October 31, 2008
Looking through a horse catalog for a recent auction I was struck by the absence of a type of horse that used to be much more prevalent. I am speaking, of course, about the special species of equines known as the “kid’s horse.” Thirty-five years ago there were several “kid’s horses” in every auction, at least according to the catalogs. Some of these “kid’s horses” may have had cropped ears and been drugged to docility but for their brief stay in the auction ring they were “kid’s horses.” I shudder to think what happened to the kid’s when they got the horses home and the drugs wore off or the horses reverted to their natural character. I don’t know if the shortage of kid’s horses today is because there are actually fewer of them in the horse population or because there are more lawyers now than there were back then.
A kid’s horse is the most rare of all animals and yet I don’t know of a single environmental or animal rights group buying up large tracts of land to save this endangered species. Oh sure, there are plenty of pretenders but when I say “kid’s horse” I mean a beast that won’t buck, kick, run away, or bite the kids back. They won’t go to pitching a fit when a balloon pops next to their head or fireworks go off, they’ll mind their manners in mixed company and will stand still when a child wants to play cowboys and Indians, pirates, pull on its tail or dress it in gaudy clothes. I am talking about about a shockproof, waterproof, bomb proof horse of the highest order. Many people have gone their entire lives without having actually seen such a horse.
If you think that, just like with the spotted owl and other endangered species, there are many more of this species out there in the wilds than have been accounted for, just try to find a kid’s horse, as I did not too long ago. You’ll find they are a rare piece of horse flesh, indeed.
I pored over the sale catalog of a reputable horse sale and only identified three prospects out of over 100 head of horses. It was not a good omen that the horses I picked were nicknamed Elmer, Gorilla and Super. Three types of glue, I might add!
By nature, many “kid’s horses” are older, slower and not very good looking so I didn’t expect much when I tried to locate the prospects at the sale. Still, I was aghast at what I found. The first horse was a broken down plug, long in the tooth (tooth being singular) who had as much get up and go as a tree stump. The consigner started bragging to me about who the horse’s mommy and daddy were and what royal pedigrees they had but that’s the thing about a “kid’s horse” – you don’t care if it is related to Poco Bueno or Poco Terrible. If they have any bad habits it doesn’t matter how bred in the purple they are. I crossed the first prospect off my list because he never showed any signs of life the entire time I looked at him. He was, for all practical purposes, dead. He just hadn’t fallen over.
The second kid’s horse I had marked in the catalog never actually made it to the sale because its owner was laid up in the hospital with a broken pelvis. Hmm!
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The ewe-necked, sway backed stumpsucker that was potential candidate number three had possibilities until the owner said he had never been shod. He tried to turn this fact into a merchandising tool but a light went off in my head (several in fact) when I pulled on the gelding’s tail and nearly got my headlights put out.
“Oh, he does have that one bad habit,” the consignor advised me a little too late.
“You said this was a kid’s horse,” I screamed. “I’m trying to buy a companion for the person I love most in this world and you say this is a kid’s horse!”
The consignor wouldn’t give up. “Why don’t you bring your kid by and let him meet the horse and see how they get along?” he begged.
To which I replied, “Whoever said that I had a kid?”
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