I realize that most of the posts focus on Whitman or Ries – the “Wondertwins” who are my current (or in Ries’ case – attempted) show horses. I am still the proud owner of Fredrick a/k/a Rhymes W/Orange a/k/a Gold Medal Freddie (JC name).
I consider Fred to be my first “real” horse. Not to undermine my first few horses who were either Quarter Horses with some pretty rough/sad background stories or a draft cross who came with her own interesting background story and heartbreaking end. Now that I think about it, the same could be said about the boyfriends prior to my husband. They were sweet/harmless enough but they were stepping stones to the “keeper”. Now, previous boyfriends do not hold a candle to my previous horses, but both teach lessons and teach you what to avoid in the future.
Fred was a gorgeous and freakishly orange chestnut gelding (a very recent lifestyle change a few weeks prior to his purchase) that we bought when I was 19. Fred was the horse that fit the strange set of requirements we were shopping with. We needed a horse that I could compete and that my father could trail ride. After several months and thousands of miles of shopping trips it was a just gelded, four year old, off-the-track-thoroughbred with a month or two of training.
My then boyfriend/now husband came over to see the new love-of-my-life. Being a horse guy, I was very excited to present my new “real” horse (who was certain to be ready for the Olympics before I could drink legally) to him (the boyfriend – Fred already knew who he was). Fred was an incredibly oral young horse. He reached over the stall and I was playing “gotcha tongue” with him – sixteen years later he still loves that one. I stuck my fingers in his mouth and rubbed his gums much to his delight. Dear boyfriend/husband allowed my new love to “wuffle” along his forearm. At which point the “orange one” peeled back his adorable busy lips and latched on to a three inch long, half inch wide strip of his forearm.
The elicited a girl like squeal from the boyfriend which caused Fred to promptly spit his arm out. The boyfriend then went to climb over the stall wall to hand out the well deserved correction. However, I was not willing to have said shiny new horse corrected and grabbed hold of the boyfriend’s belt and prevented him from getting the naughty horse within the appropriate amount of time. This pretty much set the tone for the first six years of their relationship.
The next winter Fred followed up by nuzzling the boyfriend’s hairline while he was sitting on a hay bale. What seemed to be a cute bonding moment went south very quickly when Fred revealed that it was just a taste test. He grabbed the boyfriend (and surprisingly now and still husband’s) by the scalp and lifted him right off his feet. That time I left Fred to his own devices, largely due to the fact that sympathy pains had me crouched down covering my forehead.
Fast forward a few years and boyfriend is now my husband but the horses still live at my parents, greatly cutting down on the time that Fred and the husband have to spend together. Fred really liked my husband at that point, but more as a king enjoys his court jester – its an exploitative relationship. We went to a dressage show at Grand Haven. Now mind you, its a small recognized show circuit around us, so everyone knows each other. Everyone was also highly aware that Fred was an affectionate, bomb-proof solid citizen who would follow me around like a dog and make those natural horsemanship guru ponies look half broke. Dear husband agreed to hand walk Fred so that I could read tests for others in our groups. As soon as I walked out of the ring I was handed the lead rope to my horse (who would have been whistling if he was human, he was so guilty) by a husband who looked like Mt. Vesuvius on the verge of a Pompeii destroying explosion. I took the lead rope and the husband stalked off. Turns out that Frederick had started to follow the husband out of stabling and took it upon himself to rear up and flop over on his side, roll and kick like a two year old having a temper tantrum. Evidently, there were two separate episodes of this within a few minutes. To make matters worse, several middle aged women stood around wondering what could have been done to cause this and using the evil eye on the husband that so desperately wanted to wind up and deliver a much deserved kick to an orange butt.
This is after a show where I was doing the usual of rubbing Fred’s gums and teasing his lips. Fred never abused this privilege with me. Dear husband went to softly rub Fred’s nose and was immediately rewarded with teeth. While dear husband was still shaking the feeling back into his thumb, my instructor walked into stabling and stuck her fingers under Fred’s lip in response to which he just flapped his upper lip up and down in delight. (Again, still married and I still own the horse – go figure!)
Fred is going to be turning 21 this spring. The relationship between my horse and husband improved remarkably once we moved the horses to our place. Evidently Fred recognized that the husband was now definitively part of Fred’s “herd” and the last decade has been smooth sailing for the two of them. I don’t even want to get into the Whitman vs. husband issues at this point (yes, still married).