Pete is not the kind of horse I write about on my other blog, Mugwump Chronicles. He has never been a wild -eyed bronc. He isn't a mega-star in the show pen, although I believe he could hold his own. He is a cute, but not stunning, solid bright bay, 14.3 hh and has a nice, solid build. He has slowly but steadily grown into the sort of horse who will let his rider relax and enjoy a warm winter afternoon.
When I pulled up to the barn and got him out, I stopped to visit with another boarder while I groomed.
"You're not going out alone are you?" she asked, with a little concern in her voice.
I looked down at my sweats, tennies (they're skater shoes actually, I'm quite proud of them)
and grungy sweatshirt, and said, "I'm not really dressed for company."
"Well next time call me, I'll go with you."
I appreciated her offer, but I really wasn't in the mood for companionship. There aren't that many horses in my life I feel totally at ease just heading out on, but Pete is definitely one of them.
I don't own Pete. He belongs a good friend of mine who invested in him to help him out, and me. He is the last horse I have to sell.
Pete was bred by a man with a serious interest in cowhorses. He is by The Smart Smoke and out of a Doc's Oak daughter. If you're into cowhorses that's enough to make your mouth water a little.
He named him "Oak's Smokin Gun" and sold him as a prospect to a client of the trainer (Big K) I worked for. This client liked to train his own horses. Pete was supposed to be his next futurity prospect. For reasons only known to the client and Big K, this guy disappeared. Left all his horses, (close to $100,000 worth) at the Big K's and locked himself in his house.
Pete had maybe 10 rides on him. He languished at the Big K's, along with the other horses, for the next year and a half. Finally things got straightened out enough to start selling off these horses. The breeder took back the now three-and-a-half year old Pete, because it turns out he hadn't actually been paid.
Pete's owner came to me and asked if I would like to ride him. Because he was fast approaching four, the Big K wasn't interested in him. Pete was too old to make it as a snaffle bitter or a derby horse and would be too far behind to win as a bridle horse for several years.
The offer was I would ride him, then sell him and we would split the money. The little bay colt had always had a look to him I liked, so I agreed. He became known as Pistol Pete, and finally, just Pete.
I hate to rush a horse. So I approached him as I would a two-year-old, slow and quiet. By the time Pete was approaching five he was a nice, green-broke colt. He could stop and turn around, had a nice lead change and would look at a cow. He was a little lazy, a little too laid back for the tastes of the folks I rode with, but I got on with him fine.
I took a job with a quarter horse breeder and ended in kind of a tough place with Pete. His owner wanted him sold. I did too, but I really liked the horse. I didn't want him just sent down the road. He was too much horse to be just dumped, to my mind. And dumping him was in the wind. Pete was facing being fitted for a sale.
Enter my good friend, who wouldn't know one end of a horse from the other.
"I'll buy him. You keep riding him, sell him and we'll split the money."
I carefully explained the horrible odds on making money on a horse. She was OK with it. We bought out the owners half interest in Pete and I took him with me to the new place.
Pete progressed nicely. Sweet natured and fun, he kept getting better. I got him where I felt he was ready to go. Safe, solid and sane. Pete stood a good chance in the non-pro world. I put him up for sale.
Then he colicked. A long, stressful sand colic. He survived, but came out 100 lbs under weight, weak and withdrawn. He struggled to regain his weight. I'm not one to push a horse who's on the road to recovery, so Pete was taken off the market and turned out for several months.
Winter came and Pete was ready to be fitted up and put back up for sale. We began riding again and if anything, he was better. Willing and quiet, I was beginning to like him more and more.
Then the horse market crashed. Well, everything crashed. My back and my heart gave out, I quit training and took a job as a writer for a small paper. I turned my horses in training back to their owners. Except Pete. Here we were again. What to do with Pete.
I owe my friend and this little bay horse a fair shake. I like them both too much to treat them unfairly. So I have taken him as my personal horse until we find the right home for him. My beautiful yellow mare is out on pasture (and loving every minute of it) until I find a buyer for Pete.
I miss my lively and spirited mare. I want to be taking her on these mountain trails. Riding her in the cuttings. But we'll have time. I'm in it for the long haul with her. In the mean time, I can take my kind and gentle Pete into the hills. I can trust him to explore the trails with me. He'll get better on cattle, better at his maneuvers and eventually his real, final owner will come get him.
You may be noticing that I'm not the sharpest salesman in the world. True. But this is the kind of horse that could fall through the cracks. Odds have not been in his favor. But I am. I am in his favor.