So I am called up one day and asked if I can come ride a friend’s new horse. She tells me she bought this gelding at the Hermiston sale. He is a registered Quarter horse, and she saw him ridden through the ring. He had been quiet and had impressed her with his composure at the sale, which is loud and has the smell of fear and illness. She brought him home and let him settle in a few days and when she went to saddle him up to ride he was acting “weird” so she wanted me to come check him out.
These kind of calls are the kind I get that make me want to say things like, sorry, I have to go to Tunisia for work and wont be available for the next 2 months. But no, my curiosity is up. I seem to always forget what happened to that damn cat.
I get to Lacey’s house and see a rather pretty Buckskin stallion in her smaller arena. After moving to this place after her Father died, she decided to board horses. She had 24 acres of nice pastures. All separated into 1.5 acre areas, with a half dozen 1/4 acre runs.
I go up and check the buckskin over. He seems very well mannered, and accepts a treat I toss into the arena for him. I give him another scratch and go knock on the door. Lacey and I exchange pleasantries and then I ask her about the gelding she bought. She tells me about watching him be ridden through the sale, how he ignored all the noise and other horses. He was really quiet and hardly even moved around, except when urged to do so. He mostly stood very quietly while they un-tacked him and then jumped back on him bareback. She decided he was the kind of horse she needed as she had been out of horses for several years and was basically starting over. She still had her old mare, but she was arthritic and was just a pet for the kids to occasionally be led around on.
When she had went out the day before to try to ride him, he had been much more animated, had not been very willing to stand still to be saddled, and hopped around so much when she was trying to mount she had become intimidated and had called me. While unsaddling him he had even pulled off the saddle pad himself and had flapped it around before tossing it aside.
I told her to show me the horse. She leads me out to the Buckskin Stallion. I turn and explain that she either brought the wrong horse home, or she did not understand the sale information on the horse, as this is a stallion. She told me he cant be a stallion because he was in with her mare and didn’t try to “do anything” except talk to her, like any new horse. And she was sure the guy selling him had said he was a gelding.
The buckskin as if to prove a point, starts strutting around ‘proudly’ proving his ability to be as manly as any other stallion, while parts of him are at attention. Where as Lacey’s eyes become the size of dinner plates and she makes no, no, no, noises shaking her head rapidly in denial.
“But he was so nice and quiet when he was in the sale yard. He was even quiet and nice when I went and pulled him from the pasture.”
She says he had been turned out with the mares in the main pasture for 2 days when he first came home; the boarders’ mares. Seems like she was going to have to explain the birds and the bees to those who had mares out in the common pasture. I am trying not to chuckle.
I sigh hiding my grin, and tell her the horse was probably drugged at the sale, and when she pulled him out of the pasture, he was probably tired from 2 days with a herd of mares. I will do an evaluation and we will see what he does know, and what kind of training he has, and what he may need.
Buffalo Joe, his registered name, is easily caught. Especially by me the one who had thrown him nummies, and had known the right place to scratch.
He has had some handling, and knows I mean business. He is really smart and keeps his attention on me the whole time. I am a bit impressed, but I also know there must have been a reason they drugged Joe.
I get out her saddle, and immediately set it aside and go grab one out of my truck. For one thing, he needed a saddle with full quarter horse bars as he was much wider than her old mare. For another thing, My ass was not going to fit into a 14″ barrel saddle with room to wiggle or bail fast if I needed to if he decided to be an ass.
He stands still and I get him saddled easily enough. He does not stand as still as a finished well behaved horse, but he is supposedly 4 and may not have had all the ground work he should have. I walk him a bit, do some ground driving and he knows a bit. He even lunges both ways and is giving to me and getting into the work. He has had some training and is enjoying this. Maybe he was only drugged so he would not get too wound up at the sale? Warning bells should have went off in my head, but instead I was relaxing.
I decide I am going to get up on him. By now several boarders have shown up, as well as a curious neighbor. They are all pulling up lawn chairs and chatting, watching “the expert” evaluate this horse. So I have an audience of about 9 people and Lacey.
I grab a cinder block, as I have an artificial left knee, and Joe is about 16hh. I grab the reins and a hunk of mane and swing a leg over Joe. I had almost got into the saddle when it came up to meet me. Hard. I managed to keep the reins and a big handful of mane I had ripped out. The tearing of the mane was an extra power source that made access to his auxiliary batteries, like those toys or flashlight you buy that has the plastic thing between the batteries and the main switch. Or as my daughter said, a rip cord, only I had no parachute.
He didn’t buck. There is no word for what this horse did to my ass. He jumped sideways, he did things cartoon horses do . I remember a cartoon movie when I was a kid about a cowboy raised by coyotes or wolves who meets a girl and she decides to ride his horse on their wedding day and the horse bucks her to the moon, It occurs to me I may be visiting her very soon.
He slips and goes down, I feel my foot hit the ground and the stirrup and the horse’s weight twist my ankle, I feel something pop. Now I am mad and determined that I am going to win this battle. I am not a fancy rider most of the time. I have to concentrate to be a pretty rider, but I have been on a horse since before I could walk and not much can buck me off once I set my mind to staying put. Also there is the audience. I try not to let that influence me, but it does.
Joe sunfishes, and I stay on, he rears then bucks, I stay on. He is covered in sweat and so am I. He races around the small arena and stops abruptly and throws down his head and bucks hard forward, planting his front legs with his head between them. I manage to stay on even though I am slammed in the back of the head by his ass and my neck feels dislocated. I kick him in the sides viciously, only then realizing I only have one boot still on. He is startled and takes a step forward. I hear “good boy” come out of my mouth, wondering about how I said that to this horse I wanted to strangle, then eat with BBQ sauce, after I get out of the hospital anyway.
His ears pricked up though. I said it again. “Good boy……Walk out.” The same command I gave him when ground driving him. He takes a few tentative steps. He looks at me, and I look at him. I pat him on the shoulder. I squeeze my leg a bit and say, “walk out boy.” We walk around the arena about 20 steps. I pat him on the shoulder making much over him, telling him what a good boy he is. I decide to get off and stop on a good note.
I step off and when my right foot hits the ground I scream and collapse to the ground, having forgotten about my broken ankle. I scare him and he starts jumping around stomping all over me. I woke up in the hospital and not the moon, which I guess is better than I saw this turning out. I still had some mane hairs wrapped up in my fingers of my left hand. I had 2 broken ribs, a broken ankle, a concussion and whiplash.
2 months later, I went out and got on Buffalo Joe again. No one else had any intention of getting on him, so when I was better I felt it was my job. He didn’t even try to buck with me again. A month after I finished his training Lacey sold Joe as a Stallion to a very nice woman from Montana who wanted a stallion to show and breed. Lacey was too afraid to try to ride him after seeing the events of my first ride on him.
There were 7 very cute foals at Lacey’s place next spring. Even her old Arthritic mare had a cute little Buckskin Colt. I did not offer to break him out when he was old enough.