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Discussion Starter #1
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?
 

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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
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Scoutrider,
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
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
“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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Discussion Starter #11
I've said before that one of life's little joys is to know the love and companionship of a dumb animal be it a horse or a dog.

When my much loved, hairy, yappy, little, faithful terrier died my Father made up a little wooden memorial to him. I watched in surprise, as I did not realize that he had the ability to carve on wood. Then as I read the words, my eyes watered.

Father turned to me and said: -

"Son, if you had not known the love of the animal, then you would not be experiencing the price in grief to be paid when the animal dies. You got a bargain."

Those words were spoken nearly 30 years ago and I guess I shall remember them until I can't remember anything.

So if around this time of year you folks are provoked to shed a little tear in memory of a much loved steed, then hopefully it will bring back a few good memories as well.

Barry G
 

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When I was younger, I never had my own horse due to financial reasons. I rode anything and everything that someone would let me, and a wonderful trainer that took me under her wing to start training horses as a teenager. I bought my first horse when I was 16, but he ended up having to be put down from long term physical issues in just over a year. I was working some other projects at the time, but nothing great. I was glancing through horse ads in my parents office when I just said "mom, that is my horse". He was just coming 4 yrs old, dunskin paint gelding with minimal white. We went and saw him and the woman selling him turned down higher offers on him while we were there, saying that she agreed with me, he was my horse. We put tons of miles on together, riding through busy towns, cow pastures, woods, we traveled a good chunk of the country together before I was 20 and before he was 7. He's the kinda guy that could win a western pleasure class and a barrel race in the same day. He helps me train other horses and lead groups in parades. He always keeps me humble, and has put me in the dirt a few times when I start getting too cocky. But, at the same time, that single horse has been a key in building most of my business. He definately knows how to ham it up when the right people are watching. I've had several people walk up and say that he looks proud when I get up on his back. He's one of those jerks that you can't help but love, he's locked me in feed rooms and thoroughly enjoys throwing water on me, but all in good fun. He takes his work seriously, always my right hand man when push comes to shove.

He and I now have a full barn to work. He gives me that look, everyday when I walk in the barn, that look that reminds me about what it was like when it was just the two of us. Sadly, its a rare occasion when he and I can go for a ride without a problem child to pony or an inexperienced rider to babysit. But, we both keep working, he takes on every problem horse that we get in, keeping the structure in the barn. He calms them down, gives them manners, and I teach them their skills. He is only 11 now, but I know he will always be here, the donkey won't let anyone else ride him anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
A Fast Night Ride Home.
Longford Golden Appollo (Puddy) was not the first horse which I ever owned - he was the second. His predecessor was a cross breed cob who we named Sunshine. Thinking back to those days Sunnie’s main handicap in life was that he was born around 1970 as a bay gelding cob which pretty much made him ‘common‘. Nearly all horses born in Britain back in those days were bay geldings since coloured horses were distinctly unfashionable. With hindsight I owe Sunnie a lot because it was he, a natural schoolmaster, who taught me to ride. There were no surprises from Sunnie who went on to have a good life taking a young Welsh farmer fox hunting.

Puddy on the other hand was distinctly unusual in being a golden palomino with a silky flaxen mane, a long full flaxen tail, four flaxen hairy feet and, importantly, two flaxen ears. As a young man I had been seriously impressed by this beautiful creature, first seen languishing in a scrubby field. Noticeably his neglectful owner had lost interest in horse riding. Puddy, very obviously, had lots of class and looked the part. We paid the money asked for and Puddy came home without much ado. Over the years this pretty palomino proved to be a skittish handful but he gave me a lot of fun in the process. Puddy was the cause for my selling a picturesque 16th century house in the centre of a snooty village in order to buy a pig farm, so as to provide the chap with a stable and some pasture. Many years later, Puddy was sent on to heavenly pastures but memories of times spent with him will stay in my mind for as long as my memory works.

It was customary on most Sundays to ride around the town, through the woodlands and up onto the moors. There was a network of interlinking paths and we could choose many ways to go to the pub either directly or by taking a roundabout route. Much depended upon the weather. It was always a lot of fun to chase the leader. One Sunday we set off a little late and by the time we stopped for a quick tipple at the pub, some friends were already there celebrating a birthday. We were invited to join the party. As a result Puddy and my brother’s horse Ranger were tied up to a convenient tree whilst, I and my stunt man buddy had a beer or two. In those days I could drink beer - pints of it. The honest truth is that we stayed too long and by the time we had noticed that the clock was going too fast, it was already dark. In the mean time the two horses had been standing tied to a tree for a couple of hours and they were mighty miffed - to say the least. They wanted their evening meal. It was also the first time they had been out after dark. Of course the two riders were happy and noisy - that is what beer does to men. We mounted up and off we went - at the canter from the very beginning.

Now the real problem was that the shortest route home was not along the tracks on the moorland; rather it was a few miles down the hill and through the woods. The path was about four feet wide. On the left side the bushes grew and on the right side there was a steep downward sloping bank. There was little room for lateral movement. However there was a problem in that the daylight had faded and for much of the ride we would be in neglected and overgrown natural woodland. It would be pitch dark. In fact all I could see forwards were the two white ears of my Palomino. I couldn’t see the surface of the path nor even the edge of the path and I was in the lead. I wasn’t worried about losing my way; Puddy knew the way better than I did. But I did know that the quickest route took us around a sharp 120 degree right hand bend. Neither could I see the low lying branches which I knew from previous experience could swipe me out of the saddle. There was only one thing to do and that was to rise up off the saddle, push my knees into the knee rolls of the saddle and bend forwards so that my head was lower than the horse’s ears. Effectively I was laying on the horse’s neck, sprint race jockey style. There was no way by which I could hold my horse back, even assuming that I could persuade my stuntman friend to rein in. I was only in front because his horse was slower than mine. Din earned his living in the film world doing this type of riding. We roared down that path and I began to get a little worried about the bend for I knew it would be coming up soon. As it happened it was no big deal because at the speed we were going it was the centrifugal force which kept me in the saddle. Horse and rider must have been leaning over into the turn. The track was gently downhill all the way and we didn’t stop motoring until we reached the tarmacced lane by the parking area. We had to slow down then and bring the horses back to trot as we could not canter through the town, especially on a Sunday.

Finally we got home to be met by a younger Her Indoors (she of flaming red hair) waving her broomstick and asking where on earth we, two, irresponsible, selfish, inconsiderate, yobboes had been for all that time. The sweaty horses were quickly led away from us to be fed, watered and groomed. We were to be treated as the lowest of the lowlife.
However that ride was one of the most memorable rides of my life.

Of course nowadays I would scold anyone who even thought to ride in such an irresponsible way.

Without doubt it would not have been possible to get home safely without those white ears. The branches would have got me.

Barry G
 
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