Friday, April 30, 2010

Trail Training #112 - In Memory of Mingo

In Memory of Mingo

Mingo has gone to greener and pain-free pastures where he can run, buck, roll, snort and lay down to sleep—all things that he hasn’t been able to do in a long time. The only ones in pain, now, are the people he left behind that loved him so much. He touched a lot of lives. We were never exactly sure what was wrong, but we couldn’t stop the weight loss, and I made the toughest decision in my life.

Enough of that. I want to forget all about the last 5 months and remember the good 14+ years I shared with him.

He was a Breeding Stock Paint—born a black Rabicano (skunk tail) roan. His mane was so long and thick, it engulfed one side of his neck, his forelock was so long, that we were constantly moving it to the center of his head so we could see his very beautiful eyes and his tail was so long I had to cut it every few month so he wouldn’t step on it. He had the shiniest coat, and in the summer, he had dapples.

I had Mingo from the day he was born. Actually, you can add 11 months to that. I had Mingo from his conception. He was a wonderful little baby, and I was able to pick him up and hold him in my arms. That was just the first week, though. He grew so fast.

He was never the athlete that I had hoped for, nor did he have any sense of a work ethic. He could be very frustrating, but he was possibly the most loveable and loving horse ever born. He really liked people, and seemed to prefer them to other horses. He wanted to be petted, groomed, hugged and talked to. We really enjoyed just spending time with him.

He taught all of us a lot, and he was the inspiration for my book. I wanted to learn all I could about trail riding to help in his training. I started the research in the months before his birth. As it was, he was such an easy horse to train for the trail that I didn’t need to do all the research. At least I got a book out of it.

Since he was a low-energy horse as opposed to Cruiser, the high-energy horse, he taught me everything that Cruiser didn’t. I had to learn to motivate him. In the arena, he liked perfection from the rider. Without it, he didn’t pay attention. With it, he could become quite beautiful, but it was work. He improved my riding—big time. I didn’t have a choice. Ellen could ride him with some success in the arena if she really worked at it, because we ride very similar to each other. No one else could successfully work him in the arena. He was just too particular.

After riding Cruiser for Mingo’s first summer of trail riding, Kevin switched to Mingo. He learned tons from him, though he seldom applied any of the lessons to Ming, much to my frustration. He used what he learned from Mingo on RB and Starry.

Ellen tells me she learned more from Mingo than any other horse—including a new lesson just this summer. She rode him whenever our niece was riding Ranger. This gave Mingo a chance to teach her how to do a sitting trot. Once she mastered it with him, she was able to figure out how to do it on Ranger, who has a very bouncy trot. Mingo had the most awesome trot. (Glide Ride.) Whether he went fast or slow, I could always sit it, if I wanted to. Posting could be difficult because he didn’t give you much lift. What a trot…

Mingo also spent the summer taking my oldest niece on trail rides. They were a perfect fit—both so slow, careful, precise and very, very smart. Yes, Mingo was brilliant. If he acted like he didn’t understand something, he was pretending. He caught on to everything very quickly. He figured out people and found out just what to do he get the upper hand. It was amazing how differently he treated each different person. The only person he really listened to was me. Yes, other people could ride him, but he was a one person horse. He was mine.

My favorite Mingo event was back when Kevin was riding him. We were pretty far from home, and we got to a spot that I liked to canter. We asked our horses to canter, and away we went. Well, away one of us went. I was quite a bit ahead after a few minutes. Since Mingo was always a slower horse, I was used to waiting for him. We slowed down and walked a few minutes—and no Mingo.

I started to worry, so I turned Cruiser around and trotted back. There was Kevin, standing next to Mingo. He told me Mingo wouldn’t go, so he thought he was hurt. He couldn’t get him to budge a step. He thought he could lead him if he got off, but still, Mingo wouldn’t move.

I sighed, got off Cruiser, gave him to Kevin and took Mingo’s reins. I asked him to walk, and he followed right after me—sound as could be. Mingo got Kevin’s number. Kevin got back into the saddle, and we continued on our way with no problems. For months, Mingo remembered that spot and would want to stop—even if the other horses were cantering off…
One time, when Kevin was still leasing Mingo, he was trying to mount him in the arena. By then, Mingo gave Kevin a lot of trouble mounting. (He was fine for me, of course.) For some reason, Mingo decided to do a Quarter Horse spin while Kevin was holding the reins. Kevin was very determined not to let go of the reins. If you are familiar with pairs ice skating, there is that one maneuver where the man grasps the hands of his female partner and spins about with her floating above the ice by just a couple inches. Who would think it was physically possible for a horse to do that to a person? It was the most amazing thing. Ellen and I still chuckle every time we remember it.

Mingo loved to canter on the trail, and we did it as often as we could. He wasn’t fast, but he was fun, and even though he was excited, he was always easy to stop. One of my favorite movies is “The Black Stallion.” More than a few times, as we cantered along, I pretended that I was Alec during the race where he drops his reins, puts his hands out and goes back in his mind to the beach. The people in the park who saw me cantering down the trail on my little black gelding with my arms like wings, must have thought I was nuts—unless they knew the movie.

Mingo loved to buck in the spring when we cantered. Actually, it didn’t matter what gait he was doing in the spring, he loved to buck and kick up he heels really, really high. The neatest thing about it was that I didn’t budge in the saddle. As long as I kept his head up, his front would stay still and his heels went flying. It made me look like an awesome horsewoman, but it took no skill at all.

I had the most fun riding Mingo in the snow. He loved snow, but was always so careful, I could trust him to canter about in it—and he never let me down. He was also faster in the cool weather, and we had some great times.

Mingo loved when people admired him. One day, we were riding on the trail where it parallels the paved all-purpose trail. There were some people walking on it that weren’t looking at him. We noticed Mingo fixating on them—trying to get their attention—but it didn’t work. Finally, he gave a huge buck. That got their attention! We laughed.

Mingo often made us laugh. He was a real joy, and I will always miss him…

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Sounds like he was one in a million (or katrillion lol). Sorry you had to make that decision. I'm glad you're focusing on remembering the good times. That's the best way to ease the pain. Hugs.