The very first horse I ever took care of after I moved to Kentucky was a beautiful black and white stud horse named Bandit. Built like a tank and with blue eyes, he was everything that defined beauty and grace in a horse. Bandit was in high demand as a stud horse in large because he threw paint color in all his babies, an ability which not many paint horse sires possess. He was trained to work cattle and loved to trail ride and unlike many horses which tend to be on the lazy side, Bandit loved to work and actually would get his feelings hurt if he had the day off. Bandit loved people and everyone fell in love with him the moment they met him, and I was no different.
I had rented a wonderful barn with a small house trailer not so very far from where I live now. The barn had been previously used as a race horse training facility and basically had any amenity I could think of. It afforded me not only the ability to house and care for my three horses but also allowed me to take in outside horses for training and boarding. Not long after I had gotten moved in I was contacted by a couple who had been referred to me by a mutual friend. They had a stud horse who had sustained a severe injury to his back hock. The full extent of the damage done to the leg was unknown; however, the vet had told them in order to ensure the best possible outcome, he would need a lot of medical care. His owners wanted Bandit to have the best possible care, however they did not have the facilities or the time it would require.
I knew it would be a long term undertaking and a huge responsibility taking on an injury with that degree of seriousness; however, what concerned me most was taking in a stud horse. Stud horses, even the most docile, can be temperamental and given the right circumstance even dangerous and when housed with mares an entire barn can be total chaos. Finally there was the undeniable fact that I was a woman and while I had long been rid of the obvious monthly concern that being a woman posed, for safety reasons woman just don't take care of stud horses. But despite all the arguments against caring for Bandit, I just had a peace that it was something I was to do so I agreed to take him in on a trial basis.
I met Bandit for the first time the next day when he was delivered to my care. The moment he was unloaded from the trailer and I looked at him I feel in love. There was just a presence about Bandit, a sweetness and gentleness you could just feel and when he looked at you with those blue eyes he melted your heart. After we had greeted each other I laid my hand on his neck and ran it the length of his body and down the hip of the injured leg. I had seen a lot of very serious injuries in my day but I must say his leg was the worst I had ever seen and remains so to this day. Then wanting to see how he would do with me handling his leg, I touched him on the back hoof and without hesitation he lifted his foot and allowed me to lift his leg.
With his owners still present, I went thru the entire process of caring for his leg most of which I knew was terribly painful, I never once felt any hint of objection from Bandit. I knew keeping him with me was the right thing to do for all of us. I lead him into the stall which I had prepared for him and he immediately settled in and started eating hay. As the weeks went by Bandit progressed beautifully and exercise was introduced and increased gradually until the day came when he was pronounced fit to ride.
Finally the day had come when Bandit and I took our first ride together. While it may sound funny to some of you, I don't really know who was more excited about that first ride, Bandit or me. We started slowly not going any faster than a walk for several weeks, then progressing to trotting and eventually loping. Riding Bandit was joyful and despite being a stud horse he was always a perfect gentleman never once stepping out of line. But the thing he loved most of all was working cattle and it was a job to which he was well suited.
I honestly cannot remember how long I actually had Bandit but I can tell you the day he left to go back home came all too soon. Many people tried to talk me out of taking in a stud horse citing all the risks and possible hazards and things that could go wrong. And while some of those voices did work on me a bit I eventually listened to the still small voice which told me it was the right thing to do. Looking back at my life I can't help but wonder how many times have I missed something wonderful because I have a preconceived concept of something or someone. How many times have I unfairly put someone in a labeled box because I was afraid? I know one thing, had I not listened to the voice that whispered within me I would have missed out on one of the sweetest blessings to come my way.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.