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Oatis the miniature horse stands tall in hearts of kids at Lake Oswego Hunt
An introduction to Oatis the horse, beloved mascot of Lake Oswego Hunt, is unforgettable.
As you walk down the long row of stalls in the horse barn you see many magnificent steeds towering above the gates, and they are awesome and beautiful.
Then you get to Oatis's stall and your eyes swoop downward. Yes, on first look the little buckskin is not impressive. In the horse world the 8-year-old Oatis is a featherweight at 9 hands tall and weighing under 300 pounds. Just a puny pony.
But then he walks forward to greet you and have his head scratched. You immediately realize the magnitude of Oatis: Small in size, great in impact and the ultimate in equine charm.
'Everyone falls in love with Oatis when they see him,' said Katie Purdy, general manager for Lake Oswego Hunt. 'He's a great little guy. We use him in our camps, and he's always the first horse that kids approach. He just wants to nuzzle up to you. A lot of horses aren't as friendly as Oatis.
'He's become our mascot. His size is not very intimidating and you can approach him. Oatis has a really sparkling personality. The little kids can ride him. He's a great introduction to riding.'
Oatis is a public relations natural. With his personality and small size he can even be taken into buildings to participate in various functions.
Oatis does even better in parades. Everyone likes to ooh, aah, smile and clap for the little horse, and he recently won the trophy for best pet in the Fourth of July parade in Lake Oswego. Ribbons for past accomplishments hang on his stall.
When it comes to sociability, Oatis is tops.
'He hangs out with the other horses,' Purdy said. 'The Tennessee Walker is 17.2 hands large and Oatis is really good friends with him. Oatis gets a big horse mentality. He chases the Tennessee Walker around. Oatis doesn't seem to notice he's the smallest horse here.'
As for his care, mostly it involves love.
'He doesn't eat a lot,' Purdy noted. 'Just two flakes of hay and a handful of grain a day.'
Oatis seems to be the Jimmy Stewart of horses. Today he lives a wonderful life. But only a couple years ago his life was horrible.
It was Kelly Smith, hunter-jumper trainer for LOH, who heard about Oatis from a friend who bought him as a reclamation project. He was a sad little fellow, indeed.
'He was in the kill pen at the Woodburn Auction,' Purdy said. 'He was covered in feces, he had been abused, he was malnourished, his hooves were not trimmed.'
The glue factory seemed to be in Oatis's immediate future. But he had a savior in Smith, who thought Oatis would be the right horse for her little girl and traded another horse for him. When Smith came to Lake Oswego Hunt she donated Oatis. The rest is happy history.
The importance of being Oatis is very apparent to the little girls who are riding this summer at LOH:
'He has a really good trot.'
'My favorite thing about him is that he's cute.'
'I painted him and braided his mane and tail and I give him baths. He's very tolerant.'
'He likes to be scratched. He lies on his back and he's so mellow.'
'When he steps on my foot it doesn't hurt.'
'He's just an all-around good pony. A really, really good pony.'
Another thing about Oatis - the longer you know him the larger he gets.
'His personality is something that's different,' Purdy said. 'Oatis becomes your best friend. He just trusts you.'