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Susan Williamson – The Golden Horse

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Ever since Roy Rogers and Trigger, and undoubtedly before, people have been fascinated with golden (palomino) horses. Mr. Ed was another famous palomino.

A  golden Alkhal Teke horse has been making the rounds on FACEBOOK as “The World’s Most Beautiful Horse.” He is indeed handsome. The Alkal Tekes, a very old breed from Turkmenistan, are known for their gleaming metallic coats. So in addition to being a palomino, he had the metallic sheen gene.(Doesn’t that sound cool?) At the rare breeds horse show held at the Virginia horse center in 2016 I saw buckskin, silver, bay and golden models. The sheen is the result of a particular gene or genes. Since these horses originated in the desert, I can’t help but wonder if this coloration causes them to reflect more light and thus is a cooling mechanism. I am fascinated with this breed and feature them in my novel, Turkmen Captives.

I have seen beautiful palomino horses, but also ugly ones. A pretty color can’t disguise a poor conformation. And a pale washed out dirty yellow may even distract from an otherwise attractive horse. A true palomino has a chestnut gene along with a cream dilution gene. True palominos have white manes and dark skin. Palomino is a color, not a breed, but there are palomino breed associations. The problem is since the color is the result of a hybrid state, a palomino bred to a palomino can produce a cremello, a chestnut or a palomino, so it is not really correct to call it a breed.

When I was growing up, my father traded a horse for a palomino parade horse named, (you guessed it—Trigger). He was a handsome fellow, probably mostly American Saddlebred but he had no papers. He came with a very fancy faux silver saddle. (I think the metal was  stainless steel, but still very heavy.) One day my father agreed to saddle Trigger in his parade outfit and let me ride him down the road.  I mounted up and headed out the driveway, only to have one of the stirrups fall off. We stopped and screwed it back on (literally—the heavy stirrups are attached with metal screws) and off I went.

I had no sequined garb or fancy hat, but I still thought I was the hottest thing on four legs.

A great fog descended on the land and not a car appeared in my entire two mile round trip. What a downer!


Susan Williamson is a lifelong horse person, former newspaper editor, food coop manager, extension agent and college adjunct. She is the author of two mystery novels: Turkmen Captives and Dead on the Trail and two e-books published by High Tide Publications: How to Buy Your First Horse and How to Get By as Time Goes By.

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