After too many year of arguing with Wrangler, I was a bit leery about another Quarter Horse. Rawhide was different. He wasn’t pleasure bred, but cow and reining bred. He was born at the barn where we board (and still do) so I’d known him for a good portion of his young life. Although he lived in the pasture with the herd and wasn’t handled much, he was quiet and laid back. Just what I needed after Wrangler put the fear of riding back into me.
I bought Rawhide as a long yearling stud colt in September 2008. For the first time he had a stall and his own person. He took to his new life and his lessons well and learned quickly. We had quite a bit of work ahead of us if he was going to be ready to start breaking as a 2 year old. he learned everything he needed to except how to lunge/round pen. He was so attached to me I couldn’t get him far enough away. Oh well … not a big deal. he wasn’t going to be the type of horse that needed to be lunged before he was ridden anyway. In November he figured out he was a stallion and I had to make the decision I didn’t want to make. Being a gelding was going to be a much better life for him so he was gelded.
When Rawhide turned 2 he wasn’t big enough for Greg to start so I was the first one on his back. It had been many years since I was on an unbroken colt and Greg helped me quite a bit. Although he was really good, Greg & I decided I was too old to be possibly get bucked off. There was a young trainer at the barn. We were told he was really good so we let him have Rawhide for 30 days. Little did I know at that time that decision would cost both Rawhide and I dearly for the rest of the time I owned him. (See my post entitled So Many Trainers …. Which One Is Right For My Horse?). We had a great summer trail riding, learning how to work cattle, doing turn back for cutting and everything else I could think of exposing him to.
In the spring just before he turned 3, we decided to move him to a barn that was closer to our house. It was a beautiful place. He and Koko had the choice of suing their stalls or being outside. There were hills and a creek that ran through their pasture. We were looking forward to having them close enough to go almost every day. He got off the trailer, poofed up like a peacock and was never the same. he was wild, arrogant and study. He herded me around like I was one of his mares. When I rode I wasn’t sure if he was going to buck, rear or take off with me. He was growing into a little tank and his behavior scared me. Greg was tired of riding the trails alone so he decided to hand walk Rawhide on the trails to see how he was. Rawhide was relaxed and grazing. It was going well until Greg was ready to head back to the barn. He pulled Rawhide’s head up. Rawhide went up and struck out with a front foot. Although he was corrected hard and quickly for all of his misbehaving, he still continued to be arrogant and belligerent. Our trainer friend stopped by on his way past to see what was going on and if he could correct it. My colt turned into a rodeo bronc. Reprimand made him worse. We were at our whits end and I was terrified to handle him on the ground, let alone get on him again. Little did I know this was the beginning of the end. We were only there 2 1/2 months when I decided Rawhide had to go back to his old barn. We trailered him back on a Friday evening. Rawhide went out in his old pasture with his newly found attitude. The next morning we went to check on him. Docile, laid back Rawhide had returned with a few added hoof prints on him. A few of his buddies didn’t like his new attitude and “told” him about it.
Over the next few years our relationship was on a downhill spiral and I didn’t know why. He became afraid of, well… everything. He was afraid to ride in his pasture, the hay fields, trail rides, the trailer. He was alright in the ring. Ring work became mundane and he was getting ring sour. On the rare occasion I could get him on a trail ride he spooked at everything. It was getting old. I thought things were starting to turn around. He was 5. He’d grown up and matured. We traded the slant load in and bought a brand new 4 horse stock trailer thinking if he had an entire section to himself, he’d be more willing to go in. We loaded Koko loose in the front and put Rawhide loose in the back of the trailer and drove to Green Lane. We had a great ride. We were out for hours and on trails he’d never been on. He was perfect.
We finished our ride and put both of them in the trailer loose. We got back to the barn and with lead in hand I went to unload my horse. He wasn’t there. I hopped up on the running board to see if he went down, but he wasn’t there. I was panicked and hear commotion from the front of the trailer. Both horses were in front and Rawhide had Koko squashed against the side of the trailer. She wasn’t happy. We unloaded both of them. Not a mark on either, but he was shaken up. The only thing we can figure out is that the center partition wasn’t completely closed so that it latched. It was very stiff and hard to close since it was new. During the ride it must have swung open. Somehow Rawhide got around it to get upfront with Koko, it swung back hard enough it latched and locked both in front. I’m so thankful we never tied them in the trailer. Unfortunately Rawhide wouldn’t get in the trailer again, regardless of how much we worked with him.
We were stuck in the ring again. He hated the ring, but now he refused to go anywhere except the ring. I couldn’t even ride him across the parking lot that he’d ridden across hundreds of times. I talked to Greg on several occassions about selling him over the following few years and Greg always talked me out of it. He’d ride Rawhide once in awhile and had no problems. The more I rode the worse he got. I’d ask for a trot, I got attitude then a trot. I asked for a canter, I got a buck before the canter. I smacked him for bucking, he bucked again.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when he changed so drastically after moving to the new barn and I became afraid of him, he started loosing confidence in me. I gained my confidence in him back, but he never trusted me again. It was time for both of us to move on. I showed him to a girl that just loved him. He was absolutely horrendous for me ad an angel for her. I knew I made the right decision. It took 3 people to shove Rawhide into the trailer, but he went to his new home shortly before Christmas 2014. I heard he was doing well and even being used as a lesson horse for beginners.
I met TJ on December 28, 2014. He was delivered on New Years’ Day 2015. TJ is a special horse. He was so special his story needed to be shared. You can read it in my other blog From Show Pen to Kill Sale and Beyond.