Hey dog trainers. What is the difference between "Wait" and "Stay?"
This story comes from Cristy in Wyoming. I don't want to whine...but please send me your stories printed in
your email. I had a bear of a time getting this off the link.
It screwed up my page etc.
I don't want to become computer savvy enough to handle this.
Cut and paste.
Nothing else. Ever.
Now that I'm done being stern, this story really hit me. A green horse owner who still meets reality,
responsibility and (in my opinion) becoming horsaii head on.
Paint Me Navicular
I’m an amateur.
A 40 something mom new to horses, enjoying the learning process and watching my daughter
(now 11) become a surprisingly confident rider, and trying to keep up (I would like to be a
surprisingly confident rider too, but I’ve got a ways to go.)
This story begins with Dan - a 10 year old ranch paint who’s rancher had become old and sold
off the rest of the herd, keeping back Dan who was his favorite. The rancher realized that he
wouldn’t/couldn’t ride anymore, had no more grandkids to lead around, and parted with Dan.
(that sounds like a smarmy bunch of baloney, but I’m pretty sure it really went something like
He was our first ever horse, and Dan was everything the old boy said he was for a couple
of years. Made us laugh daily, taught our kids to trust and then to love horses, then began
wringing his tail at a trot and it went downhill from there. Navicular diagnosis, and a slow
downward spiral. “What do I do?” from panicky me... “You shop for a new horse.” from my
Tricky shoeing, supplements, injections, even trickier shoeing, ‘bute, more
‘bute, and finally acceptance, careful trimming and the constant opportunity for long laying-down
naps twice a day, which at the end seemed to be the only thing that really helped Dan feel better.
And thunderstorms, which made him buck like a movie-star horse, and then take an extra long
laying down nap.
We loved Dan, and even though we only had a couple years of real use from
him, we devoted four more (expensive) years to prolonging his comfort and keeping his clownish
personality cheerful for our own selfish benefit, and because Dan really seemed to enjoy his life.
Eventually, it was clear that one more winter would be way too tough on him, we did what
seemed right, and at the not-too-ripe age of 16 Dan went to the meadow in the sky.
Fast forward through another good kid’s gelding in which more skills were learned and
confidence built, then to a “ready for a “real horse” ‘nother paint. In contrast to the heavy boned,
rangy and anvil-headed Dan, this was a petite little 14.2h dumpling with a silky smooth trot that
grandma could sit bareback. He had an adorable, youthful head, thick, curly white mane and
quiet demeanor. The old-school cowboy stressed that he was selling him as a “trail horse” and
let us know that he “sometimes pinned his ears”, but we were sure that he’d be a 4H kid’s
dream, and that his cinchyness and grumpy attitude would go away with some love and gentle
handling. (Did I mention we were green?) To some extent we were right - he learned to face up
politely, lost his ear-pinning at saddling, but was always reluctant to lope. More and more, he
found ways to make himself hard to ride for my little “I want to learn to ride an english saddle”
Chica, and he’d slam on the breaks, switch directions, drop his head as if to buck (never really
turning the crank) and find ways to make her fall off, or at least fear falling. A confident (and
larger) rider could push him through the resistance, but he never really looked comfortable. I’d
bought him in November, lessons weekly all winter, by spring we started wondering if it was pain
rather than spoiled-ness that made him resist. (I know, I know, but we did have two different
chiropractors work on him, and did I mention that we’re green?)
So - while we’re figuring and diagnosing and round-penning-for-respect with the paint, the
Horse-Of-Her-Dreams dropped out of the sky, (amazing things happen sometimes) and she
cantered off into the sunset on her new gray arabian (who has an english background and a
western skill set) exuberantly jumping and dressaging on odd days, sorting pairs and moving
yearlings on the even ones. This horse was clearly a horse of a lifetime - they were a perfect
match, and the paint was now un-needed.
I felt uneasy offering the cute paint for sale without being sure that he was sound, (and I had
doubts) so I hauled him to the vet against my friends admonishments.
“Let the buyer pay to vet him!”
I just needed to be sure what was up with him.
The hoof tester foretold, and the Xrays confirmed my deep dark (but unvoiced) suspicions. I’d
watched the unhappy tail swish, noticed the odd head-bob, thought I’d seen stiff-legged turning
and there was that uncomfortable step out of the trailer. I thought I might have recognised it, but
how unlikely is that? Two in a row? I’m being a horse-o-chondriac, I told myself.
Nope. It turned out to be pretty obvious, and sadly familiar.
Trailering home, I thought about the vet’s advice. “get him stood up, square those toes and see
if he goes sound. A navicular horse can lead grandkids around for lots of years. He might even
dude or trail with the correct shoeing. He’s still a sell-able horse. Get him walking sound, and if
your farrier can’t, let me know and we’ll talk about what else we can do.”
I got home, made a sale video, took some photos, wrote up an add, but when I looked close at
the vid and saw a slight head bob, I just - well... I couldn’t go through with it. That person that’s
looking for a pasture ornament? That grandpa that wants a quiet horse to lead his grandkids
around on? Those people are myths. There are sound horses that can do that without being in
Across the dinner table, my husband and I looked at each other.
“What do you want to do?” He asked.
“Selling him is wrong. I know he won’t last.”
“What do you want to do?’
“Is the track-hoe home?” (My husband is a dirt contractor)
“I think there are some starving worms by the east fence. (deep breath.) I want to feed the
“Okay. Keep the kids in town for an hour or so after the 4H meeting tomorrow. (another pause)
Are you sure?”
Worms are happy by the east fence.
Was that right? I don’t know.
I’m certainly not bragging it around... not the sort of thing I’ll post on facebook, ya know?
But looking out at my current herd of two sound horses that we ride on a regular basis, one old
gelding that loves parades and a donkey that’s the neighborhood mascot, I know that I can afford
to feed what I have.
I’m sorry, little paint. I really do hope you’re enjoying the meadow in the sky.