A horse is not just a horse

September 16, 2003|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

As I'm writing this, I'm feeling horribly chagrined.

My last trek through the Country Life page was a story about a Hustonville girl who is quite the equestrienne. Boy, can she talk horses. And so can her mom.

Unfortunately, I don't "hear" horses as well as they could speak them. The most I know about horses - and I'm pleased to know this - is that the Rocky Mountain Horse breed has an unusual chocolate-and-flax coloring for some of its members.

I keep thinking that knowing that little tidbit is going to help me on Jeopardy one of these days.

Saddlebreds were the young lady's horses of choice. I know she explained a little about Saddlebreds, but for the life of me, I just can't remember much of what she said. That reflects poorly on me. It was an interesting interview. But my head started swimming.


I like a new challenge, and I like writing about topics about which I know little, such as horses. But there's so much to know about horses. A few minutes into the conversation, I had Denzel Washington running through my head - think "Philadelphia": "Now, talk to me like I'm a 5-year-old."

A 5-year-old just might have done better than I did. I was lucky her dad, a fellow Advocate employee, helped me out with some of the lingo that I obviously misunderstood. Or, well, got completely wrong, in some instances.

After muddling through "Saddlebred," I got stuck on "English saddle." English as opposed to - what? Italian? Is this a leather versus wool thing? Ah, no. Come to find out, there are English saddles and Western saddles. And the difference is the horn, or the lack thereof. I absorbed that fairly easily.

But then there were phrases and words such as "gaited horses" and "Hackney Pony" and "equitation," oh my. And "versatility pattern" and "Country/Pleasure Horse" and "Missouri Foxtrotters," oh dear. And nowhere in the interview were the words "thoroughbred," "pinto" or "Arabian," all of which I'd read in books.

Not that I know anything in particular about pintos or Arabians; I'd just read about them. Where have all the pintos and Arabians gone?

With the relatively recent batch of publicity for the film "Seabiscuit," I feel like I know a little about thoroughbreds. The most important fact I remember is this: Thoroughbreds like to run. Thoroughbreds are born to run. Trying to keep a thoroughbred from running at top speed takes a heckuva jockey. I read the jockey riding War Admiral - all four or six of them - had quite the time slowing down that thoroughbred. Might have been an interested re-write of history had War Admiral won.

OK, so I'm not a person who is knowledgeable about horses. I get muddled easily. Maybe after I get my latest sports venture figured out, I'll work on horses.

Anyhow, I'm always on the lookout for an interesting Country Life story. Recently, I noted an upcoming Walking Horse event. Ready for another foray into the world of equines, I asked my co-worker if his daughter would be at said upcoming event.

"No," he said. "We have Saddlebreds."

Oh. Oh yeah. I knew that.

"It's complicated," he added.


Jennifer Brummett is assistant features editor for The Advocate-Messenger.

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