Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why I Dont Ride Horses with Blue Eyes

I know its irrational and against my common sense, no superstition approach to life... but I will NOT get on a horse with blue eyes EVER again.  Can't convince me otherwise...

I started developing my irrational fear of blue eyed horses years ago at a weekend trail ride.  The ride had over 200 horses and riders who rode for four hours each day over some tough terrain.  That's a lot of minutes on horseback.   Out of all those minutes though there was only one serious injury and that involved a helicopter ride to shock trauma for a woman injured while riding a blue eyed horse.
Now I know it was probably coincidental but the only time I ever saw someone airlifted out for a horse injury involved a blue eyed horse... so I was leery.

Fast forward a few years later to when I was on my search for my current steed, Golly.

My mare, Darla, was nearly 30 and it was time to let her enjoy some retirement so I was on the search for a new horse.  I had been looking for almost two years and was starting to realize I was looking for something that didn't exist.  I wasn't even sure what I was looking for except that I wanted that same good feeling I got when I was with Darla.  I had ridden countless horses and even taken two horses home on trial and just couldn't find the right one.

In a last ditch effort to get it done, I did a thorough search of all the online ads for horses, culled them down to a decent number, called and emailed about each one and set up appointments with the four best.   Even though the locations would require over 300 miles of driving, I was convinced I could see all four in the same day.

Things went well at first.   I had a great ride on fun little palomino who took me on a fun trail ride.  Great horse but very down hill so I knew long term he wouldn't work out.  Next horse was a nice looking quarter horse.   I can't put my finger on what was wrong with him but at the trot he just felt odd.  Moving on.

Third horse was near the Pennsylvania border.  He was advertised as bomb proof, great trail horse, had been to reenactments and camped.  Even good with gunfire.  When I got there the woman greeted me driving a gator with a full leg cast.  Said she had fallen while feeding and broken her leg.  (Note to self...  owner with broken leg COULD be a problem.)  She drove me over to the barn to introduce me to a sturdy looking paint draft cross.... with a blue eye.  I made note of his blue eye but scolded myself that it was a silly superstition and to get over it.   (Note to self again.... trust your instincts.... this is not going to work out well.)

Because she obviously couldn't get the horse ready or ride him for me, she showed me the tack and I got to work.  He was a little difficult to bridle but nothing terrible.   I mounted up and rode him in their small indoor arena.  Walk.  Trot.  He seemed decent enough.  She suggested I ride him in their outdoor arena which was at the other end of the pasture at the bottom of a hill.  She said he was great on the trail so I decided to ride him over to the arena which to get there I had to ride him amongst his herd mates in the pasture.  He balked a little passing his friends but with a little coaxing we eventually made it to the ring.

Walk. Trot.  All was going well.  He seemed a little green but willing and with some cleaning up he would look fantastic.  Maybe he was the one!  I can't believe I was finally finding my new guy.

Let's try some canter.   First few strides a little unbalanced but not bad.  Hey... that's a little beyond the speed I was looking for.    .....  Wait a minute dude... that is WAY too fast.

Okay.. I could deal with this.  We will just use the wall to slow him down.   As I turn his head slightly to the outside, he decides that is NOT going to work for him and not only doesn't slow down any, starts throwing in massive bucks.   Sit the first.  Sit the second.  Woah.. out of the saddle on that one.  Oh sh**, I'm coming off.   Is that his ears I just saw going by?  I am flying!!!!!

I hit the ground hard.  Hard enough that the wind was knocked out of me and my helmet cracked.  (BTW, glad I had that helmet on.)

Of course I was stupid enough to get back on and at least show him I could walk and trot him again. Thank goodness, I wasn't dumb enough to try the canter again.

As I handed the horse back to the owner, she notified me that I had ridden him far better than anyone else that had come out to try him.   Most people hadn't even been able to get him to the ring.  Wow... that would have been good to know before I got on.  Thanks.

Later that day I found my current friend and mount - Golly -- so the day didn't turn out all that bad.  I was planning on writing about finding Golly in this post but its gotten a bit long so maybe we'll save that for another day.

The result of that fall was some major bruising and a slight concussion.   So I know its superstitious and not logical at all but I'm following my gut on this one.  That is the last blue eyed horse I will ride.


  1. My advice to people looking is to only ride the horse after a rep. for the horse has ridden it. I cannot tell you how many stories I have been told of peopke lying and putting innocent and trusting people's lives at stake. It is already risky enough...sorry for the rant, but that seller took serious advantage...things go wrong even on a great horse with the wrong match, but knowing that behavior....ugh..makes me angry.

  2. 100% agree Sam. Its a lesson I learned well that day. Besides not getting on blue eyed horses (irrational) I also don't get on horses unless the owner gets on him first or I know the owner well enough to trust what they are saying (rational). I feel fairly positive that I know how her leg was broken and it wasn't from feeding. :)

  3. Yeah on the topic of looking at horses I prefer watching the owner/rider showing the horse at first. I've yet to hunt down a horse of my own but I've helped friends who's been looking for a horse and I got in the saddle of two of these horses only to realise that they were unrideable and not at all what my friends was looking for.

    On the topic of blue eyes ... well I survived 1.5 years or riding a horse with not only one but two blue eyes :)

  4. Evie- I know there is not scientific proof to back up my stereotype ... Or at least not that I know. I am sure there are lots of blue eyed great horses. :). They just aren't for me. Glad to know you had a good one!

  5. The problem wasn't the blue eyed horse, it was the owner. Not saying you should stray from your superstition, I know plenty of people that live by their superstitions, but that owner had way more issues than the horse. I personally LOVE blue eyed horses, but I wont ever own a horse with a large dip or a roman nose.

  6. My paint gelding had two blue eyes, but he has become the most level headed riding horse I've ridden in the 25 years I've been riding. Sure, he has his quirks, but so doesn't any horse, my beloved, brown-eyed childhood arabian included. I will admit to it taking me a few years to learn his expressions, and therefore trust him fully, because it his expressions do appear different, but now I don't even notice the difference. While some swear that these horseshoe have behavior differences, much of that comes, I think, from EXPECTING it. And, side note: Native Americans believed a horse with blue eyes was spiritual, and we're valued far above other horses!


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