I met him when I was a working student when he came in for training. I got the impression his owner was intimidated by him. He was a young thoroughbred, I can’t remember how old. Between the brain injury and it is a long time ago, I have lost some of the small details.
Not The Prettiest Horse On Earth
Cherokee was not very pretty. I loved him dearly in the time I had with him. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess!
He was a plain bay. I don’t remember him having a single white mark on him. Cherokee was probably around 16.1 – 16.2 hands. He was of an average build. Not too thick and also not scrawny at all.
Like I mentioned before, Cherokee’s owner brought him because she was intimidated by him. He had bucked with her one too many times for her comfort. That is why she had opted to send him to a training barn. She hoped that after training, she would be able to gain confidence in him and learn to trust him again.
I rode Cherokee almost everyday when he was there. Sitting on him I could see how someone may be intimidated by him. His back was always very tight, and a lot of the time in the beginning he went around with his back humped up.
Cherokee did buck some with me on him.To me they were not scary bucks. Being an inexperienced rider, I can easily see why Cherokee’s mom was afraid of him.
Tight In The Back/Back Pain
I don’t know if a vet ever checked Cherokee for back pain. If he had back pain, my guess was it was from ill fitting tack. The reason I say this is that as I rode him his back seemed to get better. He didn’t feel like he had a hump in his back all the time.
We did a lot of long and low work. It helped him release the tension in his back and get it loosened up so that his gait was more relaxed and swinging forward.
When He Got Nervous
When he got nervous or scared his back tension would come back. If a relaxed rider was on him and sent him gently forward, he would relax and soften his back.
Unfortunately, when a nervous rider (like his mom) got on him already tense, that was when Cherokee would buck. When he bucked with his mom they were a lot worse. Just because her body got tense, and it was almost like he would panic. It was just a bad cycle with those two.
Decided He Wasn’t The Horse For Her
After a few months of training, and his mom trying to ride him in lessons, she sadly decided that Cherokee wasn’t the horse for her. She reluctantly put him up for sale.
There weren’t a lot of inquiries on him. Just because he wasn’t as eye catching as some of the other horses in the barn. He also needed a very specific kind of rider. I loved him very much, but at the time I had two horses already and a third wasn’t in the cards.
After paying training board for all those months, she had to make the hard decision to cut her losses. She ended up giving Cherokee to one of the big vet hospitals. They were going to use him for student training and research. I don’t know exactly what that even meant.
I Learned A Lot From Cherokee
The first thing is he reminded me that it is what’s on the inside that counts. Cherokee had a big heart and he really tried to understand and trust. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. His bucking I believe came from fear and lack of trust.
I learned that long and low work is one of the best ways to help a horse with a tight back.
Lastly, I learned that there is nothing wrong with a owner, that decides they have to move on and sell a horse that is not right for them. I really wish it could have worked out because I believe she really did love him. Riding should not be stressful or scary though. There is nothing wrong with admitting they just weren’t the right match.
I Don’t Know The Rest Of Cherokee’s Story
Once Cherokee left, I never heard anything about him or any updates about how he was doing. Usually, it was like 50/50 chance owners would keep in touch with updates. So it wasn’t unheard of not to hear anything.
My Wish For Cherokee
My wish for Cherokee is that I helped him learn to trust a little more. That he eventually learned to figure out there is no reason that he had to be upset and scared under saddle.
I hope that in his time at the vet hospital he taught students the skills they needed to learn and helped vets make discoveries.
Most importantly, I hope that he eventually found a home with a confident rider. Someone he could learn to trust.
Someone that would learn to believe in him and love him like I did. That is all he really needed was someone to believe in him that he could learn to trust.
Wherever you are Cherokee, I miss you and won’t ever forget you!
Sorry that I don’t have any pictures to include of him. My time with him was before the time of cell phones with cameras so I don’t have any pictures of him.
What National Day Is It?
National Tortilla Chip Day!