I purchased Smokey in November of 2005, when he was 16, and I was 39, and as green as the grass where horses are concerned. The only thing I knew was that he looked amazing, and that I must have him for my very own.
In short order, Smokey and I were off to our first riding lesson. I'm at the age now where if I don't know how to do something, I will readily admit it. False bravado will at best make you look stupid, or at worst result in serious injury or death, at least where a 16HH, 1100 lb horse is concerned. Having no desire to become a statistic, I set out to learn the basics.
One of the first things was to get old boy saddled up. While I held the lead rope, the trainer placed the saddle blanket and saddle on his back, showing me proper placement. Following this, she ran the latigo through the cinch, and pulled the cinch up tight.
It's rather amazing how tall a horse can get when standing on it's back two legs. Why do I mention this, you ask? Why simple, dear reader, because Smokey had reared up instantly, and I was looking up at his head which was by now somewhere in the rafters.
With the realization that my arms were getting longer, and vaguely aware of someone shouting "let go of the lead rope", I dropped the rope, and backed away from my registered American Quarter Giraffe, pondering how this act was going to play out.
Not one to disappoint an audience, Smokey set out to really show us. Like a tree being felled, he threw himself down on his right side.
As the dust settled, the trainer asked me, "did you buy this horse?"
"That's too bad." I remember being pissed at this comment. Could she not see that this was the most beautiful horse in the world, and he was simply having a moment?
Don't let anyone ever tell you that a horse can't look sheepish and embarrassed. For that was exactly the look in Smokey's eyes after he got back up and walked over to stand by me. This was the only display of bad behavior that evening. The rest of the lesson went well.
At some point, the trainer commented, "he likes you". I took great satisfaction in that.
To be continued...