At 12 years old I began my first job as a birthday party pony walker. For a varying rate of $1.75 - $5.00 per hour, I walked ponies in circles as gaggles of screaming children pulled at their manes and kicked at their sides to make them, “Giddy-up pony!” And it was a dream. I spent my weekends surrounded by the things I loved most, just waiting for the day that I could make one my own.
He came into the farm on an auction buy. Thrown into the overpopulated pen with a couple of other nameless newbies and the dozens of regulars, he immediately stood out. Though he was larger than most, he was kicked, nipped, and chased by all of the other ponies.
That first day I watched him from across the pen as he watched the other ponies eat and play, tears streaming down his sad little face (I later found out that the “crying” was from a chronic eye infection that has since required regular care and ointment). That was the moment I knew that I would someday make him mine.
A couple of months later I learned that George and several of the other ponies had been shipped back to the horse auction for sale. By this point, the relentless mud and dust of the pony pen had inflamed his eye infection and caused a smelly black fungus (thrush) to develop in his hooves. I knew that a trip to the auction for George most likely meant the kill pen.
So I cried and begged my parents to take me to the auction that night to save George, completely unaware that they had already purchased and had him shipped back to the farm to wait for me. And for ten years he was my partner in crime. Together we learned our way around every "No Trespassing" sign in the area, swam together in the local lakes, chased deer through open fields and jumped over every obstacle we came across.
But every time we'd ride by another horse he would insist on stopping to whinny and snort until they replied, and then we could continue. I knew that George still longed to be a part of the herd.
The day we finally brought his mare home, George's eyes lit up like Christmas morning. Despite the fact that she steals his food and nips at his behind, he wants nothing more than to stand by her side. And in the rare moment that Lyric thinks no one else is looking and nuzzles him back, I know that George is truly happy.
There are a lot of interpretations of what it is to "rescue" a horse, but I believe that we rescued George that day at the auction. And sometimes I think he rescued me too.
Cowboy Logic of the Day
"It's rare to find a horse that everyone agrees is the best in the herd."
Labels: Horse Buying