I've talked quite a bit about Tina, my first personal equine--the earlier ones were more family horses. Along during my high school years and afterwards when I was working as a trainer and equine care-giver, several special horses passed through my life. We had two stallions for a time, one Appaloosa and one Quarter Horse. Yavapai Chief was a handsome chestnut with a nice blanket. He had the typical somewhat coarse head of many Appys but for a stallion was very well-behaved and generally manageable. I rode him on a number of occasions and unless there was a mare in season nearby, he was about like any saddle horse--perhaps just a bit more elan and dash! Here's a shot of me on him. His ears say he was waiting for my signal in this photo.
The Quarter Horse was named Leo Mix; he was a descendant of the early foundation QH sire Leo, a well-known Texas stud, on both sides as I recall. He was a very pretty dappled gray, almost blue roan color with just a hint of dun in the undercoat. Dun is a tan or faintly yellow hue, not bright like the palominos but a softer shade. We got him as a yearling and I was one of his chief trainers. He was a handsome guy but for a stallion, very sweet and even tempered. In fact he handled just as easily and well as any well-broke cowpony. I rode him a lot and even got a shot of my baby brother, then about five, sitting on him!
We had a number of young mares and Quarter Horse fillies. My favorite was one that became mine and that I trained. She was small, just over fourteen hands high and a coppery sorrel with flaxen mane and tail. She was dainty and very feminine in her appearance but she had plenty of get-up-and-go. Here's a shot of me fairly early during her training. She never had to be "broke" but simply to be taught how to respond to the reins, voice and other signals that a western rider uses to cue a mount. Her name was Buzzie Bubbles and she came from the Buzzie Bell H lineage of the Monrovia, CA area. Here she looks alert and is standing poised but not tense. Later she was pretty good on the barrels. I note I was using a loose-jaw hackamore bridle on her and riding a McClellan saddle--the old Army cavalry saddle. They were light and good to use on young horses to keep the weight down. Later I'd move on to a regular western stock style saddle.
To this day I have a great love for horses. I realize their flaws and weaknesses and often say that if humans had not taken them to be both pets and beasts of burden that they'd likely be extinct now. They are not efficient users of their feed and have a lot of delicate and fragile aspects. But that being said, they still have a beauty and grace, a special character and have done so much to help us on our climb to "civilization" that right after the dogs, they are one of the most important fellow mammals to our kind!
I think that like my beloved dogs, the horses I have loved go to "heaven" too, and that they are waiting for me across the Rainbow Bridge as well. If they do not go to human heaven, then I pray the Powers That Be will let me go wherever they are! I suspect most of my most loved people will be there too because they feel the same way I do.
So today, National Day of the Horse, I celebrate and honor the equine species. Run forever in green pastures, my friends, as you deserve to do!