All horses are gorgeous in my opinion. But I would admit that there are some horses who really attract our attention and take our breath away. Tattoo, an Appaloosa horse, is testament of how gorgeous certain horses can look. Tattoo is a leopard Appaloosa, and his bright and one-of-a-kind coat is a sight to behold. I contacted his owner with some questions for her truly lovely horse, Tattoo, so keep reading to hear all about him!
What brought Tattoo into your life?
My riding teachers (John and Debbie Letham at Letham Stables) let me intern at their breeding stable for my equestrian riding team and equine classes major requirements when I was a sophomore in college. I could keep an eye on the mares who were set to give birth that spring. I was able to bond with all five mares, observe their behaviour, and look for signs of labor. Tattoo was born on May 18th, and his mother gave birth to him early in the morning. Tattoo was only one hour old when I met him, dripping wet and learning to stand.
It was my task to go into the stall and become acclimated to people when he was standing and nursing! My parents came to the barn later that day to visit Tattoo, and they still remember that when they walked in, I was in the stall, cradling Tattoo in my lap, bawling my eyes out. At first sight, I was madly in love. “Oh, no…” they both murmured. We all knew that raising and training my own horse was a dream of mine, but this colt was not mine, but I knew in my heart that he should be.
My internship was a dream come true, and the other mares all gave birth to healthy foals not long after. I worked with each one, but Tattoo was usually the first one I played with whenever I was at the stable. He let me cuddle him while he slept and even let me halter him when he was three weeks old. Tattoo and his mother both have a lot of faith in me. My trainers informed me when he was just six months old that Tattoo had been sold and that I should prepare myself and him to say goodbye. That was the most difficult two months of my life since I was not just in love with the infants, but Tattoo had also become a favorite. I had convinced myself from the outset that he was not mine. So I swore to stop my internship, which had lasted much too long, and said good-by to the almost-yearlings.
Only three months later, on Christmas morning, I sat with my family around the tree and received the last package. When I opened it, it was a photo of Tattoo, a little model horse with spots, from “all of them.” I cried so hard because I knew I had said my goodbyes and that I would remember him. My parents then persuaded me to check under the paper at the bottom, where the words “Transfer Ownership” were written in large letters. The words Appaloosa Horse Club gleamed at me, along with Tattoo’s show name inscribed in black (Shining Royse). Tattoo had been purchased by my parents almost six months prior! I had absolutely no notion. Owning a young horse was daunting since I felt I wasn’t qualified as a trainer because I’d never done it before, and I was in college! But my parents and sister believed in me, and to say we were all in tears would be an understatement. For weeks, I cried! I cried and hugged him so many times when I went to the farm as his owner on Christmas Day! I must admit that I still do. He is my dream come true, and I have had numerous “firsts” with him at huge shows where I never imagined competing with my own trained horse.
What is the origin of Tattoo’s name?
His name “Tattoo” means “rhythmic tapping or drumming,” and we named him that since seeing him literally sends my heart into drumming ever since I met him. My mum is the one who gave him that name.
Tattoo, what are your favorite pastimes?
Things are heating up! He is the noisiest horse I have ever encountered. He’s going to go into it if he can touch it with his nose. His other favorite activities include running the fence with his pasture neighbors and playing chase with me. It’s like a cat-and-mouse game, with me running and hiding between the hay bales. He runs over to where I jumped out and scares him. Then we chase each other around the haystack. When he knows I’m ready to jump out, he keeps coming over to check my hiding area, snorting. It’s all in good humor.
How would you describe his personality?
Completely relaxed, silly, and mischievous. Growing up, I was taught that young horses are unpredictable and dangerous, but Tattoo is one of the coolest animals I’ve ever ridden or been around. He’s been tremendously curious since he was a baby learning to halter, and he still wants to inspect everything when we’re riding or leading. His eyes will be wide open, his body relaxed, and his ears pricked up at whatever has piqued his interest. It is surprising to state that he is not spooky, but rather extremely interested, and he wants to touch and sniff everything!
Many people are surprised to see how goofy, anxious, and awkward he is while I am standing next to him on the ground, but the moment I sit into the saddle, he is an entirely different horse. His gentle, inquisitive side emerges, and he is eager to work while remaining calm, cool, and focused. His mind is racing so rapidly that he doesn’t want to stop working and trying new things under saddle. His favorite riding lesson is trail; he wants to smell and touch every barrier and observe where his feet are going, even though touching obstacles would result in fines!
Is Tattoo in competition with any other horses?
Yes, Tattoo is the most “popular” horse in our stable on the internet, but I have two other horses. Sunny Boy, my 28-year-old Tennessee Walking horse, was my first horse when I was seven years old. Skip Dancin’ Tango, my first “serious” show horse, is 26 years old. Tango taught me to ride competitively when I was 15 years old. Tattoo is my first “home reared” horse, but the two seniors taught me so much. These horses have all taught me in different ways and led me further than I could have imagined. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for them.
What is anything unique about Tattoo that you want people to know?
He has a thing for miniature horses and donkeys! Tattoo is not afraid like most horses. At shows, his eyes widen, his nose expands, and he almost drags me to the mini to make friends. He’s strangely obsessed! His housemate is a little donkey named “Peter.”
He’s also had a horse girlfriend! Normally, at shows, he is placid and curious, not really interested in other horses unless they go too close, but at one show, a roan quarter horse mare piqued his interest. She was only four years old and still learning how to ride and compete, but he was completely smitten with her. I’m not sure if it was her age or what, but he wanted to stand next to her, kiss her on the nose, and follow her. It was odd, but the owner was amused and allowed them stand together while we waited for courses. He calmed her down and paid no heed to the other horses. He was madly in love with her!