- CRITTER TALK
My wife is from Southwest Virginia, Rockbridge County as a matter of fact. Farms and southern living is not alien to her. As a matter of fact, the house she lived in was built back in 1870. Her grandfather was barely literate yet owned a small farm and built houses. Her father was a hard working guy who died much too young. Her mom was a nurse at Western State Hospital.
I was born in Los Angeles, CA. Unlike a lot of my friends, I knew where milk and produce came from. When I lived in District Heights, Maryland, there was still some farmland around us so farm animals were not alien to me.
My Brother in Law bought a horse, a Tennessee Walking Horse mix. When we came down here, my Daughter would ride his horse or any of the others at the stables where Willie, my brother in laws horse was kept.
When Mandy was about 12, we moved down here so my wife could help take care of her mother who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Somewhere along the line my daughter expressed an interest in learning to ride horses. My wife found out the guy she learned to ride a horse from was still alive and still teaching. We signed her up.
After several sessions of riding, Larry, her instructor, felt she was ready to show. So, we had to buy a helmet, riding clothes and boots. Not too bad and not very expensive. I though she would ride and that would be it.
At the first show she wins first place.
Time goes by and we buy Mandy her own horse who went by the name of Munchie. Munchie was a Morgan and a spirited animal. Over time she proved to be too “hot” and we had to sell her. A horses temperament is measured by a scale which starts out Bomb Proof (does not spook easily) to Hot (Damn near uncontrollable).
Our trainer, Jo (Larry died) found a horse she was familiar with for sale on line. She told Mandy about the horse and made arrangements for Mandy to see the horse.
We drove out to West Virginia to see this horse. The horse’s breed is called a saddlebred and this one was beautiful. This horse and Mandy clicked and it was a done deal. When we found out the Horses name Margaret was familiar with the former owner. Harlem’s Hey Look at Me was a champion horse that had somehow ended up at a ranch for children. Because he was never cut out for kids, the owner made arrangements to get rid of him. The person in West Virginia who bought him discovered he was headed for the slaughter house. She bought him, took him home, fattened him up and listed him on one web site. 100 people wanted him. People were on their way from the mid-west to pick him up. When they were told he had been sold, she was cussed out.
I have always maintained Harley knew what his fate was, and when he was rescued he was grateful.
By now Mandy’s wardrobe has expanded and now with another horse, we added check ups, dental visits and saddles to the budget.
A few years later came All the Money, a Tennessee Walker. Now with two horses, one still in recovery and one ready to go, we needed a trailer. At the time I had a Dodge Durango and I was sure it could pull the trailer, but could the suspension handle a 7,000 pound trailer hauling 2,400 pounds of horses. Plus add gear. So I got not only a two horse trailer with tack room, but a Diesel Pick up truck.
We have gone from one helmet and a set of clothes to three saddles, clothes for English and Western disciplines, boots, hats, crops, feed buckets, water buckets, halters, bridles, a 35 gallon water tank (some shows you have to search for a faucet to water your horses), tent (to sit under), chairs, a two wheel cart, more tack and of course Hay. Now we have another horse.
ATM (All The Money) is a bomb proof horse, gentle with children and as far as Harley is concerned, his little sister. ATM is a gaited horse and can also pull the cart with no problem.
What I know about horses is I do not know a thing about them except they cannot belch or throw up, they have a delicate digestive system, they are fart machines, and they don’t always want to do what you want them to do. When Mandy goes to ride ATM, sometimes she comes to the fence, sometimes Mandy has to chase her. What are you going to do? ATM is a horse.
The horses make Mandy happy and if she is happy, I am happy. The horses love her and know the sound of my daughters 4×4 or my pick up. When they hear those vehicles their ears perk up and they look in the direction of the noise. They know it is time to work and once caught are saddled and ridden.
I watch my daughter controlling a 1200 pound animal with no problem and I am in awe because I could never do that.