The horse, of course, must be compatible

Glenda Price

Most children love horses, whether or not they’ve ever been on one.

They love stories about horses, too.

“My Friend Flicka,” “Black Beauty” and “The Black Stallion” come quickly to mind along with the classic Zane Grey novel, “Wildfire.” Most of us know and love Will James’ many books about horses, also.

Lest we think horse stories no longer are being written, we should check out “Chico” by Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court Justice, published in 2005. If we Google “books about horses,” we get a huge list.

New Mexico’s premier, internationally known horsewoman, Suzanne Jones of Tatum, is one of those rare individuals who understands a horse’s mind.

Her books teach that rider and horse should become partners in whatever discipline they choose — among them western riding, dressage, barrels, roping, reining, or pleasure riding.

She would be the first to agree that the horse-human connection defies simple explanation. I cried when my barrel horse died of old age, even though I knew in my heart it was for the best.

Still, sometimes the actual, living horse doesn’t quite live up to romantic expectations.

I knew a girl named Dee, about 9, who really wanted a horse. Her friends had horses, and she wanted to ride with them. One day her grandfather showed up with a small horse of indeterminate breeding. He was kinda good looking, actually, brown and white paint. His name was Cinnamon.

Cinnamon was broke to ride, Granddad said, so Dee climbed on and they headed down the local bridle path.

Before long Dee stomped back, leading Cinnamon, angry tears mixing with the stickers in her hair and clothes. When she finally cooled off enough to talk about it she said when she asked him to gallop it felt like he sorta shrugged and dumped her — smack in the middle of a bunch of thistles.

A few days later her friends came by on their horses, and they rode off together, singing. There was no singing when she got back.

“That horse refused to gallop,” Dee said. “While we trotted, my teeth and bones rattling, my friends’ horses loped smoothly along. ’Course I could only see their rear ends.”

After about the 10th time of Dee trudging home, angry, leading that little malfeasant, she turned him loose and vowed never to touch his back again. That was one time her dad, too big to ride the little fellow, couldn’t come to the rescue. Probably Suzanne Jones could have re-educated the little squirt, but that family didn’t know her.

They ended up giving Cinnamon away — for free. Actually, Dee would have paid someone to take him.

Later, Dee became a fine horsewoman. She had learned that each horse has its own distinct personality, no matter what breed or size.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Dee says, “Look him in the mouth, the ears, the belly, the feet, AND take him for a test gallop.”

Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: