Considering his level of education and the diversity of human contact he has experienced, he has lived what must certainly have been a colorful life.

And having reached the 23-year mark, that life is now pretty long as well.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

But regardless of his resume and longevity, Great Lad Sur Hatar’s story seems to have entered into a very different chapter, especially for a horse that has been around the block as many times as he has. The events documented in that chapter at least border on unique if they aren’t completely so.

Maybe it’s a bit of confusion caused by age or maybe it’s long-suppressed traits now being allowed to manifest by an animal feeling unshackled by having less responsibility, but this tall Arabian has in many ways taken to acting more like (and thinking much like) a dog.

Spending most of his years in Colorado before being shipped to the Davison property in Texas County in 2007 (we acquired him by recommendation of the people we bought our place from), Sur was trained in Western, Western Pleasure and English riding and even dressage. He has been used as a show horse, a trainer for novices and a trail horse.

He knows whether there’s a greenhorn or an expert on his back and he’ll respond in kind to the presence of a big man or a little girl. He’s probably had more different saddles tossed on him than are sold twice a month at the horse auctions in St. James or Mountain Grove and has no doubt tasted the rust of many types of bits.

While his current owners’ knowledge of horsemanship is pretty limited, it’s safe to say that Big Sur (pronounced “sir,” – it’s much easier the long show-type name he came with) knows most of what a horse can know. He’s been there and done that, horse style.

That makes it all the more interesting (and humorous) to watch him go dog.

Not long ago, my wife decided Sur was going to be allowed run of the yard. That way he could search for some green grass during a crazy hot summer, chomp apples that the heat had caused to drop to the ground early and to otherwise maximize his “social” nature. Since then it’s been a dog’s life for this half-ton maverick.

Just like our two actual dogs, Sur respects the boundaries of our property. While wandering in the three-acre section around the house (which he apparently prefers to an eight-acre pasture complete with spring head), he has never exercised the option to simply walk down our 150-yard driveway and head out to explore the miles of east Texas County dirt roads that would then be in front of him.

If he’s in the yard at nightfall, he typically saunters back through the open gate and retires to his “room” on one side of the old hay barn.

But it gets better.

Possibly after deciding he’s really only about 18-inches tall and weighs 30 pounds, Sur has stepped through the door of opportunity on a couple of occasions to see what it’s like to be inside the garage and the shop building. While I was recently unloading the Cherokee and had doors open on both sides, a big white head came in the side opposite me and I could have sworn I heard a Mr. Ed-sounding voice ask “Watcha doin’? Are we going’ to town?”

But here’s where it gets doggone wacky.

We had a yard sale a little while back. We’ve done it before and our dogs always seize the moment to do some public relations and get in a little extra hand time.

This time, people getting out of their cars were welcomed by a greeting committee that included a large, hooved member.

(Cue Mr. Ed voice) “Howdy. Nice day. Make sure ya rub my nose while yer here.”

As they shopped in the shop building, Sur-dog would stick his head through the open double-doors as if to make recommendations. I guess he was satisfied with most peoples’ choices because he never spoke up.

Perhaps the cause for Sur’s behavior lies in the fact that my wife and I haven’t been riding him and that he is now more or less just a large pet.

But I still think his pet-like tendencies are of his own design. While our dogs go around being dogs, our horse pretty much does the same.

He eats sweet feed from a dog dish.

My wife will be at the sink doing dishes and there’s Sur a few inches away at the window.

We’ll be readying for an ATV ride on the dirt roads and he’ll walk up and be like, “can I go?”

“Sorry big man,” I say. “Too much weight.”

It’s just not right.

This blog is derived from Doug Davison’s column in the Houston Herald. The content is strictly random and any resemblance to anything important is purely coincidental. E-mail: ddavison@houstonherald.com

Advertisements