19 April 2009

Memories--Colter in His Prime 1977

Colter's sire was National Top Ten in Park in the class won by *Bask. So people assumed Colter would be a Park Horse too. He had the movement, but his temperament was more Western Pleasure or maybe even Lead Line. He would have been glad to move out had people taken the time to explain what they wanted, but instead he more likely got the fire extinguisher treatment--certainly one way to get a horse to show "presence." When I got him, he had a broken rib from going over backward in a bitting rig and scars up both sides of his mouth, probably from the same experience.

When I got him, if was also terribly obvious he'd been mechanically collected with a curb bit for seven or more years. He was, in other words, stiffer than the average board.

As he rode my stallion during this March 1977 clinic, I also remember Dominique saying, "The old man is a little stiff, yes?" Indeed he was. But despite his stiffness and tension, Colter was still one of the most gentle and kind horses I've ever met.

I still clearly remember this moment. Dominique was relaxing, swinging his legs and saying, "Ah, another crazy Arab stallion!" Meanwhile, Colter was just quietly watching the other stallion then working in the ring.

By mid-summer, Colter wasn't nearly as stiff, and, instead of leaning into the full double of a park horse, he was yielding to a simple snaffle.

Of course, I'm really not big on using any sort of bridle if I'm riding for fun.

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