My Coat of Many Colours

In the world of horse colours, I am a roan.

Roan is a horse coat pattern that has a mix of coloured and white hairs on the body, with the head and “points”—lower legs, mane and tail—mostly solid-coloured. Roans come in three main varieties: blue, bay and red. I’m of the bay variety. For those who aren’t familiar with horse colours, a bay is a brown horse with black points.

My late-summer look.

The interesting thing about roans is that we tend to change colour with the seasons. In my case, I look almost like any other bay in the winter…until you get close. If you come right up and part the long winter hairs, you’ll see the grey hair hiding underneath, waiting for spring.

December.

When my winter coat starts to shed out, I’m a mottled mix of grey, black, and brown with a brown head and black legs.

Mottled March.

As spring progresses, I become a rather striking, if I do say so myself, grey with a dark head and black points. Lucky for me, this was my appearance the April I ended up at auction as a two-year-old, and what caught the eye of the people who became my new family (T and N). Even though I was a little small for my age and kind of scruffy, my colour made me stand out from the herd.

This is in May, so I’m already losing my grey around the shoulders, chest and flank.

When spring turns to summer and I’ve shed out all of those long, brown, winter hairs, and the shorter grey spring hairs, my coat very much fits the roan definition—a mix of coloured and white hairs.

Middle of summer (Sigh…doesn’t that grass look delicious?)

As summer winds to a close, the white hairs start to disappear in a crowd of dark brown, almost black, hair, and I go through the darkest phase of my seasonal changes.

My autumn trail-riding outfit.

And then, like magic, with the cold weather come the shaggy, red-brown hairs that hide everything else and, from a distance, have the humans mixing me up with Rosa, who is a true bay.

At my full “bay-ness” in January. That’s my doppelganger in the background.

At two, I was small for my age and I didn’t grow much bigger, just 14.1 hands high, which is technically pony-sized. And, I don’t have the kind of conformation that would win ribbons, my neck is about two-thirds the length it should be and I’m a bit pigeon-toed. But, I’ve got colour nailed. Nevada is pretty splashy in his red and white, but he looks much the same year round. I have the element of surprise on my side. Just when you think I’m a very average-looking, somewhat-overweight, kinda-small, bay horse … voila! I’m a grey!

An average-looking, somewhat-overweight, kinda-small, bay horse in February but, you can see the grey lurking underneath.

I’m in my mottled stage at the moment (see photo #3 taken yesterday afternoon). It’s not the best of my looks, but leads to the most dramatic phase of my roan-ness. I’ll check back in a month or so to give you this year’s spring look.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

I’m back! It’s been many months, long winter months, since I last posted on the dog blog but they’ve finally given me a chance to have another go. They’re such proprietary little guys, something about people signing up for a dog blog not a horse blog, what if they don’t want to hear from a horse, blah, blah, blah. Who doesn’t want to hear from a horse? Go ahead, raise your hands. Just what I thought. Everyone loves horses. Case closed.

So, back to that long winter. OMG! What was that? The longest, coldest, snowiest winter in forever is what I say, although, according to the meteorologist types, only the amount of snow was one for the record books. And my, was there snow. My three herd-mates and I hardly left the paddock after December. It was just too much work and for what? Not like we were going to dig through that mess and find anything to eat.

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Me the day the snowbirds arrived home. Does my expression say, “Where the hell have you been? Do you have any idea what’s been happening here?”

 

And where were Chico and Logan and our caretaking humans for this epic winter? I know you know. In Arizona! The land of no four-foot snow drifts, no freakishly cold wind chills, no need for winter blankets, and no me! But, seriously, just like I told you last fall, I’m not much of a traveller, so I wouldn’t want to be hauled all the way down there. I’d just feel better if the peeps and pooches were here to suffer through the winter with us. Selfish? Perhaps. But then I’m a horse and we’re kind of all about what’s most comfortable, safest, easiest, and generally best for us.

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Getting my funky (or is that fungi) hooves doctored after a long winter of wet feet.

 

Winter is finally over here in southern Alberta, and the green grass is starting to grow. Spring is a miraculous time for a Canadian horse. Not only do we have fresh food after months of eating desiccated grass, but there are no bugs! It’s like two or three weeks of bliss when it’s warm enough during the day to grow grass but still cold enough at night to keep the bugs from coming out or hatching or whatever it is they do before they set to harassing horses.

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Those first bites of green grass are like the best kind of candy.

 

If I had to choose between the cold, snowy season and bug season I think I’d have to go with cold and snow. Just imagine yourself standing in a field full of flies and mosquitoes covered in a scent they find very appealing with your hands tied behind your back. Your only defences are to run, stomp, roll on the ground, or shake your head. Welcome to summer in the life of a horse. The only other defence we horses have over humans are tails, but I’d take human hands any day of the week. We can swish the little tormenters off, but you can kill them or apply bug spray.

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Blissful spring day.

 

Spring is also the time when I have to get back to work after a winter off and it gets tougher every year. I thought I’d kept in reasonable shape over the winter but this year I’m sixteen and it does seem to make a difference. The consolation is that I think T’s hurting too. I can tell by the way she walks when she gets off. Snicker.

Well, I should wrap this up. The boss hounds said to keep it under six hundred words or they’ll edit me and I don’t want them to cut out my best stuff. I still didn’t get to telling you about my accountant tendencies so I guess that’ll have to wait until next time. Until then … here’s mud in your eye! (More about that horse racing inspired toast when I return.) Oh, oh. Six hundred and eleven, twelve, thirteen. Gotta go.

Guest Blog: Storm!

Howdy! My name is Storm. I know this is generally a dog blog but, I might as well tell you right up front, I’m not a dog, I’m a horse. Chico and Logan have been promising me a guest spot for months and, at last, I get my chance. I’m also on the To All the Steeds I’ve Loved Before list for T’s blog, but she’s only on Echo and I’m at least a couple of horses after that.

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Happy to be one of the steeds she’s loved.

 

So, a little bit about me for starters, I guess. I mentioned I’m a horse. Well, technically, I’m not. I’m actually a pony. The dividing line between horses and ponies is 14.2 hands in height (a hand is four inches for those who might not be familiar with the units used to measure equines). I’m 14.1 (that’s 14 hands plus one inch). If I’m overdue for a hoof trim and you count my thick winter coat, I can probably squeak out that extra inch but, in the world of horses, I am not a horse.

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The saddle makes me look taller. Right?

 

I’m 15 years old and have lived here at the van Bryce farm for going on 14 years now, since I was just a year and half old. The story of how I came to be here is kinda cool, if you like feel-good-happy-ending animal stories. I was apparently born in August of 2002 but I don’t remember much about my foalhood. My earliest memory is being at the Innisfail Auction in April of my two-year-old year. I was standing in a pen before the auction started and a few people came by to look at me, but not very many. I was kind of small and had that half-shedded-out-spring-scruffy thing going on, so I probably wasn’t what most people were looking for.

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Me in April 2004

 

And then I had the misfortune of being first horse through the ring. Who bids on hip #1? Everyone is sitting on their hands waiting to see what the prices are like before they bid … except for the meat buyers. They’re not too fussy.  For them it’s all about price per pound. So that’s who bid on me, and bought me, for $180. Of course, I didn’t know one buyer from another at the time. What I did know is that the man who bought me from the auction ring wasn’t the one loading me into a trailer at the end of the day. Here’s the story as it was written for part of an article T did for an equine magazine.

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My new herd. Nevada (behind me) and I are still best buds.

 

The man had never been to an auction before and was feeling a bit anxious about the process. He and his wife had come looking for a couple of young “project horses” to add to their herd of old reliables. The first horse in the ring was a little bay roan colt (me!). The man was tempted to place a bid but this was the first horse through (what did I tell you?). It seemed a bit rash. Before he could think too long, the horse was sold, and he recognized a local meat horse buyer. “I should have bid on that roan horse,” he commented to his wife, “I think I should have bid on that horse.” He fretted for the next five or six lots, kicking himself for not bidding on the roan (me!). Suddenly, he was standing, “I’ll be right back.” His wife watched him as he worked his way through the crowd to the dealer who had bought the roan (me!). There was a short exchange of words, a handshake, and he made his way back to his seat, a smile on his face.

In that moment, my fate was changed, all for a $20 bill.

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I think it was my smile they couldn’t resist.

 

Well, I hope to have the chance to tell you more stories from my view of the farm. One of the challenges is that I have to dictate while one of the dogs types (hoof + keyboard = disaster), which means I can’t just pop in whenever I want. I have to be invited.

I hear they’re headed south soon so it’ll likely be spring until you hear from me again, unless I can get my stories sent down to the desert somehow. If you’re thinking I’m upset because I don’t get to go along, not at all. You see, I’m The Accountant around here, and I like things to be the same, the same, the same. But more about that next time.

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I don’t mind the snow at all.