BY KAREN HODGES
On October 8, 2002, the palomino Australian Stock Horse mare Cobradah Elly May gave birth to a palomino colt by Ramadan Arabian Hafiid. He was a special foal, and with a future as a show horse his destiny was sealed. He was registered as ‘Real McCoy’.
His sire, Ramadan Arabian Hafiid (aka Sonny) was an outstanding performance horse and had won two Australian Championships and one Reserve Championship in ‘Working Stock Horse’. His amazing speed and courage had also seen him win the Barrel Race at the Australian Championships three years running. Sonny was an excellent hack and his ability to turn his hoof to any discipline saw him win ‘The Elwyn Bligh’ Stallion of the Year three years running. This competition required the horse to compete in five different events including halter, and the highest scoring horse at the end of the day won. It was a great competition and everyone who participated enjoyed themselves, while showcasing the true versatility of the Arabian.
Real McCoy (aka Macca), the palomino colt, grew quickly. He was built to ride and he learned quickly. In time he was sent to the Olympic Reining Trainer, John Wicks to start under saddle. He shone brightly and worked well. After he came home I rode him for a while, took him to a few small horse events and really enjoyed his lovely attitude and willingness to please. We won our fair share of ribbons but soon it was time for him to go back to John, and do some real work.
We soon noticed that Macca had a natural talent for the discipline of reining. John competed with him and always came home with top ribbons. He was competing against Quarter Horses and was holding his own, and of course I loved it when some of the Quarter Horse owners would make comments such as ‘it was nice to see a quarter horse with such a pretty head’.
He competed at a few ‘A’ class shows, winning the Western and Australian Stock Horse classes under saddle. Taking Macca to a show was always guaranteed to be a good day out and a lot of fun. He had a strong competitiveness and there were some moments when I thought his heart would explode, he worked that strongly. He loved the attention after his wins; carrots, cuddles and being told he was a good boy.
John competed on Macca at the Qld Challenge and won the High Point Western Horse of the day. They were unstoppable and it was clear Macca was an amazing horse and as adaptable as his sire. He was a bigger horse than Sonny, but they both had huge hearts. John advised me not to sell Macca, he thought his versatility was rare and he demonstrated a lot of talent and trust. Unfortunately, I had to cut down my horse numbers and I wanted to concentrate on purebred Arabians, so Macca was sold to someone I knew, as I could not sell him to an unknown home. He continued his winning ways and clocked up Australian Champion Led Arabian Stock Horse and a couple of ridden Australian Championships as well. His new owner didn’t compete with him in Western, so he went on collecting the trophies in the English ring.
I went to Sydney for the Australian Championships and saw him in the warm-up ring, I stopped at the fence to take a few photos of him. His owner rode him over and said my presence was upsetting him and asked me to leave. I understood and didn’t want to ruin his chances in the ring. He went on to win another Australian title that day and when I went back to see him in the stables afterwards, I was informed he had been put on a truck back to Queensland. I was devastated that I hadn’t been able to see him.
Macca recognised me again at another show and I could tell this wasn’t in his best interests so I tried to keep away when he was competing. I knew he missed me and I missed him too, but he had to get on with his role in his new home. A few years went past and I hadn’t seen or heard anything about Macca, and supposed he was still in the same home and much loved. Out of the blue I received a phone call from a friend who said that a woman had contacted her and sent her a photo of a brand and asked her if she recognised it, which she did – it was mine. It was on a creamy horse, very poor in condition, that she had bought from the ‘doggers sale’. It was Macca! I was horrified but pleased he had been saved. The woman told me he had been put through the sale as a seven-year-old, he was rising 17.
Macca was ridden at the sale with a cowboy showing off what the horse could do, spinning and turning and running the bidding up with every sliding stop he could do on this poor animal who didn’t have the energy to do that in his condition. His heart was still as big as ever, he showed he could work and that he was no slouch.
I asked if I could go and see him, but was told that his condition was so bad that it would probably upset me, but I had to see him. When I did, I had to hold back the tears as he was a walking skeleton. His neck was nothing and his wither seemed to stick up like a mountain, his hip looked like butterfly wings. His ribs stuck out as did his spine, he was in a pitiful condition. One of his eyes was bruised and shut, needing veterinary attention. His mane was hogged and he had about three hairs left in his tail…he had obviously been in a very rough paddock, with no feed and no one giving him any kindness.
I really wanted to take him home, but these people had plans for Macca, as a school master, so he would become a school horse. I drove home a little despairingly, yet pleased he was safe. A few weeks went by and one Sunday morning I received a phone call asking me if I still wanted Macca back. They were letting him go because Macca had untied himself in her truck and savaged her show horse. I gather he was on the truck as a baby sitter for the other horse, because he was in no state to be shown in his condition. I couldn’t get the float on the car quick enough, we finalised the deal and he was in my float on his way home – Macca and I were together again at long last!
My family had all loved Macca when he was young, so he has had a steady stream of visitors bringing him carrots and licorice and giving him lots of cuddles. He has a stable and paddock of his own and has put on about a hundred pounds since being home. The ribs aren’t quite covered yet, but his expression has changed from a haunted look, to one of contentment. He loves his pampering and doesn’t like other horses even looking at his food, which is understandable considering there must have been many times in the past years when he had nothing to eat.
Macca is home, where he was born and bred, and he will never leave here again. I bred him and it is my role to keep him safe. Real McCoy has had a colourful life and now enjoys a well deserved retirement.