“Wes, there is no excuse. It’s the proverbial choice of the Lady or the tiger.” I thought about it: “the tiger, definitely the tiger. It’ll be over fast.” The choice was between a lovely but nasty mare with an affection for biting and a cantankerous dark blanket Appalousa gelding. I was going for a trail ride with Sarah, and these were her choices for my City dude abilities. That was how I met Snowflake.
I think half of Snowflake’s problem was that he was not a snowflake. In his mind, he was a Nez Perce warrior horse; and wanted you to know it. His ancestors had tackled cavalry, and he was tough. He was also bored out of his gourd as a stable horse. That first ride, he tried to rub me off, kick me, and sucked in the air while I saddled him – so the cinch would be loose when he exhaled.
Sarah decided that he perfectly matched me – we both hated authority and frustrated it at every opportunity. Snowflake became my regular mount on rides with Sarah. Being that Sarah was a riding instructor if I wanted more time with Sarah, I had more time with Snowflake. Sarah also insisted that I learn to care for Snowflake. Being in a narrow stall with a large horse meant the corridor between horse and stall wall was ideal for the said horse to pin a skinny human to the wall. One day, after a deluge soaked us on a ride, I learned the joys of caring for a wet horse. We developed a relationship.
I rapidly discovered that Snowflake liked to ride by the apple orchard, and if we passed by it, the ride was peaceable. His short pasterns made him an uncomfortable ride at a trot, but he loved to canter. Find a spot where he could let go, and he was a cheerful horse. He soon let me know that he had a tender mouth and had such a bad rep at the stable because so many riders overused the bit.
The relationship deepened. Snowflake took to talking to me. As soon as I’d step into the stable, I’d hear a horsey, “Hey pal, let’s blow this joint and head over to the golf course!” Yes, that’s right Snowflake had a very bad idée fixe on the golf course. There it was. A long stretch of rolling plains right in the middle of Maine. Perfect cantering ground for a warrior horse. But forbidden ground. We were all warned that Snowflake would try to overpower a rider and make a break for the golf course.
One night after partaking in many beers, a group of us took a moonlight ride. As we neared the golf course, Snowflake started complaining, “come on, nobody will notice. I’ll be careful with my hooves, and I promise to stay off the green.” What happened next is a matter of conjecture by future historians. I do not remember Snowflake rearing and stomping all over the green, nor do I remember yelling out my eternal love for Sarah – waking the nearby homes. I remember that early the following day, Snowflake got transported quickly to the stable’s other location. And I departed quietly for Boston.
Sarah returned to college and my undying love for her faded. Snowflake and I stayed buddies for as long as I was in the area. But there were no further grand adventures on the golf course.