I am not a hoarder, I swear. However…the other day, when I cleaned out a cobwebbed corner of my barn, I found a nail with eight bits hanging on it. (It was a big nail.) Each bit had come to me purposefully at one point or another, to deal with this gelding’s heavy forehand, or that mare’s sensitive mouth, or simply because, you know, it was such a lovely Tom Balding snaffle bit with inlaid-copper mouthpiece and brown-finish rings.
[Watch: Ken McNabb describes how a snaffle bit works.]
Still, added to the various other bits I had attached to bridles or hanging on hooks in various locations, these newly rediscovered ones brought my total cache up to nearly two dozen. Which felt…excessive?
What made me feel a little better was the Gallop Poll we recently conducted here at Horse&Rider, where we learned that nearly half of poll respondents confessed to having accumulated more than 12 bits in the course of their horse lives.
So, it’s not just me. Nice to know.
That’s why I love our Gallop Poll, which gives us all sorts of information about the horse lives of you, our H&R readers and fans. (If you’re not already doing so, you can participate in our polls simply by “liking” Horse&Rider at our Facebook page.)
[Read: What horses mean in the life of this one cowboy.]
Through the Gallop Poll I learned of another way I’m not alone: having a pensioner on my property. My daughter’s 24-year-old gelding, Brego, is currently living the good life here at the Meyers’—which to a horse, of course, means 24/7 forage and room to ramble about at will with his buddies.
Fully 85% of Poll respondents said they owned an oldster, too. In fact, many had up to three horses age 15 or older.
In his heyday, our Brego was solid black, with nary a white hair. For the last few years, though, he’s had a chunk of white growing down over his forehead. He’s always been adorable, but now, with that Susan Sontag forelock, he’s utterly irresistible.
[Can you relate? ‘Watching My Old Horse Age Is Breaking My Heart.’]
Another way our Poll has reassured me is in the types of horse-buying decisions I make. Purchasing a weanling is, let’s face it, an act of faith. There are just so many ways a youngster can injure, incapacitate, or even kill himself before he reaches a ridable age. Even if he lasts long enough to be started under saddle, you still have no guarantee he’ll end up being the kind of horse his pedigree says he should be.
[Check it out: FAQs on evaluating weanlings for purchase.]
So, it’s a gamble.
Especially when you do it on impulse, as I once did at a Paint auction in Reno, Nevada. I know where the impulse came from…I’d lost my childhood horse earlier in the year and was still reeling from the grief. Though I’d thought at first I could never own a horse again—because why purposely open yourself up to that much grief?—by the time that year was over, I’d acquired three new horses…a yearling, a green-broke 3-year-old, and now this weanling.
For years I joked about how it took three horses to fill the void left by that one old mare.
Anyway, turns out I’m not the only one who’s taken a gamble on a weanling. In fact, 80% of our Poll respondents said they had at some point purchased a weanling as a riding prospect.
Would you like to see how your horse-life circumstances compare to others’? Click over to our Gallop Poll Results Page. It’s where we aggregate the findings of our monthly Polls. You’ll find out about decisions other H&R fans have made, plus how they feel on a variety of topics.
Trust me…you’ll see you’re not alone!