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Home First Posted May 11, 2008
Jan 21, 2020

Gambler's Luck/A Special Horse

Registered: Tennessee Walker Association and Racking Horse Association

"Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be...Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before."

Erich Fromm (German born American social Philosopher and Psychoanalyst, 1900-1980)


At two this black stallion was purchased by a passer by. Gambler had not been handled by humans--he was just out there in the field and two years old. He began his new life as a breeding stallion. Some hard methods were used--chains around his head. It left him not liking men, head shy, and mistrusting of people. He was hard to catch. Gambler was gelded at 5 and ridden some before he came into my life.

I felt a closeness to Gambler the first time we met. He had a spring in his step and a glint in his kind eyes. He was forward moving, smooth and sure footed. He had an excellent conformation and sweet temperament. I sensed an affectionate side to Gambler that had not been tapped. There was a quiet calm about him. He was a gentleman. He was totally sound.

I traded back Bella Donna W, a brood mare that I had purchased at this same farm. Gambler had been gelded and one of his off spring, Gambler's Gold Star, was being used as the new breeding stallion. (Several years later we purchased that horse, also. He became my husband's horse.) I purchased Gambler. For one year he and I worked together to build mutual trust. It took great patience and gentle handling. Now he would allow himself to be caught, but only by me, and accepted the bit with trust. His head shyness, around me, disappeared. Over the next 20 years Gambler and I became a team. We trusted each other and took care of each other. We were buddies. He had lots of hugs, kisses, treats, excellent vet care, by Nancy Sitarz, an excellent farrier, Don Roof, 65 acres to roam, self exercise and munch excellent grass. He was free to run--his spirit was free.

We were together approximately 20 years. We could read each other's body language. I trained him to verbal commands as well as body commands. I rode him using a bare back pad--usually no saddle. The Tennessee Walker bit that came with him I did not change. However, I really did not have to use it. It would have been quite harsh in hard hands. I rode him with my legs and body, not my hands. The bit got very little use. In fact, Gambler could be ridden with a halter and lead rope. I turned him into a baby-sitter horse. He took care of his rider and showed no meanness. He was a push button horse. Gambler was careful when placing his feet and was absolutely solid in every way. He would jump, with ease, whatever might have fallen across the trail. He was thoroughly five-gaited.

He saved my life more than one time. I recall, vividly, and will share one incident. At a full gallop, along the Potomac River, on a tiny dirt path, we were both feeling the exhilaration of freedom and speed. He came to a stop and refused to go forward. This was unlike Gambler to not do as I asked. Looking around there did not seem to be anything that was evident like a snake or other animal, something out of the ordinary, that might catch his eye. There did not seem to be any danger. I got off and looked to see if there was a problem. Indeed, there was! The path's underpinning had washed away and the water from the Potomac River had seeped underneath the visual path. This breach was unable to be seen. There appeared to be terra firma. If Gambler had not stopped, the path would have given way under his weight and we would both had been in the river. The river was high and wild, as there had been days of rain. The water from the mountains was cresting in our area.

Loyalty, devotion, trust, affection--everything that goes into making a life long bond--we had. Gambler had gotten up in years, but was totally sound. I really wanted to retire him while he was healthy. He deserved it. I wanted to be certain that he would never come on hard times. He was to live out his life with dignity. It had to be someone who was loving and caring, would recognize a special horse--well-trained, sweet tempered, of impeccable lineage, and would ride him gently--someone who would let me visit him. We do not have our own property so turning him out that way was not an option. Never would he be out of my sight or heart. If, for any reason, circumstances would change, he would come back to me. He would never be sold. Those were the terms. If he were to pass away, if possible, he would be buried on the retirement property.

Luckily, after much searching and interviewing many people, Helen Holt and her lovely family came into our lives. She and her family were the perfect fit. In preparation for Gambler's journey to his retirement home, Nancy came and gave Gambler a complete physical. Everything was fine. All his shots were up-to-date and his travel papers were in order. I had him taken to Kentucky. Tears were flowing and there was a lump in my throat. I knew I would be unable to trailer him there using our trailer--too emotional. Helen, Ronnie, and her two lovely daughters welcomed Gambler and spoiled him!. Nothing could have made me happier. They loved on him, gave him kisses and hugs, not to mention lots of treats, and attended to all his vetting and shoeing needs. They even purchased another horse to keep him company, Dusty. Ronnie and Gambler became good buddies. Ronnie's patience and caring won Gambler's trust. He was the only man able to get close to Gambler. Gambler adored him. I am told that Gambler had been frisking around on his favorite hill the evening before. There were not signs of trouble. It was just his time. Gambler passed away April 26th, in his sleep. This was the day before my birthday. A good horse is good to the end. He was a King. Ronnie buried Gambler on their property on the hill Gambler came to love. The Holt Family honored Gambler with a special marker.

Helen, Ronnie, Shalon and Kiesha, I cannot thank you enough for giving your hearts to this wonderful horse and letting him live out his life with love and dignity. Know that while he is gone from our lives, he has left a wonderful gift. You will all be life-long friends to Bill and me. What better legacy can be left than a life-long gift of friendship? He gave joy and wonderful memories, as well, that have touched all our lives--he gave his trust--that is what Gambler has left to us.

We will always love you and be grateful to each one of you. Deb

Gambler's Papers

Tennessee Walking Horse Association Papers

Racking Horse Association Papers

It is with great sadness that Ronnie Holt has passed away. I can only say to the Holt Family that our thoughts of warmth and caring are with you always, but especially at this time. "Have faith G-d watches over you, though skies now seem so gray. Have hope, for He will give strength to you with every new day. Have trust for He will guide you and guard you from above. Have faith Helen, Shalon and Kiesha, for you are in the shelter of His love."