Posts Tagged ‘horses’

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.

 

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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.

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.

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.

HORSES: MORE THAN JUST RIDING

March 6, 2018

I’d love to hear from horselovers. What do you like best about horses? You’re probably convinced by now that I don’t just write about horses, but I actually ride them and always have. I’ve posted pictures with our granddaughters riding too (which is such a grandma-thing to do). But there’s a lot more to horses than riding them. On the right, Granddaughter Ellie is grooming a horse that isn’t even ours. I’ve always loved time spent on the ground with a horse as much as time spent on the horse’s back. It’s grooming a horse and talking to him that develop the bond. The smell of a horse is the best scent God invented. Simply being with a horse can soothe and calm me.

In the other picture, Ellie is petting a colt that isn’t ours. I can’t count the number of times we’ve driven by horses in a field, only to back up, park precariously on the side of the road, pile out of the car, and see if we can get the horses to come over to us. To this day, every time we pass a horse, or an Amish horse and buggy pass us, we all yell, “I will ride it!” because that’s what Ellie started saying when she was 3.

 

HORSES & GRANDKIDS

March 1, 2018

I love that our granddaughters love horses! Can’t imagine where that interest came from . . . .  The two wonderful granddaughters not pictures here have yet to discover the joys of riding, though I’ve promised our almost-two-year-old, Maddie, that she’ll get that first ride this summer (and about time, I’d say!). Harper, barely 2 months old, will have to wait a couple of months, I suppose.

On the left is Cassie, hugging the saddle horn and smiling her joy. On the right is Ellie, riding solo and proud of it. (By the way, I had to post these pictures because the girls found out I’d posted someone else’s granddaughter earlier.)

HORSE-LOVING, READING, & WRITING

February 26, 2018

Cowgirl

Before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t my granddaughter, but a horse-loving reader (like my granddaughters). Her teacher asked students to dress up as their favorite character from a book, and I’m honored to say that this student chose Ellie from my BACKYARD HORSES series. In case you don’t know what a “backyard horse” is, it’s what we called horses that weren’t fancy, would never be show horses, and didn’t belong in a stable. We kept our horses in a pasture, but we also had a small pen and barn in our yard.

A horse book, a pink cowgirl hat, boots, and a stuffed horse–what could be better than that? Answer: All the similarities between this cowgirl, Helen, and my oldest granddaughter, the “star” of the BACKYARD HORSES series. Although we call her “Ellie,” our granddaughter’s real name is “Helen,” named after her great-grandmother, Helen Daley (co-star of WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE). Both gals love horses, reading, and writing. It’s amazing how many letters and emails I get from guys and gals who love these three things: horses, reading, and writing. As it happens, I’ve always loved horses, reading, and writing too!