A Horse, of Course
with Don Blazer
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Copyright © 2015
What's In A Name?
Don Blazer
          William Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  He said a lot of very profound and poetic thing we have admired for truth and insight.
          But I’m not convinced.  A horse’s name is something special.  He wouldn’t be the same without it.  It tells you something about him. You can rely on his name.  No other horse would be that horse.
          My first horse, Johnny One-eye, had but one eye.
          And race horses Silver Charm, Determined, Money Waster, Wallet Lifter and Nonproductiveasset are exactly who they are.
          Would you like to ride Pecos Bill’s horse, Widowmaker?
          For years my daughter rode a horse named Sneaky Pete.  Do I need to tell you what his personality was like?
          Choc’s Panther! Isn’t that a great name for a reining horse?
          A reining horse is “catty”, bold, brilliant, fast, quick on his feet, almost dangerous.  Panther!  Doesn’t that have a feline connotation?  A great name that says everything a horse should be.
          I was looking for a reining prospect when I ran across Choc’s Panther.  He was one sick looking cat at the time.  There his stood, head down, almost licking his wounds.  And wounds he had, almost as if he’d been in a tremendous brawl in some alley at midnight.
          The story was that Panther, while in race training, had flipped in the starting gate.  It appeared the gate won the battle, but something in Panther’s eye told me he had not lost the war.
          After a brief, but active negotiating session, Panther’s registration was signed over to me, and I took him home to nurse him back to health.
          The first few months were slow going, but as Panther healed, I could feel new springiness develop in his gait.
          At night I was sure I could see his eyes of fire pierce the darkness like other nocturnal creatures.  In the morning, when it came time to work, Panther would circle his corral.  He was pure, caged energy.
          And as I rode him, day after day, he become quicker, striking out on the left lead, rolling back, striking out on the right lead.  He barely touched the ground as he moved along, almost silently.  Flying lead changes seemed feline-quick and effortless.
          With only a little practice, Panther could practically catch his own long, flowing tail as he spun round and round.
          Yes, I had a reining horse.
          He was quick, agile, supple, balanced and light.  He was catty, that Panther.
          Ten-year-old Devonne, a neighbor, shared my fascination with Panther.  Day after day she would watch me work the “Cat”.  Each day she would ask if she could groom or bathe him.  (Like any cat, Panther wasn’t thrilled with baths.)
          At first I was hesitant.  I thought he might be just a little too much cat, too quick, too powerful and too unpredictable.
          But like a lot of girls in love with horses, her persistence paid off.  I finally said, “Okay, but be careful.”  I kept my eye of their every move.  Cats aren’t completely trustworthy, I’ve been told.  Soon I found I was saying, “Yes to a ride, “But just walk and jog,” I insisted.
          Now it’s just Devonne and Panther. 
          He rubs against her, snuggles with her, and looks for her gentle caresses.  He likes to be with her in the warm sunshine.  He snoozes while she scratches gently behind his ears.
          I think he even purrs.
          I should have known by his name.
          Panther…you’re just a pussy cat!

* Would you like to teach your horse how to spin, do sliding stops, flying lead changes and rollbacks?  Take the online course, Train A Reiner, taught by Todd Martin.  Earn a certificate through the Equine Studies Institute.  http://www.equinestudiesinstitute.com/