Enjoy the Horse!
There is no doubt that
horses will exist as long as the human race,
and that is well,
for we still have so much to find out about them.
~ C. William Beebe (1877-1962)
Names of the Horse
Buying a horse or pony
There should be no thought of
buying a horse or pony unless some member of the family knows how to ride and
look after it. There should also be somewhere suitable to keep the animal.
Before buying, the beginner should decide what type of horse or pony suits his needs best. In this respect, expert advice will help you to decide what bad points can be ignored, and provide the essential vetting to ensure the soundness of your buy.
Some horses and ponies are allergic to hay and appear "broken-winded"; others may have "broken" knees, which may be due to the rider's carelessness, or possibly because the animal is grossly overweight, rather than to a propensity to stumble. These are extreme examples on which only a vet could advise, but if the animal were otherwise intact and reliable, it could be the reasonable buy you are looking for. Sickle hocks are technical malformations, but seldom cause trouble. So unless you want a show animal, there are some minor physical defects that matter less than a good temperament.
Aged, docile ponies that have short legs are suitable for small children. Mercurial types, often with too much "spirit," are usually unsuitable for beginners--but so are kickalong "slugs." Novice adults might consider Fell or Highland ponies and Welsh Cobs. A nicely mannered Cleveland Bay could be right for a heavy man, while "lightweights" may find a Morgan or Arabian more suitable. Before you decide however, it should be remembered that horses cost more than ponies, both to buy and to keep.
A high price paid for a show horse or pony, is no guarantee of its being an instant winner. So much depends on knowledgeable presentation in the ring, and on the rider's showing or jumping ability. Even an experienced show-jumping pony bought for the novice child is unlikely to be "in the money" until mutual confidence and understanding have been built up--and that takes time.
Ponies that just fit their riders are soon outgrown. Larger ponies can, however, be schooled by adults, but riding snobbery sometimes makes adults buy horses when cobs or good-sized ponies might suit their purposes better.
Once the required type of horse or pony is decided upon, the question is where to buy it. The horse magazines and local papers are full of advertisements. These are worth studying as long as they give adequate details in professional language. A "keen ride" can mean "pulls like a train"; no one inserts "unsuitable for a novice" unless it is very true.
If you are inexperienced, take a good horseman to try the animal or, better still, arrange for a week's trial. During this time do not expect too much; the animal may find you, and everything else, very strange. But the horse or pony should be easy to catch, quiet in the stable and easy to saddle and bridle. He should stand still when mounted and be amenable to picking up his feet. He must also be undisturbed by traffic, willing to go where asked at any speed and easy to stop. He should jump small obstacles happily, without too much excitement, but unless a potential show-jumper, a refusal at a large, painted fence can be excused.
Horses are sold in sales with a warranty for soundness of wind, limb and eyes--but buying like this is an expert's job. Various country regions hold sales, and there are bargains to be had for those with "know-how." Now pony, even if it is broken properly, is fit for riding, by physique or temperament, until it is at least approaching four--by which time it will be outgrown or unwanted. Friends' horses or ponies can be good buys, but they seldom measure up to their owner's estimation. Even a novice can spot major irregularities. Look the horse over carefully for obvious defects. Pay particular attention to the condition of the eyes and view from the rear how the horse carries himself. His feet should be placed straight ahead of him without any apparent diversion to the side.
A reputable dealer will do his best to meet your requirements, especially if you do not pretend to have knowledge you do not possess. Ask for a reasonable trial, have the animal vetted, and if it is a pony, measured as well.
There are various kinds of
riding vacations; some teach special skills, such as show jumping or dressage,
and others cater for people who just want to go horseback riding in the
country. Before you go on one, you should have several riding
lessons. You can find out about riding vacations by looking through pony
and horse magazines and the travel section of a large newspaper, or by visiting
a travel agency.
You don't need a great deal of experience if you want to vacation at a dude ranch or camp. You will be given a horse (or pony) to ride and you may have to feed and groom it yourself. Some ranches or camps give riding instructions. Some offer whole- or half-day trips and occasionally overnight pack trips as well.
There are many riding schools throughout North America that offer programs lasting from 3 months to two years (and sometimes longer). The students usually live at the school and pay room and board as well as tuition. Most of these schools cover riding, training and stable management. It is a good idea to visit the school first to make certain that it has a high standard. If you are interested in a Bachelor of Science degree some colleges and universities now offer programs in equine (horse) science.
When fishes flew and
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also
had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
A "war horse" is the term given to someone who has lived through many hardships and can always be relied upon.
In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for cowboys to walk through a hotel lobby wearing their spurs.
At one time it was a Japanese custom to hang the head of a horse at the entrance to a farmhouse to act as a good luck talisman.
When riding on roads it is a good idea to wear some form of reflective clothing.
"Don't lock the stable door after the horse has bolted" is an old saying meaning that once the damage has been done it is too late to take precautions against it.
Japan has restaurants that specialize in horse meat. When this delicacy is served raw, it is called "cherry blossom."
An interesting fact that I discovered in The Empire of Equus: Horses of the "leopard-spotted" type used to be known in England as Chubarries or Blagdons; in France as Tigres; in Denmark as Knabstruppers; in Argentina as Pintados; and by the Nez Perce of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, as Appaloosas.
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