Friday, June 20, 2008

Horses I Have Known

Just a slight diversion from talking about the island. I had a life before I moved here, ya know!

As a kid, in fact all of my life, I have had a fascination with horses. Couldn't get enough. And yet circumstances in my life kept me away from them. Until my Dad died. I was 34 at the time and it slapped me hard with a reality check that we don't live forever. I decided then that if I wanted a horse, now was the time. I wasn't getting any younger. So I bought my first horse, knowing nothing about taking care of them. Or even what a "good" horse was. It took B about 6 months of being left behind because I was always at the stable before the bug got him too. We shared our fascination for horses until 1996, when the last one we owned was sold.

These were the first two horses we bought. (don't laugh at how geeky I look in these pictures!)

The one on the left, the palomino, was mine. She was a grade horse (no papers) but I suspect she had a lot of Tennessee Walker in her. She was a gaited horse, meaning there was no bounce when she trotted. Sometimes they are referred to as a shuffle foot.

The pinto/paint was B's. Notice his neck. He was a BIG horse. At the time of this picture he had only been a gelding for about 6 months. His previous owner had used him as a stallion. She used to joke that he was so mellow, she had to put a flake of hay on the mare's back to get him interested! And he truly was a gentle giant. Even little kids were able to ride him...sometimes three at a time!

I bought this next horse at a sale barn. He was trained within an inch of his life and a dream to ride. Unfortunately, several days after I brought him back to the barn where I was boarding, I discovered he had laminitis. This is a very serious condition and made him useless. Back to the barn he went and I got my money back. Live and learn.

Although an interesting story of how we came to find and buy her (I think!), I won't bore you with the details of this next horse. Does she remind you an any horse you have seen so far?

Yup, she is one of B's horses' daughters! Of course we had to buy her immediately! Don't let her looks fool you. She did not inherit her father's personality. She was half Arabian and showed that hot blood way too often. But we loved her and forgave her a lot of transgressions.

Here's a side by side with his daugher that shows just how big B's horse was. He was almost draft horse proportions!

Another deciding factor when we purchased Babe, was that she was trained to drive. I had just taken some lessons and was anxious to get started. She was very good in the traces, unless she was in heat. Then she would try to kick the crap out of you to get loose. Once I figured out why she was doing this, I just left her alone during this stressful time of the month.

The driving bug really hit me for awhile. I even had a matched set of miniature horses and a buckboard. We had a lot of fun in this thing!

I was all over the place with my interest in various horse related activities. I did a little gaming and that bug bit hard too! Naturally, I had to go buy a horse trained specifically for that activity! His name was Rocket and he sure lived up to that name! He was a sweet horse and had very good ground manners. (meaning he never stepped on your toes and did as he was told!) But get in the saddle and he fought you for control every step of the way. All he wanted to do was run.

My speciality, well, more correctly Rocket's, was pole weaving. Six poles are lined up and you are timed as you race in and out of them. Sounds easier than it is. If you don't have a horse that can execute flying lead changes, you are not going to do well. Rocket did well. Basically all I had to do was hang on and pretend I was steering!

Here we are in action.

I only tried this next event a few times. I was never able to get a good time because too many seconds got added to our time. Rocket also liked to jump over things and he treated this bar, that was about a foot off the ground, like it was a hunter/jumper obstacle. Notice the distance he travels in the air also. We needed to stay lower to the ground and not so much time flying in order to get a good time. He loved it though.

Competing at the Minnesota State Fair.

As time went on, we bought our own farm and moved the horses there with us. I finally realized the stupidity of running a horse at a cement or wooden wall at full speed, expecting it to be able to stop each time. We moved on to the more sedate, but infinitely more fun, activity of trail riding. So yet another horse for that!

This is Peanuts Jack, grandson of a very famous Quarter Horse in those days, Two Eyed Jack. What a beauty. I loved this guy more than any other horse I owned. And there were a few. I haven't shown you all the different horses I owned, just the highlights.

Peanuts was to be the last horse I owned. Creeping age and injuries all transpired to finally make me have to give up riding. I still miss it terribly and would give about anything to be able to ride again. Sigh.


Steve Cotton said...

A great trip down memory lane. And I learned something new this morning -- about horses and about Wayne. Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You really loved your horses. You have some great photos of you and the horses in action. I really like the one that caught you in air jumping.

Nancy said...

I love to read about your life before Isla. I can understand why you still miss them. Kinda like me and my vegetable garden, I bet.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a big secret past life you've been hiding from us! Beautiful horses, I've only ever ridden the ponies in a circle at the circus when I was a kid.

P.S. Sweet mustache. Tee hee!

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I bought my first horse at 35. My husband asked me why didn't I just feed them (yes, more than one) twenty dollar bills and just cut out the middleman? My youngest daughter was Northern California Western Pleasure Champion when she was 12 (riding someone else's horse). I just rode and paid the bills. I dream about moving out to the country and getting a POA and learning to drive.
I really enjoyed this post and the trip down memory lane. I am very impressed.

wayne said...

steve: i'm just full of mysteries!

jackie: i love that pic too. it was taken by my sister-in-law

nancy: you are so right! I really miss my vegetable garden too, but I can always buy more vegetables. Horses, I'm afraid, are gone forever.

heather: have you been talking to steve?? and i told you not to laugh!

theresa: congrats on making that decision as an adult. I'm sure you had dreamed of the day for a long time before it happened. That's some hard work and hard money put into making your daughter champion. I haven't heard anybody mention a POA for years! If you ever get that horse, I'd be happy to teach you to drive. It is more fun than you can imagine!

Michele in Playa said...

I got my first horse, actually a Welsh Pony at the age of five. I had begged and begged for two years and finally my parents gave in. We had plenty of property so one horse quickly grew to three. I spent my whole adolescense in the barns. I killed me to give them up when I left for college.
We are looking into having horses here for our kids and have several good stabling and training options very close by. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Buy My Stuff! said...
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Anonymous said...

Loved the pics and story of your past career with horses. Did you get your laminitis problem horse at Simon's Sale's by any chance? Back in the late '60's a friend and I spent lots of time at sales barns and auctions dreaming of horses. I got my first horse the year I started college, had her for over 30 years, and had her two daughters too, until they had to be put down. I still love being around horses, but glad I no longer have hay hauling and barn cleaning during Minnesota winters.

wayne said...

michelle: i'm amazed at how many bloggers here have or had connections to horses! I think there is a stable near Cancun too, on the way to the airport.

anon: OMG! What a small world this is! It was from one of the Simon brothers indeed. Not the one with the sales barn in Cannon Falls though. The other one who raises rodeo stock near Lakeville. He was very gracious about taking the horse back. He offered me anything else I wanted but I insisted on my money.

Anonymous said...

The Lakeville sales barn was the one we went to also. My girlfriend and I had kind of a crush on the younger dark haired brother. Being a city girl at that time, I boarded my horse at Rolling Hills Stables west of Lakeville which was renamed Wagon Wheel Stables when they had to relocate from their other old location on Hwy 13. That whole area is housing developments now. Kind of sad, I had such good times riding on the wooded trails and open fields there.

Babs said...

Come on over to San MIguel - It IS BIG horse country. Have lots of friends with horses and you can just saunter by the creeks and hills and enjoy the outdoors.
My only connection to horses, well there are two, was paying for one for my youngest daughter (but not for long) and then riding the biggest damn horse to the butterfly sanctuaries last year on a Mexican wooden saddle. The whole time I was looking at the butterflies, I was thinking of the ride back on that wood saddle. Wow, it was painful. Never again para me.........

mexpat said...

Your horse addiction is strikingly similar to my husband's diving equipment addiction... although I have to say I think the horse route might be slightly more expensive! :)

My grandfather was a cattle farmer, so the closest I ever came to owning a horse was riding the cowboy's horses once all the cows were in the corral. It was fun then, but I'm a little scared of them as an adult.

lisaloveloca said...

I swear I am totally in LOVE with you now!! You are the hottest MN cowboy I've ever known! And you competed at THE FAIR!! OMG OMG OMG OMG- too cool for school! This post made me a little home sick! The State Fair, the POLE BARN... *snif* but then again ocean, sun, sand, palm trees-not to shabby!!