at a dead run but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve never been a great people person. I always say the wrong thing and sound like an idiot. I don’t have to worry about any of that with Dan. I don’t have to put on an act around him, because he knows the real me. He always manages to make me laugh with his goofy ways. Dan is known for attempting to eat anything. Some of his favorites are apples, Sun Chips, and salt and vinegar chips. I noticed that he seems to prefer Pop Tarts over most things though. I think they are his favorite, because he doesn’t get them that often, because they have so much sugar in them. This summer when we were on a trail ride I left a packet of Pop Tarts I had been eating on the side of the trailer. When I returned, the packet was on the ground, and it was empty. I looked at Dan who was putting on his best “it wasn’t me” face, but it didn’t work considering the fact he had crumbs on his lips.

God forbid that I should go to a Heaven in which there are no horses.
-R. Graham

The place where Dan shines is in the arena. I never really got the chance to see Dan run, because I was always the one riding him. This summer Tucker needed to borrow Dan for an event. I watched the way Dan tensed up as he waited for the signal to go. His coat was gleaming and almost sparkling in the sun. I finally realized how powerful he really was. He was a tank! Once Tucker had the signal to go, he spun Dan around and held on for dear life as Dan kicked it into gear. Tucker is a great rider, so he knew how to handle Dan. I watched as Tucker checked Dan up as they came around the barrel. Dan spun around the barrel without a flaw. I was really hoping that I made it look that good. The proudest moment I’ve had with Dan really had nothing to do with me at all. My mom’s friend brought her two kids to one of the o-mok-sees, and they wanted to ride. Tyler, the youngest who is six, wanted to ride Dan. This made me a tad bit nervous, because once Dan enters an arena he knows he is there to run, so he’s usually pretty hyped-up. I couldn’t have been any more shocked by the reaction I got from Dan when I lead him into the arena with Tyler on his back. He acted like the perfect kid’s horse. I cringed as I waited for the announcer to say we had a ready light, because Dan knows that’s when he should take off. They announced it and he just waited for me to walk. I held onto Dan’s rein for dear life expecting him to blow any second as we walked down the arena. I finally realized that he knew that he had precious cargo and wasn’t going to pull anything stupid. By the third event, I decided I trusted Dan enough, so I let Tyler hold onto the reins while I walked next to Dan. We did the pole bending, and Tyler weaved the poles all by himself. Dan did everything Tyler told him to and never put up a fight. I realized that all my time trying to transform Dan into a great horse had finally paid off.

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