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Walter the Wonder Horse

by Arlene Drummond 8 months ago in horse
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R.I.P. My Friend

Walter (registered name For Goodness Sake)

It was a cold winter evening in 1992 when I first met Walter. I instantly disliked him because he kept me at the barn 2 hours longer than I had planned that night. I was filling up water buckets about 9:00 pm after riding my mare and was rushing to get home when I was startled to discover a horse behind me. Tiptoeing. I figured I must have forgotten to close his door when I filled up his water. I was wrong. I caught him quickly and put him back in his stall and made sure he was locked up tight then continued to fill the remaining water buckets. 2 minutes later he was behind me again. Tiptoeing. I spent the next 2 hours chasing him in a round barn trying to catch him but he managed to get through every blockade I set up. I was not happy. The next night it happened again and when I looked back at this tall lanky bay gelding, tiptoeing behind me, I saw my old horse Monte in his eyes. I rode Monte in Texas and he was the only other horse I know who could escape, tiptoe, and let his friends out of their stalls. They had the same exact eyes. I instantly knew in that moment that Walter was going to be trouble. And he was.

He could escape from any stall, paddock or pasture when he wanted. He undid every latch, clip, carabineer and lock I put on his stall door. When he got out he’d let his friends out. He’d tease the horses he didn’t like by unlocking their doors and then locking them back up. He threw a big party in the barn at Springbank Ranch one night. He let out a stallion, a mare, and a bunch of geldings. The barn was trashed and so was his blanket that had been brand new but had to be thrown out after that. I opened the barn door and since it was a round barn it was like a merry-go-round run amuck. Horses were galloping around the outer track of the barn and Walter stood in the middle aisle looking very surprised like a kid who got caught throwing a rager of a party at his parents house and it had gotten out of control. He knew he was in trouble but I could tell that he was glad to see me to help put an end to the party and get everyone back in their stalls.

He taught the mares around him how to escape from their stalls. Only the mares though. He understood every word people said and would often reply to questions with nods or shakes of his head. He had more personality than any horse should be allowed. He was mischievous and smart which got him in a lot of trouble but he was also a friendly and a positive light in this world. He lifted me up and made me laugh every day I spent with him. He just wanted to socialize with everyone and everything that would put up with him. He was the one at the racetrack that would stick his head out all the way across the aisle sideways so you had to pay attention to him.

Walter hated electric fences because they kept him from visiting with horses on the other side of the fences. One day the barn manager Terry and I went to the local pub for lunch and when we got back to Springbank Ranch we found Walter loose. Again. This was nothing new but what was new was, that while he grazed peacefully, we discovered that the main control box for the electric fence had been smashed to smithereens. This was odd because it was mounted in a remote area on the outside of the barn and nothing on the outside walls of the barn had been damaged. There were no other horses that could get near it and no paddocks or anything else in the back there. It was like the box fell off the wall and exploded. But we know that it didn’t just fall off the wall. We know Walter did it. He always got the blame for these things and in this case I’m sure the blame was well deserved. Terry was just going to replace the control box so there wouldn’t be a day without an electric fence but Terry procrastinated and in the meantime Walter pulled down every wire down from every paddock. Springbank Ranch never had electric fence again. (but they still had 2 signs at the entrance – the first one said “Welcome”, below that “Electric Fence”).

Another time we discovered that his stablemate Tess’ tail had been broken, gangrene had set in and part of her tail had to be amputated. Walter got the blame. This time I stood up for him. I said there is no proof he did it and I’m sure he wouldn’t hurt her and you can’t blame him for everything! 2 months later I saw him in a paddock with another horse, Ringer, and since he was bored he was grabbing Ringer’s tail from the middle of his tail and trying to pull it up and over his back. I said “Oh! Now I see how Walter broke Tess’ tail”. I let him take all the blame after that.

In 1993 I was supposed to retrain Walter so his racehorse trainer, Peggy, could sell him. But I fell in love with him and eventually was able to buy him myself. I had planned on selling him shortly after buying him but I could never part with him. I paid $2,500 over time for him (he was a claimer afterall not a high stakes racehorse For Goodness Sake lol) and a short few months after buying him, I got offered $12,000 for him. I turned it down. I knew at that very moment that I would never sell him and I should stop trying.

Before this, for a while though, he went to horse shows in the hopes of selling him. He loved the horse shows because he was sure everyone had showed up just to see him. He loved attention. Terry would usually show him at these events and I’d go watch when I wasn’t working. I’d usually show up by the point that everyone at the show already knew Walter by name. He was like that. He was showing at Spruce Meadows one day and when I got there I heard people at the starting gate talking to him directly saying “Walter stop eating the trees!” and announcements over the loud speaker saying “Walter’s loose again can someone catch him”. He was friendly and sociable with humans and horses alike and although he was a pain in the ass, he was loved.

He had such a mischievous streak but in a playful way like the one time I was leaning over a pond trying to get a good look at some frogs when he tiptoed up behind me and tried to push me in. Then two days later I see him at the same pond with little children and I was startled for a moment because I thought he might try to push them in too but no, he’s being so sweet to them in order to get them to wade out in the deep water to get him the sweet grass in the middle. He hated getting his feet or face wet and he had these little girls wrapped around his little finger. He loved children and young horses. He loved me and I loved him. I’ll never forgot when we were alone at MacDonald Quarter Horses Ranch and I’d go get him in the middle of the night when the northern lights were out and I’d lie in the grass watching the lights while he grazed. And we’d talk. He was one in a million. One of those pets that come along once in a lifetime. R.I.P. my dear friend.

horse

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Arlene Drummond

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