Archive for July, 2011

Little girls and horses… there’s just always been a connection between the two. I have lots and lots of books from my childhood that are all about horses. How to draw horses, the history of horses, novels about horses and, of course, a few versions of “Black Beauty”. When I was a little girl my favorite subject to write about was horses. My mom kept a few favorites, one about Willie Shoemaker and a running of the Kentucky Derby. In my story, the horse talked and they won the roses. I also wrote a children’s book when I was in the 6th grade. It was about a horse named Chessy who was saved from a bad man who kept her tied in a dark barn. Is that foreshadowing for my adult life, or what?! I used to accompany my dad to the race track every chance I got and would park myself by the paddock to watch the jockeys readying their steeds. I was always dreaming about one day having my very own horse. This was not so different from most little girls.

(My big sis, Vicki and me, very first time on a horse!)

Little girls learn life lessons from their horses. They learn to put someone else’s needs in front of their own. A little girls horse must be fed and groomed and given tasty apple treats.They depend on us to care for them and this care requires that little girl to get smelly and dirty. This must be done every day, even if you need to get ready for school or you want to go to the mall. I remember hearing stories of my sisters actually doing their homework laying atop that sweet horse. (I only met her the one time, as they lived in Kentucky and we lived in Missouri.) Little girls learn courage from their horses. To conquer that fear of falling off is a feat that will serve a lifetime. They learn about friendship without envy and beauty without vanity. They learn to speak without words as that is their language. Sometimes the life lesson learned is that loving someone sometimes means letting them go.

(Albert and Lexi saying goodbye.)

Albert has been part of Lexi’s life for the past 2 years. Her dad is my trainer, Gary. Albert has had the best of everything and has been a friend and teacher to them both. Today he left for his new home and today Lexi had a piece of her heart leave with him. She diligently interviewed  his perspective new parents and made sure they realized the love and devotion necessary to care for Albert. They did. I know from all my years of rescuing dogs how much it hurts to let one go, especially one as special as Albert. But we do it for them. Lexi will have a sleepless night tonight until she gets that first email from them tomorrow assuring her all is well. And Albert will be fine. Lexi will make sure of it. Their connection will be lifelong. This little girl learned about love and letting go.

Sometimes little girls come across that special circumstance where they get their first inkling of what it’s like to actually touch that horse they’ve been reading and dreaming about. I looked out my barn door one day last week and noticed a little girl standing by the gate. I walked out and introduced myself to her and asked if she’d like to come in and meet the horses. She didn’t hesitate! Lilly was visiting her aunt and uncle who live at the end of our street. Cass was there with me and she is as drawn to little girls as much as they are to her. She allowed Lilly to pet and walk all around her, they both had braids in their hair. I showed her the proper and safe way to give carrots as she wanted to bring some down later. Clementine the donkey also introduced herself and had Lilly and her aunt giggling at her antics.

(My girls doing what they do best.)

The next day Lilly is back, this time with her uncle and cousin. Becca hangs out with us as I relay their story of being rescued. I can see the impression they’ve made on this little girl. The uncle tells me all he’s been hearing about is coming down to visit us. I enjoy showing the girls off and take any opportunity I can to educate others. I wish there was a way to do this all the time… hmmmm.

(Becca being curious.)

As I’m getting ready to leave that evening after feeding the horses dinner, Lilly and her cousins come flying down the street. She brought me a painting to say thank you! I was truly touched. Of course, I brought them up into the barn and this time they got to meet everyone. The horses were all curious as to who was in our barn and Tanner even took some photos with Lilly. I asked her if she’d like to ride Tanner and the grin on her face was huge, of course!

The next morning Lilly got her first horse ride.

Tanner is such a good boy and Therese, his owner, also understands the importance of little girls and horses. Lilly was fearless and we were having a hard time keeping up. Tanner was more than ready to walk her right out the gate and go on a trail ride. We kept them inside our pasture for safety’s sake. Riding her first horse was an excellent way to end her vacation, don’t you think?

This little girl learned horses are real. Lilly left for home the next day. That special spark of little girls and horses may have been ignited. I know when I was little I always begged for my very own horse. Now that I have mine, I will take any chance to let other little girls share in their magic.

(Both “thank you” paintings are proudly displayed in the barn.) 

Read Full Post »

We had a long overdue lesson with Gary today. I admit I fibbed a bit on how much we’ve been working… well, I did say not very much! I think the girls and I have been working just not in any organized kind of way. I’ve been using my energy more to talk with all the horses so that is certainly work. Keeping my mouth shut isn’t so easy. Cass came trotting in from the back pasture as soon as I called for her. Her energy today was awesome and she led us on an interesting journey.

I saddled her up and she stood perfectly still even though she hasn’t seen the saddle in a long time. This is so different from the girl who used to flee at just a glimpse of the saddle or anything she didn’t quite understand. I started off working with her but soon handed her over. I hate it when Gary says, “ok show me what you’ve been working on…” and I know we haven’t been working on much. I was feeling awkward (my fault) and Cass was not getting that I really meant for her to walk away from me. She and I are so close and constantly touching that she doesn’t understand that I am sending her away. Gary took over and she sure understands what he says! He simply talks horse better than I do but I’m learning.

Cass must think he’s so strange when he does things like flip the rope all around and over her head.

Then he got out a totally new monster… a Hoola-Hoop! Yikes!

What grown man carries around a silly Hoola-Hoop?! Cass says, “Gary, of course!”

Gary started messing with her saddle and remembered the cinch isn’t quite small enough. The whole thing starts to slip off if you put any weight in the stirrup. So… he took the saddle off and that’s when things got really fun!

Yep, he’s a crazy person!

Cass was such a good girl and let Gary do all sorts of fancy dance moves atop her. Planking, anyone? 🙂

She’s wide, though, and every time he tried to move that leg over to actually sit on her she’d move. She was showing just a bit of protest. She could’ve freaked out, bucked him off, took off running or any number of things but she would just step out a little to tell him she wasn’t comfortable.

Cass always gets lots of scratches and loving when she asks the right questions.

It was my turn and Cass had no problem with me scrambling on top bareback! I cheated a bit and used the steps. We’re gonna have to work on hoisting my big butt on top of hers. I had purposely left a long tuft of mane at the bottom to use for holding on but it seems Becca and Sam have chewed it off. My girl was good so I didn’t have to hang on too tightly. Riding bareback is what teaches you about your seat and balance. It sure is different than the security of a saddle but we were both comfortable. Gary kept things controlled by holding a lead rope just in the off chance Cass would make a mistake. And, yes, he’s taught me the proper way to fall. Let’s hope I never have to!

We walked all over the front pasture. We made turns where I had to drop my hip into the turn so I wouldn’t slide off the other way. We stomped a few flies. We were moving as one. Cass got a few strange looks from the horses in the back but she paid no mind to them. Two hours flew by and all of us were sweaty, tired and thrilled! Have I mentioned lately how much I adore this horse?!

Read Full Post »

War Horse

We’ve been hearing about this movie for months now, though it’s all been fairly secretive. This trailer proves Steven Spielberg is the greatest button pusher of all time and combined with John Williams scoring, tears will be flowing a plenty! I’m moved to water works with a crappy film if it stars a dog or horse, so this movie just may be the end of me. I don’t know much about the plot but can’t help but think of similarities to Black Beauty. We all know how that ends and it still gets me every time I happen to run across it on cable. Oooooh! How many days till Christmas?!?!?! Do you think I can sneak Cass & Becca into the theater?

“Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert (Irvine), who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets — British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter — before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land. “


Read Full Post »