The last memoir that I wrote about Harry, the 14.1 hand Haflinger stallion, ended on a rather sad note, because I shared that he passed away. I have several fond memories of Harry, which are still worth sharing and certainly worth remembering. Harry was quite the character and he had some funny quirks.
For example, Harry liked keeping his stall clean. His fastidiousness was apparent, because he did not want to urinate in his stall. He would wait until someone snapped on his halter and walked him out into the yard, and then he would promptly stop and relieve himself. He did not care that his cleanliness might be infringing upon others by urinating where we generally walk and work around the stalls. His stall was clean and that was all that mattered. If he did not go immediately after leaving his stall, he would often stop and do his thing mid-lesson. He even did this in the warm up at a horse show. I have a very awkward picture of myself in full show attire sitting on Harry while he is going "number 1". This picture was not staged or taken intentionally. Harry just thought that picture time was as good a time as any. The picture below was taken just before...
Harry had a funny way of showing that he knew how to jump. I was riding him back from a lesson, when he spooked at a garden hose. Paralyzed with fear, he pricked his ears at the hose and planted all four feet. I urged and nudged with my legs, but Harry would not move. I kicked and clucked and then resorted to smacking him with the whip. Whether this was right or wrong, the tactic landed us on the other side of the hose. It felt like Harry launched straight up into the air and flew over the hose like a UFO, touching down on the other side with all four feet at once. It had to look like a cartoon.
Harry also jumped three ground poles from the trot the first time that I tried to lunge him over cavaletti. The jump was beautiful and effortless. He looked like he was jumping a triple bar. Needless to say, he started jump-training shortly there after.
Not afraid to outdo himself, there was also the time that Harry took off with me after I asked him to canter. He galloped full speed around an indoor arena for about five minutes straight. He was totally and completely unreachable. My only choices were "bail out" or "sit and wait". I chose the latter and gritted my teeth as he careened around each corner and picked up speed with each circuit. I still do not know why he ran like that. I mean, Harry was a bit lazy. I suspect the trainer who was hired to work with him may have installed a new "go" button. I do not know what the training technique was, but I definitely missed the memo!
Along with getting carded for riding a stallion in a Haflinger show, these are some of my favorite Harry moments. However, there is one more that may take the cake. I was not there for the incident, but the story was relayed to me in amusing detail. Here, I will try to do it justice.
Harry was a stallion. He was entire and could breed if given the chance. His home included a couple mares. Pretty, warmblood mares. Very tall mares. Harry was not turned out with the girls, obviously, but he was well aware that they were around and was always the gentleman. Remarkably, Harry was not mouthy or fickle with his manners. I have met far more mouthy geldings.
One of the pretty mares was also very clever. She knew how to open her stall from the inside. She had learned this trick years ago from another smart mare, but for some reason she rarely made her escape. On one particular day, she decided to fly the coup and one may be able to guess why. She was in heat. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there was a stallion on the property and each horse was stalled with dutch doors. The top doors were usually latched open.
I am going to leave the next part of the story to your imagination, because, honestly, no one quite knows what happened. What is clear, is that Harry was found with his front legs on the outside of his stall and his hind legs still on the inside of his stall. In other words, Harry was straddling the dutch door and he was stuck! The mare had left him high and dry. She was grazing casually, away from the stalls, as if she had not been a contributing factor in the stallion's current predicament. As luck may have it, I believe that someone other than the farm owners arrived at the property first (perhaps it was a lessonee), and decided to call the police. Who else do you call in an emergency?
By the time the police arrived, the farm owners were home and there was a whirlwind of activity in progress, as everyone worked together to try and rescue Harry from himself. The police car pulled into the driveway, producing a couple confused or, perhaps, annoyed officers, who exclaimed disparagingly that someone had called about "a horse stuck on a door".
One look at Harry straddling the dutch door and his owners removing the bolts and screws in the frame was all the officers needed to figure out that they had not been punked, pranked, or mislead. They helped remove the stall door and Harry was freed of his trap. Poor Harry. Between his height, the stall, and the clever mare, the prank was on him!