Horse StoriesThe quality that first attracted me to my beloved horse Rose, was her spirit. She came to me, a five-year-old mare, a Leo horse with racing blood running through her veins. I was introduced to her one fall night, when a friend of mine wanted to ride. My current steed, a gentle, well-seasoned ex-show Quarter Horse, TJ, was suited perfectly for her riding abilities. I, on the other hand, needed a horse to ride, so I asked the stable owner if he had a horse that needed exercise. It just so happened they had the perfect horse, a sweet little mare that needed attention. I jumped at the opportunity.
By the time I saddled TJ, the sun had already set, so we led him from the stables to a lighted arena outside. The air was cool and crisp, our first reprieve from a brutal summer filled with extended months bearing temperatures reaching three digits. I settled my friend upon TJ, started her in a steady walk. Looking up and saw a beautiful chestnut Quarter Horse mare with a white blaze being led to me. Lifting myself into the saddle we set out after my friend.
Rose was a powerhouse, full of pent-up energy, which the cool night air only fueled. Understanding her need to open-up and stretch her legs, I allowed her freedom as we hacked around the arena. The warm-up only fed her passion to run and so, after a few minutes of posting her lovely trot, I allowed her to pick-up a canter—and what bliss! She ran like the wind, nostrils flared, snorting with each downward strike of her front legs. I had never felt such raw power—I fell madly in love with her.
That night at home, I was in a bit of a daze, dreaming about that glorious ride. The next day I asked if I could ride her again. The stable manager said, yes, I could ride her whenever I wanted.
Taking Rose out into a larger pasture, I warmed her up posting, reining in her desire to run. She quickly worked up a sweat, prancing about, snorting, while I mapped out a level path where I could open her up. When I gave her the signal, she shot forth like a bullet, the wind whistled in our ears as her mighty hooves thundered. I couldn’t remember having more fun. This mare had captured my heart. What’s more, riding her sent me back to my teens with my first horse Missy, a stunning Appendix Quarter Horse mare.
Missy was my learning horse. While she grazed in the pasture I often vaulted onto her back, sending her into a tailspin to get me off. At first, I always fell, but motivated by youthful determination, I jumped back on, until I learned to ride through her bucking, my horse being as determined as me. Once the running and bucking, jumping and play was over, Missy grazed. Allowing me to simply sit on her back, which often turned into my napping on her back, sitting backwards with her smooth rump as my pillow.
Rose and I enjoyed unshackled rides too, bareback and free. She too submitted to my need to be as close to her as I could get, to use her equally ample rump as a pillow. Particularly when she became mine. Under saddle, it was a different story. That’s when we galloped across roomy fields racing the wind, feeding each other’s souls.
In all sincerity, my early pasture days with Rose consisted mainly of horse runs, rider hangs on. I thrived on the adrenaline rush she gave me. But in time, I came to my senses and started to practice disciple. Rose, of course, balked at this, but we soon grew together until reaching moments of pure precision. Oneness, where you and your horse move together in a synchronized form, like dancing.
Even when Rose was in her later years, I could see traces of her wild spirit, though she mellowed with age, into a comfortable mare I could trust with small children.
In those early days, our favorite pasture became the grazing ground for other horses. On occasion, the herd joined us in our runs. One fall afternoon, Rose and I were warming up away from the herd, working at a nice, rhythmic trot, when unexpectedly she bolted into a side step.
What in tarnation was that all about? I wondered.
Suddenly, she did it again, this time pivoting around with her ears pointed, nostrils flared, eyes wide, snorting heavily as if trying to rid herself of an offensive smell.
There to the side of us stood a little donkey, looking very forlorn and lonesome.
Rose continued to snort, staring at the donkey. I gave her a reassuring pat and signaled for her to trot forward. She sidestepped the first few steps, keeping her eye on the donkey, before easing into a nice pace, enjoying ourselves.
She bolted again, pivoting round. The donkey was following us.
Great, I thought. I positioned Rose, so she could get a better look. She merely snorted in distaste, backing up while the donkey watched, looking very rejected. I turned Rose asking her to go forward again. She did, prancing like she was walking on hot coals. The donkey trotted after us. Rose stopped, pivoted to face it and pooped, body quivering.
Finally, I had enough. I asked Rose to canter, which she willingly did, taking a commanding lead away from the donkey, who watched us from the other end of the pasture. However, out-of-sight does not mean out-of-mind! Rose held her body taunt and was skittish, making our ride unpleasant. I, on the other hand, was determined to enjoy the afternoon. I forced myself to relax in the saddle, believing the donkey was no longer a threat. Besides, it seemed a shame to waste a beautiful afternoon.
Several minutes later, I was completely relaxed. Rose too was calm and had dropped her nose to graze. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the donkey. It had worked its way through the woods to where we were. In an instant, Rose bolted into a full gallop, leaving me momentarily suspended in the air for a few fleeting seconds before I crashed hard to the ground. This was the first and only time Rose threw me during the twenty-one years that she was family. I sat on the ground with the donkey watching me.
Needless-to-say, I humored my horse. We never rode in that pasture while the donkey was there. Likewise, I learned that any animal other that a horse, dog, cat, bird and occasional bunny, was perceived by Rose as a horse eating monster. Oh, puddles of water too! And if I ever came across donkeys, I dismounted and led my jittery horse a wide range by.
Years later, after I had moved Rose onto my property in Collyville, TX, so she could be part of our everyday lives, another sweet little guy came into our lives. A little Arabian baby, just four months old, named Roo. Roo, unlike Rose, has always found other animals interesting playmates, such as the baby calves that resided in the pasture next to ours. He befriended them, while Rose maintained a Leery distance. Especially when a cow occasionally jumped the fence to graze in our front lawn.
When I wrote this many years ago, both Rose and Roo were peacefully grazing together. I was watching them from my office window. Upon a closer look, I saw that Roo had a bird sitting contently on his back. At first, he seemed to pay no attention to it, until the bird began hopping around. Roo stopped grazing and looked over his left shoulder. Seeing the bird, he stretched his neck as far as possible, reaching his nose toward the bird. The bird hopped just out of reach. Roo switched sides, stretching to the right. Again, the bird hopped out of reach.
Amused, I saw Roo become perplexed with the bird. I went to his rescue, offering him an apple at the fence. As he trotted over to me the pesky bird flew away. I fed him the apple, giving his back a good scratch.
Out of nowhere, a white plastic bag popped up, carried by the wind. Snorting, Roo watched the horrific thing float by. I made a mental note to start teaching him that bags and such things as basically harmless. As if reading my mind, he snorted and nuzzled my hand, licking the apple juice from my palm. Once again reminding me of how blessed I am in so many ways. To love a horse and own them is one of my greatest gifts.