my life in spurs

Finally got around to organizing the tackroom at my humble barn. The ‘best old lady horse in the world’ aka Rodney is home with me for a while. Rod’s not exactly a ranch horse…he’s a show horse, so when he moves, he come with lots of diva horse show equipment. I needed to clean house and make room for his supplies.

I found these handy racks and thought they were perfect for the abundance of English and Western bits I’ve accumulated over the years.

As I sorted and sneezed through the dusty boxes and trunks in the tack room, I kept discovering spurs amid the 20+ years of horse show remnants. Lifting the treasures onto the rack, my mind’s eye pictured the best moments spent with the Sprout, the favorite horses, and the wonderful horse-show friends.

Here is my spur journey.

The Sprout’s first pair of youth spurs. We had a mature gelding named Arizona. We did everything with that horse…he was fast as greased lightening!

Wasn’t long until our horizons expanded and we started riding English. Living in West Texas, riding a ranch gelding….WHY did we want to do that? Lands…we didn’t have a lick of sense, but we thought we should. We even jumped a little. The Sprout broke her arm in an easy fall off the gelding. I splinted her arm with a paint stirrer and some torn fabric strips for the drive to the hospital. We were unfazed. The Sprout wanted me to ride with her, so I got a horse too.

We improved our horses and our horsemanship skills bit by bit. We got some help from a trainer named ‘Polly’. She gave us these spurs to use with our little gray western pleasure mare. I haven’t seen Polly in years. She moved to Missouri….I even visited there after her move. We lost track of each other.

The Sprout graduated to her very own pair of ball-spurs with her initials. Probably was a birthday or Christmas present. These were great spurs to use in horsemanship classes. The long shank enables the rider to keep his feet in the proper position in the stirrups.

These spurs kinda puzzled me…..they look like a hybrid between an English and a Western spur. Don’t think they’d do too much to get a horse to move, but they are lovely and feminine. I rode with these for a while.

Ready to call the SPCA now, are you? These are called ‘rock-grinders’. Although these look very beat up, I don’t remember using them but a handful of times. I don’t recommend these spurs ’cause they can get a rider in trouble in a hurry, but if you ride a very dead-sided horse who will not move off of your leg, you can remind the horse to move in these. Just one ride with these amazingly restores the horse’s memory.

These are the spurs I ride Rod in much of the time today. They’re just a nothin’-special clover leaf spur. Sometimes he moves OK off of these….sometimes he needs a stiffer reminder. Most riders like to have different types of spurs available to meet the changing requirements of getting a horse to move correctly. If a rider uses the same spur every day, the horse gets a little dull to them and it’s time to change things up.

These are the latest spurs to enter my life. They were given to the grandson by a family friend. Who knows if he will want to ride, but I’ve been working on an arena and finding the perfect pony….just in case. It’s best to plan ahead.

Why would I rather clean the tack room at the barn than clean my house? The Texan wants to know.

Now move along, or I’ll have to use the rock-grinders on you!

Spurry love to all.

boots an’ jeans an’ opera

Can Saturday be my own personal Groundhog Day??

I wouldn’t mind re-living yesterday a few thousand more times.

Woke up. Went to the gym and spun my legs off with my fitness buds. While riding nowhere fast, I racked up 25 miles and got the heart rate up. I’m grateful for the imperfect ticker…it’s workin’ pretty good lately!

Went to the horse barn to work with my horse trainers, Doug and Patti Pratt. My western footwear of choice:

Rode with my horse-buddy, Helen. We’re both mature ladies who are trying to improve our riding and killer horsemanship skillz. Helen always has a beaming smile and a contagious laugh. I like being around Helen cuz she’s a ‘glass half full’ kinda person. We both attempted riding our western horses in perfectly round circles.  Patti declared ‘you can’t ride a good straight line until you can ride a perfect circle’. We circled and circled with Patti’s encouragement.
The ‘best old-lady horse in the world!’ was his usual easy-going self. After riding him, he kissed me and sneezed on me…then the wind kicked up and my face was streaked with dusty horse snot. Patti was astride my big English horse and she asked if I’d like to climb up. Moi?? Now, this horse is a WHOLE different ballgame….tall…lanky…big-strided…thoroughbred…and did I mention TALL? I stuttered ‘sure’ and I tortured my inner thighs getting Big Guy around the pen. With Patti and Doug’s directions, I was able to guide him around the pen. Pure exhiliration for me getting to spend time with quality horses and friendly people.

Came home and headed for the shower.  It was soooo windy….how windy was it??….my face was streaked with dirt, you coulda planted a California redwood in my ear, my normally red hair was an earthy, dull brown and my nose was filled with massive, crusty dirt-boogers. Is this the perfect day, or what!?

My perfect day was about to get perfect-er. 
You’ll never guess what I did next…..I went to the OPERA. Opera in Amarillo, Texas you ask? Most certainly! We have our own reknowned Opera Company….Amarillo Opera. I cleaned up and made the Texan take a picture to commemorate the rare occasion of my cleanliness.

You know I went solo. The Texan doesn’t ‘do’ opera. Roxy Doxy adores opera and was ticked at the ‘no wiener dog’ policy.

My foundational garments were so tight, I popped a massive vein in my temple….covered the gruesomeness up with my bangs.

Anyhoo, back to the Opera. Here’s the low-down:  they performed (flawlessly) the Italian Straw Hat. It’s a farcical comedy and the performers sang in English. 

Now, I could get arrested for showing you this next photo….I’m not usually such a brazen rule-breaker…but I wanted my fellow chicken-wingers to see the glorious art deco set. Uh, maybe I didn’t really take this unauthorized photo at all….maybe my neighbor did and gave it to me. Yeah, he gave it to me! Here’s a glimpse of the colorful stage in our first-class performing arts center.

used by persmission of person who gave me this photo

The Italian Straw Hat was entertaining, colorful, and contemporary-this coming from a person who doesn’t know her Puccini from her panini! I enjoyed it.  All the singers were stellar, but a special shout-out to my friend and opera-diva, Sarah Beckham. A home-town girl turned opera’s next superstar. Sarah, you were divine!!!!…. ‘toy, toy, toy’ or whatever!!  I’ll cover all my bases by shouting,  bravo, brava, bravi, and bra-ssiere!

I pondered, as I crawled into my bed finally free from clamping undergarments ….where else in the world could I have spent the morning smiling atop great horses, and then dress up for an op-er-a gala in the evening?

Do ya see why Saturday gets my vote for groundhog day? You with me?

Hope your weekend was uplifting.

Big, bright musical love to all this week.

the horses is coming!!

No matter how hard she tries, she can never fill their horseshoes.

I’ve been pining for my horses. You see, back in late November my horse-trainer decided to move down state. It was a difficult problem for me:  I wanted to keep the horses close but I didn’t have the resources or the time to deal with them. Mom was getting sicker and I had zero spare time to manage or clean up after horses. I made the decision to let them move with the trainer, until I could make some rational decision in the future.

Death and dying are outstanding refiners of attitude. Through Mom’s illness I missed being with my horses….missed being outside, missed touching their muzzles, missed the stress relief riding a great horse can be for me.

The wiener dog instinctively knew I had a horse-shaped hole in my heart. She gamely tried to humor me. She patiently endured my enthusiastic demonstration of how to make a cool cowboy string halter.

Isn’t she having fun?

See, Roxy-Doxy….with just a little bit of soft rope, a creative cowboy can make an effective horse-leading device!

Don’t ask her about the day I hand-galloped her around the circle driveway.

Lucky for the wiener…the horses is coming! the horses is coming!! I’ve been planning. Death has made me realize how much I truly and deeply enjoy my equines. I don’t want them out of my life…..yet. (sorry, Texan…he thinks horses are expensive!) They will be returning around the middle of this month.

happy times at a horse show in Albuquerque, NM

I’m giddy. Can’t wait to brush and lead and ride and get horse kisses and be outside with friends.

Roxy-Doxy is glad, too. She wasn’t looking forward to feeling these in her sides.

I hope you are spurred to achieve great things this week!

Rope halter love to all.

fair play: horses!

My reason for attending the colorful New Mexico State Fair? Horses!!

No, nooooo alfalfa breath-not carousel horses!!  I mean I took two American Quarter Horses to the fair.  (Did you spot the little angel in the photo above?  No extra charge.)

I took a tall horse and I took a short horse.  The tall horse is part Thoroughbred, hence he is tall and lanky.  We refer to Quarter Horses crossed with Thoroughbreds as Appendixed Quarter Horses.  These horses excel in racing, jumping, and English flat events.
The big horse’s barn name is….wait for it….wait for it…… Big Guy.  Clever, huh?  He shows in English flat (no jumping) classes.  I ride Big Guy sometimes for fun.  I don’t show him-my trainer has the honors.  Tumbling out of a ridiculously flat strip of leather known as ‘English saddle’ from vertigo-inducing heights is not for me.  I’ve matured.
I prefer the sparkly clothes and the security of a bulky Western saddle.  The little horse shows in a class called Western Pleasure.  The horses are s..l…o…..w… molasses.  Riding them should look effortless and they should display flawless movement and excellent temperaments.  I received a 2nd place ribbon riding my little Western Horse.  Fun times!
Shhhhhh!  Big Guy is taking a nap.  Horse showing is hard work.
The Quarter Horse Association has implemented a new division especially for exhibitors who are aged 50 and over.  It is euphemistically known as Amateur Select.  Sounds special, doesn’t it?  Indeed we are special, and it has rekindled the competitive fire in many an oldster.  We take our kid’s old show horses and have at each other in the show ring.  Love it.
But, are you pondering what I’m pondering??…..should there be yet another division?  For even OLDER competitors?  The following sight made me think this would be an excellent idea.  An idea whose time has come.
What should be the name of this new classification of horse show exhibitor?  My vote would be the Amateur Depends division.
You have a better idea?