Posted by Kallie Richter on


 Several years ago, I got to live out a big dream of mine. That was to learn how to ride a horse. I probably would have been satisfied with a few trail rides and with the knowledge of how to put on a saddle and bridle, but I got quite a bit more than I bargained for. Thanks to a family friend, Greg, who shared his excitement for horses, there were many adventures that followed. Probably one of the biggest things I learned from being around horses is that horses are just darn right stupid and those who get on their backs are even more so. But that’s what makes it exciting.

   I learned about the saddles and bridals used to ride, but more importantly, I learned how horses think. They’re herd animals that follow and submit to their lead. If they think even for a second they’re in danger they lose all common sense and become engulfed in panic. However, horses always know their way home and you can always count on them for it if you ever find yourself lost. Their favorite part of any trail ride is when you’ve turned around to head back. 

  Riding horses is a skill you develop over time, and there are a lot of qualities a good horse rider must possess. It’s important to know how to remain in control of your horse at all times and in a way that is considerate of what’s appropriate to ask. Every horse has their own personality and it’s imperative that you get to know that personality before you expect it not to buck you off in a moment of danger. Some horses have a more fearful and nervous temperaments while others are as stubborn as a bull. Knowing these things becomes even more important when you get the crazy idea you’re going to break one. 

   Perhaps one of the most important things that makes someone a good rider is persistence against the will of a horse despite the cost. Riding horses is one thing, however, breaking horses is a completely different thing altogether. It’s a form of unyielding persuasion with complete control. When it comes to strapping the dead hides of another animal onto their backs, it’s your will against there’s. You’re convincing them to trust and submit to you fully when you’re putting them into the last position they want to be in. However, there are many ways to betray their trust, and if you do so you begin to work against the progress you’ve made. Once they’ve been broken, every time you mount yourself, it’s a continuous process of reminding them of who’s in charge. Finally, with time and patience, they submit more and more and begin to work alongside you. 

   Now I say all these things because usually, these are the things you can expect when it comes to the qualities and personalities of horses. However, there are exceptions to every rule. When I first began, I learned how to ride on a Tennessee Walker. Brago was his name, and he was a naturally nervous horse. In fact, the first to buck me off simply because we confronted some unexpected and loud donkeys. Soon after, I gained more experience riding two Marsh Tacky horses through the boggy swamps of the low country. Marsh Tackies are known for their stubborn nature but sure-footed composure on wet unstable ground. 

  Then one day I got the crazy idea I would help Greg break one of the Marsh Tackies. His name was Beaux. He was a southern horse that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t say he had the qualities of a southern gentleman. Beaux was really good at convincing me that the breaking process was going well until he knew how to buck me off just at the right time without any prewarning signs. But that’s okay. Beaux taught me a lot about myself and that included removing horse breaking from my list of ways to spend my life. And then there was the Egyptian Arabian who I got to know the most. His name was Argento. 

   Argento kind of broke all the rules from what I thought I could expect from a horse. When I first met Argento he had a beautiful grey-white coat with scattered brown speckles. However, he was born with a solid brown coat as a foal. Due to a unique genetic mutation, his coat color slowly became less and less brown through the gradual addition of white speckles over time. Each year his coat slowly became more white right before our eyes.

   In addition to this, Argento wasn’t just any Arabian breed. Argento’s ancestral history could be traced back hundreds of years. His genetic bloodline originated from King Solomon’s horses from the Old Testament Israeli Kingdom. That is Solomon, son of King David, the precursor of the tribe of Judah from which Jesus Christ was born. Not to say that genetic lines are of much importance today, but Argento’s ancestors didn’t just come from any corner of the world during any insignificant point in time.

   His temperament was almost that of complete indifference with nerves of steel. Most horses you can assume are terrified of anything new they encounter for the first time and often second-guess themselves. If you were to walk up on an abandoned red gas can in the forest you could expect any horse to jump a foot in the air. If Argento saw one for the first time he might go up to it, kick it, and soon after losing all interest, keep walking. Nothing scared him. In fact, the things that would spook most horses sparked his curiosity. He was pretty hard to excite and showed no interest in a pat on the back that most horses would gain validation from. He was extremely secure in himself. 

   You couldn’t win him over with affection, but he obeyed without resistance. He was trustworthy in the swamps and bogs and never took off on his own. I’m sure there were many times he could have bucked me off, but he never did nor attempted to. Argento was dependable and willing and he was the only horse I felt had a shred of concern for me when I was on his back. He was easy to control and willingly did almost anything you asked him to do.

   When it comes to riding horses, you always have to be the one in control and never allow the horse to call the shots. However, looking back I think Argento just let me think I had full reign. Regardless of where I asked him to go, he went and we always returned safely. 

   As predictable as Argento was, sometimes life isn’t always that way. One day he contracted a lung infection from swamp water entering his lungs. Unfortunately, it proved to be fatal and led to his unforeseen passing. Perhaps he was never meant to ride the swamps of South Carolina, but I’ll forever cherish the moments on his back. I have so many memories of brushing through the Palmetto leaves and ducking below limbs covered in Spanish Moss. I can still smell the smoke of Greg’s pipe on a trail ride while crossing small bodies of water with the warmth of the sunlight on our backs. I’m forever thankful for this time in my life. I know it was the Lord who allowed Argento to cross my path and I know he was also the Lord’s to take. 

   I’ve never painted a portrait of a horse but I felt the Lord laid it on my heart, and I knew painting him was the best way I could share his memory. I never got to see Argento’s brown-speckled coat fully transform into that of solid white. However, one day I believe I will. 








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