Life in Our Foothills – February 2024 – The Midas Touch

Published 12:57 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

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How appropriate that our yearling, Midas, has a golden palomino as his new pasture mate. He must have the fabled Midas touch. 

Could it be that he is like the mythical King Midas of Phrygia? The god Dionysus granted this king one wish to repay him for his gracious hospitality. King Midas pondered long and hard about what his one request should be. He chose to have an incredible power that would make him exceedingly wealthy. From that day forward anything that King Midas touched turned instantly to gold. 

Our young horse, Midas, is a sweet character. He has a distinctive bay-roan coloring and the most unusual dish-faced expressive head. One side of his head is notably different from the other. The way his white blaze wraps around his brown face makes his asymmetry more noticeable. Three veterinarians have examined Midas. They concur his head shape is a result of his position in his mother’s womb or from an accident. One of his legs pressed against his face while he was developing could have caused this unique indentation. It does not impact his breathing or his ability to eat. The blemish gives him an Arabian-type refined head. 

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Our rescue group, Helping Equines Regain Dignity (HERD), saved Midas. He was so thin and downtrodden. We had to wait three months before we could address his small belly hernia and have him gelded. The combination of his unusual head shape and the hernia is likely why his breeder rejected keeping Midas. 

We discovered Midas because his owner shipped the youngster to a livestock auction and entered him into the sale as a grade-quality yearling horse colt. This action destined him for slaughter. We will never know his full backstory, where he was born, nor his dam or sire. 

Despite being extremely thin, with ribs prominently showing, there was something about Midas I found very appealing. I insisted that we buy him. Our team of volunteers raised the funds to purchase him and secure his freedom ride into our care. 

I can catch a glimpse of Midas in the late afternoon when he comes up to take his position at his feed trough for dinner. I miss spotting him during breakfast service. This is because I am a late sleeper. A “spokespony” like me needs her beauty rest. 

In the early morning hours, I savor my breakfast in bed, from my comfortable stall at the barn. I cannot see Midas and his friends. I am not yet active when volunteer Bill McClelland feeds the rescue horses their morning rations.   

Midas has had a few pasture mates since he arrived at the ranch. Bessie Bell Transport delivered him to us with a paint-yearling pony, Sonnet. The two of them got along well enough for the first month. Both new arrivals were unsure about their situation. Sonnet quickly took charge, becoming the pasture boss. Midas obeyed or suffered the consequences of a quick, but directive nip on his rump. We decided to move Midas to a neighboring pasture with our giant thoroughbred gelding, Beau, and easy-going Ishmael.

Our Beau arrived three years ago as a long yearling. He was a docile young colt. He avoided rough play and conflict. However, as he has transformed into a 17-hand big-boned horse, he has become more dominant with others. In the field, he delighted himself by continuously herding Midas. He prevented Midas from interacting with Ishmael and with our volunteers, who come to groom and work with the equines. Beau was just too rough on the much smaller and younger bay-roan colt. We had to act. 

The bossy behavior resulted in us moving Beau into a new pasture. He would have to adapt and learn to fit in with Forget Me Not and her tall colt, Jupiter. This mare would not tolerate Beau’s pushy behavior. She quickly established the pecking order of who was to be the top horse in her pasture. A mature mare can always set the record straight with young geldings. It only takes the pricked position of her ears and the threat of her two hind feet in action to establish her dominance. One warning kick was all it took for Beau. He realized he was not able to herd Jupiter and his mother around the field. This new situation has been good for Beau. He has also made a new friend, Jupiter, to share his hay with politely. Forget Me Not has also come to accept Beau as part of her realm.

The relocation of Beau coincided with the arrival of a handsome but thin newcomer to HERD. Mister Fred, a young palomino gelding, had completed his quarantine period. He needed a place to live within our rescue. We decided to try him with Ishmael and Midas. This was an excellent decision.    

Ishmael knows the art of fitting into a group, and it is one of his greatest talents. He can be the leader when the herd needs one. He can just as easily be a follower, fitting in under a more dominant horse. With the departure of Beau and the arrival of Fred, Ishmael resumed the role of leader. Fred is smitten with Midas and respectful of Ishmael. The three all coexist in peace. Midas and Fred play together. They share their hay piles instead of eating separately. Ishmael watches over them and keeps order in the ranks when they are out grazing. Harmony now reigns in this pasture.    

How very fitting that the perfect addition to this group would be a golden horse. Our Midas, while not a king, certainly got his wish. Sonnet was too bossy, and Beau too pushy, but Fred, well, he is “just right.” This reminds me of the outcome of the story of Goldilocks And The Three Bears. Fred has the perfect temperament and is the ideal height for Midas. He is a comfortable fit as a playmate. So as this New Year begins, it is clear to me our Midas certainly has the touch.