What drew me to this little bay was actually the over sized cowboy, in his over sized saddle with the very mean barbed bit, kicking and jerking this horse around the field. I sat and watched as this apparent ” cowboy” went to training this poor fellow. The cowboy would kick, then jerk the bit really hard. I thought to myself, if I were that horse, I’d buck that guy off and no sooner did the thought leave my mind, that is just what this little horse did!
I stifled a laugh. Although it wasn’t completely my thought that made this horse buck off his rider, I thought, wow, we think alike. The thing that impressed me the most was that this little horse, all of 15.2 hands tall, could buck hard enough to get this very, big man not only off of him, but send him halfway down the field. I know horses that are that athletic can always jump. The man, embarrassed, picked himself up and tried to catch up the horse. However every time the man approached the little bay, the horse would turn his butt to him. I watched for a good twenty minutes before the cowboy finally jerked the reins in disgust and started walking towards me. I think he was surprised when I asked how much he wanted for the horses as he knew I had just witnessed the whole fiasco. I may have passed on the purchase, however I had also noticed this little guy moved every bit as good as the top hunters in the country. He was small, he was ornery, but now he was mine and my husband Chris thought I had lost my mind when I brought him home out of the blue.
Interesting enough, the bay came with the name ” Cowboy.” That had to go, so I quickly renamed him Raleigh. However each day after I worked with him, I’d “hear” the names ” Taz” or ” Dillon.” I couldn’t figure it out, but after one workout, Raleigh unmistakingly said to me, ” I am a bad boy, I need a bad boy name, not ” Raleigh.” I made a deal with him. He could pick a barn name, but his “show” name was to be Raleigh because that was a fancy hunter name, and he was going to be a fancy hunter. That seemed to placate him and we continued to work together with little to no communication between us.
Raleigh apparently had a rough life prior to finding us. His body was marked with scars and he was not at all trusting. He did seem to find comfort in learning something new and leaving his old life behind. I would praise him constantly for his efforts and although it took a lot of convincing, I could see him coming around. Finally one day after an excellent training session, I was loving and rubbing on him saying ” Taz, I am SO proud of you! He responded by saying ” My name is Raleigh, because that is a fancy hunter name, and I’m a fancy hunter!’
At about the same time, we had a family buy a small hunter pony from us. It was an amazing home. One you would wish for for any horse. They were also looking for a mount for their son who was an inexperienced rider, but was looking to trail ride western. I thought of Raleigh. He had been western when I purchased him. Although I had great vision for Raleigh as a hunter, I couldn’t ignore possibly placing him with this ideal family. So I borrowed a western saddle from a friend. However when I went to mount him, I saw nothing but fence and ground as he repeatedly reared to get both me and the saddle off. Well, that obviously wasn’t going to work, so message received. I went back to training him as hunter and finding the boy a different mount.
Problem was, Raleigh wanted nothing to do with me from then on. At first, he didn’t let me catch him, then he wouldn’t let me tack him up. Once I finally talked my way back onto his back, he gave e difficult rides at best. No matter what I did, I couldn’t win back his trust. I had spent months replacing all those bad memories with good ones, only to have one episode with a western saddle change everything. I was heart broken. I decided to seek the help of a local, well know animal psychic. Although there, twenty years ago, I was just getting a handle on my own abilities. Not to mention I now had a horse that chose not to “talk” to me. The psychic came, put her hands on his withers and heart, closed her eyes and started nodding her head with each detail. She looked up at me and said ” Done Deal.” I looked back perplexed. She continued ” You made a deal with him to be a fancy show horse and you went back on your promise.” I explained that yes, that was my intention, but when I was faced with a possible good home with him, I thought he’d understand. Apparently not. No mater how much apologizing, he was not going to accept it, not then, not ever. He had given me his trust. I had compromised it. End of story.
I went on to tell the psychic about Raleigh correcting me with his name. Half way through the story, the woman laughed and when I inquired why, she said ” Raleigh says so far the story is right, he is just waiting for you to tell the rest.” I was floored. Okay so he was no longer talking to me, but he was still talking.
About a month later, as I still tried to regain his trust, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Now although I rode all my other prospects, Raleigh proved to be just too unpredictable and I could no longer risk riding him. I continued to work with him on the ground as I looked for a potential buyer to finish his training. A trainer from up north contacted me after seeing a video, vetted him, and bought him sight unseen. We stayed in contact after he left our farm. They were happy with his purchase and he seemed to be behaving himself. About six months later, I received an email to say that Raleigh had excelled with his training and had been sold to a little girl as a children’s hunter. He was now being shown under the name Raleigh Nights. Raleigh ended up living happily ever after as a fancy show hunter and that’s all I ever wanted for him.