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Big Mike…

What is it about horses that capture our hearts?  Their size, power, and beauty are amazing.  Have you ever seen a horse running free?  Almost every morning when I let our horses out of the corral and into the pasture, Big Mike would run and buck and whinny.   You could see he just loved to run free on the few occasions now permitted!

Big Mike was a national hunter jumper champion.  And as can sometimes happen, his owner and trainer over did things; they over competed him.  My daughter-in-law Sierra rescued him.  She bought Big Mike for $1.  She’s been a horse lover for most of her life because:

The world looks wider from the back of a horse. 

Unknown Sage

When she brought Big Mike over, he could barely walk.  Both of his front cannon and pastern bones were riddled with micro-fractures.  He needed special shoes because the heels of his front hooves were crushed.  Standing 18 hands he was badly underweight; very shy; and the low horse on the pecking order in our corral.  Last to eat; first to be picked on; settling in was tough.

His first winter was a challenge.  While competing, he was kept in a heated barn stall during the winter.  He was barn stalled most of his young life when not practicing or competing.  Well, at the Pokorn Ranch our horses are outdoor horses.  They have loafing sheds for shelter but no heat.  So come winter, Sierra moved Big Mike into the indoor arena and blanketed him every night.

Then we found out he couldn’t get his feet muddy.  Mud would cause abscesses to form inside his damaged hoof walls.  So every time it rained – back to the indoor arena he went. He wanted to stay out with the other horses; would stand by the door; eye them sadly.  Who ever heard of a horse that can’t get its feet wet?

Slowly but surely Big Mike recovered.  He put on weight; grew a winter coat so he could stay outside with the other horses; didn’t have to be blanketed.  He held his own in the herd, too.  His last two years he could even get his feet wet.  In fact, rolling in mud puddles when it rained became his favorite activity!

Growing up in Chicago, we love being horse people now.  I feel we are part of the American West.  I write often about cowboys (which I am definitely not one); horses (and how sales prospects behave with a heard animal instinct); and the special type of love you develop with a horse.  It’s a different type than the love for our dogs, cats, and other fury family members.

I think it’s their eyes.  When you look into a horse’s eyes it’s as if they see through to your very soul.  No matter their size or power, it seems horses with those soft, dark eyes have an inner gentleness they can call on when in the presence of innocence:

In the world, love sometimes comes with heartbreak.  Big Mike went down from colic.  Colic is a general term referring to gastro-intestinal issues horses can die from.  Sierra had to have the vet put Big Mike down because he coliced and twisted his intestines 360°.  It was likely from rolling in a mud puddle.

Our heartbreak was necessary to relieve his intense pain.  Colic is irreversible and twists like he had, inoperable.  We only had Big Mike for five years.  July would have been his 10th birthday.

GAP

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2 Comments


  1. Sharon
    Aug 14, 2019

    Beautifully written, Gary. Made me cry.


    • Gary
      Aug 19, 2019

      Thanks for reading and commenting Sharon! Yes, I cried writing it. Thx, GAP

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