“I can take another foster,” I said to Drew. She said “Well you could take Chico… ”
So I went to Karen Murray’s to get him. He had a rat tail, a sunken rump, countable ribs and a long projection from his chest that looked like a dorsal fin – thin and long. Turns out that was his neck, to which was attached the homeliest face you could ever find. A big boxy head housed two pink-rimmed eyes, prominent scleras and two mule-like ears.
Chico was a two year-old, two-dimensional horse that was found chained in a barn. The chain had tangled around his hind leg and caused horrible scarring. He was a stud (whom the Rescue quickly gelded) and we were told he was a POA.
He didn’t want to get in my trailer, and he didn’t like a stall. You couldn’t catch him to halter him. He was EXCELLENT at being tied, however. And he would hide behind his handler if he was nervous in new situations.
That winter, Chico got a large deep gash in his chest. Either my husband or I would soak it twice daily and then put scarlet oil on it. Eventually, due to me being gone for copious hours at the hospital with my mom, the task fell solely on Joe. Soon Chico would just come up for his “doctorin” – he’d stand with his head over my husband’s shoulder while the hot packs were applied.
He was great with the kids too. Never acted goofy when they were in the paddock, never startled or jumped about when they were around.
Several people came to see Chico when he was three. My husband kept asking who they were interested in adopting, as we had several fosters at that time. “Chico,” I’d tell him. That seemed to concern him and he finally said “Tell Drew he HAS a home.” And we adopted him.
He grew nearly two full hands between age two and age four. Chico started under saddle at four. Much like his mule-like ears, Chico’s personality in the training pen was equally mule-like. Nothing but someone leading him would persuade him to walk about with a rider on his back.
Late that summer, some friends decided to go for a ride at Crow Hassan. I decided it would be Chico’s first trip away from home. I finally got him loaded in the trailer and we got saddled at the park. That horse rode away from the trailer like he’d been broke for years. Neck reined, leg pressures, and picked up any gait I asked him for. Led the pack of riders and horses. No fear.
He’s filled out into a great horse now. He’s a pig (aren’t all greys?), he still acts like he’s spooky once in a while just to see if he can get away with it, and he runs as #2 in our herd… everyone loves Chico. By spring of 2008 he will be my 11-year-old daughter’s horse and she can’t wait!