Sunday, December 7, 2008

Roo's Story

Years ago, when I was first starting to learn how to rope, the one piece of advice I took to heart was, "Go out and buy yourself an old campaigner that you can learn on." And this is what I did. By this point in time I was fairly proficient roping the dummy, and I had rode a couple of friends rope horses so I had an idea of what I wanted.

I started scanning classified ads, talking to the ropers, putting the word out I was horse hunting. One of the 4-H dads gave me the contact info for the person he'd bought his rope horse from. This is how I discovered Roo. When I called Bill and told him what I was looking for he said he had just sold a horse that completely met my requirements. Lucky for me Bill sold the horse to one of his friends. Bill feeling poorly for me and my hunting, called his friend and got his friend to agree to let me try the horse.

Down the road with trailer in tow I went. First I rode Roo in the field. Then we loaded up and went to a nearby arena to try him on cattle. I knew he was what I wanted. Roo was one of those once in a lifetime horses.

When Roo came to me he was 18 years old. The last few years he'd been bounced around from owner to owner and wasn't in the greatest condition. He was under weight and needed some care. But Roo was special. His original owner was a team roper who'd won a pile of money on him, roping with one arm. Whenever I walked into an arena with Roo, people came up to me and exclaimed over the horse. Roo was rodeo and roping royalty.

When I brought Roo home, I immediately began feeding him up, had the vet and farrier out. I began a fitness program and a babied this horse like no one had ever before. Roo began to look pretty spiffy. Roo taught me what a good head horse does. He had the uncanny ability to know when to tone things down and when to ramp things up. At a rodeo, one of my friends toddlers wanted to ride him, so we boosted the baby up on to the back. Roos ears went sideways and he took the most careful baby steps until we lifted the baby off. Same night when we entered the arena, he was snorting and blowing, prancing and hopping around in one spot, waiting for his go. Explosive out of the box. Same horse, same day. This was classic Roo.

I had had Roo for about two years when I lent him to a fellow roper and my current boyfriend. A day later I received a phone call telling me Roo was at the horse vet in the city. Could I come up. In a mysterious accident Roo had completely shredded his tendon on his hind leg. I would have done anything to save this horse, sell off all I owned to pay the vet bills, but there was not enough tendon left for the vet to reattach it. That night I cried myself asleep. I cried until I was sick.

Roo was a once in a lifetime horse. He deserved to work until retirement and rule a pasture until his last breath. However, this was not his path and I count my blessing to have been a part of his life. He was a great horse.

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