The Meat Market Didn't Get This One.
A Horse of Many Colours
The appaloosa horse, also affectionately known as the Horse of Many Colours or the Rainbow Horse, was originally bred by the Nez Perce Indians on the banks of the Palouse river in Idaho. This breed of horse has a history dating back to the Chinese and Persian art forms where drawings of horses with similar markings were found on cave walls.
It is thought that the ancestors of these horses first arrived in North America, via Mexico, after the landings of the Spanish Conquistadores.The name Appaloosa is known to derive from the Palouse or Palousey valley, and these horses are prized and bred for their striking coat patterns.
Many articles are in print describing the appaloosa horse patterns, but I want to share with you another prized quality of these horses, their fantastic temperament and natural ability.
Looking for my first horse many years ago, a Welsh cob, had to be black and full of muscle, I quite by accident fell upon a very lonely, sad strawberry roan of cob build standing in a stable at my local riding school. She was stabled in the newcomers stable,under the viewing gallery on a very old bed of peet beding. Her head held low to the ground and not showing the slightest interest at the goings on around her, my heart reached out to her.
I made enquiries about the mare and was told she was gong to be sent for horse meat with the next despatch to France. She was too hard to ride and handle and therefore considered a danger. I managed to persude the owner to let me try her on a months trial. I wasn't a good rider by any standards, but could hold my seat to save myself from a buck or two and even complete a novice dressage test to a good score, but what was I thinking, taking on such a challenge.
I moved the mare to an outside stable at the riding school, and called her Rowan. Thus began my happy eighteen years of sharing my life with her. She was very strong to ride, bolting at every opportunity and standing stubbornly like the Rock of Gibralter if she didn't want to move.
From the day I took her on loan, she never bit or kicked anyone and her stable manners were fantastic. Although aloof, Rowan was a gentle soul, loved her feed and anytime anyone spent with her. She was not affectionate, no lovely kisses, but was loyal to a fault.
Sure we had our ups and downs, especially in the beginning were she would bolt on the road taking me frantically into on coming traffic. She would even overtake other horses kicking out to dislodge their riders, but I persevered. Many times I thought If I had had a gun I would of shot her myself, but then I would remember the sad look on her face the day I chose her.
I worked with Rowan every day, even spending time to sit and watch her in her stable. I sensed her distrust and continued to befriend her. Firstly I changed her bit from a snaffle to a double ringed pelham, much more control when she decided to play again. I had my saddle re-stuffed to make her more comfortable and vowed to make her my friend.
I must say at this point, that my personality is of a quiet gentle nature, seldom losing my temper and with endless patience. Rowan and I began to rub along very well, and the trust on both of our parts grew. A vsitor to the stable yard one day asked me who owned the appaloosa. He pointed to Rowan standing with her had over the stable door. I was shocked to learn that I may own an appaloosa horse and set about learning more about the breed, eventually having Rowan inspected by the British Appaloosa Society and registering her on the unknown breeding register.
Rowan and I competed very sucessfully in the following years and we adored each other. She became very willing and a pleasure to ride. Very safe and I didn't hesitate to let anyone ride her so long as they could use the pelham kindly. Rowan was very intelligent, nothing much to look at, but the kindest horse on the yard.
When my son was born, Rowan would plod around the yard with the two of us on her back, just happy to have the company. As Craig began to toddle about, she would stand solid in the field or stable so as not to stand on him, realising how vulnerable he was. I was so proud of the mare she had become, and everyone who met her loved her. Even the blacksmith called her his little tank but always brought her a mars bar for after she had been shod. Hence my passion and love of the appaloosa horse was formed.
Many years on and Rowan has long been deceased, I still own an appaloosa stallion, but that is a story for another day.
Rowan and I
The Horse of Many Colours
One persons experience of the loyalty of the appaloosa horse.