Introducing Tattoo The Appaloosa: A Horse Whose Leopard Spots Are as Awesome as He Is

All horses, in my opinion, are exquisite. I will concede, though, that there are certain horses that truly grab our attention and leave us speechless. Tattoo, an Appaloosa horse, is a living example of how stunning some horses can look. Tattoo is an Appaloosa leopard, and his brilliant and distinctive coat is definitely something to see. Learn everything there is to know about Tattoo from its owner, who I spoke with about some questions I had regarding her incredibly beautiful horse.

How did you get into tattoos?

My riding instructors, John and Debbie Letham of Letham Stables, allowed me to intern at their breeding barn when I was a sophomore in college in order to fulfill my major requirements for equine classes and the equestrian riding team. That spring, I could keep an eye on the mares who were about to give birth. I was able to form bonds with all five of the mares, observe their behaviors, and keep an eye out for labor indications. May 18th is Tattoo's birthday, and his mother gave birth to him early that day. When Tattoo was just an hour old, drenched in water and just learning to stand, I got to meet him.

My job was to go into the stall and acclimate to people when he was standing and nursing! Later that day, my parents went to the barn to see Baby Tattoo. They still tell me that when they came into the barn, I was in the stall with Tattoo in my lap, sobbing uncontrollably. I fell deeply in love with someone I met. Oh no, both of them said. Although this foal was not mine, I knew deep down that I wanted him to be, as we all knew that owning and training my own horse was my dream.

Not too much later in the week, all the other mares gave birth to healthy babies, and my internship was nothing short of amazing. I worked with all of them, but whenever I had time to spend at the barn, I would always start my playtime with Tattoo. When he was three weeks old, I was even allowed to halter him and give him cuddles while he slept. Both his mother and little Tattoo had a great deal of faith in me. My trainers informed me that Tattoo had been sold when he was just six months old, and I should get ready to say goodbye to him and myself. I was in love with the babies, and Tattoo had grown to be my favorite, so those were the hardest two months of my life. Even at the outset, I had told myself that he was not mine. I therefore made the decision to terminate my internship—it had lasted longer than it ought to have anyway—and bid the nearly yearlings farewell.

Three months later, on Christmas morning, I was sitting around the tree with my family and someone handed me the last box. When I opened it, I saw a picture of Tattoo—a tiny model horse with spots—and it said that it was from "all of them." Knowing that I had said goodbye and that I would think of him made me cry so much. The words "Transfer Ownership" were written in bold letters at the bottom of the paper, and my parents pushed me to look underneath it. Then I saw the Appaloosa Horse Club words glittering at me, along with Tattoo's show name (Shining Royse) written in black. The tattoo was purchased by my parents more than six months prior! I was clueless. Having a young horse scared me because, as a college student, I felt unqualified to train horses because I had never done it before! To say that my sister and parents supported me and believed in me would be an understatement. I wept for many weeks! I sobbed and gave him so many hugs on Christmas Day when I went to the barn in his guise as his owner! I will admit that I still do. He is my dream come true, and we have gone to major shows where I never would have thought to compete with my own trained horse. I have had many "firsts" with him.

We gave him the name "Tattoo," which translates to "a rhythmic tapping or drumming," because, ever since I met him, the mere sight of him makes me want to drum. It was actually my mother who gave him that name.

Which hobbies does Tattoo enjoy the most?

Entering the fray! I have never seen a horse as noisy as he is. He's going to get into it if he can feel it with his nose. His other favorite activities are playing chase with me and racing the fence with his pasture neighbors. We play a game called cat and mouse where I have to run and hide behind the bales of hay. I jumped out and scared him, so he came running over there. Next, we take turns chasing each other around the hay. It's odd that even though he knows I'm going to jump out, he still comes sniffing around my hiding place. Everything is enjoyable and safe.

What kind of person is he?

utterly laid back, silly, and mischievous. Although I was raised to believe that young horses are impulsive and potentially dangerous, Tattoo is by far the coolest horse I have ever ridden or been around. He has been incredibly curious ever since he was a baby learning how to halter, so even when we are riding or leading, he still wants to explore everything. His body will be at ease, his ears will be alert to whatever has captured his interest, and his eyes will be wide. Surprisingly, he is not spooky at all—rather, he is just extremely curious and wants to touch and smell everything! Many people are surprised to learn how silly, fidgety, and awkward he is when I am standing next to him on the ground, but he changes entirely when I get in the saddle. When his quiet, inquisitive side emerges, he is focused, cool, and ready to work. His mind is racing so quickly that he doesn't have time for "rests"; he wants to be working and experimenting constantly. Even though we would be penalized for touching obstacles, he loves to smell, touch, and watch where his feet are going in trail riding, which is his favorite riding class!

Are there any other horses that Tattoo shares the spotlight with?

Yes, I have two other horses, but Tattoo is the most "popular" on the internet among those in our barn. Sunny Boy, my 28-year-old Tennessee Walking horse, was my first horse when I was 7 years old. At 26 years old, Skip Dancin' Tango was my first "real" showhorse. At fifteen, Tango taught me how to ride competitively. Tattoo is my first "home-raised" horse, but the two senior horses taught me so much. I have learned so much from these horses, and they have all helped me go farther than I ever could have imagined. I wouldn't be who I am now without them.

What unique aspect of tattoos would you like others to be aware of?

He has a strange obsession with tiny donkeys and horses! Not all horses are afraid, but Tattoo is. His nose wrinkles, eyes widen, and he nearly pulls me to the mini so he can try to make friends. He has a strange fixation! The small donkey that lives next door to him is named "Peter."

He's also had a horse girlfriend! He is normally calm and inquisitive at shows, not really interested in other horses until they approach too closely, but at one particular show, he became interested in a roan quarter horse mare. He was utterly enamored with her, despite the fact that she was only four years old and still learning about riding and her first performance. He wanted to follow her, touch her with his nose, and stand by her; I'm not sure if that was because of her age or something else. While we were waiting for classes, the owner found it amusing that they were standing together despite how strange it was. After calming her down, he focused solely on her and ignored the other horses. He was incredibly smitten with her!

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