If the truth be known it is me who will benefit the most from her – No matter what other troubles I might have, she is my cure.
I recognized it the very first time I met her. There was just something about her that I just could not get off my mind. Not what I pictured when envisioning my dream horse by a long shot. Guilty stood a mere 14.3 hands, was at least 200 lbs. overweight, her feet were neglected horribly and she had not been handled or ridden for about 6 years. She stood in a small backyard paddock with her 3 year old filly who had never been out of her sight and was spoiled rotten with treats from her owners and the neighbors. But she was special. I may have been the only one who thought so at the time, but I knew that this was the horse for me. Something about the name “Guilty” rang true with me. How could a horse with a name like that be anything but special? After many months of finagling and bartering, I finally brought her home. Guilty actually has the very regal registered quarter horse name of “King Leo’s Golden Bars” and her grandmother’s name was “Quilty”. Somehow this morphed into the absolutely perfect name for her although it came about because of the way her coat shines with seemingly golden threads running through it when in the direct sun- like gilded gold. I have never seen another like it. Nor have I ever seen another horse like her. She may be the smartest horse I have ever dealt with and she definitely earns her name. I have volumes of stories about her antics, her bravery and her character. She is the matriarch of our herd without question. In her own quiet and passive way, she gets her point across time and again. When challenged for her position by a newcomer, she doesn’t fight. Rather, she merely picks up the entire group and moves them to another part of the pasture leaving the newbie all alone and wondering what happened? As soon as she is humbly acknowledged as the leader, she welcomes the new horse into the herd graciously without any violence. She behaves like royalty – demanding respect in a dignified manner, and she gets it. She will not be bullied by horse or human. Unless asked politely and correctly, she refuses to even acknowledge the request. Trust me, I have learned more from this horse because of her “resistance” than all the rest put together. Asked nicely, she will do anything for you – just don’t try to make her do anything. Not too much to ask from a mare who is now almost 24 and has never kicked, reared, bucked, bit or bolted, no matter how unskilled the rider or handler. She is one of those horses that you wouldn’t take a million dollars for, couldn’t get a nickel for, but would give away if it meant a better life than I could give her. That is what I have decided to do. She has a chance to have a home with someone who knows her, appreciates her little quirks and loves her like I do. She will actually get much more attention than I have been able to give her recently and I foresee even less in the future. She deserves it and it is what I want for her, as much as I will miss her. As her new soon-to-be owner, her barefoot trimmer and I stood discussing the transfer of ownership, we watched her performing her role as the “main squeeze” in her pasture where a new horse had just arrived. The remark was made that Guilty was a princess. I quickly corrected that by stating “Oh no, she is the “Queen”.
Times when she balks or questions your asking, sidesteps restlessly and throws nervous glances.
My Southern Belle
Dixie, Southern Belle that she is, is very appropriately named. A Southern lady never lets on her true feelings or intent if she thinks it will be considered rude. Portraying good manners is always first on the list of behavior traits. And while I have heard more than once that “Horses don’t lie”, I have to beg to differ on that one when it comes to Dixie and dogs. She will flat out mislead any poor innocent by-standing dog into thinking that she isn’t giving him a second thought. This usually takes place while we take a break and she calmly grazes while my dogs wait quietly for us to start riding again. I will let Dixie have the reins so she can lower her head and grab a few bites of grass. I might add that the dogs have been along with us for the entire ride without incident. Dixie never gives them a second glance as they run along side, behind or in front of us- even when they get very close and a well-placed kick could easily find its mark. No, Dixie just goes along without any indication of her mischievious plan. She lets the trust build and the guard comes down as the dogs forget about watching out for her as a possible danger. I also fall for the false sense of security she exudes and time and again will relax and let my thoughts wander. That is when she makes her move. She instantly transforms from this sweet, laid-back, harmless horse to a dog attacking wild thing without blinking an eyelash. No laid back ears, no sidelong glances calculating her move, no fixed stares, no agitation – no nothing. Just a sudden rush at the unsuspecting dog who is minding his own business and happens to be within striking distance, nearly unseating me in the process. Actually, I think it is somewhat of a game for her. She is a very passive mare in the herd and gets pushed around a lot. I think she gets a kick out of seeing us all jump in reaction to her aggressiveness as she gets to do the moving. I have to say in her behalf that she never – not even once – has ever connected or hurt the dog. She just loves to surprise them and scare the daylights out of us. She thinks it is funny and gets a good laugh out of it. I always end up laughing also as she gets me time and again with this little ploy of hers and has me scrambling to attention. So, she not only lies about not having those thoughts, she lies about her intentions and acts like she is going to kill. She lies about being a bully, which she definitely is not. She just has a very warped sense of humor.
If she is the Alpha who looks out for the herd, remember her position and please don’t forget – She carries the responsibility of her job seriously – She won’t hesitate to offer her life to protect.
The day started warming up nicely after a nasty wet and cold night. I had blanketed several of the horses the evening before, but now temperatures were rising and I decided to remove the coats. Most of the herd was in the upper pasture already so I had to carry the heavy coats back through the lower pasture to put them in the barn. I carried one in each hand and had to hold my arms up on either side of my head to keep them from dragging on the muddy ground as I walked. The result was that I looked like a big, tall shapeless form with no visible head. As I came through the lower pasture where a few of the horses were grazing, they were startled at the sight of me and ran up to be with the horses in the upper pasture-or so I thought. I suddenly became aware of a movement behind me. Then I heard the snorts and pawing. Turning to see what the commotion was all about, I saw my alpha mare, Guilty, making half circles side to side and behind me. She was following me and trying to determine just what kind of monster had eaten her owner and what she was going to do about it. As I turned to face her, she lowered her head, pawed at the ground, tossed her head and snorted. I realized that she was getting ready to charge me. She started for me, still not knowing what she was attacking. I dropped the coats and stepped away from the pile, shouting: “Guilty, it’s me”! As soon as she heard my voice and saw me in my usual form, she stopped dead in her tracks and looked me in the eye still thinking it might be a trick. As soon as she was convinced it was really me, she came up and touched me. She then went directly over and trampled the coats – just to be sure. She was proud of the fact that she saved me, but I was even more proud of her. I want to believe that she defended me because she thought she was protecting me and would do just that if the situation really called for it.
The Alpha Mare
She is the lead mare and it is her job to protect her herd. Instead of running away like the other horses when they saw the strange sight of me coming over the hill, she stayed and was ready to fight. She was brave and courageous. I got a good laugh out of that incident but I didn’t let her know that. That’s my girl and I love her.