Saturday, September 18, 2010

Snowball II - Experienced Riders Only

It wasn't long after we got Snowball home that the trouble began. She really wasn't the most ideal child's horse. My family was new into horses; there was my sister's Morgan/Quarter horse mare "Suki", and my dad's ex-racehorse "Big Red". They were mainly ridden on the trails up the road from our house. They had been worked hard in their past lives and seemed to have an appreciation for the semi-retired life style of our horses. Out on pasture grass all day, maybe a trail ride now and then.

The add in the Farmer's Column of the classifieds said "10 year old Pony, $150.00 Experienced Riders Only". I was far from an experienced rider when my parents bought Snowball. I had ridden my sister's horse on my own maybe a dozen times. For the most part I stayed on; there was that one time where I urged Suki into a lope along side an empty creek and she decided to jump it. My sister was so relived when she found out I didn't break anything. Now we wouldn't have to tell mom and dad. Oops, just did!

The background on Snowball was that she was a Mustang, rounded up when she was 2 years old. She grew up with the girl that rode her through the pastures the day we picked her up. The girl was 6 when Snowball became hers. My parent's bought the pony from the girl's parents when she was at summer camp. They told her when she got home, she was 14 at the time and from what I was later told, she was devastated that her parents sold her best friend out from under her. I remember her handing me a bit that was wrapped in cloth the day we picked Snowball up. She said it was the pony's favorite bit, and then she ran into the house, that was the last I saw of her.

Snowball seemed to hate every member of my family. She kicked everyone, including my little brother who was 18 months old at the time. She was incredibly quick and could spin in place, immediately followed by the double barrel blow of her hind hooves. Riding her was no cakewalk either. When we would leave the yard for trail rides if Snowball didn't want to go, she would back up. It didn't matter to her that the other horses were already headed down the driveway, she would just stop dead in her tracks and back up, all the way to her pasture gate. I could kick, scream and cry, but she wouldn't budge. On days that she felt like heading out for a ride, all would be well until we got into the arena. She would walk into the middle of it and then drop to her knees. She would give me 2 seconds to jump out of the saddle before she would begin to roll in the deep sand. I began to dread going for rides, but my parents pressed on. I tried riding her in the pasture, but she would just buck me off and run away. When I started to avoid opportunities to go for a ride, my parent's knew it was time. It had only been 6 months, but it was clear that it was not going to work out for Snowball and my family.

I'm still not sure how or why this next part happened, but I believe that someone that knew my dad suggested that since we couldn't ride Snowball, we should breed her. What I do remember is someone showing up with a Miniature Paint stallion. After much discussion among the adults, the little stallion with the Napoleon complex was turned loose into Snowball's pasture with her. The only problem was - Snowball was not in season. She had NO intention of letting that little freak touch her. Snowball's pasture was huge, maybe an acre in size. The mini stallion would take all the kicks to the head and keep on chasing her. The neighbors who were very experienced horse people, pulled out a picnic table to sit back and enjoy the show. Snowball only got a break from being chased when my sister's 15hh mare went into season and flagged the mini stallion over to her field. He took off in her direction, got down on his knees and wiggled under the bottom rail of the fence. I heard the neighbors howl with laughter as the tiny stallion chased after the tall mare, not having a clue what he was going to do if he caught up to her. My dad was able to get them separated quickly, good thing because his 16.3 hh Throughbred gelding "Big Red" was ready to jump the fence in order to save his mare.

A few days later a family with two bigger kids showed up to try Snowball. They were more experienced and had no problem riding her out the yard. I don't have any memories of missing her when she left. My parents did replace her within a few months with a nice pony named "Misty".

Misty was a been there done that 4-h pony. She was more than willing to join the other horses on trail rides. She was my mount at my first horse show, in the years that I rode her we did everything from stock seat classes to learning how to jump. Misty taught me many valuable lessons.

Snowball taught me the meaning of Experienced Riders Only!

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