Wednesday, February 29, 2012
In my opinion, that word, "Ugly", describes Appaloosas. Oh all right, there are a few nice looking ones, dark body with a blanket, but the rest are ugly. With their white sclera, wispy manes and tails, funky random spots ranging from leopard to…whatever else that is. Their ugly striped hooves. BLECK! And don’t even get me started on their attitudes and personalities. I see the breed name and I pass on by. They aren’t even worth a passing glance, it will only distract me from the elegant beauty of the Arabians, or the shiny stud muffin Quarter Horses, or the sleek grace of the Thoroughbred. I could go on and on, but you get my drift.
So, how is it exactly, that I own one? Not the nice looking dark bodied, blanketed one. The ugly sclera’d, wispy maned, broom-tailed, clubbed and striped hooved monstrosity with a spotted body, bald face, muley attitude, and one blue eye! And why, when given the choice of the buckskin, the grullo, the bay, and the sorrel, do I love this spotted thing, “The Spotted Donkey”, the most?
After we bought my daughter a sweet old granny Arabian mare, she wanted me to ride with her. The gal that had owned C-Bey(the old granny mare) had several other horses and mentioned one day that she was thinking of selling Angel, her 3 yr old Appy. I thought that if I leased her, I would have a horse to ride, and Wendy would have someone to keep the horse tuned up until she made up her mind. It was also the January of 2004, my husband was still in Iraq, and I had just gotten laid off. So I had a lot of extra time on my hands during the day. Since I had a vivid imagination, I could also imagine me astride a 16 hand leggy Thoroughbred floating around the arena instead of a 14.2, brick shithouse bulldog that felt like I was riding a snow saucer (remember those???) down an old gravel road.
So I started riding Angel. She was well started and to be fair, was finished in Western Pleasure and was ready to start showing. And of course I knew how to ride, didn’t need lessons to learn how to ride the horse, and I did a very good job of making a mess of a nicely trained horse. (Amazing what ego does to you...)
Together she and I learned how to ride outside of the arena. Actually, she learned that she could walk and there weren’t really monsters behind every blade of grass, and I learned how not to come off when she turned out from under me. I could lead her anywhere, but once was in the saddle, anywhere outside of the arena, and the poor little darling completely lost the plot. By the end of February, I was ready to give her back, and was half-tempted to give Wendy a poke in the nose for allowing such a schizoid ugly freak to continue breathing. But I did neither.
When Mike came home, safe and sound, I told him what I had done and what I wanted to continue doing. I started taking lessons with my daughter. Mike bought us a horse trailer. I learned how to soften and relax and communicate more clearly with the little spazoid mule-minded mare.
Other horses have come and gone, been bought and sold, in the eight years since I made the decision to actually spend MONEY on this ugly little mare and bought her. The other horses were better bred. Big leggy appendix QHs. Short blocky foundation QHs. A gelding, dun with black points. A blue roan filly. A lovely paint mare. One day, after selling a horse that was what a lot of people would consider “perfect” – broke, beautiful, sane, and boring, Mike asked me what had possessed me to sell him. “Why did you sell that horse? He was everything you wanted!” Initially, I didn’t answer. After thinking about it for a few days, I had an answer. I had compared him to Angel and he had fallen WAY short.
Angel meets me at the gate, every time, eager for a cookie, but grateful for a hug, a pat, and a cuddle. The others walked away and once caught, would stand dull and sullen. I could trust Angel to give me fits, but never with intent to cause harm. The others looked as if they were waiting for me to turn my back. I was the center of Angel’s world, despite all the mistakes I have made. To the others, I was just the one who brought the hay.
Is it possible that these others were damaged in some way before I bought them? Absolutely. Did they ever do anything to make me feel the way I did toward them? Never. But it got to the point where I felt complete loathing toward them and I don’t know why. I guess it doesn’t matter. The owners who ended up with these other horses absolutely ADORE them. I can’t ask for more than that.
And I still have Angel, the one I love the most. The one who gives every time I ask. The one who still meets me at the gate. The one who leaves the grass to come see what I’m doing or just stand and be cuddled. Who steals my glove, stands on my tools, and steps on the manure fork while I’m trying to clean her pen. The sweet little darling who refuses to enter the gate at a barrel race, then locks on to the first barrel, and leaves me behind.
I love this one horse, even when she spooks at a tree stump and body slams me. I love her because once the birds stop circling my head and I realize I am hanging with one foot in stirrup under her belly, I also realize that she is looking at me through her front legs and not moving a muscle. More than once this horse could have killed me. But aside from bruising from the impact with the ground, I didn’t have a scratch on me.
I love the one who has to be sedated with oral Ace before giving vaccines, drawing blood, or injection a sedative. The one who wanders the barn like a dog and promply returns to her stall when I point and say “Get in your bed.” Who is a clean freak and rarely wears make-up (mud), even on her legs. The one who stops eating and stand guard if ever I even sit in the pasture.
I love this crazy Appaloosa, with her “nest”, wispy mane, one blue eye, and broomy tail, with her clubby “peg leg” front foot, and gravel-road-rough way of going. The mare that is called a thousand things: The Spotted Donkey, Angel, Boo, Boo Bear
My favorite thing to call her… MINE.