Thursday, February 21, 2008

One is the Loneliest Number

I doubt that Wally was a rock 'n roll lyricist in his past life. But since Lexi's gone he seems to be singing that old tune by Three Dog Night:

"It's just no good anymore since you went away... Number One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do..."

I don't think it's natural for horses to live a solitary life. Yet it may take me a while to find another horse. Just so you don't string me up for animal cruelty, Wally isn't neighing constantly (except when I come out the back door), he isn't pacing in his paddock, and heaven knows he hasn't lost his appetite. But I can tell he misses having another horse at home. Why? Because he's suddenly become more friendly. Heck, he's almost downright dependent on me, which is actually a good thing.

You see, when I got Wally he'd been expelled from a large Paint show barn. I can't blame the trainer. She inherited Wally from some clients who appeared on her doorstep, Wally in tow. Right away the trainer could tell Wally and the young girl weren't a good match: the kid was timid and Wally was a bit of a bully. And, since he is a big, rangy thing it was next to impossible to collect him into the extremely slow-legged lope necessary to win in the show pen. But someone had tried, and that had soured the flashy red horse.

"When Wally came here, he was an angry little man," the trainer told me.

And that's how I got him. He was beautifully schooled and as comfortable to ride as sitting on a sofa. But he was downright obnoxious on the ground.

Wally needed to find an enjoyable job that he could do successfully.

Fortunately, Wally loves trail riding. He taps into that swaggering bravado of his when he's out on the trail and that makes him very brave. He approaches anything unfamiliar (today it was a pair of pigs dozing in the sun) with an attitude of, "What the heck is that?" He rarely spooks. Instead he investigates.

So now that Lexi is gone, Wally is revealing that some of his aloofness was merely a big bluff. He knows his boundaries now. Thanks to some no-nonsense work in the paddock, where I used the space like a round pen, Wally will retreat from "my space". But he also realizes that treats abound when you're a good boy. Where Lexi was quite fanatical about carrots, Wally thinks peppermints are divine. I keep some in my pocket just as little rewards for when I can tell that he's thought about his actions and behaved himself.

He'll never make Citizen of the Year. But with this one-on-one therapy he could rise to the status of reformed felon.

Have any comments or thoughts to share? Just click on "comments" below or email me directly at:


Anonymous said...

Poor Wally!

At least the one-on-one time will hopefully improve his manners. Hope the horse-searching goes well. We DO have a chestnut QH for sale - Sport. He's rideable but VERY green and tends to go unsound due to an accident... but I live across the country from you (unless I got my geography wrong and North Carolina is right next to California... which I doubt it does.)

Anonymous said...

if you are worried about Wally being lonley you should get a goat!

i have one for my horse and she fell in love with him!

also if you dont want a goat get a minnie!!

good luck

Anonymous said...

When I first moved to my place to take up my own horse-keeping, my gelding was an only child for many years. I never realized how lonely he was until I finally found another horse to take up residency. Since then I have traded that "other horse" for a mare and my gelding is in heaven. Wally will be alright for a while, but dont wait to long!

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in smooth trail horses, get a Walker. They do tend to be opinionated, but that comes with intelligence. They can last a while, too. I know of a Walker that is in her twenties and she has go, but she neck-reins like a joystick. They make great trail horses.

Halsgal said...

Poor Wally, I'm sure that he'll be okay. And it does mean that you and him get to be closer for a while. He's such a cutie pie, be sure to give him lots of hugs and kisses from me, some of those peppermints too. :D

Anonymous said...

u should get a mini- there great 4 a horses companion

Anonymous said...

I have a good idea what you're going through with Wally now, Cindy. When I moved my mare, Sas, away from the ranch she'd been born and grown up at, she was one pistol-child type person; I adored her but figured she only liked the treats I occassionally gave her. Now, it's pretty much been just me and her, and she's come to actually look forward to my coming out to see her (as unfortunately unfrequent that may be) Where as she used to play a game of catch-me-if-you-can, now she's like, "Mommy's here!" While I miss the place I used to be at terribly, I could get blissfully used to all this new attention and respect I've gained from Sas.


PS-- Loved you HI column. Now that I've discovered your blog, I'll be checking in often.

Jessica said...


Since you love trail riding so much, have you looked into competitive trail riding, hunter paces or endurance riding at all? I like these venues since they still provide a competitive atmosphere, but the riding part is so much more relaxed! (When I took some time off from the hunter ring, I chose to participate in some hunter paces and competitive trail rides, and it was a BLAST!)

And since everyone is offering opinions on your next horse, I might as well throw my blurb in too :-)

My favorite mount for trail riding is an Arabian (No, they're not ALL crazy haha), and I say this having grown up on a Thoroughbred. They are amazingly comfortable with their long strides, have fantastic personalities, and plus you also get the asthetic side as well :-)

I KNOW there are a ton of Arabian Farms in California that would probably love to show off some of their horses for you. If nothing else, it might make for an interesting blog haha :-P ... just a thought.

Anyway, good luck on whatever route you decide on!

Cindy Hale said...

Wally says, "Wow, people like me. They really, really LIKE ME!"

Thanks for all of your comments. I really do enjoy reading them all. Read my latest blog to catch up to date on Wally and my horse search.

P.S.: I haven't ever ridden a Tennessee Walker, but I do love Arabians, especially Polish Arabs. My mom once had the most wonderful little gray Polish Arab mare named "Mouse."