I’d like to write more about my pudgy yellow QH, Anchor. My first horse! I will say up front, he is no longer with us. So there won’t be any fresh news about him, unless he gets all ghost-y on me, although he may sneak into posts periodically just because of all the experiences we had together. But this is not a sad post, even if it might get sappy. This is a happy post about a horse of a lifetime! I got Anchor when I was 12 and he was 3 and neither of us knew what the hell we were doing. Under saddle, anyway. He knew damn well what he was doing at all other times, especially if it involved sneaking out of stalls to go graze, and eventually he became a packer with a little attitude. Anchor was smart, truly bombproof (he set the bombproof bar for me–it’s high), liked a joke as long as he was the one joking, and taught a lot of kiddos a lot things about riding, primarily: use your leg more, shrimpy, or I ain’t moving. Anchor stayed with me for 21 extremely happy and awesome years.
We evented and we dressaged, somewhat successfully. I suspect dressage judges found him a bit of a novelty–our competition was almost exclusively TBs. My trainer at the time was, uh, strict, to say the least, so we managed to be pretty accurate AND pretty forward in the lower level dressage tests.
The stables where I first boarded him were in my neighborhood, so I’d ride him through the suburbia maze to my house and let him graze in the front yard. Also, he knew early on how to pose for pictures. Additionally, he was not bothered by the fact that he was not a stallion. If turned out with mares, he … well, I’ll just leave it there.
That saddle is a Prix de Nations. Boy, saddles have changed. Apologies and picture credit to Roger Lohr. What is going on with that noseband? Anyway, XC terrified me and my trainer no longer inspired me, so we moved him, and my other horse Red, to a quieter, more out of the way barn for a few years before I headed to college. I still rode, but stopped competing altogether. This barn was next to an equine event center, and every time a western show came through, I’d be out riding around, and cowboys would come over and offer to buy Anchor. Sometimes for quite a bit of money. Of course, they didn’t know that if he had a western saddle on, all he would do would be backing up in a circle.
Never again will I jump jumps called tiger traps, coffin jumps, dead-falls, or tables. Ever. Anchor really only didn’t like water, and happily jumped almost anything else. He never caught on to that whole “gallop” thing, though.
We moved again as I entered college, to a barn at a polo center with a colorful hunter/jumper trainer I enjoyed riding with. We stayed a short time there, before moving again to a hunter/jumper competition-oriented farm in the town where I went to college. The trainer there observed that I had pretty much outgrown Anchor, but I didn’t want to sell him. My mom and I talked about another horse for me, and the whole thing worked out to where I could buy another horse, keep Anchor and Red, and Anchor could be leased by a lesson kiddo, and then eventually he became a full-time lesson horse.
He looks good in drag, yes? He had a successful, funny, wonderful second career as a lesson horse. He gained nicknames like Applebooty and Blondie Bear. He ate a lot of carrots. My favorite story about Anchor shows how smart he was. My trainer at the time and I were standing in the barn aisle talking shop, and the lesson horses were loose on the property, including Anchor. The barn aisle entryways had chains up across them so that the lesson horses couldn’t get into the barn while loose. While my trainer and I were talking, Anchor walked up to the chain and we both looked over at him as he was sizing up the chain. I said, “He’s going to just walk through that chain. He knows he can break it.” Trainer said, “No, he won’t. He’s not going to walk through it. He’s just going to hang out there.” Anchor looked at him, walked up to the chain, leaned on it, busted through calmly and deliberately, and kept right on walking up to my trainer. Anchor knew we were talking about him. The trainer said, while patting Anchor on the neck and chuckling, “Well shit, I did not think he would do that. That is a smart horse. We’re going to need a heavier chain.” This same trainer rode Anchor only a handful of times, but one of those times, at a show while schooling after all the classes, he sat on Anchor, and then stood on Anchor, standing on the saddle (possibly a client’s Butet–yikes), holding the buckle of the reins, gesticulating wildly, while talking to a rather difficult client about the client’s daughter riding Anchor in the show. Anchor just stood there, ears forward, looking at the client, as if to say, “What? You don’t trust me? Are you freaking kidding? Your kid needs me.” That kid got ribbons that show.
Anchor was so cool that he was his own spirit animal. And possibly Robert DeNiro’s spirit animal. I believe that any horse, every horse, has the potential to be someone’s horse of a lifetime. Anchor, while perhaps not my only horse of a lifetime, has without question been my fat yellow QH of a lifetime!!