Cowboy Magic

I have written a good bit lately about my fancy, first string horse. The horse I want to write about today is my first horse- well my first horse since childhood. I went through my teens, 20s, and most of my 30s without my own horse. Finally I managed to scrape together a few thousand dollars and purchase this guy.

The Big Gris Gris

He didn’t look quite like this when I got him. He wasn’t even three years old yet. He was skinny, and and several inches shorter. His color seemed to change on a weekly basis, so I won’t go into all that. He has been every version of grey that a horse can be.

Gris Gris is a Trakehner, a breed known for its intellegence and , some would say, sense of humor. I have seen G2 run through a pasture with a 6′ length of plastic tubing in his mouth- chasing the other horses and thoroughly enjoying himself. He can untie any know and open most locked, chained gates. He will rip the clothes off of most other horses just for fun, but will keep his own.

Hey! Give that back! Mom!!!

The horse in the burgundy blanket is the one from Spain. This picture was taken on his first morning at my house which is a long way from southern Spain. I bought him a neck piece (think turtleneck) to go with his blanket since he had no winter hair to speak of. Notice that it is not present in this shot.

What? I was just playing!

When I walked out into the paddock, G2 was waving the neck piece in the air, taunting the poor new kid to come get it! The other grey, a persnickity Oldenburg mare, was telling G2, “You are soooo busted.”

Before I move on with my story, I have to say a few more things about this fabulous horse. Other horses loved him. People loved him. Judges loved him. I still love him! All he had to do was enter the arena, pack me around and win a blue ribbon (sometimes red). More importantly, we always got really good scores and comments from the judges. When he bucked, which he sometimes did out of pure exuberance, the judges wrote that he was “playful” or “energetic.” Had G2 been any less of a horse he wouldn’t have put up with being my learning horse. He was that good.

X Halt Salute
(coat rule was waived b/c of heat)

The Champ After a Day at a Show (the big ribbon means he was the high scorer and champion of that level)

Somewhere along the way, G2 injured his stifle. That’s a bit like our knee but higher up. His promising show career was at an end. Not that I gave up that quickly. I spent every spare cent I had, and some I didn’t, to try to discover what was the matter and fix it to no avail.

Fast forward about six years to yesterday. I will spare you all the vet trips, therapies, and heartbreak of watching him become yard art. You didn’t think I would get rid of him did you? He’s only 13 now! Back to yesterday… I had been talking with my farrier who also happens to be a cowboy who starts horses for folks and gentles problem horses. I took G2 over to my farrier’s house for what I hoped would be some cowboy magic.

This is not the face of a horse who is worried by a little thing like a plastic bag on the end of a whip! He’s thinking,”Maybe I can catch it!”

We both had some concerns about hopping on a horse who hadn’t been ridden in at least six years. My farrier got on, walked and trotted a bit, then told me to get on! G2 was happy to tote the guy around cowboy style. So…

What next?

You will notice that I am dressed for English riding. Those pants still work fine in a Western saddle! Other than jeans, I don’t own any Western riding clothes, or tack either.

G2 and I poked around the arena a few times, but he started to get a little tense every time I tried to use some of the old dressage buttons. Then it dawned on us- G2 will never be a dressage horse again, but he may be OK packing people around! I used to take him on the trails all the time as a reward. He loved it!

This story doesn’t have an ending of any sort yet, it’s just a possibility. G2 was getting sore after 45 minutes of “work.” It was work after his time off. I’m going back this week for more rehab for G2 and maybe for me. If the big Gris can stand it physically, he will be re-educated so that he knows he will not be asked to carry himself like a dressage horse. That means I have to learn to ride Western! Happy trails to us all!