Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Older horses teach young riders

All this discussion of bay horses has me thinking of Olivia's little horse Duke. He was the horse she grew up with. 

Impressalady at age 20
Duke or Impressalady (Impress-A-Lady), his registered name, belonged to Bridgett Hollis who lived across the street from us when we lived in Westwood.  We watched her do great things with this little horse.  

When Olivia outgrew her black pony at age 13, I asked Dr. Jerry Hollis about getting Duke.  He said no.  I waited a few months and asked again. He said yes. 

That was around 1996.  Duke was an own son of Impressive, who was influential in changing the halter-horse world. He was sired by the thoroughbred, Lucky Bar, a Three Bars son, and out of Glamour Bars.  In 1993 he was estimated to have in excess of 55,000 living descendants, including Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas.  Impressive was linked to something besides siring champions.  His genetic legacy included a genetic mutation implied in the rare muscular disorder known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). Although he never exhibited symptoms of the disease himself, it gradually  became evident that many of his descendants were inflicted with the painful, alarming and often fatal disease. The disorder has never been observed in horses of other lineages.

Duke never showed signs of the disorder, but we began feeding him plain oats to avoid the trigger of high-protein feeding.  He did not need to be any more full of energy than he was anyway.  Read more about the disorder at


Duke's owners must have planned on using him for a stud, thus his name. But the little horse didn't reach his sire's height.  He was about 14 hands.  He was trained in the now old-fashioned way of going with his head flexed behind the poll. In showmanship he pivoted on his left instead of right foot. He won points in trail when horses had to stand "ground tied."

Duke right before we sold him in 2001.

Olivia made him her all-around horse, competing in Western pleasure, Horsemanship, Showmanship, Hunt Seat Equitation, and Hunter Under Saddle. She showed him in district and state 4-H competition and at area Quarter Horse shows. I even showed him in Horsemanship.

People would come up to us and say, "Is that Impressalady?  Man, he was something in his time. I recognize him because of his roan blaze."

We kept Duke for six years and sold him when he was 20 to a lady who just wanted a horse to get on every now and then.

When he was mad, he would poop in his water bucket. The night she took him home, she called and said, "Does this horse always poop in his bucket?"  I told her he would quit, he was just mad.  He did it at shows, too.

He was a great teacher for Olivia. I'm a firm believer in older horses for young riders.  Young rider + young horse = trouble. He was a little nervous. He had to be coming straight from Impressive.  Duke may have been a little horse, but nobody ever told him that.

No comments:

Post a Comment