Wildfire's Socks

Wildfire's Socks coming 4. He was very bronze in color and developed black dapples on his body and brindle on his legs. He was extremely metallic.

 

Wildfire's Socks came to us as a coming three year old stud colt as a part of a group of 11 horses we brought in from the Rollen Clarkson ranch in Protem, Missouri. Like the rest of the load "Fire" was short on groceries and rather ragged looking due to severe drought conditions that had plagued the Ozarks that year.

Fire was one of two colts that came with the group and right away impressed me with his brain and willingness to accept change, direction, and his circumstance in life. Besides being very thin and slab sided he was shaggy haired and had a blemish on one nostril where he had torn it on something and the flap was just there making him look really dejected.

He was simply a common red sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail, both hind socks that came just above his ankles. He had a very odd white patch on one hip that was so square it looked like someone had cut out a white patch and glued it to him. His sire has a similar mark. They are so odd in that they are so straight in line.

Right away we knew Fire was a special horse in that though he'd never been handled he was totally gentle and easy to work with and around. He never showed much fear of humans as did some of the others. As soon as I began to work with him his wonderfully willing nature just shined through. Anything I asked of him he gave his heart to doing.

Fire when he first arrived. Though not as emaciated as some he was very deficient and thin. His hair was dry and rough and his neck was ewed. He was a pretty sorry looking fellow.

Fire never acted studdy. Nor did he ever get rowdy or difficult. He was a gentleman, through and through.

Within a few weeks of Fire's arrival he was halter trained and had perfect ground manners. He never offered one time to pull or be resistant. One would have thought he'd been trained all his life!

Fire is half brother to our roan stallion, Foxvangen's Toy Boy but they look nothing at all alike. Fire's dam was Blonde The Fox, by Banner's Rocket T., by Banner's Shepherd. Fire's dam was full sister to the dam of Miss Molly Fox. That goes a long way to explaining the intelligence and the totally calm, willing nature that Fire had.

We decided to keep Fire as a stallion prospect and as such put time into ground work and general handling even though he really was not in need of such. I wanted to keep a close relationship with him in case at some point he DID become studdy he would have a solid foundation for manners.

The year Fire turned three his coat color darkened and changed from red to a more bronze coloration. He began developing black dapples and some brindling on his legs. His mane went from flaxen to near white. Overall he became very deep chocolate looking with a striking white mane!

People who had seen Fire when he first arrived would come visit and wonder who the new horse was! He was truly that different. He matured and grew without ever causing a problem and could be handled around mares without ever talking or looking at them.

He was very well endowed yet his behavior was more like a gelding. As a three year old we gave him two mares to breed as a test. We do that so see what a horse can produce. If they produce well….so be it. If they do not then they are still young enough to become geldings and not stags.

We made a habit of haltering all the horses each time we came to their paddock. We took the halters off as we left. Fire was curious about everything right from the start.

We bred Fire to Gambler's Jasmine and Chief's Magic Ribbon. The result of those breedings were two good fillies. These two fillies grew into solid mares that are still in our breeding program.

At the age of four Fire changed color again! He was even darker that year but besides the brindling and dapples he developed two long ROAN stockings on his front legs. They were so roan as to look white but the skin beneath was not pink so they were not true white stockings.

We had a good vet come and trim the ugly nose flap off his nostril. Cosmetic surgery but it truly improved his appearance. He had such a lovely head and neck it was a pity to have it marred like that but the surgery was so successful it left no scars at all!

The thing that most impressed me about Fire was his brave heart. He was not a bold horse and he was not what I'd call a dominant horse in any way but he was the most stalwart horse I believe I've ever known. He put total trust and faith in me and would stand his ground even though he might be trembling with fear. He had a brave heart.

One day I was out back in Fire's turn out and he was walking along with me. We had suffered a lot of rain and the ground was quite soppy and boggy out there so Carl had been laying down large crushed rock to bridge the mud and then topped it with smaller gravel to form a firm base like a road where the horses could walk and we could walk without sinking in mud.

Fire and I were standing on that gravel and Carl was driving our D-8 Cat loader bringing more rock to the "road". As we stood there the loader came closer and closer. It was on tracks rather then tires and clanked and made a racket that would unnerve most horses. Besides that the bucket was full of the large crushed rock and was up in the air far over a horse's head level.

Fire was filling out yet growing very gangly. He was all angles yet it was plain to see he was developing and overcoming his nutritional deficiencies. Even his bearing had changed with good feed.

The Cat was bright yellow and spewed smoke out it's stacks when it was working hard. It was coming closer and close as I stood there next to Fire.

Fire had no halter or rope on him and could have left at any time he chose. I wanted to see just how strong his will was and how much trust he placed in me so I asked him to stand steady. The closer the cat came the more nervous I could see he was yet he held firm and never moved a foot. He would from time to time look at me as if asking for direction. I would calmly tell him to stand. And he did!

At last Carl was basically upon us. The bucket was way up over our heads and the cat was less than ten feet from our feet. Carl began to tip the bucket. He in fact emptied the bucket directly in front of us and then back bladed it into place. The racket the rock made as it fell out of that metal bucket and hit the ground would have sent most horses flying, yet Fire stood firm and held his ground!

Carl back bladed the rock into position and then ran over it with the tracks to compact it into a solid base, then he backed away to go get a second load.

All that time Fire stood there shaking with fear yet not moving one foot! He never snorted, he never tossed his head. He never pinned his ears and he never flicked his tail. He stood fast and firm with just the occasional glance in my direction to see if he was still to remain where he was.

I was so delighted with his willingness to face his fears and he stalwart determination to stand fast that I had to hug him. That sort of trust from a horse is an amazing gift.

Shortly after that incident Fire's story takes a twist that no one could have possibly foreseen. It is a deep regret I harbor still today.

By three and a half Fire's coloring began to turn bronze. He was so metallic his true color would not photograph. He was actually quite a bit darker than this. His joints became nearly black. Above his knees and hocks he developed brindle striping and he got black dapples all over his body. If you look real close you can see the start of the brindle on his right front leg. At this same time he began to develop roan socks in front!

I received a phone call from a lady in Canada one day. She was crying and very upset. It seemed she and her husband had fallen upon some difficult economic times and had to move off their farm and into the city. They had a number of horses that needed to be placed and had been. They were down to just one horse. But the horse was a stallion. What is more, he was an old stallion. If he could not be rehomed he would be euthanized and she was terribly upset by that prospect as one might imagine.

At the time we had three stallions already. We owned Toy Boy, Fire and Nugget. All on a very small acreage. There simply was no room for a fourth stallion even on a temporary basis. I told her I was terribly sorry but we had no space for a stallion.

A few days later the same lady called me again. She was nearly hysterical and was so very upset she was pleading with me to take the old stallion. My mind was racing trying to find a solution for her. A way to save the stallion surely must be found! He was a V-64 foundation bred stallion sired by Rawhide's Black Ace by Red Rawhide and out of Lathrop's Lady by Dare's Trigger. This is good old time breeding and some of the old lines we lacked among our collection of foundation bred horses.
As I spoke with her trying to calm her my mind was ticking off possible solutions. At last I came to a decision Since Toy Boy and Fire were half brothers and carried much the same blood we really did not need both as stallions. If Fire were to be gelded we would have space for another stallion if only for a temporary placement.

I told the lady that I'd make her a deal. I would come north and look at the old stallion. If we got along and I could handle him I'd take him but it would be two weeks before I could bring him down to the states because he would need all his clearance papers and I'd need time to have Fire gelded and healed before I could bring "Rocky" in.

That week end my sister in law and I made the trip up to northern British Columbia to see the stallion. It was a trip of more than 500 miles round trip through the mountains. We arrived there and were warmly greeted. Then we went to see the stallion.

At close to four Fire was a very dark bronze. His roan socks in front were very noticable and his mane had gone to platinum.

He was not a large horse but he was an elegant old man with a warm personality and a gentleman's demeanor. He was gentle and kind and extremely well behaved. We took him to the round pen where I asked him to perform for me. He did so without so much as a token resistance or a missed beat.

When I asked that old horse to foxtrot he struck a textbook perfect, extremely fluid foxtrot that just was a beautiful site to see. He was so relaxed and supple it was just amazing to watch him move. He was sound as a dollar and dead on the money. NO lateral tendency at all.

He responded very well to and for me. So I told the lady I'd accept him and give him a home. She had shown me photos of some of his offspring and she still had some of them at her farm. I was not very impressed with his get but he simply had never been given mares that matched up to him properly. I decided we would try to collect a few good mares for him so he could have his last hoorah in style and produce perhaps the best offspring he'd ever managed.

We went in to lunch and the lady offered me his papers. My one big…no HUGE mistake was in not accepting them right then. I knew the papers would need to be with him so he could get his clearance to cross the border so I told her to hold them until all the paper work was ready and I'd pick him and the papers up at the same time….in two weeks.

With mixed emotions I went home. I felt like a total traitor arranging for Fire to be gelded and he suffered greatly from the procedure. He swelled badly and was so depressed I could barely stand the agony. But I felt we were serving a good cause by allowing a good old foundation stallion to keep producing.

I spoke with my vet because I knew the old horse was deficient nutritionally even though he was not thin. His coat was dry and his feet were brittle. He was not getting proper nutrition and before I attempted to breed him I wanted to build him up so that his sperm count would be better and so that he would hold up to the task.

In winter he was more of a chocolate color and his right front roan sock became almost gold.

We had a plan of action set in motion to give that old stallion the very best of care and opportunity to finish his life productively and with merit.

Finally the day was near for me to make the trip up to collect him. Everything was in order. The night before we were to leave I received a phone call from a woman in our Foxtrotter club. She was all excited and babbling. "Guess where I'm going" she asked. Then she proceeded to tell me she was on her way up to Canada to pick up "Rocky!". I could NOT believe my ears! Surely there had to be a mistake! Nope… she was going up to pick up the old stallion that very moment even though I was to do so the very next day!

I told her as much and how I'd gone up to see him and made arrangements for him and so forth. All she said was " you need to talk to >>>>>>! " She named a woman that so far as I knew had nothing to do with the situation at all! WHY would I need to talk to her?

When we hung up I called the lady in Canada. I was breathless between anger and a very real sick heart. Here I had already had Fire gelded and put him through all that agony and depression and pain and now we were not to get the old stallion? I was so flabbergasted I could not believe this situation was really occurring!

The lady in Canada answered the phone. She as rather hesitant and meek. She said she had to let the other lady have the horse. WHY? And if she was going to do that why on earth did she not have the common decency to at least call me to let me know?

It seemed that the lady in question had given the old stallion to her with the condition if she ever didn't want him, he was to come back to her! Indeed she had called the lady when her situation had presented and the lady had told her she didn't want the old horse. That is when she had called me!

Somewhere between when I'd gone up to see him and the two weeks before I was to come pick him up the lady had a change of heart and decided to lend him out to someone else… the woman who had called me. Yet not one of them had the courtesy to let me know.

Fire reflected the light so much as to make pictures come out far lighter than he was and his dapples didn't show! Believe it or not at this stage he was covered in big black dapples and lots of brindle lacing on his upper legs.

I was totally shocked at such an ordeal but then I'm so up front I expect everyone else to be likewise. Sadly the world is not full of forthright people and I seem to find many of them. It is not in my nature to be suspicious of people or to doubt their integrity or their word so often times I take people at face value only to find they are very unworthy of that trust.

The sad thing to all this is that my lovely Fire had to suffer and the breed lost a very nice stallion who would have produced honest, lovely, foundation horses.

As it turned out no one built the old stallion up or gave him what he needed. I really don't believe he ever produced another foal. If he did I never heard about it.

As to Fire, he was put under saddle and eventually sold to a lady who gave him a good home.

His only two offspring are wonderful mares who produce excellent, solid Foundation bred offspring so he at least left that legacy to us.

Wildfire's Socks produced two daughters, both of whom we still have in our breeding program.

Foxvangen's Millenium

Chief's Magic Ribbon H. + Wildfire's Socks

 

Foxvangen's Pagan

Gambler's Jasmine + Wildfire's Socks

 

 

 
 

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