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xxBarry Godden 12-23-2009 07:28 AM

Good horses are hard to find

Over a lifetime, one can get to ride many horses. Most horses are easily forgotten; some give a memory which lasts a lifetime. I have personally owned six horses in my life and I have got to know four more which I think have permanently influenced my life of riding. DiDi, the only mare amongst the list is my current horse and will most likely be my last.

Joe was undoubtedly the horse that I loved - even though at the end he nearly killed me. He was an unusual animal and he called for forgiveness which is a price one is prepared to pay only for special creatures. I think of Joe as a cussed Border Reiver - a type of hard man who has a special place in British history.

However the horse which perhaps gave me the most pleasure was William: a 16 hand Welsh Cob X Hannoverian bay gelding. William was owned by a long distance riding centre in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. The terrain thereabouts is hard for any horse. It undulates, it is stoney, it is boggy and it presents tough going; for both horse and rider. It certainly calls for a special degree of sure footedness and it was over such terrain that William took me hunting. As an individual I like to feel affection for a horse which I choose to ride on a regular basis but there was no point with William - he just was not the affectionate sort. Amongst the herd in which he lived, he seemed to have a friend or two but most of the other horses kept their distance and allowed him space Undoubtedly he is/was the cleverest horse I have ever known, indeed on several counts he was a remarkable horse.

I suspect I galloped on him at the fastest pace that I have ever ridden on a horse - at the time his legs were going so fast that I never thought a horse’s legs could move that quickly. We were racing against a light young female rider mounted on a Thorougbred up a woodland track and we beat her to the end of the track. Once I rode him on ice - yes ice - snow was easy - icey snow is something different. I galloped him along mountain paths, once with only one stirrup leather - the other having snapped off. On another occasion we found ourselves stuck in a bog - he leaned back onto his hindquarters and we “popped out and jumped forwards onto dry land. Amazing.

One summer we did a four day, long distance ride across the Cambrian Mountains and reached our destination - the beach on the Irish Sea. The beach was where we were to put our trusty steeds back onto the lorry for them to be taken home but first we wanted a little gallop. The beach beckoned and off we charged en masse along the edge of the surf line into a fierce thunderstorm. At the end of the beach we turned around and did it again in the other direction. Together we got soaked but what an experience! William took me fox hunting up in the Brecon Beacons on several occasions and he maintained his place up at the front of the line from the morning to the evening.

I came off him once - much to his disgust. We had been charging along a furrow in a ploughed field - suddenly our furrow petered out and we had to move over - at the gallop. I collected him up, I got up off the saddle and I gave him a nudge on the left flank - he responded instantly he lifted up, we moved over and then we discovered that the earth was soft. He stumbled at the knees and I though we were going down, but we didn’t. He recovered and heaved himself up but for me it was too late; the forces of motion had hold of me and I went out over his shoulder. I did a roll and landed almost on my feet. A fellow rider said: it all looked to be very elegant dismount When I had come to a stop there was I sitting on the ground holding the reins in my hand. William looked down at me and asked if I was OK. A different horse would have gone down.

When it came time for me to buy my own horse, I thought seriously about making an offer for William but I knew he would not be happy with me. At 15 years of age, he was well established in his home herd and he liked to have his mates around him. Maybe it might have come right with time, who knows? Anyway Joe who was 11 was on offer at the time and as I have said, I always had a soft spot for him. With hindsight I think I made a mistake. I won’t go back to that riding centre - there are just too many good memories and William might still be there.

Never forget that good horses are hard to come by.

Barry G

PS What stories do you have about your favourite horse?

Scoutrider 12-23-2009 03:43 PM

Wonderful story, Barry! :D

My first horse, a Morgan/gaited horse cross, will always have a special place in my heart. One of my favorite memories of him is when my younger cousins came to visit, and I saddled Johnny and took them for "rides" around his paddock. Johnny was somewhat spooky and flighty, calm if you asked it of him but ready to run at a moment's notice. Dad once compared him to a Ferrari, :lol: so I kept a close eye on him and a firm hand on the rope with my little cousin in the saddle. Eventually, she got bored with slow walking, and asked to trot. I wasn't sure, I had not mastered the art of sitting Johnny's amazingly quick and rough trot in a full 5 years, so I warned her to hang tight to the saddle horn and to tell me to stop if she was at all scared. I could not get that horse to trot. I asked him as I normally did, clicked my tongue, flicked the lead at his flank, eventually told my cousin to gently kick. Finally John obliged with a few strides of trot (which was plenty for my novice rider cousin). My cousin decided that she was done, and I helped her off and mounted up myself. The slightest touch of my leg gave me an energetic canter. To this day I'm sure that Johnny was taking care of my cousin, and knew that he was to treat her differently than he treated me. He did something similar a couple of years later when he was drafted as a lesson pony for a 4-H function, teaching local kids basic riding and horsemanship.

I look forward to reading stories from other posters! Excellent topic! :D

Speed Racer 12-23-2009 05:02 PM

This is in tribute to my beloved Bay Conquest, known to all as Conny.

I called you my little bay demon in horse form because you were always a handful, terribly opinionated, and hated almost every other horse you ever met.

You were also my treasured, most precious, special companion and I've often wondered what I did right, to be blessed in such a fashion for those 21 years you were with me.

You came to me as a green broke, wild as the March wind 4 y/o, with the biggest ears I'd ever seen on an equid not actually a donkey. At our first meeting you bit me so hard you drew blood.

You chose me as your own after the first week of our inauspicious meeting, and the memories of you following me down the fence line, whickering softly to me, are some of my most cherished.

We showed, which you hated, and then switched over to trail riding, which you loved and at which you excelled. You were always the one everyone wanted out in front, to show the other horses that they could go past that scary object, through the water, or over those terrifying wooden bridges.

You were a true war horse, although your battlefields were the trails and woods. You never met an obstacle that you weren't willing to tackle, as long as I was with you. We were each other's courage, and an unbeatable team.

You owned my heart, a piece of my soul, and all of my youth. When you died, you took that piece of my soul and the last of my youth with you.

I floundered for awhile, trying to discover who I was without you. For so many years I had identified with being your owner and rider, that it left me lost and confused when I no longer had you to anchor my world.

It‘s been almost two and a half years since you crossed over The Bridge, but some days it seems like forever since I've heard your beloved voice and stroked your silken neck.

Wait for me in that green and lovely place where God sends all His creatures. I don't know how long I'll be, but I'll meet you there when my work here is done.

xxBarry Godden 12-23-2009 05:09 PM

Your Johnny sounds like one of the Good 'uns. And I for one am absolutely positive that one characteristic of them is that they recognize a young human who can't ride.

Happy Christmas to you and of course your trusty steed.

Barry G

Vidaloco 12-23-2009 05:44 PM

Oh geez your going to make me cry and I already have a cold so my nose is going to get really sloppy :cry:
I have my horse that is going to go down in my old age memory book as one of the good ones. I know she won't live forever and I cherish the times we spend together. She isn't perfect for everyone but she's perfect for me and I love my Vida.

Speed Racer 12-23-2009 06:08 PM

I got pretty teary eyed just posting that. It brought all the pain back.

I miss that boy more than I can say. No other horse will ever come close to him.

I have others and love them, but it's not the same. He was truly a once-in-a-lifetime.

ridergirl23 12-23-2009 06:42 PM

this is a really good thread....

The first horse i ever rode will leave a mark on my heart forever... Her name was Tacky (yes,tacky. ) she was at least 25 years old, but i was only seven, so that was ok. before i got to ride her she was my uncles horse...haha that little girl was hell on four wheels, :D she would run through rope fences, run away with people, and just try to cause trouble! She was a well bred QH, about 14.3 hands high. I was the only person that would ride her when she was old, but one day my brother and cousin thought they could ride her too (i was really little, so i was abviously upset) well, she bucked them off and sent them flying! haha, she was a great little girl, she always took great care of me when we were out trail riding :) she was put down at the beggining of last winter :( i will miss her forever. But this year, my new mare came to me...she is EXACTLY like tacky, she even has all the same habits, same marking (well, almost) and exact same color. haha i guess i got tacky back in a way :D

Honeysuga 12-23-2009 07:26 PM

My favorite horse almost killed me.

She was my heart horse and my first registered horse, which meant a lot to me. I bought her from a kill auction at rock bottom price, she had strangles, was skinny and had terrible foundered feet. I nursed her back to health and she blossomed and so did her cheeky personality.

She was a very large girl with a large attitude to boot. We were extended trotting through her pasture one day, going at a very good clip almost a rack type gait(no idea where it came from) and she decided to give one of those feel good bucks and flipped us both over, her on top of me and then I kept rolling for a bit until I hit a patch of rocks that stopped me rather quickly. It is kind of funny, I manage to remember more of what happened every time I tell the story so it gets more and more detailed...

Anyhoo, when she rolled on me it was only her rear thank goodness and not the saddle so that didn't cause too much damage. I ended up twisted around in a pile pf rocks, couching up blood and trying to get my bearings(I remember hearing the thud of my head hitting the ground somewhere between rolls).

Funnily enough I was not at all worried about myself and the fact that I could barely see and barely breathe through the blood, but was more worried about Honey who was in fact fine, standing solemnly looking at me, a little bruised and sore but fine never the less.

When my head cleared enough that I could see ok the blood slowed to a little bit every time I coughed, I got back on and rode for another hour(I was a bit disoriented... and stupid). Later on that night the blood came back and in thick clots so Mom decided it was time to go to the emergency room.

After all the tests and cat scans I was found to have a severely bruised and slightly fractured ribcage and a severly ruised lung (they said that if I had hit any harder my lung would have either exploded immediately or collapsed after a bit) so they gave me something to thin my blood so the cloting would not be so bad, and some pain meds for my ribs and sent me home after a few hours.

I never held it against her. And thank goondess nothing broken! I drink my milk! hehe

But ya that is my story.

ChingazMyBoy 12-23-2009 09:59 PM

A good riding horse is easy to find, it just involes alot of money, sure you can come across a well trained/educated horse cheaply. But rarely. But a horse you actually bond with, isn't the worlds most exspensive horse. I fell in love with my horse from the beginning, he was my dream horse. Actually the complete opposite, and sometimes I HATED him. When I wanted nothing but for him to just dissapear (he had major additude problems, and was fresh off the race track so rather geen). But one day, a few months into owning him. I finally had a break through, sure at this time I loved him to bits and just like a little girl with her first pony I spent every minute with him. But anyway, we never had that excellent riding connection. So that day in a lesson, my instructor asked me to get him to canter. So at this stage he had problems getting up to the canter (Yes, I did say ex-race horse) anyways, I got him to canter and we connected, we did it perfectly. Ever since then we've had that riding connection.

I loved this horse from the start, he loved me and I believe we are soal mates, sure theres times when he throws me, rears, kicks out. But he has NEVER kicked, bitten or hurt me deliveretly yet he has bitten a few other people. I love this horse.

xxBarry Godden 12-24-2009 07:08 AM

“Memories are Made of This”

We have a service in Europe under which you can email a set of jpeg photos to an address in Holland
and receive back a few days later a hard back book containing a set of glossy photos together with captions. For my birthday, unbeknown to me, Her Indoors sent off a selection of 40 photographs - some taken as long ago as 1975 - showing me with all of the horses we have owned and several of horses that we have had the pleasure to know. Along with the sight of the photos memories came flooding back of happy times spent with 16 horses some of whom have long since gone on to pastures new. The photo may represent one instant record of a moment in time but the memory is always recalled in video.

The book has its place on the sideboard in the dining room and every now and again I pick it up and thumb through it. Undoubtedly as long as I can recall the memory of that precious moment, then that horse will remain alive in my mind. The horse did not die after all. It went on to another world, as indeed do we all.
Amazingly each horse is remembered with a halo shining around its head.

Barry G

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