August 23, 2019
My Cherished Memories of Snapper
Snapper was a member of our family for 30 years. He was a brown and white Paint/Welsh pony. I bought Snapper for $200, money that was designated for my electric bill. However, at the time I was looking for a way to help me and my three daughters through a difficult period. They had always wanted a pony, but my husband didn’t want them to have one. I had always loved horses and, after renting a pony for a birthday party, my 3-year-old (at the time) refused to get off the pony and let anyone else ride. When I saw how much my children loved horses, it inspired me to become a horse owner. So as soon as my divorce was in the works, I bought Snapper as a Christmas present. Little did I know how he would change our lives forever!
In the years that followed Snapper taught us a lot about horses. I was teaching school and working other jobs to support our newly acquired “horse habit.” Soon other ponies were on board to do pony rides, plus a Quarter Horse, and saddle horses. I learned that a dually truck was the only way to pull those big, long steel horse trailers.
Snapper taught my kids to be expert horse women. He bucked and reared up so much, they could ride anything when they got off him. Sometimes, I had to ride him down before they could get on, being only 5 and 7 years old, and he would buck me so hard I would see stars. The kids taught Snapper tricks and he was an easy learner. However, if he didn’t like you, you couldn’t ride him.
I became coordinator for The Bill Pickett Rodeo, a title I’ve had for the last 26 years. In the early years Snapper was so bad they wanted him for bucking stock. He would even buck professional bronc riders off, but my little girl could get on him and ride on down the road.
One weekend, I had a pony ride to do at the school where I taught, and I was very excited about it. But Snapper didn’t like doing pony rides, so I played every trick in the book to not let him know I was preparing for a ride. But I soon found out that he understood almost everything I said to him. I told him the night before that we were going to school to do a pony ride. The next day Snapper broke out of the fence and took the other ponies with him. I found him a mile away, hiding between some big rolls of hay. I caught the other ponies, but Snapper wedged himself between that hay so that I couldn’t get him. I did the ride without him and had no problem catching him when I got back home. That’s when I learned to watch what I said around him!
Once I taught Snapper to run barrels and my daughter planned to run him at a horse show. He took her into the arena, but then backed up, kicked a hind foot up, let out a thunderous fart, and backed out of the arena. Everyone got a big laugh over that one! He let everyone know he wasn’t going to run barrels, because he didn’t want to. However, Snapper was very versatile. He could run barrels when he wanted to, and perform other horse activities, like pull a wagon and plough; and if you put weights on his feet he could step high like a walking horse. He was always the leader of my herd, and he let the other horses around him know that, too. If we were on a trail ride, he had to be first, or he wouldn’t go. But no matter what he did, we loved him.
Snapper had a health problem that I dealt with for all those years: he would colic once or twice a year. Needless to say I missed days at work after staying up with him all night, but he always pulled through. Then one day about five years ago he foundered. It took a good veterinarian and special farrier care, and some money to see him through.
Around that time, I believe God sent an angel in the way of a stray dog to my barn. He was with another dog and they both were covered with fleas and had no fur. One died the next day, but I was able to save the other one, whom I later named Hobo. Hobo took up with Snapper and never left his side. He would lick Snapper’s feet as if he knew what bothered him. If I took Snapper to the vet or anywhere else, Hobo was on the trailer with him. He slept with Snapper in his stall. I’ve never seen a stray dog take up with a horse the way Hobo did! If Snapper was in the pasture, Hobo was right at his side. He didn’t leave Snapper for three years, not even on the day that I went into the barn and find Snapper dead. Hobo stood over him, guarding him. I had to lock him up, so that Snapper could be taken out and buried.
Hobo grieved for a few days and then started sticking close by me and the other horses, and he slowly started adjusting. He thinks it’s his duty to guard the horses although he was never trained this. He even fought off some wild dogs to protect my/his horses.
I don’t believe Snapper would have lived as long as he did without Hobo. I’ve taken in strays and even starving horses; I’ve taken in dogs for my children, but never one for a horse.
I won’t let another horse in Snapper’s stall; that’s his shrine. We’ll always love him and the new life we’ve enjoyed because of him.
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