- “Dad” – palomino stallion
- “Mom” – black roan mare
- “Amos” – buckskin roan colt
When I made plans to breed my mare, I considered all the important things, like the temperaments of Mom and Dad, their conformation, breed type, and bloodlines. So when my colt was born, I’d already anticipated some of his traits: I knew (roughly) how tall he would be, what his head should look like, his overall type, and his personality. And I was right. But additionally, Mom and Dad passed on a few “extra” traits to little Amos.
#1, Dad’s Golden Color — But Mom’s Modifier
“Oh, you tossed in your roaning again, huh?” I asked Mom as I leaned against the fence and watched them graze in the sunshine.
“Of course!” my mare seemed to say, casually licking her own roan coat. “Babies should always be roan.” Amos stood nearby in his smart yellowish-roan coat, the visual combination of his two parents.
#2, Lead Rope Fiddling
Both Mom and Dad have this habit about picking things up with their mouths. Most mornings, Dad likes to proudly hold the end of his lead rope as he dances out to the pasture. Sometimes Mom likes to let her lower lip droop and try to catch the halter as it goes onto her face. Just goofy stuff that I’ve come to ignore. In both cases it’s just a game, something that they like to do. So I wasn’t expecting it one day when 3-month-old Amos coyly tried to grab the halter with his lower lip as I slipped it onto his face.
“Amos, what are you…” I started, but no sooner had I begun to speak than Amos reached down and picked up the end of his lead rope. He stood there holding it, looking quite pleased, as if he’d just mastered a great skill.
“Chip off the old block,” Dad seemed to say from his stall.
“My boy,” Mom seemed to sigh.
“Oh brother,” I said, removing the lead rope from Amos’ baby teeth.
#3 Bucket Banging
I didn’t think about it ahead of time, but both Mom and Dad are chronic bucket-bangers. After eating, Dad will bang his empty grain bucket around and around until I come to get it; Mom just rubs against hers until something gives way, either bucket or wall snap. These aren’t the kinds of things you consider when planning a breeding, so I got surprised one more time. A few days after Amos was old enough to try a little grain, I went into the stall to find his tiny grain bucket on the floor, covered in stall shavings.
“Roll it around a few more times,” Dad seemed to call from his stall. “Get it really dirty!”
“Next time see if you can crack the handle,” Mom seemed to suggest.
“Goodness, Amos,” I said, taking his bucket away to be hosed off (along with Mom’s—who had also spilled hers). “Did you have to do that?
“Of course!” Amos seemed to reply. And, as if quoting Joan of Arc, he seemed to add, “I was born for this!”
Daniel Johnson is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He’s the author of several books, including How to Raise Horses: Everything You Need to Know, (Voyageur Press, 2014). Dan’s barn is home to Summer, a Welsh/TB cross, Orion, a Welsh Cob, and Mati and Amos, two Welsh Mountain Ponies. Follow him at www.facebook.com/foxhillphoto.