I never liked chestnut horses.  They are too common. Uninteresting.  Was never a fan of Secretariat because he was a chestnut. It didn’t matter that he was a perfect specimen and ran faster than the wind; he was the wrong color.

Like many horse fanatics of my age, I grew up reading The Black Stallion and Misty of Chincoteague series. No chestnuts for me.

When it came time to get my first own horse, I wanted a bay. And then we got to the dealer’s barn and I saw him: a black and white appaloosa.


Freedom – 1977

He was beautiful. The bay barely registered.  Freedom and I spent the next years together exploring and learning. It was perfect until college came along and I had to let him go.

I was hooked on appaloosas, fascinated by their colors and versatility: horses of a different color.

I was in my 40s when I was finally able to afford another horse. I wanted an appaloosa.

Knowing my limitations, I found one on a hack line at a local riding stable.  He rode quiet and had a snowflake pattern like Freedom, only he was a chestnut roan instead of black. Suffice it to say, Pepper was nothing like Freedom.  He rode well, but on the ground, was dangerous.  And I quickly gained firsthand knowledge about the connection between uveitus and appaloosas.



Pepper taught me more about horsemanship than any other horse. For that, I am grateful. I still miss him.

When the time came to get another horse I decided in order-

1) no appaloosas

2) no chestnuts

Then I met Jigs.  His personality is bigger than chestnut.  It was the first thing I saw about him as I walked around the barn to meet him. He looked at me with a “here I am” stance.  “Aren’t I handsome?”

DId it!

Did it!

He was.

“Jigsy” rode okay, but was pushy. “He doesn’t understand that natural horsemanship stuff, you can teach him easy enough,” the horse agent said.  Natural horsemanship, I thought?  He was plain in your face rude.

Nevertheless there was just something about him. I’m not even sure I realized he was chestnut.  Or that he had a split ear. I took him on trial. Both my barn manager and  trainer thought I was nuts.

Over the years Jigs has become my partner, my friend.  We’ve done so much together and we have more to do. I rarely think about his color; it is immaterial. To quote one of my favorite author/trainers, Mark Rashid, “a good horse is never a bad color.”

Explore posts in the same categories: horses, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership

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