Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Red Horse

This is Red Tee Bar, my beloved 17 yr old appendix quarter horse gelding.
Red is a horse with a strong and vivid sense of who he is, and who he wants me to be. We absolutely have a partnership and he strongly maintains that he is, at the very least, an equal partner. Red scoffs at the human as "leader" concepts of natural horsemanship (for the record, I do not agree with Red). In his equine vision of the world, humans and horses walk side by side.

Each day, in new and subtle ways, I am called upon to prove my worthiness to continue to claim partnership status. Yesterday's test: walking into the barn from the general pasture we easily flow into our evening routine. I move slightly in front of Red as we turn the corner into the barn and suddenly I'm bumped in the middle of my back - BUMPED - by Red, his nose to be exact. Hmmmmmm, message to mom - "HEY CARROT WENCH, get a move on and get me my good stuff to eat!" We stop and take a partnership refresher course. This looks like me swelling up, glaring directly into his eyes, and growling "QUIT!" He is so not impressed, gives me the slightest, tiniest hint of a lick and chew, and looks expectantly towards the tack room door.

Red was my first horse after 27 long years in the no equine desert of raising a child and getting an education. I sold my last horse Cinnamon when I was 4 months pregnant with my son. That was the fall of 1980. Too long. How crazy was I to spend over a quarter of a century away from my heart's desire. I wanted to be absolutely sure I could well provide for a horse before I committed to one.

Now Red had once been an adored, bottle fed orphan foal, purchased from his breeder by a dear woman who lives in Eureka. When Red was about 7 she sold him to a fellow with a few kids and several other horses and mules. Just before I found Red, his first mom had bought him back cuz his 2nd owner had fallen into ill health and Red had been a tad neglected. By the time he came to live with me, his 1st mom had him glorious shape. Here is their picture at my friend's place on our first day.

Red did a lot of trail riding all over the west coast. He wore shoes like too many horses do, and carried his head high up so he wouldn't miss any action (knowing him like I do). By the time he came to me, he had some significant pathology in his feet and had developed a sway back - also called the "upside down horse" syndrome or the "Sacro-Sciatic Syndrome" by Dr. Lauren Derock, DVM. All this means I've had to put on rocket shoes to keep up with my steep, never-ending learning curve. He is a barefoot horse and I have learned to do my own trimming. I tend to have some strong opinions on the health benefits of natural hoof care.

I would not trade Red for a stable full of warm bloods - he rules my heart and I am grateful for every step we share on the trail of life.

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