Bold Archer

I feel like, lately, all I do is work and work out.  And walk dogs, and do laundry, and feed animals and text.  And occasionally ride my horse.

Let's talk about my horse for a minute.  It's a topic of which I don't often tire.

Bold Archer, or Archie, Asshole, Boogerface, Bastard, and the Kid, was born in Kentucky on April 4, 1997.  He's all Thoroughbred - long legs, slightly inbred, a tad hotter than some other breeds, and smart.  Smart, smart, smart.  I've never known a kid this smart.  And he's a quarter Canadian.  He raced for a few years and did horribly.  Of his 17 races, he made a whopping $6k with his one win and two seconds.  That actually surprised me a little bit, because he's so.. determined.  But I figure that maybe he was being an asshole to everyone.  Maybe it just wasn't for him.

Hi.  Carrots?
After retiring, from my understanding, he spent a little bit of time as a 4-H horse.  Those poor kids.  That didn't last long.  Then he was sent down South, where we're supposedly deprived of off the track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs).  This is where I'm not exactly sure what happened.  One lady was selling him and couldn't.  Then, I think, he ended up at my barn, where he ate grass for a couple of years.  I don't remember him in the pasture.  I don't remember feeding him or blanketing him or checking him for injuries.

I remember Duke.

Duke, at our only show.
Duke, with his 17.3 hands of height, laid-back personality and willingness to take any fence, stole the attention from every other horse there.  I started feeding in order to get more time in Duke's saddle.  I'll never forget the days of running through the woods with the tree limbs scratching my sunburnt shoulders - the groundsman never thought to trim that high.  Duke was the first horse (only horse, actually) that I competed at three feet on.  He was the first to give me a shoulder-in and make me feel amazing.  And then he died.

It was colic.  It was surgery.  It was removal of intestines and phone calls and crying with his owner and wondering how such an amazing horse could be gone.  And it was a hard recovery that made me question my ability to recover.

3 feet, bitches.
And then, suddenly, there was a petite, by comparison, bay in his stall.  And, in my grief, I asked the barn manager for a project.  Archie became that counselor.  I became his person.  The goal was to get him in shape, get him going, and get him sold.  But after brushing him and lunging him and learning his personality (me, me, me), I was attached.  And then I got on him.  It was that moment, in the first post of the first trot, that I knew: no one else would ever own this horse.

I started working out the details: Could I afford him?  How much went into owning a horse?  How would I make this work?  And then I was in a car accident and made probably the most impractical, yet perfect, decision of my life.  For eighteen months, I drove around a 1986 Toyota Corrolla because it was free.  I used the money from the accident to put the down on Arch and to buy him tack.  It took me three more years, but I paid him off completely.  I worked off most of his board.  We've never been to any fancy shows and he's not exactly what I dreamed my first horse would be, but he's amazing.  He's made me grow, as a person and as a rider.  I'm confident on any horse I get on, because I know Archie is the biggest ass out there and I can stay on him.  Bucks don't frighten me.  Rears are just pretend fences.  The horse I'm riding will pick up whatever gait I tell him to - because I can get Arch to canter both leads and that is no small feat.

He's arthritic almost all over.  He has a tender back.  His hocks and ankles have been injected.  He wears fancy aluminum front shoes.  He's anhidrotic (I don't care what you say - that's something that ought to be preventatively treated for ever).  He is herd bound and shits himself when his buddies leave.  He kicked the farrier in the junk on his first visit (but didn't mean it!  I swear!).  When he's happy, feels good, feels proud, he has no equal. And I make it my mission to keep him happy, feeling good, and proud.  That's probably why I'm poor. (And happy.)

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