Life in Our Foothills May 2024 – Our Golden Horses

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, May 9, 2024

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It is said that all that glitters is not gold. Well, that may be true in some instances, but we have had some sparkling palomino equines among us. I am a true chocolate palomino, rarer and more eye-catching than the lighter version. However, the golden type of my unique coloring can turn some heads. 

In our rescue, Helping Equines Regain Dignity (HERD), we do not save a horse by picking a specific color or a breed type. We focus on those who need our help the most in that instant. The horses at last call. The ones that have no hope of another good path forward out of danger, whether it be an owner surrender, auction interception, or pulling from a kill pen.  

Some of our intakes are newborn foals clinging to their protective mothers. Other horses we save are unhandled, overlooked or more mature but discharged as they are no longer in good condition or have an injury that needs addressing by a professional veterinarian. We are compelled to help these lost souls when we have room to house and care for them. It is our mission to rehabilitate these down-on-their-luck horses to find them a good home.

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Over the years, we have rescued only a handful of palominos. The first was a registered quarter horse. He was a young cryptorchid colt, which we named Oro, Spanish for gold, as at the time we did not know his registered name, Bandit Rhomey. Oro has stuck as his permanent barn name as it suits him so well, and he comes flying across the field when he is called. 

The second was another registered appaloosa named Gold Dust Showdown. This young gelding looked like he had been dragged through a war zone as he was so beaten up with bloody sores all over his emaciated body. The third palomino we named Mason. A stout quarter horse, he had been a barrel racer. His new owner renamed him Rush. 

Most recently we saved Mister Fred. Our vet watched him move, examined his head and body, and declared that Fred was likely a Missouri Fox Trotter. Possibly a purebred horse, he came with no registration papers to confirm it. He had fallen in a livestock trailer and had been trampled by other horses, nearly to death, sustaining some serious leg wounds. 

There are many different breeds of horses that can be palominos. The color varies as well, ranging from a very light, almost white, coat to a very deep chocolate color, like me! Only three breeds of horses do not have the palomino coloring: the Andalusian, the Lipizzaner, and the Arabian.

A palomino horse in fine form is a beauty to behold. Its snow-white mane and tail contrast with a beautiful golden body, often sporting glorious dapples. This color was made most famous by Roy Rogers who chose a palomino horse, Trigger, for his movie series. Who among you also remembers the handsome talking horse, Mr. Ed, who advised his architect owner, Wilbur? 

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course.” 

That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.  Mister Ed shared his words of wisdom only with Wilbur, his hapless owner.

Our Mister Fred also has a big personality. He moves his lips as if to speak at feed time. “Over here please, bring me that alfalfa hay and grain!” He adores being groomed and enjoys his time out riding and exploring the scenery. Fred is brave, willing, and a “steady Eddy” for only being age six. He is presently in training to find a new home. His ideal job is easy trail riding as he did sustain some injuries to his legs that will limit his scope of endurance work. His perfect vocations include obstacle challenge courses and exploring the state parks at a nice smooth pace. Missouri Fox Trotters are known for being great trail mounts. They were bred to tackle the terrain of the Ozark mountains in the early 19th century.  

Former HERD horse, Rush, found his perfect new career a few years ago. His owner Tracie Williams Parker has conditioned him to become an outstanding endurance mount. She and Rush have competed and placed well over long rides in mountainous terrain. They have developed an amazing partnership. Rush has completed over 300 miles in the American Endurance Ride Conference, two North America Trail Ride Conference events, and many miles of hunter-pace rides.

Gold Dust developed into an incredibly talented jumper. He was naturally a lovely mover with long, low-reaching strides.  Best of all, Gold Dust was a dependable family mount, safe for any age to ride. Unfortunately, he perished in a freak pasture accident, falling on slick ice during the winter. He crossed over the rainbow bridge quickly, which was heartbreaking for us and the family who adopted him from HERD.   

In conclusion, there is the fabulous life of Oro, HERD’s premier palomino. This lucky horse was adopted by Jennifer Demyanovich as a three-year-old once he was back to ride. Jennifer took him home to a lovely dressage-oriented farm in New Hampshire. Oro saw her through some tough times in her life and kept her focused on her riding and personal interests. This stunning horse has scored well repeatedly in dressage competitions with his dedicated mistress. He is so well-loved and appreciated. It is hard to believe we saved him at the last call from a Texas kill pen that ships horses to Mexico every week for slaughter. Oro has some thoroughbred ancestors in his pedigree which accounts for his size and brilliant movement. His palomino coloring truly sets him apart in the crowd. 

It is fitting to say that HERD found a pot of gold multiple times with these palomino horses. It has been very rewarding to witness their transformations. Despite losing sweet Gold Dust, we are blessed to have the remaining golden boys shining brightly representing HERD everywhere they go to perform.