Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News

Nov/Dec 2006


Great Gaits

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.

The 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.


Please contact me on my email:  with your specific questions or thoughts about the Mountain Horses. And Happy Gaiting!