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Everybody Loves Blue

This is Blue, our Paint gelding. Isn’t he dreamy? Everybody loves Blue. He’s just that kind of horse.

Blue’s registered name is A Smokin Diamond. He was bred to be a cutting horse, by Like A Diamond, and out of a Genuine Peppy mare which I understand was a serious competitor in her aged event years.

Blue, however, somehow missed the essential cow-sense gene, and though impeccably well bred, did not take to the discipline. Truthfully, I can’t even imagine him as a cutting horse. Someone please show me that film.

For Blue possesses a character which is the furthest from a cutting horse I have ever observed. He likes parades, and kids, and shooting his tail out as if it’s the coolest, and prancing. Sometimes right through his western pleasure class. He’s the kind of horse who nickers when he sees his reflection in a window.

He’s downright comical.

I dare you to not love this guy.

Occasionally, his antics remind me of Jesse Burn’s Hollywood actor brother, Neal, in A River Runs Through It.

Except he doesn’t drink alcohol. Or date females with names like Old Rawhide. He does flip his mane in the mirror and check his profile.

Who, me?

According to the National Cutting Horse Association Horse Earnings tabulator, he won $366.36 in three years of aged event competition. It was mutually decided he wasn’t going to make a cutter. Working cow horse was suggested, and attempted. It didn’t take. His then Cutter-owner was stuck with a pretty and prancing blue-eyed Paint gelding, owning a gentle and sweet disposition, and possessed with a mind which seemed to be convinced the sport of cutting was about as far-fetched an idea of competitive fun as catching slippery piglets in a mudpen.

Lucky for this family, I rode out of the same barn as Cutter-owner did. Eventually the conversation sidled around to Teenager requiring a new horse for 4H.

It all went down quickly. Cutter-owner pressed Blue’s lead shank into my hands and said, “take him home kid, try him out for a week, try him out for the rest of the summer if you like. I’ll take him back if you don’t want him.”

So I brought him home. On a Sunday afternoon I saddled him up for a ride through the neighbour’s pasture. At some point we found the only ball of tangled old barb wire in the pasture and trotted right into it. While my mind raced forward to the conversation I would soon be engaged in with Cutter-owner whilst at the vet clinic, explaining how I managed to cripple his pretty Paint gelding, I calmly asked Blue to “whoa”. He stopped, let me dismount, and lift each of his legs out of the barb wire, and pull it all away. We came through it without a scratch. Naturally, I figured if he had a good enough mind to not turn that situation into a train wreck, he was a keeper.

The following week, I conducted due diligence and had him vet-checked. He failed. Something about him too straight up, and this and that. It was too late, he’d already passed my test. I loved him. Cutter-owner knew what he was doing when he sent that gelding home with me.

We negotiated. Somewhere between what Cutter-owner wanted and closer to the price I could afford – a deal was struck. Remarkably less than Cutter-owner would have needed to cut his losses to any real degree. But ultimately, he wanted to have a good home for Blue. I have a great respect for horse owners with this mindset. I’m very serious when I say that. It is a great responsibility we own, we horse owners.

This is a picture of Teenager and Blue the first day I brought him home. She’s grown so much since then, I am barely holding back the tears typing this. I mean, not that I’m not loving the teenager years. Really. I am LOOOOVVVING THEM. How much longer does this go on?

I’m tangenting. Let me get back to my story.

Turns out Blue is a tremendous competitor. Teenager rode him in 4H for four full years. In the winters, she rode him out of a jumper barn, and competed in hunter (successfully), and even tried to jump him (less successfully).

In 4-H and open breed shows and fairs, she rode him in English pleasure, equitation and hunter classes.

In western pleasure and equitation.

In trail.

She rode him in every gymkhana class ever invented. He is unorthodox, but he loves barrel racing and virtually anything which requires racing to a finish line. I didn’t once capture a photo. I think I was holding my breath. Or jumping up and down, yelling, “let him go, Teenager, let him go!”

They competed together in the toilet-paper race.

Lougheed, Alberta, has a great horse show day during their Fair, with so many fun and old-school classes we’d never even heard of. Here, Blue and Teenager made their debut in the sleepy cowboy competition, where contestants begin the race “sleeping” on saddle pads draped over their saddles on the ground, then must “wake up”,  saddle up as quickly as possible, and race their mounts to the other end of the arena.

The pair competed with another re-purposed cutter and equally competitive kid in the western pairs class.

Success!

It wasn’t all fun and games for Blue. He had to learn to put up with a lot.

Like slinkies.

And braids.

Endless photo ops.

And 565, give or take a few, lessons.

We even took him back to the cutting flag once. Just in case one of the three trainers he had gone through missed something. You never know.

Does that stance seem to say, “after all I’ve done, you bring me back here?” , or is it just me?

Alright, not every day was a pretty day. This might have been one of those. Lessons were learned, tempers sometimes ran amuck. But Blue was a wonderful companion and influence for Teenager through her pre- and teen years.

So many memories of Blue and Teenager our family will treasure forever. . . And so, on this day, internet world, in our little horse family, it’s the end of an era. That of Blue and Teenager competing together.

And, the beginning of another!

After six years of trailing her big sister to every 4H show, lesson, class and event, it’s finally Wee’s turn. She’s nine, and in the 4H world that means . . . she’s legal to ride!

Off you go, kids. (This is really tearing me up. In a warm way, of course.)

While the care of Blue will now be placed primarily in Wee’s hands, and vice versa, I have a feeling Teenager won’t forget about him.

I’m guessing he’ll still be her go-to guy for times like this.

And days when she needs this.

Yep, he’s a keeper. But then I think I knew that back at the barb wire ball.

Comments

  1. Dainya Sapergia says:

    GREAT article, Ingrid!! If any of us have been fortunate enough to have a story like this to tell, it will bring tears to every one of those eyes!!! Your girls are blessed to have found such a friend, and he is equally blessed to have found such friends with you. As a both a competitor and a horseman, I loved this story, each part of me for different reasons. Enjoy him!

  2. Ingrid,
    I have a very simular story with my suppose to be 1st. cutting horse Tivleobar San aka”Mr. Mike”(because Mikey eats everything) old old commercial.
    My very timid teenage took him when she was 12 to go into 4-H on. She cleaned house in showmanship, equitation, trail, halter, but the speed events didn’t win alot of ribbons. She then went on to compete in High School rodeo in the girls cutting and with Mike teaching her the ropes ( she did land on the ground a few times) he could read a cow. She ended up being reserve girl cutter in Canada.
    Mr. Mike was retired after that and became my official babysitter for any kid that needed a ride, and all the weanlings who needed an adult to teach then to come when called, load in a trailer, stand in the barn, politely. He even walked away from his oat pile in the pasture to give it up for the youngsters.
    Which was very surprizing, when you new his eating habits.
    Mr. Mike lived to be 30 years old, and died 1 morning very peacefully standing at his oat pile. Even God new he deserved a happy ending.
    And yes I’m crying here now reminiscing, but he was a GREAT!
    If you are ever fortunate enough to have a Great, treasure them! We had Mike for 24 years.

  3. Kim Dampier says:

    Great article Ingrid! I still remember the day in the barn when the lead shank was passed off and you took him home. He certainly found a great family to live with.

  4. Ingrid, that was one of the most heart-warming things that I have read in a long time! I am an avid horse lover…they comforted me and kept me sane during a horrific time in my life. I recognize the value of a horse’s love as much as I do that of a faithful dog. I have a song that I wrote called ‘My First Pony’…I would love to share the lyrics with you sometime, if you’d like. God Bless…And best of luck to Wee and Blue

  5. Sheelagh Callaghan says:

    Thanks Ingrid – a lovely story and wonderful to see the growth of the girls within it. I posted it as well for a few horse friends.

  6. ingrid, awesome piece! i think everyone knows of the story of a Teen and her horse, esp one that was a ‘re-purposed’ from another discipline who ends up being a rockstar in the 4h world….JEss

  7. I can’t decide if the words told the story — or the pictures! Ah Elvis, if only I was younger we might try another equine sport *smile*.

  8. liz matheson says:

    sheesh Ingrid, you are a terrific writer! I am finding myself looking forward to the newsletters more and more each month! Maybe it’s time to start thinking about a book!
    Liz

  9. Thanks so much everyone, for loving the story of a horse which finds his true home, as much as I loved telling it! I really appreciate all of your comments.

  10. WOW fantastic story, just going through the same family stuff, oldest turned 19 last week….. youngest is six now…. oldest has had a great zan par bar gelding for 7 years…. time for youngest to have her time with him as oldest is in 2nd year university….. happy to keep the guy in our equine family though, those special ones are “once in a lifetime horses” that luckily are around for others to love

  11. Great, moving, familiar story!!! I had a “Blue” when I was a teenager. I still love that horse. Your story brought many tears to my eyes. Thanks

    Patty

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