Archive for December, 2001
A woman approached me during a natural horsemanship clinic. She told me that she was looking for a fox trotter to purchase. Lynne said that she was a “green rider”, and had taken 6 lessons. She had an appointment to visit a gaited horse of a lot more excitable bloodlines (Paso Fino). I grimaced inside and hoped she would live thru it. She called me with the news that she barely lived thru it. Thank goodness she didn’t ride the horse. So in over a period of time, I showed Lynne the Missouri Fox Trotter web sales web sites and she arranged to visit 4 horses in southern Missouri. On Tuesday, off we went on our 15 hour day.
When we arrived at the Bob and Jerri Delcour’s ranch, it was our first meeting with Amazing Bob. Bob, trying to size up my friend, asked her what kind of rider was she and what kind of horse did she want. She replied that she needed a horse that would take care of her and that she is a “green rider”. Bob asked her what color she wanted. Lynne met that challenge well and replied, “Color doesn’t matter, only a horse that will take care of me does!” Even though I wasn’t looking for a horse, Bob asked me what kind of rider I was. I told him that I have fox trotters and ride often.
After more friendly chatting, Bob brought out 3 horses that represented a spectrum. Five year old Brownie was a horse that has to be thumped or spurred to move faster than a walk. Flashy was a horse that was just a little over a green rider’s ability. Yeller was Lynne’s horse from the beginning! He was just right!
Bob surprised us and took us out on a real trail ride! I got to ride Brownie. It was a horrible experience. I had to thump AT LENGTH on the Brownie’s rear with a crop to get him to speed up to a fast walk. Occasionally, I got up to a fast walk! I didn’t have Bob shorten my stirrups, so I was riding in the saddle “bareback”. I kept squeezing my entire lower body to get this horse to go, while thumping. I started getting sore about a half-mile out. This was embarrassing. I whined at Bob. I whined at Lynne. Shoot, they were having a great time with their horses! They just smiled and rode on. Lynne was falling in love with Yeller.
My horse passed all the scary things without batting an eyelash. We walked over railroad tracks. Diesel trucks went roaring by us in the ditch by the side of the road. We stepped on road trash. We passed by a culvert. We even came upon a bulldozer that was operating and scooping dirt very close to the road where we were riding. My horse never missed a step. He never even looked at all this potential horse-eating monsters. The other horses occasionally trotted off and left us. My horse didn’t care. Later, I tried to get my horse to run back to the barn. That’s where I got the 7 fast steps, then right down to our favorite walk.
When we got back to the barn, I asked out loud, “Why would Bob put me on a horse like this?” KABOOM! A lightning bolt flashed through my head!
I have a friend who fell off her horse and hit her head on a railroad tie. She got a concussion. About 8 years before that, she was in a car wreck and had brain damage…the kind that you can slowly recover from. When she fell off her horse and hit her head, she was overcome by overwhelming fear that she would have to go through brain damage again. Since her accident, she was unable to ride her horse faster than a walk.
Her horse was around 35 years old and died about 2 years ago. For two years, she has been telling our lunch crowd at work that she needs a young horse that will only walk. She was serious. I chortled inside at the thought of a young horse that would only walk. In your dreams!
NOW KABOOM! I was sitting on Roberta’s horse. I had discovered the Young-Horse-that-Will-Only-Walk! He was real after all! It was eleven days before Christmas!
When I came back to work the next day I told Roberta that I had found her horse. I described my trail ride. Roberta clapped her hand to her mouth and said, “Lately, I’ve been praying hard for my horse to be found!” Roberta had 3 days to come up with the money. She did it. The other obstacle that she overcame was getting her husband’s permission to buy a horse! This is even more amazing considering that it’s ten days till Christmas!
Roberta also works with a church group of young troubled/abused teenagers. They will also be riding this horse that will only walk …. in almost perfect safety. Roberta has grandchildren that will be riding Brownie in near perfect safety!
Finally Saturday came we were all full of anticipation and excitement. We made the 4 hour drive and drove up to the big red barn and met an excited Bob and Jeri. They were all big grins. The three of us women were all big grins too. That made 4 big grinning women and one wild grinning man. Into the barn we sailed.
Bob took Roberta over to meet her horse.Roberta gave a small cry of happiness. Standing in the cross ties was the most beautiful bay horse ever. Brownie had a long beautiful Christmas Ribbon and a Christmas bell on his head. It was instant love. Roberta went up to pet Brownie and tell him that his name was now DASHER! The rest of us stood around with big goofy grins.
After we recovered from this sight, Bob went to get Lynne’s horse. He led out a cross dresser! Lynne couldn’t believe what her horse had added since she last saw him. Is it a Christmas Fox Trotter Reindeer!? Yeller had sprouted antlers since we last saw him!
After a lot of petting, Bob saddled up DASHER. Bob rode Dasher first so that Roberta could see that Dancer was not energetic! Bob serenaded us with his rendition of Happy Trails in his big booming tenor voice as he and Dasher slowly walked around half of the arena.
Roberta felt pretty good about Dasher, but she was tense as she climbed up on him. We sent her on her way. They walked for a while and Dasher stopped. She couldn’t get him going again, so I came over and led him forward and off they went again. I don’t know when she started to relax, but she did. I told Bob that I wanted Roberta to ride outside, so she wouldn’t be afraid to ride outside when she got home. Bob opened up the big arena door and off they went. Well, Lynne led Yeller in front of Dasher so he would walk away from the barn. It was a cold and windy day, but Dasher just walked on! I had to almost force Roberta to dismount from Dasher when it was time to think about leaving.
Lynne and Roberta paid for their horses.
Dasher and Yeller hopped into my trailer. What great horses!!!
Bob and Jerri were going to take us out to lunch before we left for home, but unexpected horse customers showed up and we didn’t get to have that great time. Instead, Jerri slipped some money into Lynne’s pocket for our lunch and gas. We were shocked into non-speech. We Love Bob and Jerri! It will be sad for us not to take another trip to Marshfield to laugh with Bob.
It’s a Journey
Velvet and I are going for Level 3 in the Parelli program. We are doing very well. We have 25% of the tasks passed and making great progress on the remaining tasks. But you know how I love to tell pathetic dramatic humorous stories as we take the journey….
The task Velvet and I are focused on right now is cantering around an arena bridleless and bareback. Velvet is to have nothing on her body except me!
Then (at a canter), we have to turn into the center and stop. The turn is the hard part! Last winter I fell off of her when she unexpectedly turned sharply at slow WALK!
Lately, we have been riding full time in all group lessons, workshops and even on short trail rides with a bareback pad and nothing on her head. We look very cool.
A couple weeks ago at the end of the lesson, Jenny told me that I wasn’t bouncing around up there as much as I used to. sigh…I guess she had noticed my lack of balance. But, I got a lot better.
But in the last week, I’ve been doing even better. I’m able to ride more than a few steps without the death grip on the mane. I’ve been getting better at all gaits.
I feel like it’s time to start riding without the aid of the bareback pad.
Tonight, Velvet was at the mounting block and I was ready to get on. Well, Velvet has been moving a step or two during my leaping mounts with the bareback pad. I leaned on her and she moved. We had words over that. Next time, she didn’t move when I leaned on her.
I made my flying mount and she moved. I was able to hang on her side before I dropped off…on my feet. Velvet and I had words about this again.
We went back to the mounting block. I leaned on her and she didn’t move.
I made my flying mount and was horrified to find myself VAULTING over her. Usually I made quite an effort to get all my upper body on the top of her and the bareback pad makes me stick to her. NOT TONIGHT!
I vaulted over Velvet and landed on my feet!
Velvet and I were both a little upset over this, so I walked back to the mounting block on my rubber legs, sat down and rubbed her face and ears for a while.
Once again, I prepared to mount. All systems go. I threw myself up on her back and a muscle in my upper/inner thigh went SPANG! I cried out in pain and let myself land back on the mounting block.
I stretched out both legs for a while; went to the fence and mounted her from the fence…no leaping or vaulting involved!
After a while, I was able to ride her at a canter around the arena, turn into the middle and stop. My emotional fitness was just about peaked and my legs were holding on her so tight that my thigh muscle went into a spasm.
WHAT A RIDE! Velvet didn’t break a sweat tonight. I’m about ready for the psych ward.
It’s a Journey
It’s our house that is the site of the family Christmas. This year we held it on December 9th. I like to have the horses home when the family celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas, so JR came home for the weekend. It was warm here in Missouri and so the kids got to ride a horse! The little kids choose JR to ride, since he’s the cutest and friendliest!
I put the Parelli bareback pad on him and hoisted up the oldest child. We walked quite a ways and things were cool. The next kid got on JR and we walked far out into the yard. I was walking right along with JR occasionally rubbing my shoulder with his nose and ALL of A SUDDEN, I dropped to the ground like I’d been shot! I fell into a golpher hole. I flailed on the ground for a moment trying to get to my feet. THANK GOD, JR just stood there and looked at me. He didn’t jump or flinch. The child was safe and not scared to death. JR is now priceless!
I told the two girls that they got to ride JR before me. They were 2nd and 3rd to ride JR. My turn is coming!