Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Red Feather Is No More

Of course, horses get cancer. It is still always a surprise to find it. In Red Feather's case his was in the back of the roof of his mouth. Yesterday, with no fear, no stress and no struggle his pain ended.

He remains an enigma. For several years I thought that he was the famous Red Feather who journeyed into Virginia Beach with his band of mares. Only later to learn that he was the son of that beautiful horse. He was captured because, like his daddy, he would bring his mares out of the four wheel drive area around Corova and out into the highway. Without being captured he had no chance of survival. He and his mares were removed for their own safety. The mares gave birth. One of the three born was a filly. He has another daughter living in Moyock, Matoka.

His half brother, Stitch is with us and has produced several foals. One of them,  Poncho,  is here at our horse lot.

He was the greatest athlete with whom I have ever shared around pen. He was the fastest Corolla that I have ever seen. Brent Speichenger, former two time Missouri state bareback bronc champion had worked on western ranches and rode mostly Quarter horses. If there was anyone who should scoff at a horse Red Feather's size I would expect it to be a cowboy.

Here's what Brent wrote abut him a few years ago.

 "I recently had the privilege of riding Red Feather, a Corolla Spanish mustang. I am 5'11" and weigh about 170. Red Feather might make 13 hands [actually only 12.2] and weighs maybe 600 pounds. The first time I was on his back, he was kicking quarter moons. A horse cannot do that if he could not handle my weight! Recently I rode him in the woods for about an hour, trotting and cantering, one of the absolute smoothest gaited horses I have ever ridden."

(Those who have never ridden a Spanish horse may be tempted to show their ignorance by harping in that that is more than 20% of the horse's weight. Such a figure might be of value in setting the carrying capacity of an obese, stable raised, modern horse but is utterly inapplicable to a lean, healthy Colonial Spanish horse.)

He was an enigma. Only horse that I ever trained who displayed no warning before striking or biting. I mean it very literally when I say that he kicked and bit me more than every other horse in my life combined. Yet we became very close.

Were he a tv character he would have been Gibbs from NCIS.

I could write about him all day--but he would still be just as dead. Let me leave you with this:

Red Feather was well known, one children book has been written about him and Linda W. Hurst is about to release her second children's book on him. In the wild a famous picture was taken of him, missing the tip of his ear. That picture is on a post card that visitors to the outer banks who keep their eyes open will see on display racks. He had been involved in several training clinics that I put on.

So I really was not too surprised when a group of visitors from Boys Home came in one weekend. One of the boys, perhaps the smallest of them, immediately started asking me if he could get on Red Feather.

Not sure where he had heard of him. That boy went on to become a solid horseman, but at that time had much more guts than he had experience.

That's the pair of them in the bareback photo above.

He lived with dignity. Yesterday he died with dignity. And I do believe that he gave more than he got. He helped teach Lloyd how to train horses. He taught me to slow down in training. And he taught everyone that horses are not to be thrown away just because they have complex minds.

His nephew, Poncho, will be available to be placed with a family that is willing to participate in the off site breeding program. If you want to be part of keeping these horses alive instead of just keeping their legend alive he is your chance to do so.


Linda Whittington Hurst said...

I never had the chance to ride Red Feather or to get to know him in a personal way. I actually only saw him once, while doing research for my book. But I felt like I knew him as well as I know my own little horse--at least in my imagination. I loved him simply because of what I learned about him. I consider him to be a great horse, one whose story will go on to help other wild Corolla mustangs. He will be missed, but I believe his spirit and his legacy will live on, both in the minds of those who knew him and in the spirits of his offspring. Goodbye, Red Feather. I wish there were a Breyer model horse of you for children to keep forever. You will be missed but never forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I am missing my little pirate buddy. I bonded with the little fellow pretty hard. I will miss the way he moved around me...I will not forget that he taught me to recognize the point when a wild horse decides the human has become part of his herd, and must be protected. I will not forget how at a fast canter, carrying me, he could spring up and kick the snot out of a horse crowding from behind and never break stride.
This is going to take me awhile to get over.

I miss my little man.