Monday, July 12, 2010


Rocket just always has to do something. Rocket is my 27 year old Dutch Warmblood gelding. He is the most gorgeous horse on the farm with a rich mahogany coat, long black tail, great big eyes, chiseled head, arched neck, you name it. Unlike Raffles, who is very aware of his extraordinary good looks, Rocket is delightfully oblivious. He has no romantic notions about mares and has a personality so goofy that it overrides any potential he has as a pin-up boy.

Rocket is a clown and a prankster. He amuses himself if not given enough to do. He can untie his rope, undo zippers, untie shoelaces and he will take stuff out of your pockets or remove your hat. Anything within reach of where he is tied will be picked up and then thrown on the ground. If there is something for him to put his foot in, he will put his foot in it and maybe try for a second foot if given the opportunity. He won't trot, he won't canter, he goes crooked down the rail. When every other horse is nicely going around the ring on the track, Rocket is in the middle of the ring pointed in the opposite direction. He wants to stop and eat trees on trail rides. He will buck you off, most likely when it is muddy, and squeal while he's doing it. He always has to pee when you are ready to get on and he won't pee in the ring and he won't pee if anyone is looking at him so you have to take him back to the barn, put him in a stall, close the door and walk away. He chews on his brushes. He will purposely step on your foot when you are tightening his girth. He will Piaffe on the crossties when you are trying to put his shipping bandages on. He will scrape the wall with his teeth while you are trying to braid him. He will refuse for half an hour to load on the trailer after a clinic at a neighboring barn until you call someone to drive over and help you at which point he will climb right on the trailer without a moment's hesitation. He consistently chews with his mouth open (the equine dentist has never found a reason for this) covering a two foot radius around his food bowl with half chewed grain and slobbery beet pulp. And he can, despite his bad leg, jump out of his paddock and into the school horse paddock, tear around the school horse paddock at a full gallop and then jump into the ring and have a bit more fun in there.

But he is very cute.

I showed him at Prix St Georges before an old injury became too much for him. Then he took some students through Training Level and First level, then became a walk trot horse, then was retired completely. For 5 years he hung out in the pasture, chasing around the young horses on his three good legs. Last year, he miraculously became sound and went back to work. He is starting to be a bit lame again but for that whole year, he was sound enough even to do flying changes. There was nothing different about his routine or his lifestyle. He was just sound. Soon though, he'll have to retire again.

Horses like Rocket are rare gems. He will give you nothing for free and will remind you that not all horses are stoic. When you have earned his respect and learned to ride properly, he is magnificent. But mostly, he's a clown.

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