• marti mcginnis

A Palomino's Life Changes

Updated: Jul 31



Granito (little seed in Spanish)

A couple of years ago, my neighbors here in the village outside San Miguel de Allende where we live invited me to ride with them into town to the big church there to experience a blessing of the horses. It is an experience any horsewoman would treasure and so I jumped at the chance.


The problem was my own horse, MuMu, was not up to the trip. He's had compromised feet his whole life and simply can't handle the rocks and roads. And for a variety of other reasons equine tennis shoes don't stay on and he can't have shoes nailed to his hooves either like normal horses do. So I had to borrow a horse.


Loaner Ponies

Because of having a horse like MuMu, me borrowing a horse is a common situation. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to lend you a horse! I think what's pretty common is a wife gets a horse for herself and a 'bomb-proof' horse for her hubby and pretty soon he loses interest, because he never had that much to begin with. So she's stuck without a riding companion and an extra horse. That's where I come in.


But that wasn't the situation with the ride to the church. My neighbor, Fernando, was just being super nice. I had been champing at the bit, so to speak, to go on this ride ever since we moved here. The first September I was here I went to see the action. This is the video I made of the event that day.


The palomino that passes at second: 22 in the video is Grano. The young dude with the pretty girl I go close up on just after him are Fernando and Carmen. Carmen is riding the mare in this story.


I was on foot. Without a horse. I vowed to ride in with the group somehow some day.


My Day Had Come!

Thanks to Fernando, that day had come! He lent me a cute little palomino horse a couple days before the big ride so we could get used to each other. I noticed right away that he is a nice horse. Calm, relaxed, chill. Fernando is a gentle horseman. Not all Mexicans (or other Americans) are. But it was easy to tell he had done right by this horse.


So without a second thought I saddled him up in my treeless trail saddle and bitless bridle. This is kind of a big deal because some horses will have some questions about gear changes. (and by questions I mean strong negative opinions, lol) But not Grano (means seed in Spanish, I think because of his coloring), he took it all in stride. With our group from Cabras we rode over hill and rocky dale, We tromped over barbed wire, crossed the highway, trotted past barking dogs and joined the parade of hundreds of other such pairs in town.


This is where the real fun began. Firework went off a few meters away, buses passed us with only a couple inches to spare. We ambled past guys selling huge bouquets of balloons dancing in the wind, past food stalls, store fronts and buildings under construction - their protective plastic sheeting waving noisily in the breeze.



Grano bitless and treeless and ready to go! The rein got a lot looser after a mile or so.

A normal horse fresh off the farm would have spooked at it all. Not Grano. The worst he offered was a full spin when he heard the air brakes of a semi a few feet away from us at the speed bump on the highway, and a few more stiff legged stops at some of the other wild noises and sights. That's it. Totally rideable.


This is when I knew I loved this horse. But he's Fernando's and I already have MuMu and my mini. I'm all horsed up.


Fast Forward to Covid 2020

I'm in the 4th month of lockdown and I'm starting to go nuts. You know the feeling. We're all dealing with this stuff one way or another. I'm thinking I need a new project. It hits me! I should ask Fernando if I can RENT Grano a few months out of the year just to play. I sit on my idea for a couple of weeks trying it on for size.


Then, last week, our neighbors are over for a social-distance appropriate picnic and the topic comes up. Good ol' Miguel says "Why don't we ask him right now?" My Spanish language skills are not up to a horse-trading phone call, so Miguel punches in Fer's number. He answers. Miguel lay out the lease proposal. A pause.


He sold him last week. LAST WEEK! ARGH!

"How much?"

"Would he sell him back"

"With a 25% premium tacked on?"

"I'll ask."


Some backstory

Fernando has been having some hard times with the mother of Grano, a beautiful old white mare. She came up lame a couple of months ago. Very lame. When I shared the vet's number with Fer's wife, Carmen, none of us knew just how bad it was.


Well, some high-tech x-ray showed a spiral fracture with 2 additional hairline breaks in a front femur. Fernando had been spending ALL of his limited income trying to get her right. But you'd have a next to impossible time getting that kind of break to heal at the most expensive equine hospital in the world. It just doesn't work with horses to be three-legged for any amount of time. The mechanics throughout their skeletal system just don't adapt. With the bills rising he had sold Grano to make payments. And then the sweet mare died. I know she tried her all for Fernando. And I know he did his all for her. It's so sad and so unfair.


Despite his spending every peso he had. Despite setting up an altar to her recovery in his home (and being ridiculed for it by unsympathetic friends). Despite ceaseless prayers and dashed hopes. She was gone. And now so was her son.


Then Miguel's call.


A Good Man

So now we know just what a compassionate horseman Fernando is, but I wasn't expecting what came next. The fellow he had sold Grano to WAS willing to sell him back once he heard the story. See, one of the things holding me back from getting another horse is what happens to him if something happens to me? You never want your horse to fall into the wrong hands, and they often do. There's only one way to ensure that doesn't happen, you give them a home until the day they die. And if you die first you have it written in your will and money set aside to cover the expenses for them to go into retirement somewhere if you're gone.


But I've already got MuMu and the little guy to worry about. I can't take on another burden like that. If you think dogs are hard to re-home when the owner passes or can no longer take care of them, a horse is twenty times harder to place! But see, this i where me leasing Grano made so much sense!


So I let Fernando know my intention is to SHARE this horse with him. Yes, I'll buy him back, but Fer can still visit him, use him for plowing the maize field and for rides when he wants. We'll share him! And if something happens where I can't take care of him any more he goes back to Fer permanently.


The man Fernando sold Grano to? A friend. A guy who probably bought him to help him out. He won't take the extra money offered. He sold him back for what he paid. Fer went to ride him home yesterday. Carmen sent me this photo from their home that afternoon.


He's kinda skinny, but we'll fatten him right up! Carmen said Fernando is 'muy contento.". Very happy. It's not the perfect ending, but it's a pretty good one, no?

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Marti McGinnis

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