A Good Horse – The Best Performance Horse is the One You Love to Ride

You know it when you’re lucky enough to find one—the good horse. He (or she) is the horse who turns a bad day into a good day, who takes the tension from your shoulders, and makes life’s problems drift away. He’s the reliable one who always tries his best.


The first time I met Gunner I felt a connection, a magical pull of sorts. I was visiting former NW Horse Source Editor Catherine Madera’s home and there he was, looking at me across his stall gate, staring right into my heart. He seemed to say, “Well, there you are!”  Catherine said, “He’d be a really good horse for you, Kim…”


Gunner had been Catherine’s daughter’s gaming horse and another girl’s gaming horse before that. He’d run a lot of barrels in his life, and he was good at it. But I had no desire for a speed horse. My interests lie in taking a mellow stroll down a wooded trail or spending time in the arena doing dressage or obstacle work. And, as the saying goes, I was already horse poor.


But I gave in to that pull and decided to give him a try.  The very first time I sat on him I was transported back to childhood. I felt young, energetic, giddy. I giggled. Gunner’s 15-hand, chunky Quarter Horse frame suited me. I felt I could ride him all day and not get tired and I could mount him easily from the ground (if I could get him to stand still—he wasn’t perfect). I liked his energy, sensitivity, and his beautiful golden dun coat. I liked the way he watched me from his stall or paddock, the way his nickers fluttered his nostrils silently, and his desire to connect and be, well, good.


Gunner is 19 now and we’ve had some grand adventures together. He was open to learning new things, like half-passes and opening gates. He’s still athletic, but sometimes he shows his age with a bit of stiffness in the hind end and he needs some maintenance products and a careful warmup. He’s a very good friend. He still makes me giggle and riding him eases the troubles of my heart. He’s my perfect performance horse. I do my best to return the love to Gunner (and all my horses) with quality care and tender compassion.


Enjoy our issue this month and feel free to contact me about anything you’d like us to cover in the magazine.  kim@nwhorsesource.com.


See this article in the July 2021 online edition:

July 2021

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