Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Boy Pete by Janet Huntington

I just came back from a peaceful, beautiful ride . The air was sharp and Colorado clear, with snow clinging to the sides of the mountain trail, and the sweet promise of spring pulled us into the hills. There was a faint shimmer of green under the gray winter grass and a subtle change in the light, winter is coming to an end. My good horse Pete huffed and snorted as he trotted up the steep incline, his ears pricked forward and his tail swinging in a cheerful rhythm as we went.

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.


Whywudyabreedit said...

Pete sounds very nice, like someone would be lucky to have him. Glad you are getting an opportunity to enjoy him. He is lucky to be in your hands in these hard times.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Pete is a lucky fellow. Hope all works out well for him. I'm glad to have found this blog. I like mysteries and will be sure to read some of the books by these authors.

Jami Davenport said...

Ah, Mugs, I'm so glad you're in Pete's corner. I hope he finds his next home to be as good as yours.

Jami Davenport said...

PS: Once Upon An Equine,

I see you have Fjords. A woman at my barn shows Fjords in dressage. She's taken Wez all the way to Grand Prix, and won lots of awards on him. They're great ponies.

HorseOfCourse said...

I really liked the look of that horse, Janet. His eyes, and the look on the face. You can tell he's a good one. I understand why you have kept him!
I am sure the right owner will turn up for such a cute, sensible, well ridden and well behaved horse. Even if the market is down. Good luck, Janet!

barrelracer20x said...

Mugs, from reading your posts on your blog it's obvious how much you love what you do, and now it's just reinforced to me. There's no better human in the world than one that looks out for the well being of an animal that as you said, "could fall through the cracks." That's part of horsemanship to me, almost in the purest form. Having a thought for the horse's well being in the long run, not just how it can benefit you right now at this very moment. My hat's off to you ma'am.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, if my pens weren't full (and my bank account empty) Pete would be on his way to California. I have loved the look of him (and your descriptions) ever since you first told me about him. Unfortunately, I absolutely can't take on another horse right now. But I sure wish I could. I'm jealous of whoever gets him...

joycemocha said...

If Pete wasn't in Colorado....
OTOH, I barely have enough time for Miss Mocha, and any other second horse needs to be one I can do jumping on.

mugwump said...

Somehow I don't think Pete would jump much. He's more of a "Ah, what the heck, I'll just plow through it" kind of guy.

Esquared said...

"He's more of a "Ah, what the heck, I'll just plow through it" kind of guy."

Lol, my 3-now-4 year old is like that, though I think that if it's really low, like maybe 5 inches, he really does try :) Poor guy is the result of breeding for pleasure and nothing else, they wanted a low headset... well his is built in and all natural :)

Anonymous said...

Is Pete suitable for a confidence lacking (but trying real hard) mature rider?
Does he have any buck in him?

Anonymous said...

Ha ha
You are going to sell this horse via the blog.

mugwump said...

Lauren - I would like to say he has none, but he popped me a good one at his first lope yesterday. Only one, a kick out in high spirits,but it was there. Sigh.

Anon- probably not...see above

Pipkin said...

Pete sounds like my horse, Pip, just a nice, reliable horse. A jack of all trades kind of guy.

Good luck finding him a home, I'm sure you won't suffer for having him!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so open about how Pete is -- it is just that I am still in the stage where even a tiny misbehavior that would be ok for most people gets me really worried.

Anonymous said...

is this the kind of thing a horse can eventually be trained out of or is it just kind of a personality trait that some express joy or impatience through the occassional kick out or buck?

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Lauren, I am a re-rider, 'tho it's been 3 years now with my girl. She used to buck when asked to lope at first..usually just one big one that is easy to sit to..she wasn't trying to dump me, just good spirits.

The only time she bucked me off (right before I bought her) was because I was encouraged to use spurs on her...she hated them and I wasn't ready. It really shook my confidence, but I bought her anyway, and just spent a lot of time walking and trotting until I was ready. Yes I was nervous that first canter after, but she never did buck like that again...of course, I don't wear spurs much, either.

She has also settled down as she matured (okay, she's still only 9) and I got better. I have tried English spurs, and she doesn't buck, just swishes her tail, btw.

I'm just saying don't write him off because of the one buck if you are really interested. Both you and he will outgrow doesn't sound like he's as hot as my mare. Unless Mugs feels he's really not right, of course!


Anonymous said...

Hey Jackie
Thanks! I can't really tell you what a chickensh**t I am! It's really dumb and of course causes most of my horse problems.
I haven't eliminated him and would still like to know more.
I appreciate you sharing your story of your mare with me.
Thank you!

Scamp said...

If I didn't have 2 horses already (and boarded, or I'd probably have more...)

He sounds wonderful - sane and sweet, not a mean bone in his body but with a personality and some opinions - I really like an opinionated horse, they make life interesting!

Just out of curiosity... what are you looking for for him?

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Lauren, we are all somewhat chickens*it at times! I never used to think of what would happened if I got hurt before I had kids. Now I think things through a lot more, and worry about consequences more :). However, I can spend my life worrying about "what might happen if" - or live on and have fun. I chose to have fun and not feel like I missed out on something in my "old" age, but with just a little more wisdom!


mugwump said...

The owner is asking 8000.00 for him. She is definitely negotiable.I probably wouldn't reccomend Pete for anybody who isn't comfortable doing a reining pattern in a show, gathering cattle on a ranch, or dealing with a little spunk once in a while. He is a very good-minded guy, but there's a lot of horse there.