Welcome to Bits & Bytes Farm on the Web. Take a virtual tour
of the farm and see the beautiful thoroughbreds
we have for sale. Follow their training and learn how we bring
them from racetrack to a new career in the show ring, fox hunting
My old gelding turned 32 this week. This was
from 1980 at the Montreal Horse Trials.
The Old Gelding
By KAREN HIGGINS KLEINER
It was a dying summer
morning as I let the horses out.
Somehow the old grey gelding surprised me
He danced through the pasture after the weanlings,
arthritic hocks still had animation
The stiff knees snapped with all the spirit he could muster
head high, nostrils flared, old neck arched
Tail flagged over his back
"Must be a nip of autumn," I thought
And as I leaned on the fence, watching him disappear over the rise,
I remembered the times we had known together.
I bought him young
- he was almost jet black
With a few white hairs sprinkled like stars
In the midnight sky.
I said, "I will break him and train him and he will obey. "
Foolish child that I was
One cannot tame the wind
You must learn to bend with it
Bend I did.
I swallowed my pride, my arrogance
Learned to love his freedom of spirit,
As I mellowed, so did he.
He came to know my
voice, my touch
My weight upon his back
He bore me proudly, willingly
We showed them all with pieces of blue
Tri-colored ribbons of blue, red and yellow
We were a team
We were undefeatable
He taught me humility when the blues turned to red
And somehow winning wasn't as important
As playing the game.
The black coat turned to steel
then to soft pewter grey
We still trotted around the show ring
Under different tack
Big western saddles hung with silver
And riding the gelding
Became as easy as sitting in my favorite chair.
Time for a new challenge
She was tiny red and perfect
And oh, so lonely
We watched as he shook his head at her
Laid his ears back
Threatened her with hind leg cocked
But she cried to him so softly
And the answering nicker broke low in his chest
"Come to me," it said, "I will teach you all."
So the aging gelding
played a new part.
Raised the fillies of that filly.
Taught them patience, manners
Not to fear his two-legged friends
Babysat them when taken away from momma.
Watched them grow
And let them chew his mane and tail to nubs.
Again a change
We took to the trails during those difficult times I learned
to appreciate the trees, the deer
The sunrises and sunsets, the birds, the quiet
What has been given to all of us
And what each of us has put out of our heart.
The children clamored
to ride him.
He patiently taught them too
Pulling their arms off when they didn't give him enough rein,
Dumping them over his head, without ceremony,
When they got too cocky or too confident
Bearing them proudly to their first blue
Then the day finally came when they said
"We don't want to ride this old horse anymore."
Old he was - the
coat of white porcelain china
Had dimmed to soft ivory, shaggy even in summer
The firm muzzle with its proud flaring nostrils
Had developed a saggy lower lip
The back was sunken
Knees stiff, hocks arthritic
Ears drooped, eyes sunken - but he still had Pride.
Other horses came
The old gelding stayed
For all he had given me
I could not begrudge him the handful of feed
The few extra minutes of work
The space he took up in the corner of the barn.
I thought about this
Tonight as I called the young stock in
He was nowhere to be found
I put the little ones away
Heart in my throat,
I made my way
To the pasture.
He was standing still
in the lavender sunset
Tail over his back, poised ready to fly
My heart went back to all those times long ago
Head flung high, his large black eyes searched the sky
He bolted hard, running past me, around me
He stopped inches from me
Arched his neck - lowered his head to my hand.
Oh, God, I thought, or Allah, or the Powers That Be
Or whatever watches over old geldings and sentimental women
Grant us this wish
That when we leave from here - this space and time
Let our spirits run among the deserts of the sky
Chase the clouds and jump the stars for Eternity
Suddenly the spell was broken
And a very old gelding was getting his face rubbed by
someone who could never let his memory go.
Through the deepening twilight
We walked to the barn arm over his neck
- he followed me with love
Through that late summer evening dusk
While the crickets chirred softly
Banner - Elizabeth's old gelding
K.C. Banner is my old gelding and he turned 32 this
week. We've done everything together from 4-H horse shows, to open
jumper and puissance classes, training and preliminary eventing championships,
fox hunting (side-saddle and astride), trail riding and even polo.
Once he even jumped a three foot fence while hitched to a sleigh!
Banner is still active and leads the herd in for dinner
at a gallop. He was born on our family farm. His mother was a 14.2
hand pony and his dad was my first Thoroughbred off-the-track who
was found starving in a pasture. Banner was never more than 15.1 but
in his heart he was a giant. He and I jumped a six foot high, seven
foot wide triple bar to finish second in a puissance class! My younger
sister took him over and did Pony Club and she too jumped him over
six foot fences in gambler's choice classes. Happy
or come by for a visit
call us to discuss which horse might be the best match for you based
on riding skill, experience and equine personality. We do not send
out videos because it is important to match the personality of the
horse with the personality of the rider. We are matchmakers, not horse
brokers. We have horses in a wide price range. Call
us to discuss prices or to schedule an appointment.
We'd love to have you come meet all of our horses--we know that it
will be worth your time. Just bring peppermints!