by Laura Crum
The above photo shows Sunny, my good little trail horse that I’ve written about many times. Usually I focus on what a star he is as a bombproof trail horse, and yes, this is the reason I bought him. However, this photo shows the other reason I bought him, which I do not reveal to many people. So, here I am, revealing it to the world…
Don’t you think he’s cute?
I hasten to add that the photo was taken last summer—Sunny does not look like this now. I do not blanket and my horses live turned out and enjoy rolling on the damp sandy ground. Sunny is currently a fuzzy little yak, of an all over dirty yellow color, as his coat is much lighter in the winter and the rolling makes his mane and tail the same dingy yellow as the rest of him. Not terribly attractive. But he still makes smile. Dingy yellow and all, he is a little spot of sunshine on a gray drizzly day, lighting up his corral.
I was raised to think that you bought a horse because he could do the job you wanted to do, not because of his looks. I was taught that a pretty head or a pretty color were only important for resale value. What you wanted was a sound, athletic, broke horse, with the sort of conformation to stay sound, and to heck with what he looked like otherwise.
I still think that, sort of. But I have to admit that Sunny stuck in my mind because of his color and just the overall cuteness factor. Sunny does not have particularly good conformation and he isn’t all that well broke. I tried him as a riding horse for my son and rejected him, eventually choosing the much better broke Henry. But Sunny stuck in my mind. Six months later, when I decided to buy a bombproof trail horse for myself, I went back and got him. I knew he was a good trail horse, of course. But also, I couldn’t forget him. And I’m afraid his color and cuteness may have had something to do with it.
The thing is, Sunny’s “cuteness” has been very rewarding to me. In three years of owning him, he has made me smile countless times that have nothing to do with his abilities. I smile when I drive in on a gray day and see his bright shape in the corral. I smile (and take endless photos) when he gleams like polished gold in the summer. I smile when I’m riding and see his long white mane springing off his shiny neck. I like to watch the silver and gold light sparkles on his slick hair. And though he does not have a classically pretty head, I love his “little girl’s stuffed animal” appearance. Sunny is just plain cute, and it gives me a lot of pleasure.
I would have said this was my own private aberation, except that so many other people have oohed and aahed over this horse. Tough, old cowboys tell me what a good looking animal he is and I have to stop myself from asking “Did you look at him very hard?” Because Sunny is not really very well made and is a decidedly clunky mover. Every single horseperson I know has at one time or another complimented me on this horse—I have to say that I think they, like me, are seduced by the cute factor.
So that’s the subject of today’s post. Do you have a horse you love partly for how cute he is? And I have to add that every horse I’ve loved has become cute to me—for various reasons. Bright red Henry who sparkles like a copper penny in the sun, with his cheerful white-striped face and bright eyes, Gunner with his big blaze, Plumber who nickers to me constantly…I could go on and on.
So that’s my question for today. Any of you, like me, been seduced by the cute factor? And what is your horse’s particular “cuteness”? A little white snip in just the right place? An endearing habit? There are so many ways a horse can be cute. I guess that’s one reason why we’re all horse people.