The Hollywood Horse

Sometimes, you know right away when someone buys the wrong horse.

Recently, a longtime friend of the Barnlord bought a horse for her 10 year old daughter.

The friend, Tessa, had ridden Western equitation and drill team for years, so she was an experienced rider (in an arena). Her daughter, Emily, though, was just starting out. She’d taken a few lessons from the Barnlord (who, in my opinion, is hidebound. You ride according to HER ways. She knows only one way to teach and is completely unwilling to adapt her training to each individual’s ability.).

I got the distinct feeling from Emily that she liked horses, but wasn’t really ‘into’ them, like you and I. (yes, if you’re reading this, it’s because you’re horse crazy, just like me.)

I witnessed the ”pre-sale’ ride. Two women, one, the owner of Recks, had trailered the bay, 15 year old QH gelding to the barn. Several of the barnizens were there. I got there half way through the ‘try out’ of the gelding. Barnlord was NOT there. The story from the sellers was that Recks had done drill team for several years, but had been stuck in a pasture for ‘a while’.

What I saw scared me.

Tessa was at the gate end of the arena, shouting instruction to Emily, who was perched atop a sullen and resentful Recks. His ears were pinned, his tail swished. He was pissed.

She tried to get him to trot to the left. He backed up, tossed his head, and refused. “Turn him to the right,” Tessa yelled and Emily obeyed. Recks willingly went to the right but his trot got faster and faster. He kept tossing his head and veering into the center of the arena rather than staying on the wall. He had his chin against his chest. This was NOT due to Emily’s reining. As this horse had been trained “Western Equitation”, the girl had NO contact with the snaffle bit. The reins flopped against the bay’s neck. You couldn’t blame the girl for hard hands. No, Recks had learned a long time ago that his neck was far stronger than a human’s arms. And his will was his own, too. No one was going to tell him what to do.

He began to run. Another person was riding her Arabian gelding on the wall and he barged in on them, almost hitting them. The person stopped her horse. Recks stopped too, wanting to chat with the other horse. “Kick him!” Tessa yelled and Emily, much against her will, kicked Recks. He spun around in a circle then took off again.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was standing next to another of the barn’s boarders and she was just as scared for Emily as I was. Emily wasn’t riding. She was a passenger atop an out of control horse. I fully expected her to come off. But somehow she stayed aboard.

Recks was galloping full speed along the arena wall.

Finally, Tessa and another person ran into the gelding’s path, waving their arms and yelling “whoooooooooooa” to get him to stop. (another thing I’d NEVER do.). I believe he stopped only because he was tired. He was fat and out of shape. He stopped because he’d accomplished his goal. The girl on his back was now visibly terrified.She was pale and shaking. Tessa ran up to her and congratulated her for “GOOD job!” and…believe it or not, “You stayed on him!”

So she had expected her daughter to fall off TOO!! What kind of mother is that? What sort of woman allows her daughter to be put at risk of possibly death because the horse is a real deal? I’ll tell you why, in a minute.

The two sellers didn’t find Reck’s performance (in my opinion, misbehavior) to be ‘odd’.

“Well, he’s been stuck out in a pasture for four years,” was their excuse.

You know, I’ve met plenty of horses that were pasture jewelry for years. Most of them needed some of the rough spots smoothed out, a bit of retraining, but they weren’t like Recks. This horse wasn’t pasture jewelry. He had an attitude. A bad one.

I said to the barnizen standing next to me, “If anyone can take the knots out of his head, it’s Barnlord”. One of the sellers glared at me. I had figured it out, and she was pissed because I might just get through to Tessa and convince her that the horse was NOT a horse for Emily. He wasn’t in pain. He wasn’t green. He was a horse with a truckload of vices, a horse who knew exactly how to get rid of the person on his back.

THEY knew he was crazy and wanted nothing more than to get rid of him. They didn’t give a shit that this was not just a horse who’s been loafing for four years. No, this horse had been stuck out in a pasture for that long because he was dangerous. And they KNEW it.  They had no morals. They were willing to sell him to a child. I wouldn’t have taken him had he been free.

Even if they’d thrown in the trailer AND the truck to go with him.

There are too many good horses out there, even ones who’ve been in a pasture for years, to waste time, money and health on a bad one.

WHY was Tessa so willing to overlook the obvious problems with Recks?

Recks was a Hollywood horse. He was a perfect bay, drop dead gorgeous and a beautiful mover. That’s what sold him. Despite the ashen look on Emily’s face, Tessa was smitten. The horse was ostensibly for Emily, but it was really because Tessa wanted him.She wanted him badly.

She bought Recks.

In the days after the sale, Recks settled in. He cribbed and wind sucked. He pawed holes in the stall mats. He proved to be a problem right from the start. Even giving him the benefit of a doubt, being in a new barn full of new people and horses, he created problems immediately.

Barnlord, being who she is, refused to admit the horse was problematic, because she and Tessa had been friends since childhood. Nor did she pay attention to the things he did to her, her help and to Tessa. He would pull when tied. He did not want to stand to be groomed. He didn’t want his feet picked out. When asked to do something, he would strike or cow kick.

Barnlord was accustomed to handling rank horses, but Tessa, and especially Emily, were not.

On the one occasion I saw Tessa riding him. He refused to stand to be mounted. Instead of standing quietly, he cowkicked at her. She put down a crossrail to force him to stand next to the mounting block and when he sidestepped, she cracked him with a crop. He bucked, but finally stood still to allow her to get aboard. Tessa could ride but he was completely uncooperative. He tried to run away with her, as he had done with Emily, but Tessa could handle him. It took her fifteen minutes to get him to take his left lead, proving that he DID know his leads. He just didn’t WANT to.  He wasn’t in pain. The saddle fitted him. He never had problems moving to the left when he was not under saddle. No, it was just Recks being ornery.

Barnlord tried to work with him. He reared when she asked him to go forward on the lunge line. When she put him in the round pen, he immediately began to run and refused to trot or even slow down.

So I was not surprised in the slightest to learn that Recks was up for sale. Again. “Emily is afraid of him,” Barnlord explained. No doubt about THAT.

Matt, my farrier, showed up to trim Raven. Barnlord barged in on us and wanted Matt to take a look at Recks. “He’s a great trail horse,” she said. I said, “But he’s not a horse for beginners.” (which Matt is NOT). Barnlord shrieked at me, “shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re stupid,” and walked off to get Recks.

Matt looked shocked. I said, “That’s what I get from her all the time.”

She wanted him gone just as much as everyone else. But screaming at me wasn’t going to accomplish it. All it did was show Matt what kind of person she is.

But he’d already figured that out about her years ago. He trusts my judgement more than hers.

Last week, I was at the barn when Barnlord took Recks out of his outdoor pen and tried to get him to go through the gate into the round pen. He reared and backed up on his hind legs, pawing, but finally calmed down enough to enter the round pen. Once he was there, he began racing around at top speed. To the left.

I knew what she was doing. She was wearing him out so he’d behave for a ‘buyer’ who was coming to look at him later in the day.

She succeeded. He was wet with sweat when she finally took him out of the pen.

I left. I didn’t need Barnlord’s wasping me.

The buyer showed up later that day. He took one look at this gorgeous bay QH gelding, the one with the Hollywood looks-and bought him.

I hope the man knows how to handle a rank horse. Who knows, perhaps he might be the kind of horse that can be dominated by a man.

All I know is I am glad Recks is gone.

The Hollywood Horse


About subodai213

Retired U.N.C.L.E agent. Living in Laurasia.
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