|November 10, 1997|
I started these stories back in the mid 90′s when I was a beginning adult rider. I raised Shetland ponies in my youth, branched up to a large pony and did all the small town horse show speed events—poles and barrels and pleasure classes. After I outgrew my large pony, I had an American Saddlebred and I only competed in western and English pleasure in the small town horse shows. My life with horses stopped at age 18 when I went away to college. I had given up on ever getting back into horses when suddenly my husband and I lost our minds, sold the house on which the mortgage was but 3 years from being paid off and bought several acres and a house in the country. We are now soundly saddled in debt and loving every minute. Naturally, the 1st thing I thought about was… HORSE! I’ve had a 35 year gap.
What kind of horse? I dislike the quarter horse pleasure class with dead looking things, noses dragging on ground, but quarter horses could be fun in other areas. I loved my beautiful heads-up American Saddlebred, but I didn’t have much fun just being in pleasure saddle classes. I remember how high spirited she was too! Scary, now! I loved those racing events-pole bending and barrel racing in my youth.
I attended the American Royal Symphony of Champions and I saw my horse! I was seated by a complete stranger who was chatting with me throughout the show. In danced the gorgeous fox trotters with their smooth gait and their long flowing manes and tails. I sat up. The stranger knew lots about Missouri Fox Trotters and told me about their start and history…cow chasing, rocky hill climbing, smooth riding. “Self,” I said, “There is my horse! They are beautiful like my Saddlebred, fun like my quarter-horse type large pony. I’m old now, and if I go incontinent, the smooth gait will prevent me from having to wear diapers when I ride.”
That’s how I made the decision to get Missouri Fox Trotters as my horse. I knew no one who had fox trotters and the Internet wasn’t even in my vocabulary yet. That was 1995.
Everyone I knew who had horses told me to buy older horses. Ha! I knew better than that. Didn’t I show as a youth? Didn’t I have a wonderful trainer and I remembered lots of stuff. I would be bored with someone else’s trained horse. Nope, I love to train horses and I want to start my own. No one else’s problems or boring old horse for me! Besides, I saw a John Lyons look-a-like start a two year old in a round pen, and he was riding that horse in 3 hours. I paid a lot of attention plus I rented the video and watched it 2 more times. (My husband was the only person who supported my decision. He knew less about horses than I did!)
I found a business card at a local Farm Store that gave a name, telephone number and Fox Trotters for Sale. I called and drove to Butler, Mo.
I picked my two year old Sage because of her color, and my yearling Velvet, because she was black and had a beautiful head, out of herds of Missouri Fox Trotters owned by Robert Lewis, Butler, Missouri. Bob delivered them, and I proceeded to start the Round Pen Reasoning. What a horse Sage is. Instead of the 3 hours, it took me 3 weeks before she stopped running away because of noises, flapping, touching.
My husband happened to be in the round pen with me when I 1st put the saddle on Sage. Right in front of our eyes, she turned into a rodeo bucking horse. She exploded. The frightened spouse and the bucking monster both took off running around the round pen. I had to scream at the spouse to get into the center where it was safe. He didn’t know the rule about center being time out and the fence being the run-around part. That was a 3 wine bottle event!
The round pen with Sage was a great experience until I mounted. That was a wine-bottle event. We just stood there wondering what to do, until I reached up to adjust her bridle strap, and in the spouse’s words, “Sage spun around 3 times, but Susan only made 2 trips!” That’s when I discovered that I was old, fragile and could easily be killed! Hitting the ground was not in the plan. Whose bright idea was it to buy young horses?! We decided that the answer would be to find someone “young and dumb”…enough to ride a two year old. I had Sage ready to be delivered to 3 different trainers in the area. I canceled her out from all 3 as my instinct (at the last minute) said, no ..can’t trust them with my precious partner.
I stumbled into a clinic that was held near my house and that’s when I discovered Parelli Natural Horsemanship, which saved my life. My horses and I have both been “started” by Jenny Vaught at Pine Dell Farm, Pleasant Hill, MO. I recovered from a terrifying year of horse fear. I have learned far more than I ever dreamed, and I have the two safest horses in the world to ride.
I’m a member of the Kansas City Regional Fox Trotter Horse Association and MFTHBA.
My Parelli equipment looks real weird. I have different ways of thinking and doing. I used to be shocked when people actually come up and talk to me! I look normal now as I use real bits and sometimes even spurs. But then I have earned my bits and spurs in my quest for answers in all the horse philosophy worlds.
I agonized over the gaiting of these two horses. Sage turned into a pacer and it’s taken a lot of time and agonized thinking on my part, but she’s turned into a running walk horse. Velvet is a “trotty” horse, but is actually fox trotting after spending a summer in professional training with Jenny at Pine Dell.
I’m way over 50 now, still overweight, dieting, and excitedly living my second adulthood.This is the start of SUSAN’S VIEWPOINT in the horse world with my beloved fox trotters. I’ll be reporting clinic events, and trail riding. I’ll be agonizing over the gaits. I’ll be talking about versatility events. I’ll be telling stories about developing my horses. Join me!
So far in my exciting life with horses, I’ve “finished” four horses from young horse to finished vaquero style horse. Velvet went on to become a multiple World Grand Champion with Nichole Hack. Velvet and Nichole started getting the garlands I. 2009. Nova, daughter of Sage, and I won a Versatility World Grand Championship.
Powder has just gone to Young Horse Development school with Jennifer Vaught. There’s the fifth horse to start the journey!
I borrowed a project horse for 2012 and ended up buying him. He doesn’t have a very good work ethic in the arena. He’s a great trail horse. His gaits are world class. Our challenge is “the arena”. His name is Lucky Star. I call him “The Horse of No”. I’m winning all,the arguments now, but there are still arguments.
A miracle happened insane raffle tickets worth $50 and I won a most amazing and wonderful horse. Cisco is related to Velvet, is black with a star and four white feet. His shoulders are powerful. His neck and head are elegant. He is a YES Horse with sensitivity. His former owner rode him out on trails alone for three years. He is nicely Gaited. He was never cantered under saddle, but picking that up well. Cisco and I have rejoined the Parelli levels goals journey again. We will be studying for Level 4. As of this update, Cisco and I are riding bridle less. It’s an exciting time in my life. (Spring 2016)
August 2012 was the publication date of my first book: Susan FoxTrotter. The story of a “seasoned curvy cowgirl” form Kersplat! to Bridleless. Find it on Amazon as a book or Kindle. Use Susan FoxTrotter as search words.
In 2016, I published another book extolling my humerous and pathetic adventures involving a mule, rescue hackney ponies and finally, “The Just Right Horse”. That is the name of the new book.
Send Comments to: Susanfxtrt@aol.com