Posts Tagged ‘Hamilton’

SUGAR THE SUPER HORSE

April 24, 2018

Bareback on Sugar

I want to pay a final tribute to my first horse, Sugar. She put up with me when I was just beginning to ride and to understand horses. She taught me about friendship and loyalty, and I credit her with my lifelong love of horses. Sugar is the Pinto I write about in the first chapter of Horse Dreams, the first book in the Backyard Horses series, the shaggy mare that becomes a best friend. She probably made an appearance or two in the Winnie the Horse Gentler and Horsefeathers! series, but I’d have to look that one up. (Or, if any of my wonderful readers would like to inform me, that would be great. Many of my horse-loving readers know the details of those books better than I do!)

I remember sitting by Sugar’s side on that last day. Her chest barely moved, and I watched it to make sure it did. Her breath was raspy, but she didn’t seem to be in pain. I stayed out in the pen with her well after dark, missing supper, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I returned to the house and curled up on the couch. I pretended to be asleep, but minutes later I heard my sister ask Mom, “Should we wake her up?” And Mom answered, “No. It will keep.” And I knew Sugar was gone.

But not completely. That night I broke out a fresh Big Chief tablet and started writing down everything Sugar and I had ever done together–the morning rides before school, the “explores” after school, the races with Maureen and Rocket, the Cowboys and Indians games with neighbors and cousins. When I ran out of stories, I made up more. I created “Sugar the Wonder Horse,” followed by the sequel, “Sugar the Super Horse.” So maybe that first horse taught me even more than I thought.

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ANGEL?

April 19, 2018

Angel and Dandi

We loved our “Angel” and delighted in every new sign of growth. Our colt liked to be brushed. This picture is of our pasture, where Angel loved running with Rocket. He wasn’t easy to catch, and he did not like to be led. When he grew big enough, we tried to teach him to pull a little cart, but he kicked it to pieces. Still, we loved him. I didn’t know then what I know now, and I let him get away with too many bad habits. I remember when my two great-aunts came to visit from Illinois. I couldn’t wait to show off my sweet Angel. They came with me to the pasture and watched as I expertly caught little Angel. Angel, probably expecting to be fed, even allowed me to lead him up to them. I gave him a hug and let him nuzzle my face as I pressed my cheek into his. He bit me. I put my hand to my cheek to make sure it wasn’t bleeding, but that smile never left my face. The aunts never knew. There was not an ounce of bravery in me. I was just too embarrassed to admit the Angel bit me. Take a look at Angel’s ears, flat back. That’s a sign of anger, one I’ve used a lot in Backyard Horses and the Winnie books.

A COLT IS BORN!

April 16, 2018

Angel MMPAngel birth

On the day Rocket had her foal, my sister, Maureen, (in the foreground) and I (the braided wonder on the other end) were granted special permission to stay home from school. Sarah, my best friend, (short hair, middle) took the bus to our house after school to witness the big event. We’d had many dogs give birth. Midge the kinda-terrier graced us with 9 puppies every year, puppies that proved harder and harder to give away. But Rocket’s foal was our first. The birth seemed miraculous to me then, and I’m convinced to this day that all births are miracles. Within minutes, the colt was standing on wobbly legs, his curly tail twitching. After hours of rejecting each other’s names for the nameless foal, we settled on Angel. I was thinking of Angel when I wrote Gift Horse and Friendly Foal in the Winnie the Horse Gentler original series.

HORSE PALS?

April 13, 2018

Sug Rocket Dan Mo

This foursome–Dandi, Sugar, Rocket, and Maureen–made some fearsome rides in Hamilton, Missouri. Note the sleepy horses and the flashy dressers in their striped shirts, cardigans, and barrettes? We usually rode bareback, though our parents insisted we use bridles (at least when we rode outside the pasture). Hamilton offered us country dirt roads and rarely a car to get in our way.

Maureen and I got along very well for sisters, and you might assume the same could be said of Rocket and Sugar. You would be wrong. Sugar owned us before Rocket came along, and she never let any of us forget that. Poor Rocket took a couple of kicks from Sugar before realizing who was boss. When Sugar died (more on that sad day in the next blog), she lay on the ground while the vet came and we did all we could as Rocket looked on. Then miraculously, Sugar got to her feet. Ears flat back, she walked up to Rocket and kicked her. One last time.

ROCKET HORSE

April 10, 2018

Rocket

Once I took over Sugar the Pinto, my big sister, Maureen, lobbied my parents to get another horse so we could ride together. They found a gentle Buckskin mare, and Maureen named her Rocket, though I don’t remember speed as one of her best qualities. What I do remember is how hard she was to catch when she was in the pasture. After a while, we discovered that we’d have better luck catching her if we played “hard to get” ourselves. One of us would act as if she were headed for Sugar, or for an invisible horse if Sugar wasn’t around. Only when we got close enough, would we gently reach for her halter. I used this little “trick” in several Winnie the Horse Gentler books and in the first book of Backyard Horses. That reminds me that I just might use it in Book 3 of the upcoming prequel series: Winnie: The Early Years.

In this photo, Rocket is eating out of her food box in our backyard pen. And it looks like Maureen needs to get out the brushes. Often, we’d bring along the transistor radio and tune to Kansas City’s WHB station to listen to the Top Forty songs of the week while we groomed our Top Two horses.

My Best Friend–SUGAR

April 6, 2018

Bareback on Sugar

Good ol’ Sugar was my best friend at this age. I told the Pinto everything. She listened to my dreams of becoming a horse trainer (like Winnie the Horse Gentler). She didn’t mind if I griped about a bad day at school or too much homework. She always made me feel like she’d been waiting for me to get home and ride her. Now that’s friendship. If you were a horse, would you want people to sit on your back and tell you where to go? If you were as big as a horse, would you even let a little person sit on you? I think not.

Top Five Lessons I learned from Sugar:  1) Sometimes, the best thing a friend can do is listen. 2) It’s a great gift to let people believe you’re really glad to see them . . . even if you’re not. 3) Love can be sacrificial–like carrying someone to a place she’d like to go. 4) Take the time to really get to know a friend. And be loyal. 5) When you fall off, get right back on. Bonus lesson: God created an amazing animal in the horse. Imagine coming up with a design for such a beautiful creature, one that’s soft, but strong, giving and kind, with a nicker and neigh, two of the best sounds on earth, and the best smell in the entire world! It will be awesome to see Sugar again in heaven.

SUGAR–HORSE #1

April 3, 2018

sugar-3

Yep–this is me at 3 years old, riding Sugar, my first horse, a Pinto of unknown origins. To those who know me, it’s no secret that I like horses. I mean, I love horses and always have. I love to ride. But I also love to simply brush or be with a horse, to feel that fuzzy winter coat, or the sleek summer sheen. I love the smell of horse. Seriously, someone should bottle that scent and sell it as perfume. And I love to write about horses.

Right now I’m working on writing a prequel series to Winnie the Horse Gentler. Writing about this younger character, who understands (and feels understood by) horses, keeps bringing up my own early horse memories. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of those and introducing you to the horses I’ve loved. Sugar was the nearly perfect first, a bomb-proof horse, just above 14.2 hands, not a pony. My big sister, Maureen, rode her first, until I took over. I remember being confined to ride in our little pen by the house and how awesome it was when I got the freedom to ride Sugar up and down our road, then around the block, then all over Hamilton, Missouri. I got stepped on, and I fell off–always my fault. Once, near Main Street, she slipped on the ice, and I fell directly under her. Sugar stopped and stood still, with me huddled between all four hooves. Then we waited until somebody gave me a lift back up. You never forget your first.

SALE: WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE– $2.99 for 2 weeks, the e-book everywhere

February 1, 2018

with-love

This is the day I’ve been building up to in these posts. Thanks for sticking with me this far. For the 2 weeks of the sale, I’ll be posting more war photos and hoping you’re not tired of me. . . or of my parents’ story.

WITH LOVE…WHATEVER YOUR BAGGAGE

January 16, 2018

baggage (2)

I love the smile on Lt. Helen Eberhart’s face here. This photo doesn’t give her location, but I’m guessing someone snapped the picture early in her WW2 service as an Army nurse in England and France. Look at those un-Army shoes, which soldiers weren’t to wear, and this must have been one of the few times she wore her helmet (She hated all Army “hats.”). And yet . . . look at that smile.

HAPPY (HORSEY) NEW YEAR!

January 1, 2018

dandis-christmas-card_edited.jpg

The pretty one in this photo is Angel, obviously. He was the first colt born to one of our mares, Rocket (not pictured). Angel did not like the big red bow we stuck on his forehead. Shortly after this photo was taken, our sweet “Angel” turned and bit me. Ah, memories…. But I learned a lot about horses as we grew together.

The first day of a New Year makes me think of God’s amazing forgiveness, a grace offered to us through Jesus Christ. We get a fresh start, a clean slate, something no one else can give us. I pray that 2018 will draw us closer to God, to family and friends. Resolutions–they can help or depress me. My amazing husband gives me a gift every year, something I’ve never heard any other person willing to do. He lets me give him 5 things I’d like him to change about himself. Can you believe that? He’s such a good guy that over the years, he’s stopped chewing gum (like a 12 year old) in my presence; refrained from shutting down my backseat driving; started cheering for Mizzou, the Cards, and the Chiefs. I hate to admit it, but I’m running out of resolutions for him.

Anyone feel like sharing New Year’s Resolutions, past or present??