It doesn’t seem that long ago that I wrote about Caffrey and now I find myself writing about Tango. I have to say that when one of my horses dies at an age I find it easier to say goodbye but I never thought of Tango as old but his teeth told a different story.
When Tango first came to my yard, as a livery, I thought what a handsome horse and he wasn’t often ridden and I wondered why! After a while he was given to a good rider who did work with him but didn’t have much time and she then went to New Zealand and left him with a girl who just fed him but never rode. All the while, Tango was begging me to be in the school, he was desperate to work and wanted to be with the others. Tonna, Iddy’s old owner, used to occasionally ride him and he started to show his true colours as he often could be seen doing vertical rears. After a while, the New Zealand girls mother said he was to be given to a family friend, who had been in horses all their lives. I instantly was saddened s I hate horses leaving my yard, however Tango wasn’t mine, I just wanted him.
The South African family came to see him and commented on what a good looker and mover he was. They asked me to ride him and said he was a bit slow but with work, he could improve. I said he was quite a tricky ride and didn’t like doing things on his own. They said they would just take him up the road, I winced and the mother looked crossly at me as if I was trying to sabotage the sale. Ten minutes later the lady ended up on the car park floor and to her credit, then took Tango out the gate to the first field at which she was dumped again to which they said they would take him anyway. Amidst tears of worry, I said good bye to Tango and worried about him for the next three months, all the time knowing that people did not take kindly to his difficult behaviour. Just when I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably never see him again, I got a phone call asking if I would take him back as the family had found him to be impossible. I wept with relief as I thought of seeing Tango again. As they unloaded him and I saw this beautiful specimen of horse and his lovely eyes, the man said “I have worked with horses my whole life and never have I been given as much shit as I have from this horse so I think he is back where he belongs.” I felt overjoyed and thanked him profusely and heard how he had thrown rider after rider and trainer to boot.
As he joined riding school life, I realised in its entirety what a tricky character Tango really was. He would go out on a hack and be the perfect stable horse until Andre decided to turn him around to check on another rider and Tango gave him the full treatment of a vertical rear and flick buck and there was Andre on the floor. This then challenged Andre who tried to take him out on his own which took nearly an hour and a half to get to the end of the road and back. After that Steph Brown took a fancy to him and there for the next 5 years grew an amazing partnership of a very quiet, timid girl and the most psychotic horse I’ve ever owned. On the 11.00 O’clock ride, I spent the whole time watching Tango’s every move, his eyes and calling out, “I can only watch Tango at the moment.” Every time I took my eyes off him or he got 2 feet away from the horse in front, he would turn in, rear and drop his shoulder. Steph fell off him time and time again, on one ride she fell off five times in one hour, she also broke her arm on him and yet she still came back for more and I was both amazed and inspired by her bravery. She did brilliantly at the ‘Chase Me Charlie’ as he was a fantastic jumper but getting him to the jump, was a skilful, dangerous manoeuvre. When he was being particularly dreadful, in the school, I got on him several times and found new ways to confuse him so he could not think about rearing, however he still got me off 2 or 3 times and it really hurt. Whenever I got on him, my heart raced so fast and I did wonder why I chose this hobby.
Having slightly got the hang of him, and realising how comfortable he was as a hack, may people took to liking him and riding him. There was actually a long list of people, luckily for them they didn’t know how he used to behave.
As he grew older, he first had a bad fall then later really hurt his leg and he became a bit more wobbly on his back legs. But as always at Bridge Farm, even when old, one way or another, and by one person or another, they have their time at the weekend and Tango fell to the hands of Jane where he thoroughly enjoyed his extra fuss, carrots and grooms, but most of all his play time with Friday, which he very quickly saw as his rightful slot in the indoor school. He played constantly with Friday, mouthing, and nuzzling and he was very happy in his retirement although he still showed huge interest when his tack comes out so he could have his walk to DKG. His life was a series of in, out, in, out to keep his active mind stimulated until his final fortnight when he didn’t seem quite right. In the end, he wobbled out to meet his maker, at his home where he had been for the past 11 years.
Like when any of the horses go- it leaves a huge gap, a beautiful head no longer there, soulful eyes, licky tongue and has one less bucket at feed time. He had a lovely end of life with Jane and I loved owning him despite the dangerous side.
To Tango- the most psychotic horse I’ve ever owned,
One of the most affectionate horses that I’ve ever owned
As I read Steph’s lovely letter that she wrote to me recently, I am glad that so many of you realise that this is a special place that does cater for many horses that other places wouldn’t accept and I can honestly say that I can do that because of all of you. So a massive thank you to the riders, vets, helpers, the people that turn up, donate, etc, you have given me a lovely life and many horses a special home.