Monday, June 16, 2008

Horse Stories/Mort/Chapter2

Mort/Chapter 2

I had my horse. He was beautiful. About a hundred years younger than the lesson horses I had ridden on the local drill team. About 100 MPH faster too.
I had a week of board left at the full care stable he came from. I ignored the snickers, stares, and sympathetic head shakes.
My 14 year old insecurity guaranteed that I didn't question anyone. I assumed that they were laughing at me because I didn't deserve such an incredible horse. I knew I was too stupid to own him. I was convinced the sympathetic head shakes were for my wonderful horse, who was stuck with such a moron.
My 14 year old combative stubbornness guaranteed that I glared at them, put my horrible chain hackamore on him, crawled on bareback and rode out for the day.
The ex-owner offered to sell us his saddle, but Dad felt it would be good for my moral fiber to buy my own.
Considering that I was now supporting my own horse with my 75 cents an hour baby sitting services, it looked like it would be a hell of a lot of moral fiber.
My inability to stay on saddleless, steer, and slow down Mort at the same time, guaranteed he got to pick our rate of speed. I still didn't know I had bought a runaway. I just thought we liked to go.
I spent our first week together covering the park trails. Mort would go absolutely anywhere I pointed him. Since I was spending most of my time desperately grabbing handfuls of mane and sliding from side to side, my steering was pretty sporadic.
Off trail was fine with him. He'd blow through gullies, scramble up rocks, jump yuccas, straight and true wherever I sent him. Whether I meant to or not.
I still have about six inches of faint scar that originally went from wrist bone to elbow. My first wrestling match with a low hanging tree branch. I lost that one, and most of the many to come.

I rode by myself for that last week at the boarding stable. I didn't want my friends to see how much trouble I had staying on. I was embarrassed by my lack of a saddle, and I wanted to make damn sure I could ride him before anybody saw him.

Mort started to calm down. A week of racing through the pines with me clinging to his mane instead of his reins seemed to be his cup of tea.
We would lap the park a time or two, and he would eventually come down to a walk. I would find a clear grassy place, slide off and flop to the ground. Mort would graze, and I would lay in the grass next to him. I listened to the sound of his teeth tearing large mouthfuls of grass. The sweet smell of the newly torn grass would mix with Mort's sweat salty hide and drift over me. I would half doze in the sun.
Sometimes he would snuffle my hair, or gently lip my arms and face. I would reach over and slide my palm over his slate smooth hoof, or wrap my hand around his fetlock. My fingers would feel out his pulse. The steady beat of his heart, so much slower than mine.
That week I didn't just learn to sit him, we became friends. I trusted him completely. In our years together that never changed. He never let me down.
He never left me for home. He never spooked and stomped me. He always patiently stood by whatever fence, tree limb, or rock I used to scramble back on.
Then I would grab on like a monkey and we would blast for home.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again, God loves children, fools, and new horse owners.


  1. What a great story!!

    The first time I rode my mare after I bought her she ran away with me, the cinch was loose (didn't know about horses that puff up when you tighten the cinch) and I got dumped. Being the kid I was, I just fixed the saddle and hopped back on.

    She's became my best friend, still is. She lives the good life in my parent's pasture now, at 17 she's "semi-retired" not because she needs to be but because I can't ride as often as I used to and I will not sell her to anyone. Ever once in a while I'll hop on for a short jaunt around the farm, other times we just go for walks. Just her and I, wandering to wherever we end up.

  2. See, there was method to my madness with the bareback thing.....or my Dad's.

  3. Love reading what you write, mugwump.

    Glad that Mort became your friend. (Same to you, squirrelgurl and your mare.) Things didn't work out so well with me and my gelding, but that's okay. He did me the favor of making it really clear I don't know what I'm doing without actually killing me.

    So I'm starting over and, duh, learning to ride before I even think about getting another horse.

  4. You were obviously exactly what he needed - lol! By the time he was ready to listen to what you had to say, you probably had a bit more to tell him.

    Have to say, I grew up riding bareback, and I wouldn't have traded it. I walked home a few times, though! My pony was very tolerant, but not nearly so loyal.

  5. Awesome

    But one thing. If God loves new horse owners so much why does he pick all the morons ?(well some aren't but...yeah)

    I learned how to ride on my moms friends son's pony. They would put me on the pony, I would fall off and go cry to mom and she would put me back on and I would fall off again so repeating the cycle. Somewhere between then and now I learned how to ride.

  6. And I meant the moron thing towards the horse owners that do really stupid shit that should be common sense, like feeding the poor thing or actually getting it trained or gelding it.

    Somehow through all the things we do to the poor horses when learning how to ride they find the room to forgive our human errors.

  7. Fantastic story!! I'm sorry *I* don't have one like it!!

  8. I love that story, it sounds so much like me and my first horse.

    When I was 11, the years of pleading and crying finally resulted in Oscar, an Arab x TB who was as hot as anything, but to my 11 year old self was the most beautiful thing on four legs.

    The first 3 months I fell off every day. I was too scared to tell my parents in case they sold him and I didn't get another one. The next 6 months I came off about once a week.

    By the time I was 15 he had been to near enough every national championship going, dressage, showjumping, working hunter (a but like your hunters over there). We hadn't always done well, but I owe him a debt I can never repay.

    He taught me to RIDE.

  9. truth be told Mort probably thought he was the luckiest horse alive to have a kid that didn't hang on the reins and wasn't afraid to run.

    Some times ignorance is bliss

  10. God does indeed smile on new horse owners. My first horse (and the one I currently have) was a 4 yr old QH gelding who bucked like a rodeo star and skipped the canter phase and went straight to warp speed. Despite the fact that we were both green as grass, we managed to survive each other. He's the same way Mort was, point him in a direction and he'll go straight and true. I've ridden that horse over every type of terrain, down and up hills I wouldn't have wanted to walk down myself, across bridges, on the road, through campgrounds, bareback, saddled, bridle or halter, and he's been as faithful as I could want. Oh, sure, he's thrown me into a wall, tossed me so hard I bruised my spine and couldn't walk for three days, teleported out from under me, and varied other scrapes and scrambles, but he always came back and he never did it out of spite or to take advantage of me. Two years together have given us an incredibly strong relationship into which we've grown together, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Wouldn't ever do it again or recommend it for anyone else, but we survived and that's all I could ask for ^.~

  11. Great story Mugwump. You must have just loved him. My first pony would bolt and I would lean forward and scream in his ear! That of course would not help. Never complained though, as I did not want him taken off me I had waited so long.

  12. Oh My Gosh...My first horse was like parents told me (long time ago, mind you) that when I was 18 I could get a horse. Never forgot that. Turned 18, was hanging at a hack stable (the last stop for horses before the killers back then), the dealer drove in, Applejack came off the truck (and he looked just like Lorne Greene's horse in Bonanza), and I was in love. I borrowed a saddle and bridle, rode him around the corral...and he was hot! An ex-barrel horse, aged (the vet didn't even know how old), probably navicular (in hindsight...but he was only lame once in the years I had him), and I got him for $400...and I had only ridden burned out trail horses. What a combination we made!

    We galloped everywhere...he loved it, I loved it. We'd chase deer across fields, go swimming in rivers...barrel raced in mud (and went down!)...he was my best friend, and I learned to stick on when a horse was going full blast with the bit between his teeth...even down 30 foot shale hills.

    Miss that crazy guy...long dust now...I love my mare to death, but that first love will always be special....

  13. Oh man, this post makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time!

    I didn't have a saddle until I was about 11 or 12. Getting that little pony saddle was SUCH A BIG DEAL.

    My first pony was harness trained and really didn't want to have me on her back. My second pony was my 7th birthday present. (No we weren't rich- we were actually rather impoverished but we had a grass pasture and a barn and the ponies weren't so hard to keep compared to the hogs)

    That young pony was my absolute bestest friend in the whole world. We sort of trained each other. She followed me everywhere and when she died (I was 18) I cried for a year. No kidding.

  14. Emmab13- I was too scared to tell my parents in case they sold him and I didn't get another one.

    I am so there...I never told my parents anything...same reasons

    sydney-new horse owners are just naive, the morons that refuse to learn to take care of them,or ride them, or face up to the expense, why they're asshats, and then we sic Fugs on them:D

    fssunnysd- Mort didn't stay so loyal, trust me, his patience with me waned as the years went by.

  15. Horses like this are meant for teenagers. My first horse was a freaking idiot. I thought it was FUN. He spooked, he bolted, I giggled and said, silly horse, it was only a bird. I rode that damn horse all over the place in a halter and two lead ropes. I got him because he'd just broken someone else's neck.

    Probably couldn't/wouldn't ride him, now.

  16. I love your writing and the stories you tell. Quality stuff.

  17. Ah, but Fugs, look how beautiful he was......

  18. Okay, I'm all choked up in my office. Thank GOD for Waterproof Mascara! This reminds me not of my 1st horse (She was a psycho bitch from hell that should of been slaughtered at birth! SOME horses are just dangerous! She was an appy. Anyone suprised??) But my second horse, Tango. The 16.3 hand pitch black Devil of a horse that ran away and over anyone that came near him! All these years later, even though he's 24, I'm still the ONLY person he will allow on his back. Period. If he gets out, he won't leave the property, but he won't let anyone BUT ME catch him, either.

    I got the laughs. I got the whispers behind my back saying "That horse is too big for that little girl. He's too much animal! He's going to kill her!" People would approach my mom and question her parenting skills. He taught me everything and kept me safe at all times.

    Sure, maybe jumping off the cliff into the river wasn't the smartest idea. But I asked, and he did. Okay, so maybe barreling down a busy dirt road at top speeds to chase down a stupid SOB that kicked up a rock and hit me in the face with his truck, just to give him a piece of my mind wasn't my shining moment. Or in the parade when a school mate started pelting Tango with candy from the side lines I pushed through the crowd, using my big black Devil to literally MOVE people so I could smack the kid might not of been safe. Or pinning the guy, who was on his horse, against a truck with Tango because the retard threw the American flag he was holding into a mud puddle could of gotten me in trouble. But Tango never, ever refused me. I have yet to find my next trail partner. No horse will ever fill his shoes. My husband thinks that as long as Tango is still alive, I'll never click like that with another one.

  19. Yes Mary, you get it. It's amazing how many of us had a "Mort".
    I didn't do a river dive, but some future chapter will tell about the jump off the levee into the reservoir .....

  20. See how Tango is my "Mort", here's a question. How do you say goodbye? Tango is up there. He had a bad life prior to coming to me which I'm sure will shorten his lifespan. I've almost lost him a handful of times over the last 3 years and it leaves me wondering a few things.

    Will my heart over-ride my brain if it comes down to doing the right thing and having him put down?

    Will I really know when it IS the right time?

    When that time comes, how do you say it's okay and say good bye? (I'm in full blown tears right now even thinking about it!)

    I've lost family pets before and yes, I cried and yes, I was sad, but I was able to move on. I don't think I will with Tango. He was my dream since I was old enough to know what dreams were. Big, Black, Regal, full of life and vigor, stubborn as I was, ALWAYS gives unconditional love, the best teacher in the world. He's been with me through marriage, death of my twins, divorce, ups, downs, marriage again and so much more. I have cried so many tears into his big black neck and he has let me. He KNOWS when I'm having a bad day and will lay down and let me lay ontop of him and cry and scream and yell into his neck until I feel better. When I get home from Dialysis, Tango just looks at me and can tell my body is worn out, he finds a sunny spot, lays down and waits for me. I crawl up on him and let the heat from the sun and his big black body soothe my tired body.

    How do you say goodbye to your best friend??? How do you open your heart to another one?

    Here is a picture of him. From last year at a parade. I look like a drowned rat, but he doesn't care. He loves me anyway!

  21. This story made me cry. I have a picture just like the one in your earlier posts with me hugging my mare in front of a 1960's tract house. She ran away with me every chance she got also. I had her until she died at 25 years old. My sister had a horse too but we only had one saddle, since I was younger, guess who got it? Tala (my mare) had the highest most razor sharp withers I've ever seen, and I rode her miles and miles with a bareback pad. The greatest horse ever, the best times ever. I don't think it will ever be that good again, do you?

  22. mary-
    I will never tell somebody else when to let their horse go. I have a mare who is 34 years old. She has always been rock steady, earned her living for years giving lessons,raised my daughter, and has ponied many a fractious colt over the years.
    She has been retired for several years.
    This is going to be her last summer.
    She has a pretty tough digestive disorder, a fused hock, and is going blind.
    I have always promised her I wouldn't keep her going past what is fair.
    The summer sun is keeping her life bearable, but I'm putting her down before the cold sets into those hocks again.
    It's heart breaking, but I won't keep her going just to make myself feel better.

  23. Mary- You don't try to replace them. You used the knowledge and love you gained to let another one into your life. You don't compare, you enjoy the differences.
    The horse I have now isn't Mort.
    She isn't Annie, my old mare.
    She is the finest horse I've ever owned.
    If I had quit with Mort I never would have known her, or had the ability to train her.

  24. Yes it must be in you when you're born,I used to constantly wanting the pony rides on the beach as a very small child.Some family friends taught me to ride when I was six,but sadly never ever had a pony as a child.Every year my dad used to go & compete in the Cheshire team in Scotland & every year I was convinced he'd bring me a Highland pony back.No he never did so spent my childhood getting on anything anyone would allow me to.I never could cope without horses but didn't get my own until I left school & was able to buy my own.Am still as nuts age 62,oh & I have got a Highland now.Bought him as an unbroken & wild 3 yr old when I was fifty & suppose he'll stay with me until one of us dies.He was bought to break school & sell on as I've always done but somehow he never went anywhere.No help for it I'm hooked