My first horse was an AQHA buckskin mare. She was an outlaw and I was a dumb kid that didn’t know enough to be scared and I had the kind of time to work things out with her patiently. She turned into a wonderful trail horse and best friend for me. I paid for all of her care myself and took buses to and from the barn twice daily to take care of her. When it came time to go away to college at Colorado State University back in the mid-1990s, I took her with me, of course. While at CSU, I kept running into people with Morgans. I had only met Morgan crosses before and thought they were lovely horses. The folks I trail rode with had very well-trained Morgans and fell in love with the breed.
One fine fall day, my friend and I drove by a beautiful ranch up in the mountains that raised both Morgans and Andalusians. I fell in love with a lovely little black filly (Morgan) that came running to the fence whenever we stopped by. We got a friendly wave from someone on the ranch when they saw us, so I suppose they didn’t mind us petting her and finding her itchy places through the fence. One gentleman even confirmed she was Morgan and told us she was for sale. As a poor college student, also supporting a horse, the filly was way out of my price range. She had a star and one white sock. She was two years old when I met her.
Ironically, a friend of mine got an internship on that same ranch the following summer. She was a big fan of Andalusians. They had a trainer from South America that broke the horses. Of course, I asked about “my” little black Morgan filly when I saw my friend again the following fall. She shook her head and began telling me a very sad story.
The trainer was familiar with some “traditional” training techniques used on Andalusians and Paso Finos. He was very liberal with the whip and the horses returned the barn scared of their own shadow. He trained the Morgans as well. My friend reported that the friendly little filly just stood in the farthest corner of her stall and shook with the whites of her eyes showing while my friend cleaned her stall. The trainer worked in a round pen with high solid sides so my friend couldn’t see all that he was doing, but it didn’t sound good and the horses had welts on their bodies and lost considerable weight. My friend described the owners as happily ignorant of the their trainer’s techniques. They didn’t want to know how he achieved results. And he DID go far with the Andalusians, at least, because this ranch was well-known back in the 1990s for it’s Andalusian horses.
Is there a lesson in this story? I suppose. Do you know what your trainer does when you aren’t there? Is your friendly filly or colt still friendly when they are at the trainer’s? Toning up is to be expected, but did they lose considerable weight? If you run your hands over them during a visit, do they flinch?
Please don’t forget that little black filly. I have no idea where she is today or what her name was, but I wish I could’ve done more for her.