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Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Quarter Horse for Me...

I have come to the conclusion, when I go back to work my very first large purchase is going to be a horse. Living in the Village, we do not have the land to keep horses, so there will be fees for boarding the horse at a nearby facility. It is just something I need to do, you see, I have loved horses all my life.
Growing up I liked nothing more than visiting my grandfather and tending to his horses. I spent many school vacation days getting up early to muck out stalls and turn the horses out. My grandfather kept a number of Quarter horses on his property in Mid-Michigan as well as in Texas. There was an occasional Painted Pony or Saint Bernard; they were large enough to qualify as small horses, but the Quarter Horse reigned supreme.  
The Quarter Horse is a great family horse. They are usually between 14 to 16 hands high, which makes them a nice size for most riders. The temperament of a Quarter Horse is for the most part gentle with a docile demeanor.  This makes them a good fit for children as well any beginner rider. They are intelligent animals that take to training well. They are surefooted and make for a great trail ride horse. 
The Quarter Horse is a steady working breed. Cattle and rodeo was my grandfather’s game and the trusty Quarter Horse was a constant companion. They are known to be able to sprint at fast speeds but are agile enough for working in ranches as well as the rodeo.  Their name was originally associated with the horses’ ability to do well in quarter mile races.  This speed was an asset when cattle workers were moving herds. A well trained Quarter Horse is a hot commodity on a working ranch. They have an ability to instinctively work with their handler to read each other and the cattle’s body language. The horse can separate cows from the herd as well as round up the occasional wayward cow. Watching a rider and horse while working is like watching a dance, they move with each other while working to a common goal in the most graceful manner.
Cactus Dude and my Grandpa peeking out from the barn
Quarter Horses may be a working man’s dream horse, they are great for the hobby rider or sport rider. It is pretty common to find them stalled at the fairs and festivals around your country towns. They are there for barrel racing, calf roping and other competitions. They are ridden by novice to expert riders. Always spirited for the next round of competition, the horse is a wonder to be hold while in action. Their speed is mind boggling as the gates open and they race forward to make figure 8 turns around barrels at break neck speed or wait for a cowboy to whirl his lasso over a calf. They hold steady as the rider jumps off, ready to finish roping the calf, trusted to hold their end of the rope and to hold that end tight for their partner. The Quarter Horse is a sight to be seen.

While my grandfather has passed away and the horses are just a fond memory of mine, I still get the same nostalgia from walking through barns at 4-h shows and fairs. The smell of the hay and horse takes me back to days when a girl’s best friend was her grandfather and a Bay Quarter Horse named Junior.  Once you have been bitten by the horse bug, it is hard to let it go. This “bug” gets ahold of your soul.

There is something so majestic about the animals. They are large and extremely intelligent. The bond between rider and horse is a strong one. It is built on trust. The animal trusts you to be responsible with its care, to lead them with care and integrity and in return the rider trusts the horse to take commands and care, not to hurt the rider. It has always been amazing to me that these clever animals are so willing to trust humans.
This bond between horses and their owners is evident when talking with old cowboys or cowgirls. My grandfather always kept his favorite horses bridle hanging up even after the horse had long since passed away. The bridle always had a place in his home, a tribute to the relationship between horse and rider. My mother is the same way. She has tucked away in her closet, her horse’s stall name plate. Cactus Dude still has ahold of her heart even after all these years. 

My son riding on our friend's pony, Summer Sunshine Waters
My grandfather always said “You train the horse first, the rider will follow”. He was a brilliant man and the importance of that concept is not lost on me. Horse training is not for the faint of heart. They are strong animals, capable of causing injury. An unbroken, intact male, is certainly an animal to be respected as is a mare in season. A horses’ power is natural; the muscles of a horse are well sculpted. Automotive companies did not invent the term horse power for nothing.  They are able to run at great speeds, pull loads, jump fences and they do have teeth.  I have found that a key to reading a horse is to notice their ears. They will give you signs for when they are listening to you, have had enough of something and they can warn you when you might get a bite. All that being said, though, I have never been hurt by a horse on purpose. A horse does not want to hurt anyone. It is not in their nature but respect must be given to their size and power. 

The Quarter Horse is in general is a great horse, used for sport as well as working. Their temperament and learning ability have made them one of the most popular breeds in America today.  This comes as no surprise to this Quarter Horse lover; I still hang a beloved horse’s bridle from a hook in my home and look forward to the day I can trail ride with another Quarter Horse partner.
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  1. Shannon, this is beautiful! I must admit I got a little weepy. I can't wait for the day when you get your horse. It's in your soul, and I think it's something you really need in your life. It's part of your history and hopefully your near future!

  2. Thank you Miss Jennifer! I think everyone can benefit from loving such an awesome animal...hint hint : )