The horse gets a vote.

This is Doc, Neighbor D’s new riding horse.


Doc is a very fine fellow. Smart, friendly, well-trained – and even in a seller’s market D got him at a fairly good price because when it came to doing his actual job, Doc said no. Apparently Doc said hell no.

I’ve noticed, since moving here and having more to do with horses, that horses have one thing in common with guns: They are seriously misrepresented in the movies. Movies treat horses as if they’re basically sports cars with hair. Like machines, they never do anything off the script. In life, horses are sentient animals who can’t read the script and wouldn’t care if they could. They can be cooperative – usually are or they’d be of no use – but they have individual likes and dislikes and they’re aware that they’re bigger and stronger than you are and really can’t be forced.

Doc was bred, raised and trained to be a rodeo roping horse. He took well to training, he likes being ridden, he doesn’t shy at ropes being swung over his head (a big potential problem,) puts up well with trailering and he has no respect for cattle. All fine traits. He seemed on his way to a high price followed by a successful career…


Until he actually got to a rodeo. Rodeos are loud, bustling things with all sorts of hurry and tension and excited animals. Lots of horses like those things. Doc decided that he hated rodeos. Hated them to the point where you could put him in a chute, release a steer, open his own chute … and he’d just stand there. He knew what he was supposed to do, and would do it fine in training. But in an actual rodeo he refused absolutely.

Well…what are his trainers supposed to do then? He’s far too much of an investment to send south to fill dogfood cans. They figured he’d do fine in a quieter setting, and so far he really has. He has settled right in to being a riding horse for a retired couple who live ‘way back in the desert and love to spoil horses rotten. It apparently fits right in with his ambitions.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to The horse gets a vote.

  1. Henry says:

    There are only two things that can freak a horse out. Things that move and things that don’t. Yep they literally are that unpredictable. To find one that is calm and will do as you want is nothing short of a miracle even with lots of training.

  2. Ben says:

    The horse not only gets a vote, it holds a permanent plurality!

    As a teenager, I gave up on horses when I figured out that they weren’t just another type of farm equipment. Yes, horses have a mind of their own, and I never learned to deal with that.

  3. Robert says:

    Had a quarter horse briefly. She thought it was quite amusing to wait until the unsuspecting rider would rest a hand on a railing or gate- then sidle away until said rider would be unawarely trying to defy gravity. The warning “leggo the gate!” never came soon enough. She would also close the gap twixt her and a nearby wall/tree trying to brush off her rider. Then there was the time I unexpectedly discovered she was quite adept at hurtling over inconvenient gates. That was kinda fun, actually. Yep, they have personality.

  4. free.and.true says:

    Dang. That horse is a huge inspiration and a powerful reminder to someone like me, who hates crowds and detests being expected to perform for them, according to their rules.

    Only trouble is, I haven’t found the nice retired couple who’d take me in and spoil me… ;~)

    … not that I’d ever feel right about letting them if they wanted to.

  5. Beans says:

    One of the things that need to be done when training is to introduce the animal early on to noises and crowds, usually just the ranch hands and their families. Same with any show animal. Those raised and trained in a quiet environment do tend to have a rather interesting reaction to crowds.

  6. Michael Gilson says:

    My maternal grandfather was a farmer, and when my mother was a child he did it with a team of horses. According to my mother, he couldn’t wait to replace them with a tractor. When he got his tractor mom and her siblings were sad to see them go, but grandpa was happy. He didn’t like horses.

  7. …”puts up well with trailering and he has no respect for cattle.

    Written like someone who knew more about stock handling than I’d have expected you to. (“expected’ and “assumed” are close cousins…) Though I do seem to recall that you’d spent some time in Amarillo.

    I decided some time ago that if I even took on stock it would be a pair of mules. one could argue their various merits vs horses – but mules are generally level-headed and sure footed. (a horse might just kill you accidentally – but if a mule does you can pretty much assume it was intentional) This – coming from someone who’d visited the stables at the South Rim whenever time allowed – they don’t use horses for that job.

    I figured with my brace of mules trained to both saddle and pack it would always be an option to… figure out just how big the backyard is.

    My hope is that I never scratch that itch – They do require a lot of time and no small amount of money.

  8. f1watch says:

    A horse after my own heart.

To the stake with the heretic!