My name is Eddies Pick and I come from a long line of working horses. In this, the third year of my life, things have really changed for me.
It seems like only yesterday I was back on the Four Sixes ranch in Texas, running through the fields with my cousins; a pasture full of mamas and little ones nearby. Life was easy then and I had absolutely no responsibilities until the fall of my second year, when I was sent off to college.
At first, it was a rude awakening-loaded into a big trailer with a few of my friends; we went on a very long trailer ride from Texas to Colorado State University in Fort Collins. 34 of us two and three year olds arrived at the school in September-we were just silly children then. At college, we were each assigned our very own human-mine was named Taylor and she was beautiful and kind. Part mama, part personal trainer and part confidant, Taylor was with me every day and took excellent care of me.
At my first semester of college, we mostly had to work on minding our manners and learning the rules and I must say, I did quite well at this. Taylor and I quickly rose to the top of our class, getting lots of praise and good marks from the professor. By the time the Christmas break rolled around, Taylor had taught me all about the saddle (which I was not too keen about at first) and had even sat on my back a few times. Overall, I was pretty cooperative but I did feel compelled on occasion to test Taylor. After all, she was the one making the grade.
During the Christmas break, all us youngsters had a month-long party out in a big field. It was almost like being home on the ranch again, with no responsibilities whatsoever. But when the second semester started and Taylor came back to school, it was all business. Every day, she brushed me, saddled me and we played all sorts of games-going round and round, stop-go-turn, learning how to stand bravely in the face of flapping plastic, or tarps on the fence or ropes swinging around my head.
I really grew up during my second semester of college and I was pretty sure I was beginning to know it all; BMOC as it were. Taylor and I worked together almost every day and as the semester came to a close, all the students and all of us colts were getting ready for “the big day.” I wasn’t really sure what the big day would entail but it’s all everyone talked about. The anticipation was building and the exciting day finally came. Little did I know how much my life would change that day.
On the big day, Taylor bathed me, primped and polished me until I was gorgeous and buff! A big number 47 was painted on my hip and many people came to our school and us colts were paraded around while people watched and pointed and consulted their little books. Taylor saddled me up and I took her for a ride around the arena, although I was a little nervous with everyone watching me.
All the strangers took their seats and then the excitement began in earnest as one by one we were brought into the little ring as the announcer shouted unintelligible words and the strangers raised their hands in obvious excitement. Eventually it was my turn to come into the ring and that is when my life took a big turn-one minute I was in college with Taylor doting on me every day, the next thing I know one of the strangers in the audience loaded me in his trailer and drove me away. Suddenly, I was alone in this world.
It seemed like a life time in that trailer all alone but finally we arrived at my new home late at night and it appeared as though this stranger who took me away from all my friends was my new human. I was scared and tired and missing Taylor something fierce, but this new guy seemed nice and he tucked me into my new stall, petting me and talking to me and welcoming me to my new life. The other horses in the barn were older than me and were none too impressed by my presence. They took every opportunity to explain to me that I was a peon nobody and that they were much more important than me.
Over the next couple days, I got a lot of attention from my new human and this new life didn’t seem so bad but little did I know that I hadn’t even met the real boss yet; soon it would become obvious that I wasn’t at college anymore and the time had come for me to grow up and get a real job. After a few days, I met the boss, Julie. She seemed to like me a lot, except when I nuzzled her with my lips. Taylor always liked that and petted and kissed me in return, but the new boss would have none of it.
It was the little things, like scolding me when I got lippy, that clued me into the fact that my new human was not a push-over. Sometimes she made me stand tied up at the hitching rail all by myself, with no attention what so ever! It was boring and I got impatient and fussy but it did absolutely no good. After a few days, I realized that I may as well stand there and wait patiently. But it was still a few weeks later before it became clear to me that I was now a working horse.
Just when I thought I had figured out this new life, we got up early one morning and the boss loaded me in the trailer and we went for a long drive. We arrived at a beautiful ranch in the mountains with over a hundred horses and dozens of people. The boss settled me into a stall and fed me some lunch but by the end of this day, it would become clear to me that now that I had graduated from college I would be working for a living.
After lunch, the boss saddled me up and we headed to the arena with over thirty other horses and riders for what turned out to be the longest ride of my life. I’ll admit, I was a little overwhelmed with all the strange horses. Most of the horses were quite a bit older than me and some were downright mean and ugly. I had to watch where I was going every second and be prepared to get out of the way of those mean horses at all times. Fortunately, I have a keen awareness of things moving around me and I am a quick and agile mover, since I come from royalty. After all, my father was a world champion ranch horse.
It gradually dawned on me that my human and the boss of me, was also the boss of all these strange horses and people! They seemed to listen to every word and do what she said. It wasn’t long before all 34 horses were walking in an orderly fashion around the arena, stopping, going and turning as the boss issued commands and the riders took control of their mounts. On this, my first day on the job, I learned something really important-it’s very good to be the boss’s horse.
At the end of the day, I was so tired I could hardly hold my head off the ground. The boss dismissed me a little early and one of her nice assistants took me back to my stall, unsaddled me and gave me a nice rub-down. I was the most tired I had been in my whole life but it was a good tired. I felt like I had accomplished much and I was very proud of myself and I think the boss was proud of me too. Even if I am not the number one horse yet, it looks like I’ll be a good second-stringer.
The next day, the boss saddled me early and as we came into the arena, it dawned on me that I might be there all day. I decided it might be smart to pace myself-no extra movement unless absolutely necessary. No baby horse silliness-that takes far too much energy for us serious working horses.
Often we stood in the middle of the arena as all the other horses paraded around us while we supervised and offered them advice; it turns out being the instructor’s horse is a pretty good deal all the way around.
Sometimes all the other horses stopped and turned to watch us and the boss and I would show them how it’s done. I worked extra hard during these demonstration times-it was worth it for the praise we got from the other riders but mostly it was great to see a big smile on the boss’s face and the rubs she gave for a job well-done me made me feel very proud and good inside.
Even though this riding all day stuff was hard and tiring, I sort of learned to like it-for the first time in my life I had purpose. Often the boss gets off of me to help someone or demonstrate something from the ground and I learned to stay close by her side and follow her wherever she goes. I even got brave enough to clown around with the boss a little and we got some good laughs out of the crowd. If I say so myself, we worked well together that way. Humans are always happiest when they are laughing, so I figured the more I can help the better.
By the end of the weekend, I had a whole new prospective on life. I am no longer a baby horse; I am grown up. I am important to my boss for helping her do her job and I am working for a living and earning an honest wage. Although I have never been so tired in my life (I could barely step off the trailer when we got home) it was a good tired and I was very proud of myself.
I’ve got a long way to go to be as good as the boss’s number one horse, but I know I will get there eventually and I will try hard. Even number one looked at me a little differently after my first clinic-no longer as the obnoxious little baby, but as a peer. It feels good to be needed. It feels good to be a good horse.
PS- thank you to Amy Herdy for the photos!