For my 11th birthday I got my Heart Horse, literally, emotionally, and in every way. My family and I had been out to eat, and my mom had told me that my present was at home outside. I figured it was a bike, or something like it. Nope, it was dark outside so I couldnt see him well, and my mom said not to bother him yet anyway. She went on to explain that they got him off a man who had him tied to a tree for a long time. I stood at the fence and watched him quietly untill the cold drove me inside. All I could tell was that he was light colored, not good! The next morning I was outside. He was skinny, and white. BUT spotted! He was covered in a mix of black and brown spots about the size of the bottom of a coffee cup. He had the brightest blue eyes that I had ever seen, and the strangest marking on his hip. He had a perfect brown heart on his left hip, amazing. I HAD to sit on him, mom told me he was broke so up I went. I never did put a saddle on him but this little angel named Geronimo was perfect. He walked, and trotted down our uneven rocky road, and never hesitated at anything. He knew my voice and would come to me, and strangest of all, he was blind. I do not know if he is still alive, he was around 12-13 at the time, and Im 20 now. We had to give him up, to a friend who had a little girl and no big horses, as ours were always picking on him. I know he was loved at least while he was with me and with her. I would trade every horse I have ever had to have my baby back....
I have read the thread - there are some really wonderful stories.
My immediate response to this question was, "no brainer, my current mare is my heart horse". But, then I felt bad somehow. I figured I felt bad b/c they were all good horses and it would be a disservice to the rest to say one was more special. They all have and deserve a special place in my heart and my memories. I'd give anything to have today the horse I had as a kid, of course. She was indeed a very special lady - not flashy, not registered, not much to look at, just a work horse....but wow, what a horse! When I started to grow up I got dumber - I wanted the "flash", the papers. A little older, I wanted more "prized" pedigrees w more guaranteed ability. There were those I felt particularly blessed to have owned, the "once in a lifetime" loves - and that I lost. As I got older and smarter again - I didn't value pedigree as much as the important stuff - like giving a horse a chance. For giving a grade horse a chance, in return I got another "once in a lifetime" kind of bond, kind of horse (my appyX mare).......but I loved/love them all...and they are/were all special.
My heart horse is my current man, Bandit. I thought I had heart horses before... but to be honest it was never the connection I have now. There was the blind paso who was 20odd years old.. then I moved onto a blind QH gelding, who was 5yo.. wanted to buy him but when I look back now I was probably trying to replace the first blind one. I groomed a TB mare, who I adored but never rode, so I can't be sure the connection was there... although she did get me started in racing.
I saw Bandit for sale 3 years ago.... once I saw him face on the ad I knew I had to have him. I was only after selling a lovely cob and a lovely TB... the only horse I had left at the time was a yearling who I just hadn't sold yet. I called her the moment I saw his ad and arranged to go see him that afternoon. She has sold him already but he had come back to her... the buyer couldnt handle his head issue or his pushyness. I rode him that day.. and he was a buttwipe. It took us 45 min to bridle him. His mouth was like a rock, leg signals??? What the heck were those. He was used to people haulin on his mouth and floppin about on his back.
I bought him anyway.... well actually I came home with him a mare and a yearling The other two I later sold. The day he arrived, I was offered more than double what I had paid for him, but I turned it down. The first day I rode him, he was a prat. We spent 45 min with him threatening to go up on the hind legs. It was all half hearted, and once he realised I wasnt fallin for it... well he's never tried it again.
Now he's no problem to bridle... pop open the cheek piece and pop the bit in his mouth. I TRUST him... like really really trust him. I've come to realise that I'm not invinsible and can be wary of what horses I ride - I've lost my bottle and I'm not afraid to admit it But... there is no fear of getting on Bandit. He had several months off while I was pregnant and recovering from a section... I was able to hop on and head down the road for a hack. NO lunging, no worrying... just up and away. He was fresh, he took a pull but there was never any fear of taking off, spooking or doing anything naughty. I've only got to ride maybe 12 times in the past year (between kids, work, ect) but I know the next time I hop on, there is nothing to worry about.
I had a scare a few months ago when he choked :( It was so scary, but on the plus side the vet took plenty of bloods so I know even at 17 he has no underlying issues to be concerned about :)
I am selling him, as much as it breaks my heart, as we are going abroad in the spring. It'll kill me to sell him, I tear up thinking about it, but I'm giving myself time to find the right buyer. So far it's only been chancers calling to ask whats the least I'll take for him I'm just like... Seriously people, ask me that AFTER you have come to at least see if there is a connection... to see if I want to sell him to you.
ANyway, without further ado... here's my incredibly gorgeous man.
LOL!!!! I for some reason just re-read my post on my heart horse. I don't know whether my auto -correct did it, or I was just VERY tired, but I meant to say my first horse died from a enterolith, NOT a monolith. LOL
Im sure I've talked about her before, amd I wasn't fortunate enough to own or still ride her, but Luck was my first heart horse. She's a horrible horse that'll never be a confidence builder or even relatively safe for someone not confident or experienced, but I loved her. She's tried to kick me multiple times (no matter what I did) and she always had an opinion with no issue letting me know it.
We did as well as we could though. I could ride her better than her owner of years and she gave me more than her owner. We have the exact same personality, and I think that's why we did both great together and where our issues stemmed from. She taught me a lot about how to respect a horse for what it is, not just something there for me to use. I brought her from a pissy mare that kicked at anything, everything, and nothing to a mare I could take to a show without fear we'd kick some poor child on their pony. I took her from a blown up barrel/pole horse to one that would place and not kick at the gate keeper or try to take off as soon as we made our way to the ring.
But, after my dad died, I found out from a friend of his that he had intended to buy Lucky for me. While I wish he would've beforehand, Im glad he didnt because I didnt have the money to pay for her and she wouldve had to been sold back. But, another lady bought her and I ended my lease because she was getting dangerous and her new owner didnt want me correcting her like I was to keep her relatively safe. I haven't seen her since but there's talk about me being her new farrier, which I would love..even though I know she isnt great with her feet.
Here's a picture of her the day we truely mastered being ground tied.
And then I met ST. Of all breeds she was a TB, and I never wouldve guessed it by her build. I don't generally like TBs, but she's definitely been the exception. 15.2 or so hands and a bombproof trail mount. She never cantered undersaddle, threw her head all around, couldn't trot on a 10m circle, and gave me quite a few problems just when I tried her out..Ive now been leasing her for about 8 months and intend to purchase her as soon as I have a stable job and home. We can now canter, trail ride alone, are working on showing (and getting ready of course), and she finally walks up to me in the pasture. I don't call her Sweet Thing anymore, I call her my pretty mare and she walks right up to me and will follow without a lead.
Here's a picture of her:
I have kind of an interesting situation with my heart horse. My first horse was an 8yo arab/saddlebred gelding. He was a behavioral train wreck. His owners started him way too young, to start with. I'm not sure when he was started under saddle, but he was started jumping (on 2ft fences) as a 3yo. They showed him hard in hunters until he started refusing fences because his hocks hurt. Instead of trying to figure out why he was refusing, they decided to make him a western pleasure horse. The problem was that they just threw a western saddle on him with no concern for fit (Dakota is the single hardest to fit horse I have ever encountered). Being mostly Arab, he let them know his displeasure at the ill-fitting saddle by becoming difficult to handle. Their "trainer's" answer to this was to bit him up into a twisted wire snaffle. Problem being that Dakota doesn't neck rein, he only direct reins. Needless to say, he didn't like the bit they put him in, so he became even more difficult to handle. Their "solution"? Put spurs to him...hard. Of course he hated that, so he acted out. What did they do? Tied his head down to his chest in a cruel imitation of rolkur. About this time, Parelli became the "next big thing" and, being who they are, his owners jumped on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, I think they used Parelli as an excuse to let Dakota get away with everything and not have to worry about correcting him. If he spooked under saddle, they got off and put him away. If he spooked on the ground, they put him away. Dakota being as smart as he is, he soon figured out that if he even acted like he was scared, he got out of work. So, he started spooking at absolutely nothing. Finally, they realized that they couldn't handle him anymore and sent him to a friend of mine for retraining. Enter me. My friend handed me Dakota as my first (supervised) training project. He wouldn't stand tied, he hated baths, he spooked at leaves in the wind (literally), he didn't know how to lunge, and when we did get him moving in the round pen, he'd pull his head to his chest because that's how he thought he was supposed to move. After working with him five days a week for almost a year, I had him leading without spooking at all with the lead over his shoulder, standing tied like a gentleman (even next to other horses), bathing without being tied, free lunging and lunging on a line solely on voice commands in a good form, and giving freely to a French link snaffle bit on the ground. My friend took over his under saddle training, but I continued his ground work, including getting him to back up anywhere and as far as I asked with just a voice command and a soft hand on his chest. During this time, his owners made the decision that they weren't a good fit for Dakota, so they gave him to my friend, who in turn gave him to me for all the work I'd done for her (I mucked all the stalls at the barn, worked her three horses and Dakota when she couldn't make it out, and fed in the evenings). We ended up using Dakota as a bareback lesson horse (in a French link snaffle) for an eight-year-old little girl who was terrified of horses (she'd been thrown from a big warmblood at her old lesson barn in Oregon). Unfortunately, his old owners had another horse they'd sent to my friend for retraining (a 4yo OTTB who their farrier had ruined his feet, so we basically had to leave him stalled until our [amazing] farrier could fix the damage...these people rode this horse with his feet all messed up and him in pain, and couldn't figure out why he was so difficult to handle) and while they were out visiting Hunter, they saw me working with Dakota. After almost two years of not paying a penny for Dakota's care (including the corrective shoes he needed when we first got him) and never visiting him, they decided they wanted him back. My friend didn't have the money to fight them because she was already in a legal battle over injuries her mare sustained while being boarded a few years earlier. I went out one day to feed and Dakota was gone. Last news I had of him, he had severe arthritis in his hocks from jumping so early and so high, his right hock was fused and his left hock was 80% fused. He can't be used for anything more than a light trail or arena horse (mostly walk with minimal trotting) for a small adult or child...and he's overweight again (he was overweight when we got him). He'll always be my first heart horse, though.
I truly believe you get the horse you need, not necessarily the one you want. Two years ago, if you'd told me I was going to buy a basically unhandled 2yo draft cross stud colt, ground train him completely on my own, and give him a great start under saddle...and that said-horse would be the perfect horse for me...I would have said you were completely off your rocker. But I can't imagine my life without Aires. Posted via Mobile Device
My heartiest heart horse is my horse, Rusty. He came to me when I was sixteen and just finishing my junior year of high school. I wanted a horse for forever, and this time, my parents couldn't turn me down. I started looking. And then there was this red dun gelding who had experience in a little bit of everything about 15 miles away from me. He was still for sale, so I went to see him.
Rusty was just perfect. Walked right in the trailer, was great to ride, great to saddle, stood for grooming. Most perfect horse ever. We bought him on the spot. He had to stay at his old owner's for a few weeks while we got fencing up. And then he came home 2 weeks before fair.
Rusty was a completely different horse. He wouldn't load into the trailer to go home, he was rushy and pushy under saddle, and he liked to bite. I thought I had a lemon. It took us 3 hours to get that darn horse into the trailer for fair. It took us another hour to get him off. He didn't want to back off and finally managed to turn himself around, getting a minor cut on his fetlock on the way out. Things didn't bode well at the fair, either. He reared up in his stall when I tied his show halter and leadrope to it, breaking the halter, after he wouldn't stand still for halter class. He wouldn't halt in our English class. In trail class, he gave a rear threat when I tried to get him to sidepass, and then wouldn't ground tie. And of course, the egg fell off the spoon right away for the egg and spoon game. To get him home, we had to borrow a stock trailer instead of our straight load, and that darn horse still wouldn't get in. WHAT a bugger.
At the next fair, Rusty did a little better. We somehow got him there. He did well in the games classes. But when the other horses left because we were the last entry in trail class, Rusty freaked out and did some rear threats and just misbehaved the entire class.
We took Rusty to a few other local shows too. We never could master the sidepassing in the trail class. He jumped the canter poles and I almost fell off. And he never, EVER made out as a pleasure horse. His canter was too big, as was his trot. And as for how we got him to those shows, I don't know.
Our next feat was a 24 mile ride, Albia to Ottumwa, dubbed as NAGBRAI. By this time, Rusty had a pasturemate, Bonnie, to pal around with. Bonnie and Rusty went down to this jig. And Rusty was just a bugger. He spooked at the railroad tracks, got dancey and rear-y when Bonnie left him, and he splashed everyone within a 10 foot radius of him in the creek. At the end of the ride, though, nothing fazed that horse. Semis, cars, trash...you name it, no spook. It was great until we couldn't get them loaded that night and had to stay overnight to try and load the horses the next day *grimace*.
I was still convinced I had a lemon. Rusty took off across fields with my friends. He had rear threat issues. Biting issues. Was girthy. Tried to kick my dad when he was brushing him. The only thing he never tried was bucking. And to this day, Rusty has never bucked me.
Over the winter, I got to thinking that MAYBE Rusty wasn't too bad. After all, I wasn't afraid to ride him down the roads bareback by myself, even the busy blacktop. I rode him in a halter sometimes, too. And although he was herd sour, he never tried to bolt back. And I worked on that. By the spring, we were going out alone a lot. But there was still a major problem: What was Rusty's calling? He wouldn't turn on a dime, didn't have western pleasure gaits, and had never seen a cow. So I went back to the only thing I knew: English and jumping. I started up lessons again, and tried some things on Rusty at home. He'd happily pop over barrels, tires, and poles. Sometimes. Sometimes, he'd duck out. But that summer, we bought a new trailer, figured out that a lunge whip behind Rusty's butt equaled a perfectly trailered horse, and went to a few shows. He jumped up to 2'6" for me at fair. And that's when I started taking him to lessons. My trainer was convinced he had merit. But I wasn't so sure. He ran out of jumps all the time, was super heavy at the canter, and seemed more "project" than anything.
^^This is what happened the following summer. Rusty piloted me over all the jumps at the rated and schooling show. We won 2nd in the Non-Thoroughbred Hunters on the Flat, placed in some jumping classes, and were the only crew from our stable to finish the Hunter Derby. He took every fence in stride.
Rusty was also a great companion on the trails. My friend and I rode into town with him and her horse, under a concrete bridge and past many scary town objects. I rode him in a parade. He was the only horse in that part of the parade, and we never had a problem. I rode him 2 miles back to parking by himself. No fuss. Of course, this was after he tried to kick me after I tried applying horse paint to his butt earlier that day.
Unfortunately, Rusty's great career came to a halt when his own love for jumping got in the way. In a wind storm, our trampoline flew into our pasture, spooking Rusty. He tried to jump the pasture fence and fell back, breaking the top of his tibia. He probably won't be ridden ever again. But he's still here, and I'm thankful. I miss riding him every day. I could trust him, in the middle of a corn field, to trot without my hands on the reins. I could ride backwards and sidesaddle on him. I stood on his back. We opened gates, picked up stuff, and jumped weird objects. He was my #1. When my friend and I got lost on the trails after dark, bareback no less, it was Rusty and her horse Sunny that got us back to the trailer safely, after riding on a public highway in the dark. I miss riding that darn horse everyday. He's my love.
Bailey is my 6 year old Bay grade mare! We raised her on our property her mom was my moms good barrel horse and her dad was my moms horse when she was a girl. I fell in love with her instatly never have I been that atatched to a horse before! Posted via Mobile Device
This one is easy...I had always loved horses but before Apache, I had never been IN LOVE with a horse before. Apache was a percheron / appaloosa cross who started his working life at 4 years old logging in Oregon. He pulled logs for a living until he was about 10 or so when he was sold to an outfitter in the Bitterroots in Montana. He packed guests and gear for about another 10 years until he was too old for the long trips and the outfitter decided to put him down. One of the guides was a friend of a friend of mine who thought he was still too useable of a horse to put down so he called my friend and asked if he wanted him. Glenn said yes and drove to Montana from Colorado to get him.
After Glenn had him for about 6 months, he lost his job and they had to move. He knew we had horses and land and asked if we would take him. He was overweight, his feet were in terrible shape and his teeth needed done and he had eye problems but something about him struck me and we brought him home. 'Pache became my best friend and would follow me around the pasture hanging his head over my shoulder as I did my work. He wasn't pushy or disrespectful, just my friend. I usually rode him bareback as I couldn't find a saddle wide enough to fit him well. That horse would go absolutely anywhere! NOTHING fazed him.
I had him for about three years and his exact age is somewhat suspect but we believe he was around 20-23 when we got him. He developed ring bone and with medication we were able to keep him comfortable. Unfortunately (for Apache) we made the decision to move back to SD from CO. The vet questioned his ability to make the 9 hour trailer ride. We started to turn over every stone in order to find a home for him but no one wanted a 26 year old lame half draft. We made the VERY hard decision to have him put down. On the morning I left to get the vet, a friend called and said she found a home for him. A friend of hers had a young (teenage) grandson who needed to learn responsibility and they wanted to give him something substantial to take care of that wouldn't hurt him. Apache was perfect as although he had little formal training (read none probably) he was the brokest horse I have ever been around. Sobbing like a baby (not characteristic for me) I called my wife and told her he had a home!
He went to live less than an hour away with a little boy as a friend. That was more than 10 years ago but you can't convince me he isn't still there taking care of that little boy! That would make him 36...hey it's possible!!!!
My mare, Lizzie, is the love of my life! She is without a doubt my "heart horse". I started riding when I was 8 and learned to ride on a super fat and lazy pony named Summer. I was so little and Summer was so round that my feet didn't go past the saddle pad, so I had to ride her with one or sometimes two dressage whips to get her to trot. Summer got old and had to be retired and I just didn't click with any of the other lesson horses. My old riding instructor started looking for another horse and found a mare online. This mare had apparently done saddleseat for years and then lived in a huge field with a few other mares and a stallion, doing very little besides having babies. She was the only safe horse, so the guy who own the horses took her out riding on the highway, with 18 wheelers going by. That was her sale video.
When I first met Liz, I fell in love with her... on the ground. I was terrified to ride her. I was used to riding fat, lazy, 13 hand Summer. Liz was insanely hyper and over 15 hands- a big difference for a tiny 10 year old! After a year or two, I got comfortable riding Liz and began to truly trust her. Lizzie made me confident and helped me get over shyness and performance anxiety by being so confident herself at our little schooling shows. I honestly think that Liz taught me to ride way more than any instructor did, although she did have to learn to put her head down after doing Saddleseat!
A few years later, things started to disintegrate with the riding instructor. A lot of the students left for better barns and lessons where they could progress, but I couldn't leave Lizzie. In late fall of 2009, the riding teacher told me that she was moving and I had to find a way to buy Liz before spring or she was going to sell her. As a sophomore in high school with plans to go to college out of state, I really was in no position to buy a horse. However, it was Liz! I couldn't lose her. My parents decided that they would take the money they had been paying for my weekly lessons annually and put it towards Lizzie's care. Their reasoning was that helping me afford Liz would be way cheaper and less traumatic than the psychiatrist bills if I had lost her! A girl I used to ride with had a rescue at her house and he was lonely. The family agreed to let Liz live there if I helped out with the care and paid for her food.
I was ecstatic, of course! I had Liz there for over a year. It was a great solution at first, but it got to be that I was doing all of the care even though I lived 20 minutes away and the family lived on property. Liz was also getting older and needed more intense care, as well as my nearing departure to a college where I would only be able to come home on weekends. I found an affordable boarding barn and moved Lizzie. Unfortunately, after about 18 months there, the barn began to fall apart and the care (or lack there of) was getting to be a health risk for Liz. In September, I moved her to a wonderful new barn that takes amazing care of Lizzie. She gained back the weight she had lost at the bad boarding barn and is so happy that we have access to trails again!
When my old riding teacher bought Liz over 9 years ago, she told me that her registered name was Chocolate Liz and that she was 17. However, I have looked in Morgan horse registries and not found a horse under that name. Also, I have realized with the help of vets, dentists and other horse people that she's much older than 26 this year. The best guess is that Liz is in her mid to late 30's and still going strong! Liz had a tumor a few inches below her withers, right where the front panels of a saddle fit. Before I bought her, it was removed but grew back in less than a year. Liz can't wear a saddle comfortably, so I only rider her bareback. She is the most hyper horse I have ever ridden and loves work! She's one of those horses that I get on and she's insane, with tons of go and extremely sensitive to leg. However, I can put any kid on her and she'll walk around for hours, ignoring any accidental kicks.
I can't imagine my life without Lizzie. She helped me become the person I am today and has given the confidence to pursue what I want in life. Whenever I get stressed out, all I have to do is see Liz and I can feel myself relax. She helped me through my friend's death and my parent's divorce, among other things. Lizzie is brilliant and has such a strong personality. She makes friends with all the people at the barn and loved to socialize!
Here's Liz and I back when we were young... I was probably 10 or 11 here securedownload.jpeg
Taking a nap on her soon after I bought her, 4 years ago IMG_0098.jpg
Cantering at the first place I had her DSC_6391.jpg
Only a headshot from the middle barn... I hate looking at full body pictures from there because she was so thin :( 2011-10-09 08.56.28.jpg
After 3 months at the new barn, no more ribs! Looking pretty good for an ancient lady, if I do say so myself 2012-10-31 09.55.15.jpg