Home Magazine Second Chance Stories Owyhee


I’ve loved horses my entire life and have been privileged enough to spend time with them as a freelance equine photographer. Three years ago, after stealing many rides on others’ horses throughout my life, I began my search for a horse and found a beautiful black horse on-line. A few weeks later I became the proud owner of my first horse, “Owyhee.” My best friend and I looked at him together and I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. He had the sweetest eyes and disposition. It took about three weeks to get him to our home and when he arrived he weighed 900 pounds, which made him a skinny boy for a horse that’s 15.3 hands.

It took some time, but with work and patience I got his weight up to 1,149 pounds, and he has stayed there consistently for the past few years. He was very insecure when he arrived and herd bound, along with having some major trust issues. However, he and I bonded from the get-go, and he became my “soul horse.”

I did some research, and I learned a little about him. He’d been passed around a lot prior to arriving in our home. He was on the track briefly with three starts and no wins. He was then given to the nephew of the owner as a cutting horse. He was sold a few more times and at one point ended up at an Enumclaw feed lot. A lady purchased him, but apparently it was not a good match – they never connected or bonded. He bucked her off a few times as well. I imagine it wasn’t fun for him having an owner who didn’t like him. After six months, she sold him to another lady who had him for a few years and then, after purchasing some younger horses, decided it was time for him to move on due to not having time for him. During the first four years of his life he had five owners. He’s been with us for three years now.

Our journey has been one with many ups and downs along the way, including a steep learning curve for me as well, but I wouldn’t trade one moment. I’ve learned a lot from my beautiful horse Owyhee that applies not only to horses, but to life in general. It took a while for him to trust me and realize that he had found his “forever” home and that he was not going to be sold or passed along again. He tried many times to “show me” how naughty he could be, but in the end, my persistence, patience – and I’m sure to some degree, my stubbornness – paid off and I now have a wonderful REALationship with my horse.

Everyday when he hears my car, hears my voice or sees me walking towards the hill – no matter how quiet I am – he lets out a whinny and “racehorse” runs to greet me. Those moments make me smile and melt my heart. He follows me around like my little shadow and he gets along great with my black lab Jayde too. He has truly become, not just our horse, but a part of the family. At night, when its dark and I can barely see him because he blends in so well, I can hear his thundering hooves running across the pasture to greet me. I truly believe this is the first time in his life he’s truly been a “horse on pasture with the boys” and has an owner who adores him and who is also consistent.

His favorite things, of course, are apples and carrots, which he has an abundance of. He has a big heart, good mind, a kind spirit and personality combined with the most inquisitive eyes on a horse I’ve yet to see. I love watching him enjoy his new life.

It took some time, but he’s a much more confident horse than when we began our journey. I’ve learned there are no “quick fixes” and it “takes as long as it takes.” I’ve also learned to listen to my horse and embrace who he is, rather than making him do something he doesn’t like. Each horse has his or her unique personality and interests that need to be embraced and enhanced. Finding something you both enjoy as a team will help you be successful. Each day we continue to learn more together and become a better team, both on the ground and in the saddle.

Along with just spending quality time together hanging out, we compete in local dressage shows. At our first show last year, we took second place in three of our classes. In the spring, I hope to take him up in the hills for trail rides and other new adventures. His canter is like floating or flying without wings. I continue to look forward to each day with Owyhee and Jayde and I’m thankful for the lessons I continue to learn from them both.

Owyhee will be with us for the rest of his days and I look forward to each one of them. I could stand all day and watch him and his horse buddies gallop around, buck and play. I truly believe this is the first time in his 17 years that he truly gets to be a horse and I love seeing his true spirit and personality come through.
—Lynette Smith

Owyhee, 1990, g., registered name and stats unknown.