Rick Benningfield is an old-time horse trainer and farrier with over 50 years' experience. Pancho is his beloved Preuvian Paso.
How I Met Pancho
I was 38 years old when I first saw Pancho. I was married and had a stepson named Kelley, who was 9 years old and had an interest in horses. He was always asking if he could ride Cisco, my strawberry roan. I used Cisco for roping and working cattle. He was rather rough at first and not a good horse for a beginner.
When I first laid eyes on Pancho he was lying in a field, and you could make out every bone in that horse's body. I talked with the owner and found out that Pancho's mother had died shortly after his birth; he had received "first milk," but then she was gone. The owner thought that Pancho didn't have long left to live.
I asked how much he would take for Pancho, and he told me $650 since he was a son of Piloto, a very famous Peruvian Paso. Pancho was indeed a full-blood Peruvian Paso. I decided to go ahead and buy him and see if I could save him. I knew that he would be a real treasure if he could just pull through.
Pancho Had to Be Carried to the Trailer
Pancho was one and a half years old, and he was literally just skin and bone. He couldn't stand up. I got a trailer and enlisted the assistance of a deputy who happened to be there. We physically lifted Pancho and placed him in the trailer for transport.
As I was leaving the ranch, the owner came up to me and handed back $600. He said that he knew that the horse was going to a good home and hoped the money would help him recover.
The Vet Had Little Hope
When I arrived home I called my vet and had him come out and take a look at Pancho. The vet told me that he wouldn't make it through the night, but I didn‘t believe that. I went to the store and bought every type of vitamin they had and a large canister of oatmeal. I made "oat balls" and placed vitamins into them. Then, I placed the oat balls into Pancho's mouth, and with a little assistance, he swallowed them!
The next morning Pancho was standing on his own, so I called the vet and told him Pancho was standing up. The vet asked what I had done and when I told him, he didn't quite believe me. He was amazed to hear about Pancho's newfound strength. The vet came directly over, and he couldn't believe the difference. He gave Pancho all of his shots and didn't even charge me for it.
Pancho Starts to Learn
After Pancho was fully recovered and we were able to work with him, Kelley was the first to ride him. I showed him how and what to do, and Pancho thought the world of that boy. You could tell by Pancho's actions facial expressions.
Unfortunately, I had to finish training the horse myself since Kelley and his mother left that Christmas and haven't returned. Pancho was two and a half years old and a very good horse, naturally five gaited and a dream to ride. Pancho has been with me ever since.
Pancho Has Had an Eventful Life: Health Events and More
When Pancho was 10 years old, one of my neighbor's boys gave him a whole five-pound bag of carrots. Pancho went into colic the next day! When I found out what had happened, I called the vet immediately. We gave Pancho two gallons of mineral oil, but nothing happened.
The vet told me to take Pancho to the Las Colinas Veterinary Hospital, and they would fix him up. Los Colinas is a very expensive hospital, but when I called, the vet told me not to worry. He said that they were waiting on me and Pancho.
When we arrived, they immediately got to work. I asked how much it would cost and they told me not to worry about anything that Pancho is important and nothing else.
They kept Pancho overnight and I went home. The next morning they called and told me that Pancho was ready to come home. I went and picked him up, but while I was there the vet told me to come and see what had happened.
The carrots were in a large ball lying on the floor. The vet said that was the impaction, but they had checked Pancho out and he was completely all right. He had no tears to his intestines or anything!
You might think that Pancho would never touch another carrot after that, but that’s not true. He still loves carrots—but will only take two.
There’s Nothing Better Than an Old Friend and a Smart Horse
When we were younger, Pancho and I liked to work with cattle, especially herding them. Because he’s so good at working cattle, he has had a lot of work around here. He is even good with the longhorn cattle, and he can really step it out when he has to.
Pancho is now about 33 years old and still very attentive to detail and will respond at the call of his name. Even though I'm now 68 years old, I still trim and shoe my own horses when they need it. Pancho is due a trim, so here I go.
We are both seniors, but I still ride Pancho from time to time. We’ve had a very muddy year here in North Texas, but as soon as it dries up around here and the mud is gone, I'm going to clean Pancho up and go for a ride.
He wants to get out, and so do I, and I’m not concerned that he will have trouble remembering about being ridden; although, it’s been quite a while since we've saddled up and set out. Pancho is unusually intelligent and very bonded with me.
In fact, I have learned a lot from Pancho, and he is a very smart horse. He used to know about 20 tricks, and he can untie knots from a rope and open locked gates on his own. He will go and get his feed bucket when he is hungry or if asked.
Good Communication Means Good Riding
Pancho is also very good at communicating with me, and he is very calm. One morning I was on my way to feed him and Cisco. Pancho was standing near the gate and had his left front foot up. I looked down at the foot and saw a large nail protruding from the sole!
I told Pancho not to move and went and retrieved my pliers. I removed the nail and washed out the hole with betadine and a Monoject syringe. I called the vet and he came over and gave shots to Pancho and examined the damaged foot.
We have had many episodes such as this including once Pancho got a rather large ball of fencing wire in his tail. He could have panicked, but he didn’t. Instead, he just stood perfectly still while I took the ball of wire out.
© 2019 Rick Benningfield
Rick Benningfield (author) from North Texas on February 27, 2019:
Pancho is definitely the one of the hour! We (Pancho and myself) have been through so much that I don't know how I made it without his help. I have many stories to tell about the horses out here and he is the first. He is also the oldest horse on my place. Thanks alot Ellison for your comment it is greatly received.
Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on February 23, 2019:
I love that this is a real life happy ending story! I think the horses that require a lot of extra special care and the ones that are the hardest to train are the ones that we end up with the closest bonds to!