Horses have always been an integral part of my life, and one special horse in particular changed my whole way of relating to the animals that I love. The horse’s name was Ricochet, Ricky for short. At the time we met I was going through a rough time, and so was Ricky, who was about to be sold for dog food because he was “un-trainable” and “dangerous” Ricky ended up having a heart of gold behind his troubled mind. We ended up healing each other and in the process learned to trust each other and learn together during our short time together.
I had recently lost my first horse, Star, who was my childhood companion and my best friend. Within two months of that, a young horse, my sister had, came down with colic and nearly passed also. I helped her to pay for colic surgery, in hopes of saving her from some of the pain I had gone through. After surviving the colic surgery, the horse ended up getting a rare nervous system disorder and had to be put down anyway. I was so distraught; I decided I was going to get out of the horse business. At the time, I still had my second horse Red Smoke and a yearling filly, Rhapsody. Since Red was older, about twenty-one , I thought I should just keep him since he wouldn’t live much longer anyway (yeah.. 10 years later... still going strong at 31). The filly, I decided to adopt her out to a friend of mine. I figured I would only have to suffer the passing of another close friend, and then I would be done with horses. If I didn’t have any, I couldn’t get attached and subsequently have the pain of losing them.
That was my plan and I intended to stick to it, until I was asked to go with my sister and dad to see a horse a friend of my dad’s wanted to give him. It was a short drive away and I had nothing better to do. It wouldn’t hurt to go take a look at a horse. After all, I still liked horses; I just didn’t want to have another that I would eventually lose.
When we arrived, my sister and I walked up to the barn while my dad went to find his friend in the house. My sister and I entered the half torn down, building, and looked toward the stalls that were still intact on the South side. There were two chestnut horses in stalls next to each other. One had a long blaze, shaped like a lightning bolt, running down his face, and the other did not have any visible markings. “Which one do you think it is?” My sister asked. “I thought they said he had a blaze?” I responded. We stepped further into the barn to get a closer look. As we moved towards the stalls, the horse without the markings jumped to the back of the stall and stood there, looking at us cautiously. The horse with the blaze stayed where he was and reached his soft muzzle over the gate to smell the newcomers. My sister was instantly drawn to him. She stood by the gate talking to him and rubbing his head.
I was, however, fascinated by the dark beauty huddling in the back of his stall. I could not take my eyes off him. I was frozen in my steps for a moment, just taking in his powerful, yet timid, presence. He had a slightly crested neck, a long tangled mane and a forelock that covered the white star on his forehead that we would eventually discover. As I stepped closer to his stall, he flinched, backed further into the corner and I could see him tremble as he stood there in the dim light. His nostrils were flaring, and his eyes were wide open and fearful. Both ears were pinned on me. I kneeled down in an attempt to be less intimidating. As I did this he flinched again. My heart went out to him as I realized he must have gone through something traumatic to act like this. My dad returned with his friend and I stepped away from the horse briefly, to listen to the conversation concerning the horses.
“The one with the blaze, he is a nice horse. Shouldn’t take much to get him broke. We have been working him in the round pen, even had a saddle on him.” The man said. My dad and sister asked lots of questions about him, and he gave long detailed answers to each. I didn’t hear any of it. I was waiting patiently for a break in the conversation to ask about the other horse. When the opportunity arose, I blurted out quickly, “What about the other one?” “We can’t do anything with that one.” He answered, and then attempted to turn the conversation back to the blazed horse. “Why? What’s the matter with him?” I asked determined to know more. “He is un-trainable. We worked on him twice as much as this horse,” He pointed to the blazed horse. “He just got worse instead of better. We are sending him to the packing house.” I swallowed hard. It never made sense to me the way people will just throw a horses life away like that. Here I was devastated by my loss, and this man wanted to kill one of these majestic creatures. “How much do you want for him?” I found myself asking him, forgetting my plan to get out of the horse business. “He’s dangerous.” He stated, obviously thinking I would be way over my head with this horse. “I can handle him.” I retorted stubbornly. He looked over at my dad, questioning him. My dad just shrugged, knowing how I am when I have made up my mind. “Well, okay, but I am warning you he is un-trainable. You can have him.” Two weeks later, he was sitting in a corral at my parent’s house.
Ricky was terrified of humans. He was approximately 6 years old, a stallion, and had little experience outside a stall, other than to be chased around in the round pen until he was dripping with sweat and even more fearful than before. This running around would have been painful as well due to one of his hooves being over grown on one side causing him to walk on the side of his hoof. This is why I decided to just take it easy and slow with him. For six months I didn’t even put a halter on him. I wanted him to always have an escape route, so when he did, finally, allow me to approach him and be with him, I knew it was his choice. I climbed on his back the first time without a halter, and I trimmed that crooked hoof without a halter. He just stood there, trusting me. I am not saying this happened overnight, but it did happen, and it was miraculous! During this time I developed some confidence I lost in my previous relationship, as well as learning that I need to have horses in my life, always. Ricky and I were together for five short years. He passed away also from colic, but the knowledge I gained from him and the great times we had together were worth the pain. I don’t think I lost him, I believe he has remained with me. I feel him there when I need guidance. He will always tell me to slow it down when things are not going right among other things he has taught me. I will share the rest in future postings.
Ps. My sister was never quite comfortable with the other horse and just recently sold him to another family.. but that’s another story..