Standardbred - Appaloosa cross


Hakan and Tamara Atkinson

Mudgegonga Endurance Ride, January 2007

Photo: Wendy Bootle

Photo: Wendy Bootle

I first met my little darling as a 2 year old at the agistment property I had my other horses at. I didn't have much to do with him as he was constantly yarded, and bought out once per week to be brushed. 

Then I started an agistment business, and Hakan and his family came over. For the next 5 years I was feeding him twice a day, and for the last 2 years I was forever trying to get near him. I couldn't even touch him, and he would only go to his food once I had left his yard. 

Hakan was high spirited, and this did not match with his then quick tempered owner. As a result, Hakan suffered physically, and mentally, as he was victim to numerous beatings with PVC pipe, from the beginning as a foal. He was very lightly broken in as a 3.5 yr old. Basically used to the saddle and bridle, and a rider for around 4 weeks. That is the only time he left his yard. He still had the same halter on his head as he had as a 2 yr old, just lengthened when neccesary. 

He was 7 years old, and I needed an endurance horse. Even though he had not done a thing, I could see he was an athlete, and of course he would have no leg injuries, but he had spots, so I had to get over that one. I approached the owner to see if he would sell. This horse was only worth what you could get at the doggers, as he had been mishandled so much. The owner wanted $1500!!! I couldn't believe it. As he was a 'friend', I offered a 3rd of that, on the provisor I could fix him, and break him in. Agreed. Still too much, but what do you do? I felt so sorry for this wild thing. Everyone thought I was mad, and even now, some are afraid to go near him, let alone get on him. 

The first day I took off his halter, put him in a bigger yard, then took up to 4 hours a day trying to catch him. Time to break him in. I didn't even attempt it. I gave him to a friend, who broke in horses. He tried all the natural methods, as I told him what Hakan had been through. After 6 months, Hakan was still showing all the whites of his eyes. My friend didn't want to give in, as he could see there was potential somewhere. A family friend up there runs rodeo. This was the last option before giving up, handing him back to his certain death. They bucked him once, and the change was miraculous! Finally his eyes came back to normal, and he was willing to listen. 

Two months later, I received a totally different horse. This one had the lightest mouth, had a lovely loping canter, no shying, and tried to please. It still took hours to catch him sometimes, so I knew the spark was still there.

I have had him now for 7 years. We have done thousands of kms now, and our relationship is definitely give and take. Once a year he reminds me of how bad he was to catch, and he will only 'allow' me to put a halter on him when he puts his head down to accept it. Any other time he will take off.

He has tried to save me in a fall down the side of a cliff (another story), so I know he sort of likes me. I can't say love. I don't think he would ever love a human being.

Me doing endurance is as much for him as it is for me. it is my ultimate goal, to do the Tom Quilty, but only to do it on him, and show the sceptics how good he is, especially his previous owner. 

Hakan is Indian for firey. He is defintely that, with a big heart to match. It saddens me that this horse that has such a big heart, and will go the extra mile, could have been just another number at the doggers.

Tamara Atkinson, Victoria


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