I try very hard not to have favourites at Lost Valley. Partly so I don’t feel so bad when I leave, partly because you never know if something might happen to them or they are so popular they get sold to clients and partly because I like to ride so many and they are all so good. However, as I like to be different to everyone else I was intrigued when, what we in England might call a cart horse appeared at the ranch. She was a grullo or grulla mare called by various names but Smokey ended up being the most politically correct!! Grullo is a term for a blue dun horse and genetically speaking is a black horse diluted and always has a dorsal stripe. Grullo comes from the Spanish for crane. The dilution means that the pigment on one side of the shaft of the hair is translucent. When she was finally being ridden she was very unfit. I went out with a new wrangler; Chris and we had quite a hard ride. On her return she lay down in the corral and stayed there as if she would never get up again!! The next season she was more fit and being ridden by guests so I asked to ride her. The cinch on my saddle wouldn’t go round properly but I found her a very comfortable ride. She was willing, if a little antsy at times but in the snow, she was fantastic - those great “soup plate” hooves just acted like snow shoes. There is just something overall that makes her feel so dependable although due to her width I walk like John Wayne when I get off.
Of course I just had to find out her history and Bob told me that she had been born in Canada from a PMU mare. These were used for collecting PMU (the urine of pregnant mares to make the drug Premarin)
Her breeding is Belgian/Percheron/Thoroughbred/Quarterhorse cross and she was born on May 2, 1998. A Friend of Bob and Karen’s bought Smokey in 1998 and after she and her husband changed careers the ranch bought Smokey in the fall of 2005.
In the spring of 2008 she gave birth to a foal on the night of a very bad storm and I was given the very special privilege of naming her. I called her Rosie after my spaniel that I had for 15 years. The sire was Ben A Lot of Smokin and she is now nearly a year old and I will be following her progress through the years, I hope. Smokey is also due to have another foal (Due date 30th March) and then she will go back to being ridden.
Quite a few people have turned their noses up at such a large lady but her fan club know her qualities and look forward to riding her for many years to come.