There are some breeds that always draw “oohs” and “aahs” wherever they go. Nobody can resist the fairytale-esque facade of a Friesian or the metallic sheen of an Akhal Teke. It’s easy to fall in love with the quirky ears of a Marwari or to be head over heels for the curious coat of a Bashkir Curly. My area’s mostly made up of APHA and AQHA show horses, but there’s a pocket of wealth in my area that also brings some unique breeds through our local barns (and TrainerA/TrainerM’s program!).
When Ezhno moved out, the chances were slim that the stall next to Rags would be filled with a horse as stunning as its former occupant. Ezhno might not be a rare breed, but he is a rare coloration of Paint Horse.
Once Ezhno’s stall was empty it got stripped, had its rubber mats readjusted, and was re-bedded. I’ve always had a preference for that stall and it looked so nice that I ended up moving Raglan into it. It feels right to have Raglan occupying the space that Ezhno used to be in—plus I like having a gate that connects to the inside of the small barn (where his halter hangs) so that I don’t have to walk in the rain as much.
Rags doesn’t really care about the inside gate, but he was so pumped for a bed of fluffy new pellets.
His old stall got the same five star treatment—speaking of which, let me introduce Raglan’s new neighbor: Katrina, a six year old Gypsy Vanner mare who happens to be five months in foal!
Gypsy Vanners are a rare (and expensive) breed in the United States. They originate from the British Isles, where they were primarily used by the Roma to pull the carts they lived and traveled in. The base of the breed is considered to be a crop of colored Shire horses (which, ironically enough, were considered unfashionable at the time) that were cast off and ended up with Romani breeders. These Shire horses were then mingled with several different breeds, including the Welsh Cob (for their animated trot), the Dales Pony (a draft pony derived from the Shire/Clydesdale), and the Fell Pony (a working breed from the mountains/moorlands north of England). Because of the mixture of draft and pony influences, the Gypsy Vanner is a small, solidy-built horse that typically measures in between 14 and 15 hands.
The Gypsy Vanner is a relatively new breed. There was no stud book for them up until 1996, which makes the entire breed barely old enough to drink (and a year younger than me!). Despite that, they’re a hot commodity right now; in my area you’re getting a great deal if you can find a mare for less than five figures.
Funny how something nobody wanted turned into something that’s now so highly coveted.
Fun fact that I’ve learned since Katrina arrived: the mustache on a Gypsy Vanner is a desirable trait that makes the horse more valuable amongst breeders. Also, it’s super silly but cute.
It’s still a little weird to pull up to the barn and have a horse that isn’t Ezhno out there, but she and Raglan seem to be getting along well enough. Rags isn’t the most pleasant of neighbors. He can be aggressive, especially around food time, and sometimes his antics can be a little over the top (when I first brought him to KW, he spent five minutes out in his run bucking and kicking in place to protest fly season 😅). But the two of them seem to have come to some sort of accord.
I cried when I first came to the realization that Ezhno and I were no longer a good fit for each other. Then I cried again when I actually started the process of trying to sell him. I cried when I went into his stall, I cried in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping, and I cried every time I got into the saddle because I wondered if it would be my last ride on Ezhno. It was sad—I was sad.
When I got on him for our last ride on Tuesday, I was still sad—but in the small, wistful way that one might feel when a good friend tells you they’re moving abroad for a year; you’ll miss them, but you know it’s going to be a great adventure and that you’ll see them again someday.
The hardest part didn’t come until after the trailer pulled away on Wednesday morning. The emptiness that he left behind made me feel lonely. I stood next to my car for a long time, just staring at the run that Ezhno used to stand in. I wondered if he thought I had sold him to another family—we tell ourselves not to anthropomorphize our horses, but sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to place ourselves in their shoes.
There are a lot of small signs that Ezhno is gone. His halter’s missing. His bridle’s gone. His tub of blankets isn’t taking up space next to my tack box. The rack where my western show saddle used to be is empty.
But I’m glad I didn’t sell him, because even though it makes me sad to see so many blank spots that he used to occupy, I know that someday we’ll come back together again—even if that might be five, ten, fifteen years out. He’s a good horse and I want to make sure that life’s always as good to him as he was to me.
Speaking of him being good, here’s video of Ez being a saint during our last ride. 😇