Friday, August 25, 2006

the horses in my life

Robin asked me, in a comment, how long I've had Blue.  In December, it'll be three years.

I've had other horses in my life.  Thirty-five years ago when we bought our first horse, Ginger, she was two years old and green-broke.  Cliff and I were greener than she was.  She was never a great horse, but at least I had a horse to ride, and my childhood dream had come true:  I had my pony!  We paid $75 for her and $100 for her saddle.

We bought another young mare while we had Ginger, figuring the two of us could ride together; but we never really got her to the point where anyone could ride her.  Cliff tried, but she'd sit her butt on the ground when he got on her.  We also bought an ancient, cheap old bag-of-bones we called "Old Gray". and I rode her once in awhile.

My kids were toddlers back then, so I could only ride when Cliff was home to babysit them... or when my parents wanted to have the grandkids over.  Cliff's sister, Charlene, came out and rode Ginger sometimes.  That was back when she was ten, eleven, and twelve. 

I was really getting into my Jersey cows at that time, and between the milking cows and tending to my toddlers, there wasn't much time to devote to horses; so we got out of the horse business.

We eventually sold our little twenty-acre place and somehow ended up where we now live.  I started wanting a horse again, and we called about an ad in the Kansas City Star; that's how we acquired a Missouri Foxtrotter named Lad.  He was a nice gelding, he loved people, and unless a train or a big tractor came alongside while I was riding, he was pretty dependable.  He was not only easy to catch... he'd come running to me.  This horse really loved me!

Then I got a job, and after a year or two, I realized he'd probably be better off if I'd sell him to someone who would give him some attention.  Because I just didn't seem to be able to find the time to ride him any more.  Selling Lad was one of the biggest regrets of my life, but at the time it seemed sensible.

Later, when my daughter was about fifteen and very much interested in horses, someone offered to give her a horse, no strings attached, for her to use in 4H.  We had to have him gelded.  He wasn't broke, but Rachel climbed on him and started riding anyhow.  He was an American Saddlebred, and his name was Buddy.  Rachel showed him in 4H, and rode him around here.  I think I only rode him one time before she decided she'd rather have a car for transportation, and sold him.

Fast forward some twenty years or so:  I started feeling the need for a horse again.  I've always favored Tennesee Walking Horses, and there's a fellow in town who raises them, shows them, and deals in them.  We went to see him and I explained what sort of horse I wanted.

A few weeks passed, then he showed up here and told us about a horse that had originally come from his place, and was now back:  a five-year-old gelding named Pleasure Boy.  When he said the price was $3,000, I told him there was no way we could come up with that much money.  I just wanted a horse to ride around the farm, not one to show.  I didn't really care about his pedigree.

The man had more horses than his place could handle at the time, so he came down to $2,000, and promised me that if I just kept the horse for six months and didn't like him, he'd take him back.  Hey, you can't beat a guarantee!

Pleasure Boy gave me lots of good rides, but he wouldn't let a child on his back, even if you just led him around; he wouldn't cross railroad tracks (a necessity if I wanted to ride down on the river bottoms) and he spooked pretty easily.  Still, I loved him.  He was the most beautiful horse I've ever owned.  But he really was a one-person horse.

So, when I was ready to sell him, I asked RD (the guy from whom I bought him) to find a buyer, and he did. He got the same price I'd paid, only he kept $200 as commission.  So I more or less leased that horse for $200 for two years, plus room and board.

When Pleasure Boy left, I told Cliff, "I think I have horses out of my system now."

That would have been true, except I made the mistake of reading "Seabiscuit".  Something about that book made me want a horse so bad, I ached to have another one.

I was working at the time, so I had the funds.  Only this time I wanted a horse that others could ride, a family horse.  One who wouldn't throw a fit if you put a little girl on his back, like Pleasure Boy had.

I mentioned to a co-worker of mine, one who had horses of her own, that I wanted to buy a gentle horse.  And preferably a gaited horse, although if it were gentle enough, I'd take anything.  Oh, and I didn't want to invest my life's savings.

"I'll find you a horse," Jessica said.

Within a month or so, she hooked me up with a man who had two registered Missouri Foxtrotters he'd sell.  He was asking $1,400 each.

I tried to reach the fellow for weeks with no success; but finally he returned my calls.  And by then, he'd gone down on his price, to $1,000.

My daughter and I went to look at the horses.  They were brothers, a year apart in age.  I got on the smaller of the two, and he seemed gentle enough.

So Cliff and I took the livestock trailer up, and I had to make my final choice between the two geldings.  Both of them were huge, but I figured I'd best take the shortest one because of my knee trouble.  I pondered and fretted, and Cliff said to the man, "OK, if you were buying a horse for your sixty-year-old wife, which would you choose?"

"Oh, I guess I'd take that one," he said, pointing to the smallest one.

That was Blue.  His registered name is Boogy Midnight Rhythm Blues.  His papers say he was born May 15, 1994.  He and I tangled a few times when I first got him home, but once we came to an agreement, he's been one of the best things God ever gifted me with.  He's taught me so many things.

And it's all because of Seabiscuit.

Isn't it funny how things turn out?


sugarsweet056 said...

Lovely story! {{{}}}
Have a nice weekend,

deshelestraci said...

He really is a sweet boy.  I noticed in the video how big he is.  His front end is massive.  I worked mostly at a trail riding place and a horse camp so I can't imagine a horse as easily spooked as Pleasure Boy.

chat2missie said...

The more I read your journal, the more I want to buy some land out in the middle of nowhere and have some horses!

fierrorachel said...

I remember Blue being a bit "wiggy" when you tried him out.  I would have never thought he would be the horse he is today.  That is a testiment to you...honestly.  You are good with animals.

tc01hm said...

You have to love horse stories. Thanks for sharing

lanurseprn said...

This was a great entry!  Loved the horse stories of your life.
Glad you ended up with Blue.