I joke a lot about Amber being a sorrel. Before her, I loved the shiny, rich deep brown of Whisper. I adored the gorgeous reddish-brown of a mahogany bay. I sighed at the uniqueness of every dun and roan colored horse. I ogled those bright, copper-penny, Secretariat-colored horses. I loved the look of a gorgeous dapple grey, even though they wouldn’t stay that way. After reading all those Black Stallion books, I have a special place in my heart for a black horse. Palomino Barbie horses feed my love of long, cream manes. I adore contrasts, and buckskins fulfill that perfectly.
But what about those plain horses? The ones that have minimal or no white, or aren’t flashy? The ones that you pass by in the stalls because they just seem “meh”. I’ve realized that over a course of time, Amber has changed my views on these types of horses.
Before Amber, I swore I didn’t want a sorrel. They’re a dime a dozen amongst the QH world. SO MANY SORRELS. And I have to admit I was a little sad when I first saw her because Amber’s siblings were all roans – a blue roan and 3-4 bay roans. And she’s the Plain Jane sorrel. Or course, none of that mattered after I’d worked with her.
If any of you follow reining, you’ll have heard of Gunner, or registered name Colonels Smoking Gun. He is noted for passing on a lot of white to his foals. They always gather a lot of attention, and consequently, I think a lot of money. While many have been successful, somehow, my favorites have always been the Plain Jane ones.
There was a bay that only had a little stripe on her face, no other white, and she was one of my absolute favorites. Tried so hard, always wanted to please. But she was kind of scraggly, a little awkward, and no one really wanted to take a chance on her. Another gelding was sorrel, a stripe and two white feet. Even as a just-broke 2 yr old he was the most dependable horse I’ve ever ridden. More dependable than Amber, even. He had an honest heart of gold. Two other colts that were just chestnut, minimal white, had super honest hearts and willingness to please. A couple other mares were plain, perhaps gangly, but I dunno I’d just watch them and think “I like THAT one”.
Another colt who had talent out the wazoo and was ridiculously smart, but he was kind of quirky so you had to get a bit inventive to ride him. But man he was a real blast to ride. He was plain too though. None of these horses would ever jump out and grab most prospective buyers, but then you’d see them under saddle, and suddenly there was a whole different horse and potential you could see.
I think this is what Amber has taught me. Those other horses taught me what type of horse I like and to always give every horse a chance and what I want to look for, but I think Amber has been the one to really change that thought around. She is absolutely a Plain Jane, was scrawny and tiny when she was little. But not even I knew that she’d look like this at 7 years. Her parents are big, super solid QHs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she will be.
I’ve had someone say that because her chest is so wide she wouldn’t be able to spin as well as some others (she can when I ask for it). I’ve had others look at me weird because she’s a performance horse doing pleasure. But she can out-jog them. Not out-lope because let’s be honest she canters, but people kind of write her off until they watch her move. It used to bother me, I’ll be honest. Because while I cared about how honest she was, how sweet she was and how hard she worked, they paid attention to the fact that she just wasn’t as talented as these bred-for horses.
But I dunno, to me these Plain Jane horses are better. Personally, I’ve liked their attitudes the best, but more importantly, I think if you can take that Plain Jane horse that isn’t as “talented” as those others, and get them just as far or farther, that speaks more to me about the bond between horse and rider as well as their determination to always making things better that is the best. The quality was there, it just took someone who believed in that horse and put in the work to get it there.
There’ve been a few people who have walked up to me out of the blue and told me they love watching me ride Amber. Most of this was at a show since I usually ride alone, but it really shocked me. And at the end of the day, I realized that’s what I love. I love that people can see our bond when we ride. I love when people tell me how happy she looks, because really, that’s why I do this. I ride because I love it and I love horses. And I want to find the ones that you have to take a little extra time.
Amber is plain. A very orange sorrel if you want to be specific. But I think those Plain Janes (or Joes) are really just the best because you have to look past their outside plainness and see what’s there. Most of the time I don’t think they’re the flashiest horses, so they can’t “hide” anything, but they’re the ones that I think in a way will give you everything they have and more because you took the time to polish that little gem.
This is not to say, of course, that flashy horses can’t be just as giving and sweet and diamond-in-the-rough as a plain horse. I just think that the plain horses get overlooked most of the time in favor of those more flashy horses.
Haha sorry, guys. Too mushy? I swear I don’t usually get this mushy. But I want to know your thoughts. What do you think about it? Do you like those Plain Jane or Joe horses? Or do you like more flashy horses? What about them is it that you like the most? Or does color never matter to you?