Our Go-To People

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We horsepeople tend to be an independent lot. Not only does having horses set us apart from most other people, but there's also something about the animals themselves that attracts those who see themselves as self-directed.

Even so, I don't know any horseperson who doesn't rely on at least one valued go-to person. This is the person who knows how to find answers and solve problems, whether about training, health, or otherwise, and whose wisdom is well-earned and trusted.

When I was a girl, our family's go-to person was Grandpa. Born in 1905, at the tail end of the horse-and-buggy era, he'd assimilated the kind of once-common horse knowledge that was well-faded by the time my siblings and I came along in the 1950s. His father had been the local lay "horse doc," and as a child, Grandpa had gone with him on many of his rounds.

As a result, Grandpa knew how to treat anything from balkiness to a shoe boil. I vividly remember the day that my first "he's mine!" horse--a weanling colt given to me by Grandpa--fell into and got trapped upside-down in a hay manger. Home alone and terrified that my treasure was about to die, I raced to the house to find a phone. Did I call my parents? No. A veterinarian? No. The neighbor lady? No. Frantic and sobbing, I dialed Grandpa's number. He would know what to do!

Sure enough, he did. He came right away, extracted my colt from the manger, then treated his cuts and scrapes with some home-made concoction he always kept on hand. The colt healed up with nary a scar to show for his mishap, and Grandpa gained another notch of credence on his go-to reputation.

These days, I have a go-to vet, a go-to training pro, and a smattering of go-to horse friends. I couldn't get along without them--any more than I could have gotten along without Grandpa.