I was very lucky to have two beautiful ‘perfect’ heart horses. They were both perfect for me at the time of my life that I had them.
The first one was a 3 year old ridgeling Quarter horse named Troy. (We didn’t find out he was a ridgeling until many, many years later – we thought he was just a brat LOL) I was a typical horse crazy kid and would have died for ANY horse. My parents offered to buy my favorite lesson horse – a broken down old gelding. Luckily, the barn owner refused, and a few weeks later my parents and I went to look at a house for sale. In the back was a corral with a beautiful bay horse. I knew I couldn’t have him, so I didn’t even bother to ask. To my delight and surprise, the next morning my parents said we could buy him. He cost $100.00 – a giveaway price even back in the 60’s. We didn’t have a vet check, and none of us even touched him before we bought him. He had never been ridden, and I was a skinny 11 year old who had been taking lessons for about a year.
All I had ever want to do was to jump, but everyone told me that–“foundation type Quarter horses don’t jump.” I realize now he had a naturally perfect headset and gait for western pleasure, but I rode him English. He was never mean, but very, very pushy on the ground. He just about went nuts around mares, and it didn’t help that my riding instructor used him to tease mares. As long as I owned him, I felt much safer on his back than I did leading him. He bucked and crow hopped a lot at the beginning, and taking him on the trail was a nightmare – he’d give that ‘train whistle’ snort, and off we’d go, bucking, rearing and spinning. He never bolted, however, and never kicked or bit. Believe it or not, he never bucked me off. He came close a couple of times, and I swear that as soon as I felt myself losing my balance, he would stop for a moment until I got my balance back, then off he’d go again.
Anyway, several years and a lot of miles later, I started showing him in hunter and jumper classes. He could literally ‘jig’ up to a 5 foot fence and clear it. The highest I ever jumped him was 6 feet – bareback. He was a natural. I showed him VERY limitedly, and he was still nationally ranked in both working hunters and junior and open jumpers. Later, I also showed him a few times in western pleasure and trail classes, and he did great in those, too.
By the time he was ten, I could put a kid on his back and send him in just about any class at a show, English or Western, and he would take them through it and usually at least place. Anyone who rode him that tried to bully him, however, would find themselves on the ground. He dumped my riding instructor literally every time she got on, and he was particularly belligerent with men who were going to show him who was boss. We got along great, however. He always tried his best for me, and never hurt me, even when I slept in his stall at horse shows.
One time, I even think he might have saved my life. I know horses just aren’t like dogs, but I have no other explanation as to what happened. I was out on the trail by myself, and a man approached from the opposite direction. Troy kept his eyes on him, and when the man was about 20 feet away, Troy suddenly pinned his ears and charged. The man took off running. Later, I heard several girls had been attacked in the same approximate spot, and the attacker had never been caught. Unlikely he ‘knew”, but still….
When he was 12, I got married and was unable to keep him. I was broken hearted, but had no choice. I sold him to an 11 year old boy who loved him as much as I did, and I was still able to ride him as much as I wanted, and they consulted me about everything. He was still my horse. He taught the little boy to ride just as he had me.
His death at 17 was almost spooky. His new owner had taken a friend, who had terminal cancer, to see Troy. The friend spent most of one day riding and playing with Troy, and the horse behaved perfectly. Several weeks later, the boy had a setback and was taken to the hospital. That same day, Troy had a vet check, and the vet told us he was in perfect health and ‘would live till he’s 50.” The next day, the boy was dying. The very last thing he told his mother was “I hope I can have Troy in heaven.” The day after the boy died, Troy became ill, and was diagnosed with a monolith stone that had literally torn him up. He was euthanized. I was heartbroken, but at the same time, what had been told me by the dead boy’s mother helped me immensely. Again, was it coincidence?
I never thought I’d have another horse – I raised a family, started training dogs and the horse dream gradually disappeared. However, a few years ago, my daughter moved to KY and purchased a small horse farm. As soon as I walked into the barn, the old ache returned. I decided to get an older, well trained “bombproof” gelding for trail riding. At almost 60, the ground looked a lot harder than it used to!
I had never particularly liked palominos, but for some reason, I looked at an ad for a 2 year old palomino filly named Nibbles. I figured I’d go look at her, because she was close, and I knew I wasn’t going to buy the first horse I found. I was in no hurry. One and a half hours after I first saw her, she was delivered to my daughter’s farm. No vet check. I didn’t ride her. I didn’t really go over her to check for any issues. I didn’t see anyone else ride her or tack her up. STUPID!! But something about her eyes and her expression just sold me. Anyway, she has been a dream. I keep waiting for her to do SOMETHING wrong, but she just hasn’t. She’s calm, well behaved, and sweet. She ties, is perfect on the trail – no spook at all. She’s not a bit mareish and has very nice gaits. I have ridden her very limitedly, but I see absolutely no problems.
When my daughter’s Haflinger dumped her on the trail and stepped on her, my husband jumped off of Nibbles and ran to my daughter. Nibbles stayed ground tied perfectly for at least 5 minutes, even though she had never been trained to. She then ponied my daughter’s out of control horse back to the barn like a trooper. My husband had to just drop her reins to control the Haflinger, and Nibbles walked slowly back to the bar with no guidance. Another time, my daughter’s dog jumped on her back from a ledge above. Any other hose I know would have freaked, but Nibbles bucked once and ran about 15 feet, then turned around and just looked at the dog. I have a disease that causes me to lose my balance easily. I am fine once I’m on her, but walking is a different story. I have fallen in front of her several times, and even once landed on her front feet. All that happens is she nibbles on my hair. When I am done riding her, and I turn her loose in the pasture, she ALWAYS tries to turn around and follow me back into the barn. She just loves people, and is naturally gentle.
She has been vet checked since, and she’s in great shape. Everything I teach her, it seems like she already knows or learns WAY too quickly. She really doesn’t act like a horse – more like a dog. I know that I will have to have some problems with her eventually, but it doesn’t matter. Nibbles is my heart horse as much as Troy was, and they will both always be. They both were perfect for that time of my life
The first picture is Troy the day I got him. the second picture is him at a show.
The third and fourth picture is Nibbles the day I got her, at barely 2 years old. The fifth picture is her with my grandson on her. (She had been cross tied, saddled and bridled when I went to help my daughter with another horse. When I came back, my 4 year old grandson had unclipped her, climbed one her, and walked her around the yard. I just about fainted, but he didn't know what the problem was - after all, as he said -"I put on a hemet, grandma!" LOL.