For today I thought I'd do another installment of the planned series featuring our menagerie of critters.
This time about the (currently) only equine member of our family - Bo.
In the summer of 2001, I came up to visit friends here in South Dakota. During the visit, we went to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to look at horses. In addition to hundreds of wild mustangs, the Sanctuary had a breeding program of registered Paints and Quarter Horses. Foals were sold to offset the costs of keeping the Sanctuary running. I have always had a love for flashy spotted Paint horses and I thought I might shop for a horse.
At the end of the day, I had a few possibilities written down. One was a solid black colt, with a big star on his forehead. He was a little bit bigger than other foals his age. He was a favorite, but I also liked a few others.
That night, at my friend's house, I pulled a random horse book off of her shelves and flipped it open to the middle to read. I had landed on the page about Alexander the Great. I read that his horse, Bucephalus, was said to be a black horse with a large white star on his forehead. I told my friend right then that I was going to buy the black colt with the star. I also decided that he would be named Bucephalus, but that is a mouthful, what could I call him for short? My friend suggested "Bo". "That's a good ranch horse name", she'd said.
Baby Bo with his mom:
(I have often joked about how I was drawn to a Paint horse ranch by my love of flashy Paints... and picked out a solid-colored colt!)
I returned to Arizona, where I was living at the time. When Bo was weaned, he went to a boarding place where my friend also kept some horses. I went back up to stay in South Dakota for a while, during the time he was a weanling and yearling.
Bo as a yearling - the only picture I have on the computer: (I have several other pictures of him as a youngster that I still need to scan in)
I moved back to the southwest, this time to southern California. I sent a hauler to go get Bo, and my other horse, Joker. They arrived in California in October of 2003.
Lazy Bo, getting some love from "mom":
Over the next several years, I started Bo under saddle - though I didn't even own a saddle at first, we just rode around bareback. He also started adding the first batch of many people to what I call his "fan club". His great disposition has won him fans everywhere he goes. At first I wasn't sure I would leave him as a stallion, I figured I'd just wait and see. He got a little bit naughty when the hormones started kicking in - around the age of three - but after that period of time he went back to his normal laid-back self.
Bo and I posing together, February 2005:
I remember one night there was a get together going on at the stables. A bonfire was going and people were hanging out talking, eating, and having a good time. One of the little boys asked if he could ride Bo. I tossed him up there, bareback, with just a lead rope tied to the halter and turned them loose in the arena. Over the next two hours, Bo must have packed around five or six kids and I think the oldest was only six years old. One of the ladies there asked me how old Bo was and I told her he was three. She was amazed that he was so well-behaved for that age. Then I told her he was a stallion!
Out for a ride on my "wild" stallion. Puppy Jessie along for the ride. This was a first for all involved - Bo had never carried a dog, I had never ridden with a dog, and of course little Jessie had never been on a horse! We all did fine:
My favorite way to ride, even after I owned a saddle:
After several years in the southern California desert, Bo and I found ourselves back in South Dakota in late 2007. It's funny how the world works sometimes. We are now about an hour or so from where he was born, after being so far away for many years. I guess it's fair to say that Bo has been well-traveled at this point.
Bo and I on our first snow ride, winter of 2009:
We also got started in an exciting pursuit - mounted horse archery! Specifically, Plains Indian style horse archery. I've been to a few clinics and during one I took Bo with me. I think we both did outstanding. I had always dreamt of being able to ride with no hands, (at a run!) but these pictures still amaze me when I look at them. I was so focused on shooting the bow that it wasn't even until I saw the pictures that I realized I had done it!:
Bo is my "main" man and he's been there for me through so much in my life, including a marriage, divorce, another marriage, and several moves. Other horses have come and gone in my life, but Bo has stayed. In dark times, I've thought that he may have to find another home, but I'm so glad he is still here with me.
Last summer I achieved a dream I've had since I was a girl and that was to show a horse. I wasn't after ribbons or fame or fortune (probably a good thing! haha), but we showed in a local circuit of three shows over the summer. At the end of it all, I was stunned when we won the Year End award for High Point Halter Stallion! We also won our first blue ribbon in riding at the last show of the year - another unexpected, and very welcome, surprise.
At the very first show in our Halter class. We didn't do very well - he fidgeted, I fidgeted - we were both nervous!:
The second show, in Halter, we were both much calmer. The judge, who is a respected horsewoman in the area, exclaimed, "He is a mannerly boy!" (yaay!):
I didn't ride at the first show, but at the 2nd show I was brave and got on. Here we are in the arena during warm up time. If you see worry on my face - you're right! The arena was packed with 30 or so horses, all going different directions at different speeds. We had never been in that sort of situation, but Bo didn't miss a beat. Once again I was so proud of him:
Riding in our first class, I was SOO nervous. I think we placed 5th, out of 9 or so:
At the 3rd, and last, show for the season, we won Halter. The judge seemed to really like him.
Again at the last show, I heard our number called for first place in our riding class! Yaay!!
What's next? I'm not sure, but I still have plenty of horsey dreams and I hope Bo will be the horse I reach them on. He is still a stallion and can still be counted on to give pony rides to kids and adults - with or without a saddle. He truly is a one in a million (or more) kind of horse.