Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
by: Barbara Weatherwax
May 30th of this
year brought a change like no other into my life. My precious
Mountain gelding, Yellow – Kentucky Goldrush — suffered an
unrepairable twist in his small intestine and had to be put to
sleep. The night before, he was his own magnificently idiosyncratic
self. When I went out to feed in the morning, he was in obvious
distress – which prompted me to trailer him off to the equine
hospital. By noon he was gone, and I was left devastated.
Those of you who have followed my
writing will be familiar with Yellow because he has been the model
for so many of my examples. He demonstrated most of the flaws my
readers questioned me about. He was basically an emotional horse.
Trail rides with large groups of horses and arenas readied for a
show were anathema to my golden boy. His gaiting reaction to these
situations was described as “assorted foot falls.” But anyone who
knew this mountain gelding can’t help but smile at the sound of his
name. He was undoubtedly one of a kind.
On the trail with a couple friends,
Yellow was powerful, comfortable, graceful and delightful. He would
usually take the lead, and he gave great courage to young and
nervous horses. Friends who were riding a novice horse, would ask me
to take Yellow on the ride because he had such a calming influence.
Yellow never met a horse he didn’t
like. He had a magical energy that came through in all his
encounters. What a paradox he was! He was like the elephant being
viewed by 5 blind men. The man who had his arms around the
elephant’s leg said and elephant is like a tree – the man with the
trunk in his arms compared the elephant to a large snake. The man
holding the tail said the elephant was like a worm – while the man
with the ear found the elephant to be like an awning; and the man
with arms stretched out over the side of the elephant said it was
like a wall.
Of course, they were all right as far
as their experience allowed. Well, that was my Yellow. He could slam
his body against the stall wall to get away from me when I was
offering him a piece of sugar (it could be poison) and that same
day, he could save my neck by safely negotiating unexpected
rock-fall debris on the trail.
drama he displayed was a constant source of amusement to those of us
who knew him. That is certainly what I will forever miss. Yellow
made me smile. He made me laugh. I don’t believe I ever raised my
voice to him – and I was lucky enough to have him in my life for
almost fifteen years. There are so many stories that folks have
been reminding me about. There was the Liz Graves clinic when he
ran backward in great alarm when Liz touched his muzzle with
lavender-moistened hands. At that same clinic, he performed several
of the challenges as exhibition to the other participants – again
demonstrating the Yellow paradox.
This year has been a challenge for me
because it has been spent in making a move from the comfortable old
homestead to a brand new vacant land project. I promised Yellow that
as soon as the building and moving were complete, I would get back
to my regular riding schedule. Well, that promise never came to pass
for me and Yellow. It only brought me face to face with the reminder
that we really can’t put off till tomorrow what we should be doing
today. Not seeing that gorgeous face each morning is something I
will just have to live with. That glorious float of a ride will have
to remain in my memory. All I can hope for is to remind you to get
on with what is important to you. Time doesn’t wait for a convenient
moment. Enjoy the process.