Brace yourself - it's a long 'un.
I have really been missing my horses lately. I used to show and ride a lot. In college, as part of the horsemanship team, I was probably on horseback 6 hours each day, 5 - 6 days each week.
I had a total of 6 horses or ponies from the time I was 12. The first was Sugar, a creme part Welsh/part Shetland pony. She did all she could to live up to the Shetland name - bucking, biting, etc. At least I learned how to ride out a coupla' bucks :). We eventually sold her to somebody, don't know who. (Poor people)
Next was Pebbles, who was Sugar's buddy. She was a grade (unregistered) little Appy that I learned to barrel race on. Not much to look at, but she only spooked once in the 5 or 6 years we had her. You could put anyone on her and she somehow knew what they could handle. For example, she wouldn't go over a trot with Dad, he wouldn't have been able to handle that. Hee hee. I had her bred to this nice little Quarter Horse stud. The first year she didn't settle, so we tried again the next year. Took her to the vet to have her palpated to make sure and yup, she was preggo. Only problem was the vet accidentally perforated her rectum wall while doing the check. We had to put her down the same day.
My first show horse was Pal, aka Sweet N Stylish. He was a 16hh palomino QH and the one who taught me how to ride properly. We bought him from a trainer in our area who, as soon as we had given her the down payment, said "You'll have to keep him off of the rocks, he has tender feet". Being greenhorns, we didn't think she meant anything other than "he has tender feet". After he started limping at shows later that year, we took him to vet who had treated him for navicular. Navicular is a nasty condition in which the bursa, or cushion, between the deep flexor tendon and the sharp navicular bone degenerates and allows the bone to rub on the tendon. This occurs primarily in the forefeet. There is no cure, all you can do is try to control the pain or have the nerves to the hoof cut. That has a multitude of problems in itself, as the horse could pick up a nail, etc, and abcess and the poor thing would never know it. Anyway, long story short, we kept showing him, but were careful with his feet. The trainer must have said something to her clients because we were suddenly outcasts in that circle. Pal was a great horse though, and we still consistently won and placed in classes, even with the occasional slight limp. We ended up selling him after 4 years and he got to retire, for a while, to be a pasture horse. Last I heard, he was being used in 4-H somewhere up in New York by the owner's niece. If I had it to do over again, I'd still have him. He was my buddy. I taught him to give kissies and he would put his lips against my cheek and move them, in exchange for a snack of course. He also like Diet Coke. I would pour a little on the edge of his stall and he would slurp it off. Unfortunately, he quit that after I replaced the Diet Coke with Mountain Dew one day.
Bugs, or Red Bugs Stuff, was my barrel horse that we got from a horse-trader friend who had gotten him off the race track. He was also a registered QH and a gorgeous sorrel color. Buggy could run like the wind, in fact I'm don't think I ever opened him up all the way. He was probably the sweetest one and a bit of a shy little scaredy cat. He was all demure and quiet when I was on the ground but as soon as I got on board he was ready to run. He eventually calmed down some, although I think he watched too many Western Pleasure horses. I was walking him around, warming him up, one day at a KBHA open show when a friend walked by and asked if he was my new pleasure prospect. I answered "Oh no, he's my barrel horse". They laughed and said "sure". However, they quit laughing when it was our turn to run and Buggy saw the gate to the arena. We used to turn him loose on the farm and let him graze. He'd wander off for a while and then I think he would suddenly realize he was lonely. You would hear these thundering hoof beats and he would come flying up the drive and straight for you on his way to visit his buddies. That had to quit when he discovered the miniature horses at the sue-happy neighbors. We sold him back to the fella that sold him to us. He and his family had always liked him real well.
Next was Ty, also known as I'm Too Country. Ty was a buckskin QH and also registered in the ABRA. My sister & I went together and bought him from my trainer as a pleasure prospect for me to finish training and for her to eventually show. He kinda got neglected when we got Jazzi, the next horse, and he wasn't shown much. He had the cutest profile and this really wiry mane that had a tendency to pop up. He was sold at auction two years after we got him. Don't know where he is now.
The last horse we bought was All Too Obvious, alias Jazzi. Mom picked her out as a yearling and was always considered to be hers. She was an absolutely gorgeous palomino mare, also QH, of course. Pal, Ty & Jazzi all had the same sire - Stylish Too or PJ. Now that is one gorgeous stud horse. (I'm using gorgeous a lot here, aren't I. Oh well.) I trained and showed her in the 2-year-old Snaffle Bit Futurity at the KS State Fair in 1996. (Ach, that's almost 10 years ago. I'm feeling old...) We made it to the finals and placed, if I remember correctly, 14th out of 40-some competitors. Not bad for my 3rd year of real riding, if I do say so myself. That mare knew she was beautiful. When we had an audience, she would arch her neck, the tail would go up and she would prance her way around the circle at the end of the lounge line. I called her a dumb blonde. I started out lounging her before riding to work the edge off. Works on most horses, but not her. Oh no. That would just get her revved up. She loved to buck and I could never figure out how to make her stop. The college used her in the advanced horsemanship classes whenever we hosted a show. I tested her on a cutting dummy and I didn't even have to tell her what to do. She was born to cut. Problem was, I didn't know the finer points, or even the major points to the sport. I ended up selling her after I got laid off to a nice couple in Ohio. Last I heard, 2 years ago, she was pregnant. My little ditzy blonde is a mommy!
Ended up selling my saddle and other various tack after Jazzi left 3 years ago. Now I've got the horse itch real bad. This time (I won't able to afford it for quite a long time) I think I'll go the English route. I've always had a hankerin' to jump. Think I've decided on a 17hh warmblood as my new dream horse. But hey, if anyone out there has an extra horse lying around and wants to donate him/her to my very worthy cause, I wouldn't say no.