There are only 2 types of horse breeder: Those that have bred some bad ones and those that are going to. 


At Rata Mill the percentage of rebels is small (currently less than 2 %)  I joke and tell stories about these guys because there is always something to chuckle about after the event. Here are 2 that survived the bullet or dinner for the hunting hounds.   A third I shot myself. I prefer to do the dirty work rather than to send to the kennels.  A fourth ended up as a bronc in Rodeo. He will enjoy that :-)



                          Hillman: Big, Handsome and Bloody Dangerous.  


We had Hillman under under saddle for at least 4 months before I decided 'ENOUGH!' He never went foreward well and was preoccupied with the rider. Then, BAM!: out of nowhere one of those half bucking bolts. I was leading another horse from him on the road one day when he broke into one of his bolts. I lost my stirrup and ended up only half on. I was that close to coming off at full gallop on a gravel road. You bastard! 


On another occasion we were riding cross country when Hillman let rip down a 20 degree slope with a young female rider. How she rode him out I dont know. Part way home she said, 'Mike is it OK If I walk and lead the rest of the way?' I immediatly said yes. She could feel it just under the surface. So could I. 


I got a phone call one day from a guy who professed to be a very experienced dressage trainer. I described Hillman because he had a trot one would kill for in the dressage ring. But I warned him about the problem. He came out and was blown away by the look of him. We got him on and he did some work in the arena. My heart was in my mouth. He was riding with a very long rein. If Hillman exploded he was gone. Luckily he didn't.  I said, 'I don’t think that this is the horse for you’. He went home, then a few days later he rang wanting Hillman hell or high water. I just said, 'No'. 


                           Java: the horse we nick-named OSH

 Java was just a little shit – and yes, another by the TB stallion Serpico (see stallions)

In all Java injured 4 of my riders. One with a broken collar bone, another with a kick in the stomach, a torn groin muscle and a broken arm. The only rider he never dumped was me. He never even tried. We rode the backside off him but he was still a shit.  The funny thing is that before we broke him in he was as nice as honey pie in the paddock and everyone wanted to train him. 4 months later everyone avoided him like the plague, except for the only male trainer. He get dumped occasionally but did not care. Men do have balls. Mind, Java did have apple and was very energetic and forward – a nice ride once you were on him and stayed on him.


Both Hillman and OSH stayed on the farm, unridden for over 10 years, until one day I got a call from a bronc rider. He wanted something to practice on. I said ‘I can sell you 3 for $500’ He grabbed them, thank God. The 3rd was a big powerful 12 year grey that had never been handled. He was some unit, I tell you.  Some days after delivery I rang the guy to see how the broncs were going. He replied ‘I rode the grey once, his buck is too big, I’ll get hurt’. 3 days later he was in a rodeo string. As far as I know he’s still there, as crazy as ever. I don’t know what became of Hillman and OSH, nor do I care.