As our pickup slowly descended down the gravel road into the small canyon below, it was like passing into another time. The ranch took up all of the flat space in this magical valley. The 300 hundred acres were divided somewhat evenly between hay ground and horse pasture. The old red barn complimented the brown two-story ranch house with its full length front porch overlooking the fields. Everything was old and antique including the old soul waving to us from a seat on the porch. His wide-brimmed cowboy hat and the Hereford cowhide that covered his chair proved that he was legit.Thin and wispy. he walked us out to his little treasures, a pasture of Shetland ponies.
My father had four Shetland mares in a plan to have a whole herd at some point of time. To say that you have a horse ranch. you have to have a stud. That is why we were there.
The stud he had for sale was a little bigger than the rest, white with three large brown spots. He had a wide chest and was thick through the withers. His head was large and masculine and his eyes were very alert. At this point it may sound like he was a keeper. Void that, he was the meanest piece of horse flesh that ever existed.
Shetlands have a saying that follows them around. If you are big enough to handle them, you are too big to ride them. If you are small enough to ride them, you are too small to handle them. There are hundreds of well-behaved Shetlands about that have been trained correctly, but there are the others.
I was in my teen years and had done a lot of riding of regular-sized horses. When I was on Chief, that was his name, my feet were about a foot off the ground on each side. It looked silly when I rode him. It was hilarious when I rode him with a saddle. The problem was that every time he was out of sight of my father, he would buck me off. The implication at this time was that I would re-train Chief for small children to ride.
Chief understood that my father was the key to the mares, therefore, when father was was watching, he would behave like a little gentleman. However, back at the barn, it was a different story. If I approached his front, he would try to bite me. If I approached his rear, he would try to kick me.
Once he escaped up into the timber, I prayed feverishly that he would get shot. Through all of this, my father loved him…
Like a normal stud, he would circle and try to prevent a person from getting to the mares. So when I was given orders to saddle or bridle or even brush any of the mares, it was a battle. One day when trying to gather the mares, he crow-hopped and tried to kick me with both feet. He flashed his tail, lowered his head, flaring his nostrils, and seemingly going to attack. I’ve seen studs act this way with other studs, but never this.
To say there is a God would be an understatement at this time. This new pen that we were in had an electric wire around it. In this moment of rage, Chief’s tail became entangled in the electric wire. As he pulled his tail away, the wire came loose from its post. the wire snapped forward and stung him in the butt. The more he bucked and jumped, the more the wire and Chief connected, finally curled between his hind legs, still firing amp after amp. I was just about to the electric charger when the fence grounded its self out.
Chief was totally beaten and his body shook. I put my hand on his rump and removed the the wire from between his legs. I took hold of his halter and walked him to the barn.
In the old days, cowboys would break horses to ride by achieving the same level of surrender from the horse.
The good part was now I could handle him, the bad part was he would no longer service the mares and was totally listless.
I guess sympathy would be the order of the day, but he had been ruined before we got him and to be bitten and kicked the way I was left me flat emotionally.
I guess the moral of the story is that we bought him for the electricity between his legs and sold him because of the electricity that got between his legs…