I don’t think I’ve ever explained much about Buckshot’s history. I got him three years ago. I was riding him in lessons at a Thoroughbred racing barn. This farm trained and raced Thoroughbreds, boarded other horses, and offered riding lessons and trail rides. When the barn owner asked if I’d be interested in buying him, I had been riding him in lessons for about four months, so I knew first hand that he was a great riding horse and had a reliable, fairly laid back personality.
I had also grown very fond of him. In fact, one day after I untacked him and was about to give him his post-ride carrots, another rider came up and took him from his stall to ride him immediately. I went around the corner and cried! I hadn’t been able to thank him for his work in our lesson and I felt very sad about that omission. That told me I had grown to love this horse (smile).
After I bought him, I asked the barn manager more about his history. This is what I learned.
Some years ago, two people had gone to a farm in a neighboring county to get a horse that was for sale. In the pasture, they tried and tried to catch the horse, but couldn’t. However, Buckshot kept coming up to them during the chase. They left that day with Buckshot. (He is a very social horse and loves people!)
They sold him to a man who wanted a horse to do fox hunting. But apparently he and Buckshot didn’t get along and the ownership didn’t last long. Buckshot came back to them. (I can understand this; Buckshot isn’t a horse that responds well to being ordered about; he needs to be cajoled into something, and then he will tell me that my idea is just fine and is just what he wants to do.)
At some point, he became a track pony at a race track, possibly in New Jersey. A track pony is the horse that the outriders ride; sometimes to escort the racehorses to the starting gates; sometimes to run and catch a racehorse that has dumped his jockey and is running off. Buckshot was apparently a very good track pony, and others offered to buy him from his owner. (I think this is why Buckshot is good around other horses; he is used to having brash young Thoroughbreds bang about. Perhaps catching loose horses, and having to go fast to catch them is why his canter is so powerful today. He may be used to being asked for speed and he gives speed! And my attempts at a slow lope are hard for him given his history.)
He developed a bowed tendon on one leg and that ended his career as a track pony (thankfully). He then came back to the Thoroughbred farm and was used for riding lessons and trail rides. This is the point at which I met him. The first time I was given him to ride I didn’t like him at all. I thought he was too much horse for me. (Other than bobbing his head, I don’t really remember what he did that I didn’t like.) At the end of the lesson, I thought to myself, Well, I don’t ever want to ride that horse again! For the next few months, I rode other lesson horses. Then months later, the barn had an adult riding camp over a weekend. The lesson horse I liked the best and wanted to ride was taken – his owner wanted to ride him (imagine that!). So I was forced to ride the only horse available, which was Buckshot. And I found I liked him quite well. Perhaps I was a tiny bit better rider, or a tiny bit more confident, that the thought of riding the “wild Appaloosa” didn’t turn out bad at all.
In fact, I just kept riding him from then on, and liked him more and more. He was reliable to ride at the walk and trot, and challenging to ride at the canter. So, little by little, I came to love this wonderful horse. I talked about getting a horse of my own, but didn’t have a lot of money for it. I remember one day thinking to myself, of all the horses I know, which one would I really like to have for my very own? Definitely Buckshot! And then a few weeks later, the barn owner offered him to me! It was a dream come true for me! A bit later, he and I moved to a different boarding farm, which is where he lives today. We take lessons and ride in the arenas and the trails there.
So that is a bit about his history. Three years ago, when I bought him, I was told he was sixteen years old. So today that would make him nineteen years old. But the vet has said in the past year that he is in his mid (or late!) twenties! So he is a bit older than I thought, but I love him dearly and plan to ride him for ten more years (hopefully) and then, if and when he can’t be ridden, we will groom, hand graze and do groundwork together forever. My sweet, sweet Buckshot!
This past weekend, we were lucky enough to have two rides! Although the main arena’s footing was too frozen to ride on, we walked on the trails and rode on the softer field arena. It was cold, but I bundled up warmly and enjoyed our times together!