Archive for the ‘horse, horses, shelters, free’ Category

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.

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LIFE WITHOUT HORSES

June 5, 2018

pasture

After I graduated from the University of Missouri, my first job was in Houston, TX, then Dallas. I traveled and rented an apartment shared with a roommate. There was no way I could have a horse. Later I lived overseas as a missionary behind the “Iron Curtain,” crammed into a house with 20 Poles in southern Poland, close to Czechoslovakia and traveling close to Russia. No chance for a horse there. Once back in the U.S., I worked in cities in Illinois, CA, MI, IA, OK, and OH, with no room for horses. During those horse-less days, I rode other people’s horses whenever I could, begging for rides, going on trail rides with horses that followed in a straight line.

When my husband and I finally settled in Ohio, and I began to write full time, the ache to once again own my own horse grew stronger and stronger. We live in the woods, but we don’t own pastureland, so how could we have a horse? I fully believe that God knew the answer all along. Our neighbors are Amish, of the most conservative order in America. Through circumstances we couldn’t have controlled, and tragedies we shared, we became good friends. When I asked them if we could keep a horse in their smallest pasture, which fed into a single stall in the barn, they said they’d need to talk to their bishop for permission, since mingling with the “English” isn’t encouraged. But the answer was yes! Now, all we had to do was find the right horse for the right (very low) price. (To be continued . . .)

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?

TOWACO

May 29, 2018

2 Towaco

Misty couldn’t live forever, but it was such a sad day when I lost that horse. People think horses are tough and hardy, and in many ways they are. But they’re also fragile. Their leg bones are slender for the weight they carry. And their stomachs are designed in such a way that they can’t throw up. People, dogs, cats, and most animals can vomit, a skill that comes in handy if something bad is swallowed. But horses can’t get rid of poison or toxic materials once swallowed. That’s what happened to Misty. Builders working around our barn left pipe insulation on the ground, and Misty ate some while I was at school. It was quick, final, and it took me a long time to get over the loss.

And yet, this kind, sweet Appaloosa and I found each other. Towaco at two years old did everything I asked him to do. He never got spooked or shied at anything. He was fun to ride bareback in the pasture, on trails, on back roads, everywhere. His ground manners couldn’t have been better. He liked to put his lovely head over my shoulder for a big neck hug. When I blew into his nostrils, he always blew back, honoring me with his horse greeting. Towaco was my companion through high school and college–until I left Missouri for Texas and my first real job. Then I had to admit it wasn’t fair to leave that wonderful horse without a rider, and it wasn’t fair to leave my parents with the feeding and cleaning duties. But Towaco still holds a place in my heart, and I’m a big Appy lover. Towaco is an ongoing horse character in one of my horse series. Can anybody remember which series and who owns Towaco?

 

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)

MEANWHILE, MISTY & I . . .

May 19, 2018

Misty tank

Meanwhile, Misty and I enjoyed every day together. As you can see, she kindly shared her water tank with me in the summer. Misty and I also swam in the pond down at the pasture, but this water trough didn’t have craw-daddies, which made it my favorite cooling-off spot.

In I Kings 4.26, it says that Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses. As for me, I was perfectly content with one, my Misty. And this is how my characters seem to feel about their horses too: Ellie in Backyard Horses; Sarah Coop (“Scoop”) in Horsefeathers! Jen in A Horse Named Bob; Dakota in Starlight Animal Rescue; Winnie in Winnie the Horse Gentler; and Young Winnie in Winnie: The Early Years.

 

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.