My first cowhorse was ranch bred Sonita.
She was big, red, freckled, had lots of chrome and attitude.
Those who know me, know her.
She was a life lesson and then some.
My second cowhorse, Loki, was a Foundation bred mare from a Buckskin breeding program. I had bought her as a project for my daughter and I, with no thought of cowhorse in my head.
I had some success with her and my daughter did too. She was fast, anxious, sweet, and could slide thirty feet on a good day, 20 to 25 without a thought. She couldn't spin worth a damn. She wasn't very bendy. Riding her was kind of like riding a Grayhound bus in a 7/11, but she dug deep again and again.
I bought Madonna as a long yearling. She was bred to rein and work cattle. She was and is amazing. I have said more than once, and will probably say again, until I trained Madonna, I had no idea I'd been trying to turn chihuahua's into huskies. She was my first sled dog.
Buying a horse bred to do the sport I was obsessed with was a real eye opener. The hours, months and years I spent riding and training horses the better trainers passed on had opened my mind to the potential in horses, no matter what they were bred for. I developed an interest in unlocking a horse's mind so it wanted to work for me, was willing to try, even if the bones were too heavy, the back was too long or the brains too scrambled. It also had me convinced horse training was hard, hard, hard and so was reined cow horse.
Then, I bought Madonna. She slid, spun and was naturally leaded. I'm not kidding, if I set her up right she just did it. The rest was refinement. The first time she tracked a cow she was so happy she started to buck.
"Don't you touch her!" K warned before I could get all clutchy. She smoothed out the second she saw the cow escaping because of her nonsense and she stopped. That was it. Madonna has been all about the cow ever since.
She wasn't particularly fast, she was quick and agile. I realized when you're on a horse that's on her cow, then you don't need a fast one, because you're never playing catchup.
We went to work with a cutting trainer while K was out of town (oops, busted!). I was worried because she carried her head so high while she worked. The trainer watched for a while and said, "She's naturally so underneath herself she's balancing herself with her head. Stay out of her way, off her mouth and wait, she'll sort it out."
He was right. I worked hard on staying out of her way and she sorted herself out. Breeding makes a difference.
In an interesting twist of fate, I have shown Madonna the least of any of my horses. Economics and illness sidelined me. Except for one miserable failing in Nebraska, she has been in the money just about every time we've walked in the pen. She's lovely.
She's also spooky and bitchy. Dead solid on cattle, in the pen or on a gather, she's so focused you'd think she was a rock.
Take her on the trail, or around the yard at the barn and she's a bug-eyed freak. She's bred to physically respond to movement and boy howdy, does she ever.
During the peak of my years hauling to shows, I was mounted on $900 dollar horses. Once I finally got my sled dog, life bit me in the butt. Madonna hasn't been wasted, not as far as I'm concerned. I was able to study the art of building a bridle horse and given the luxury of taking as long as it took. She's sound, sane (ish) and ready to go if the road to showing opens up again.
I guess, what it comes down to is, as far as life and learning goes, I have always ended up with the horses I needed, at the time I needed them, whether I agreed or not.