Archive for the ‘book’ Category

WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE (Signed: Frankie or “Tiny”/Helen)

August 11, 2018

I did warn you that I’d be sending pictures and writing about Helen and Frank and their WW2 experiences during the August sale of WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE. I believe these pictures were taken shortly after their marriage (which came quite shortly after their meeting in the Army hospital, Percy Jones) during WW2. Helen is in the nurses’ dorm in Battle Creek, MI, awaiting her overseas assignment. Frank is either in a staging area, waiting for a ship to England and beyond, or already in  Europe. I like to think that Helen is writing her first letter to her new husband, and he is reading it.

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CHEYENNE

June 8, 2018

Joe and I began looking for a horse we could afford. limiting our search to local trades and newspapers and word of mouth. We wanted a bombproof horse Joe and our kids could ride, but a horse that had enough spirit for me to really enjoy riding. We soon learned how hard it is now to find a horse that you can trust. I don’t know how many horses we investigated, but they were all nervous. Most had disappointed their owners, who had hoped to show them. The two Quarter Horses that were close to what we were looking for cost much more than we could afford.

Finally, one evening we drove to a farm to look at a horse of undetermined breeds. He was a sweetheart and calm enough for anyone to ride. I admit I feared he might be too calm for me. But I wanted a safe horse for our family. We decided to sleep on it. When we woke up, we agreed that it was a good horse and in our price range. We called the owners–the horse was sold. “But we have another horse you might want to look at,” said the owner. We sped to the farm, determined not to be outdone by another horse seeker. Running in the pasture was a beautiful Quarter Horse Paint. The mare was in a small herd, and they all charged in to be fed. Sure, she bucked at the other horses on that brisk morning–why not? And when I asked to ride her bareback and she wanted to run with me, the owner said she’d never been ridden bareback and the other horses were upsetting her. And besides, her ground manners were so friendly. And we didn’t want to lose out again.

We bought Cheyenne. There’s a reason I’ve included two pictures of her. Working with Cheyenne on the ground was a pleasure. She was a cuddler (picture on the left) and so sweet. She loved to be scratched and brushed, and she’d follow me anywhere. The picture on the right shows the “other Cheyenne,” the horse she turned into with a rider on her back. Can you see the tension? Her eyes weren’t actually glowing like they appear in that picture, but she’d get very wide-eyed. Right away I loved riding the spirited, ready-to-run Cheyenne, but she was far from bombproof and definitely not a kid’s or beginner’s horse. The kids could sit in a saddle while I led her. Joe, however, had no desire to ride the “wild” horse. Eventually, our oldest daughter could ride her, but I never relaxed when she did. I’ve always loved riding Cheyenne . . .except one day in early March, the first hint of Spring after a too-long winter. I should have lunged Cheyenne and taken it slowly, but I couldn’t stop myself. I hopped on her bareback. She wasn’t ready for me, and she bucked and reared until I slid off her backside in mid-buck. Her hooves connected, twice, and left me with two cracked ribs and a trip to the ER. Totally my fault, though Joe still hasn’t forgiven her.

ASH BILL

June 1, 2018

Bill

In her last years of high school, my sister, Maureen, decided she wanted a calm horse she could trust. I suggested we look for a Quarter Horse gelding, and we found this beautiful chestnut Quarter Horse in a stable near Kansas City. We didn’t know the people there, so we wanted to be cautious. I asked if I could ride “Ash Bill” to see how he handled. He was terrific, getting every lead, neck-reining, responding to the slightest signal. Just standing beside him, I could tell how sweet and calm he was.

We drove Bill home and helped him get used to Towaco and our barn. Everything went great–Ash Bill felt right at home. The next day we saddled him, and Maureen took her first ride on her new horse. He limped. Poor Bill was as sweet as could be, but he was lame in his left foreleg at the pastern (ankle). We couldn’t stand thinking of Bill in pain, so we called Dad, a medical doctor (for humans), to hurry home for lunch and to bring his doctor’s bag with him. Dad confirmed that the horse was lame and had likely been lame for a long time. He even found evidence of a syringe having been used on that leg, and he surmised that the owners had injected a dose of Bute (Butazolidin) to numb the problem right before our visit to the stable. The previous owner, of course, denied knowledge of a limp, though we later discovered the stable had a shady reputation. It wouldn’t have mattered. We’d already fallen in love with Bill and wouldn’t have given him back. Thanks to Dad, we helped Bill live with his infirmity. Heat rubs and wraps made the limp go away. And when that didn’t work, Dad had a backup supply of Bute on hand. Turns out that Butazolidin is one of the few horse medicines allowed on raceday.

Winnie’s mom (in Winnie the Horse Gentler) is said to have owned a favorite horse, a Quarter Horse. Anyone remember the name?

HORSE SHOWS

May 25, 2018

misty

Yep–Misty and I rode in some horseshows. But those shows weren’t like the seriously competitive horse shows I’ve seen recently. Anyone could enter, and in many classes, anyone could win, any horse could win. Misty and I chalked up quite a few ribbons and trophies, even though neither of us could have been considered “fancy.” We loved our hometown Hamilton Horse Show. And when we wanted to venture to nearby small towns, like Breckenridge, Gallatin, Kearny, Cameron, Chillicothe, Bethany, and others, Mr. Winslow, who ran the feed store, drove Misty and me in his big truck.

I don’t remember where this photo was taken or if I won a ribbon. But I doubt it. It looks like I’m riding bareback . . . .

CINDY SUE

May 22, 2018

whole Cindy Sue and MCindy Sue and Maureen (2)

Maureen found her perfect horse in Cindy Sue–tall, skinny, flaxen mane and tail, high-stepping American Saddlebred, 5-gaited (walk (prance), trot, canter, rack, and stepping pace). Cindy was a show horse, and Maureen did win some ribbons with her. That horse (and my sister) deserved ribbons–both beautiful.

But Cindy wasn’t easy to handle. She was high-strung and frequently nervous. Several times she jumped our fence. We built up another rung, but that didn’t stop her completely. Cindy behaved better in a show ring than she did on fun rides in the pasture or on dirt roads and trails. Rabbits, cars, and sudden movements frightened her, and she’d shy. Still, she was a pleasure to look at, one of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen.

But she was no Misty. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16.7)

LANCER

May 16, 2018

lancer (3)

My sister, Maureen, continued her quest for the perfect tall, skinny horse. Instead of merely asking around or checking local want ads and for sale items, we ventured to a couple of stables. Maureen took one look at the tall, skinny American Saddle Horse in this picture, and “Lancer” joined our family. Lancer was a fine-looking horse, all right. He even went forward when asked, unlike her previous mount, Butch. Maureen didn’t want to ride him bareback, but loved transitioning to English. We both loved riding Lancer English, with the lighter saddle, the double reins, jodhpurs, English riding boots, even a bowler hat.

Still, something was missing, and I think I felt it right away. Lancer was a good horse, but not a friend, not like Sugar and Misty. He was hard to catch and didn’t seem to enjoy rides on our country roads. I’m not sure how long Lancer lasted. I don’t think he was high-stepping enough for Maureen. She still loved horses, but she had lots of other interests too. And by this time, she was in high school and well on her way to becoming homecoming queen. She knew her days were numbered for acquiring the horse of her dreams–tall, skinny, high-stepping, 3-gaited, or maybe 5-gaited, flaxen mane and tail. And so the search went on . . . .

I’ve written about Lancer in several books, though always with a different name. He reminds me of Bold Beauty in the original Winnie series. If any readers can think of “fancy” horses in my other horse books, I’d love for you to refresh my memory.

BUTCH

May 11, 2018

Butch

While I continued to enjoy Misty, my “backyard horse” and bestest friend, my older sister, Maureen, began to dream of fancier horses. At first, she just wanted a “tall, skinny” horse. And eventually, Butch came into our lives, thanks to a previous owner, who seemed happy to give the gelding a new home for a token amount of money. Up to this point, every horse we’d encountered had been good-natured and bomb-proof. So we weren’t at all surprised when Butch unloaded at our house and backed down from the truck with no problem.

I had to admit Butch was a handsome horse. Not only that, but he seemed friendly and calm. He led easily to the barn, where he seemed to feel right at home. He didn’t bite or buck or rear. We could not wait to ride him.

And then Maureen rode him. I can still see my sister sitting tall in the saddle on a sunny afternoon, urging Butch to walk up our dirt road. Only Butch had his own ideas. He walked backward. And backward. Maureen stopped and started over. Butch walked backward. When urged on, he trotted backward.

That horse never walked forward–not one step, not with a rider on his back. We didn’t have Butch for long. In fact, I have to admit that this picture isn’t actually our Butch, though the resemblance is nearly perfect. Neither Maureen nor I could come up with a single picture of Butch. I suppose Maureen wasn’t in a picture-taking mood, and I was laughing too hard to take a good one.

I haven’t yet started writing the fourth book in the new series, Winnie the Horse Gentler: The Early Years. But I’m planning on giving Winnie a problem horse that only wants to go backward. Should be interesting to see how she handles the problem. . . .

BEST (HORSE) FRIEND EVER

May 8, 2018

My Misty (2)

Although Misty doesn’t look his best here, he was always his best. And he looks a lot better than this Dandi anyway, if you ask me. I remember the day Dad took this picture. I’d rushed home from school to see Misty. As usual, my friend met me at the fence and put his head in my lap for a snuggle and a good scratching. Later, I’m sure I brushed that mud from his winter coat and went for a ride, bareback. We likely stayed out until supper. We would have stayed out longer if it hadn’t been for that annoying activity called homework.

In the Winnie the Horse Gentler: The Early Years series, Winnie forms a deep friendship with a big ol’ plow horse named Chief. Winnie often climbs the top rung of the fence so Chief will join her and put his head in her lap for a snuggle and a good scratch. Sound familiar?

I hope I never took Misty for granted. I remember being grateful for the gift of Misty’s friendship. But I didn’t know then that all good gifts come from God. And it was only later that I came to understand friendship with God through Christ. I’m still thankful for Misty. And now I’m not only thankful, but I know the One I’m thanking. I know Who deserves my thanks.

MISTY

May 3, 2018

Misty (2)

After the loss of my first horse, I was afraid I’d never find as good a friend as Sugar. I was so wrong. This amazing black gelding came into my life: MISTY.

My Misty was the sweetest, most wonderful horse a kid could have. We were never sure of his breed, but I always considered him a Morgan. Misty had a Morgan’s calm, trustworthy nature and good sense. We bonded instantly. I could ride him bareback the first day, barely signaling turns and gaits, as if he could read my mind. In the mornings, I’d open my window, and Misty would stick in his beautiful head to say hello. I could hardly wait until school was over so I could see my friend again.

4-H Horsemanship came to town, and Misty was the perfect horse to teach me the tricks of the trade. He was a natural, getting the right lead before I even knew what that meant (leading with the inside leg at a canter). He rode as well with an English saddle as he did with western gear, so I was able to learn both.

In the first book of the new series, Horse Gentler in Training, from Winnie the Horse Gentler: The Early Years,  young Winnie teaches a horse o say yes and no.  I really did teach my horse to say yes and no, much as Winnie teaches Royal Princess in this book. Misty proved over and over that a horse can definitely be a kid’s best friend.

 

ANGEL & ROCKET

April 30, 2018

Angel and Rocket

The bottom picture shows Angel and Rocket in our pasture. Some of our horses let us ride them into the pond, and some did not. We set up jumps in the back pasture, and there was a very short trail  that circled the pond behind the trees. I learned to drive our old station wagon on the long, dirt lane that led from the gravel road down to the pasture gate. Far too young to drive on the road, I’d steer down the lane (under the supervision of my dad), then back up the long lane when done riding. To this day, I’m better driving backward than forward.

The top picture shows the pen, or the fenced-in yard beside our house. You can see how close the house is to the fence. Farther to the left was my room. At one time, the outside wall of my bedroom formed one side of the pen. If I opened my window, I could hop out and join the horses . . . or they could stick in their heads. In the bottom right corner of the first picture you can see the rim of a round, metal horse’s trough. On hot summer days after a ride, that trough became my tiny swimming pool. My horse drank while I cooled off.

Two of the books in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series feature foals. In Gift Horse, Winnie helps with the difficult birth of a foal. Then we see more of that foal in Friendly Foal. I was, of course, remembering Rocket and Angel.