2008 Arabian Horse Association OEIP National Mounted Shooting Champion

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Year end

It has been a very exciting year for us in 2008.

Saber and I started out unsure we could even do this sport in the beginning. Our last shoot of the year was held at Crossroads arena in Cloverdale, Indiana ,Novemeber7-9 and we finished 2008 in good shape.

At our year end awards banquet in December I learned, I had earned the Rookie of the Year for the Rough Riders. That was pretty cool.

I also managed to attend all the shoots hosted by the club and earned a very nice 3 step mounting block, a montana silver braclet and photo frame.

I also won a new buckle for the state shoot by winning my class division as L2.

Saber is resting and enjoying his winter off, he is staying with Jordan until spring. She wanted to have a horse to ride over the winter months. So since I no longer riding in subzero weather, more power to the younger generation.

Looking forward to another year in 2009 of "Guns & Horses", see you all then.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Border Wars

October 18-19 was the last shoot of the year in Rushville. The Indiana Rough Riders and the 1st Ohio held their annual "Border Wars" shooting event.

Saturday morning (hosted by 1st Ohio) the two clubs divided up their members and out of state guests into 8 teams to shoot it out for border victory. The teams were given bandannas in different colors and patterns, 4 members to a team, I found myself partnered up with Nancy Latham, Teresa Case, and Adrianne Fowler. All 3 of these ladies are very accomplished shooters in their own right. Our bandanna of choice was the black & white checkered finish print.

I was nervous about this because I hadn't been shooting very well in the last few weeks and I didn't want to let my team down. To add to my nerves Adrianne came up and bumped me in the shoulder said "you have to shoot well today we need to win."

The stages had been drawn , the grand entry was in the book, and the day was going to be cool and breezy. Temps were in the lower 60's and quite a few of us had our coats on in between stages. I had to find my gloves because my hands just wouldn't warm up. I like to keep my shooting hand warm and loose so that I can be quick with my hammer. Something I have only in just the last week or so gotten really comfortable doing.

After the dust had settled at the end of a very long day for most of the shooters, we gathered for the awards. I found myself in a place I had never been before since starting CMS with my horses. For the first time I had shot clean all day, I had won my class for the day, and when the awards were being handed out, I was announced as the Overall Ladies Champion! I also was in the top ten and I won 65.00 in prize money and jackpots to boot!


I was shocked and quite speechless, which for me is surprising as those of you who really know me well will attest too.

I had invited some friends back to our Hacienda for the night since it was going to be very cold and it seemed silly of me not to open up our home and hospitality to shooters that might have had to sleep in their trucks or cold trailers. Daniel Sutton and Travis Newman from Kentucky, and Nancy Latham and Lynette McCellan from Indiana were my guests. All evening they kept telling me "way to go girl" and I know this is going to sound silly, but it just didn't feel real. I was so shocked to have done something I had only thought about all summer. It had seemed so out of reach that I figured I would never get there for at least a couple of years. Remember I have only started shooting this April of 2008.

Sunday dawned very cold, with frost on the ground and I was hoping for a repeat of Saturday. At least the wind had calmed down and it was warming to the point we didn't need our coats by late morning. I knew I was going to have alot of pressure on my shoulders today. Especially with the wind dying down so much that shooters having a hard time hitting balloons on Saturday would really be consistent on Sunday.

The first stage I shot clean, and then the 2nd stage drawn was the "Dice" I had trouble with this one early in the year and I was worried about it.

Just watch this -

Pictures say a thousand words don't they. I psyched myself out before I ever pulled my gun.

This clip is of stage 4, Saber went smooth and I shot great! Enjoy.

Stage 3 I shot clean, and discovered had I shot the "Dice" clean I would have been 6th overall. Dang it.

As it turned out the men's team from Ohio won the match and Ohio once again beat Indiana. Hopefully next year I can earn the honor back to our wonderful state Indiana. I can report that our Ladies team with the black and white checkered bandannas did win the ladies division for the weekend. We just were not fast enough to bet the boys from Ohio.

I have one more shoot for this year. Cross Roads arena in Cloverdale Indiana where this jounery began for Saber and I back in April. It is only fitting that our novice year should end at Cloverdale.

For those of you that follow video clips I will be in the process of uploading them on YouTube very soon, so check in often. I have quite a few from the border wars so I will be very busy in the next week or so. A big THANK YOU goes out to Bob Burnett who help me video on Sunday. Thanks Bob!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall is here

This past weekend we went trail riding at JW Jones. It was the nicest weekend that we had for this whole summer. Not to hot and not to cold, just right for trail riding in the trees. We took Abigail with us and she enjoyed being out with us for a change instead of being left at home or at a kennel.

Here are just a few of the pictures that I took over the two days we were there.

Tony and Abby

Our niece Jordan Linville came down with her mother Nicole on Saturday. Jordan rode with us Saturday afternoon and stayed until after supper and smore's.
We saddled up and headed to the tree house.

The tree house tree

A better view of the house

Tony on Star, with Fancy in the center and Saber tied to the hitching rail .
Below is a clip of Tony and Jordan riding up the trail to the tree house.

Jordan and Tony

The trees turning into the Fall colors the Midwest is so well known for.

Clip of Jordan and Tony riding on some of the Trails at JW

Small cabin next to our campsite. Dirt floor in most of them but would be nice if you had cots to set up inside.

Checking out the cabin

Resting back at camp on Sunday after the morning ride.

Nap time for the two kids!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cowboy Challenge

The Tree City Saddle Club located in Greensburg, Indiana held a Cowboy Challenge on Sunday.

Jordan, Saber and I went down to have some fun and see how well we could negotiate the course and stay within the time limit.

The course was layed out with 10 obstacles: 1. Walk over three poles 2. Sidepass down a pole to the mailbox 3. Take out the mail and then place it back into the box 4. Approach traffic cone and pick up the tennis ball on top, and then place it on the 2nd traffic cone. 5. Open the rope gate, walk through, and close the rope gate 6. Cross the bridge 7. Pick up the rope and drag the tire pass the cone 8. Cross the trap 9. Go through the cowboy curtain and 10. Back through the "L". Then cross the time line.

I don't have a video of my run as the camera malfunctioned. The video above is of Jordan and Saber. I did place third on the first go and won 15.00 the difference between the top three places were only by a 10 of second. I placed 1st on the second go and won 10.00. So it wasn't to a bad day for us. I am very proud of my 3/4 Arab, he is did everything that we ask of him and he is also turning into quite the packer of young riders. Not only did he carry Jordan and Rachel Abrams rode him in the second go. I can't ask much more of him than that. As most of the top trainers in the country will attest too, these type of horses are worth their weight in gold!

Next shoot for Saber and I will be in Rushville on October 18-19. So check back folks and see how we are doing as the shooting season is coming to close for us.

Ride fast, and keep your powder dry.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Indiana State Shoot

The Indiana State Shoot was hosted by the Indiana Rough Riders, of which I am a member in good standing.
We had 60 shooters attend, 38 shooting on Friday night at the Eliminator, yours truly also shot but, shot poorly I might add. Saber keep getting lost on the patterns when he would turn and then have to run back through the smoke. Just wasn't our night and I have found yet something else to desensitise him too! SHEESSSSS.

Anyhow Saturday and Sunday we had great weather, lots of fun people to hang out with and we also had some of the top shooters in CMSA in attendance, John Clark, Amanda Porter, and Steven Wilson just a name a few.
Steven is featured this month in the Western Shooting Horse magazine and I just happened to have my copy with me. Steven was kind enough to sign it for me and he is soft spoken and easy going. It is easy to see why he is so popular within the sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting. Don't let the tender age of the kid fool you either. He is blazing fast with his guns, and his horse is smokin fast! I told him I really liked his buckskin horse.

Anyway here are few pictures that I took over the weekend including Cowboy Church on Sunday morning with Randy Gunn on horseback at the pulpit.

Cary Barrows getting ready to head back over to Baker Arena for more balloon slaying.

Ashly Boyce and Hannah Sheldon working hard on college homework in- between stages.

They haven't even taken time to remove thier holsters or guns. Now that is dedication to shooting I tell ya!
Randy Gunn background, foreground Bob Chattin and Rocky.

To learn more about Randy Gunn visit his website at http://www.gunnpoint.us/

Marty Luftman attending Cowboy Church from the back of the arena.

This is probably my favorite picture of the whole weekend. Left to right, Daniel Sutton who trains horses like I was taught training by my grandfather and father, the old vaquero way. Next Steve Miller, Vice President of the Illiana Rangers, and the last fellow I did not get a name so if anyone knows please email me so I can add his name to the photo.

Yours truly being awarded my Level Ladies 2 BIG check for winning my division at our state shoot. I also won a buckle and once I get it I will post a picture.

John St. Clair, need name for the fellow in the middle, and Teresa Wilson.

THis charming lady is Ann Woulms also known as IndyAnnie, Annie is our awards chairman for the Indiana Rough Riders. She does a great job of coming up with cool and usual gifts for our winners of our shoots.

Shooters waiting for the awards cermony to begin.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rain, rain, do you like rain?

As you can tell from the pictures around here it is wet. It is soggy, and just darn messy.

The Rough Riders and 1st Ohio decided to reschedule our Border Wars for a drier weekend later this fall. Probably a good thing since we are getting rain from the west and then hurricane Ike is headed up to the Ohio valley by Sunday night. It is quite possible to get 6" of rain in 48 hours after the soaking that we are getting now.

Yes it has been dry here, to dry for my liking since I do like to have GREEN lawn instead of straw of landscaping.

So Saber gets another day off and I get to work on my gun skills for another week.

The ice cream social that I have been trying to get off the ground is going to have to wait until the State Shoot now. I know that the Illiana Rangers can handle 7 more days. Right Jim?

So my friends I have nothing more to report until after the 21st of September.

Until then keep your irons & powder dry.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Miamitown Ohio

1st Ohio held another fun shooting event on Labor Day weekend.

Saber and I traveled over on Saturday night to socialize and get ready for a fun day of shooting on Sunday.
Sunday morning dawned beautiful and the morning gave way to heat and humidity. The runs were fast and the times sizzling.

There were only two ladies in the Level 2 division today and I found myself in 1st place after the first stage. Saber ran smooth and clean and I shot clean with a good time to start the day.

After that things went down hill for me. The horse was doing great but I made mental errors and my time paid for it.

The last stage of the day I did shoot clean and we did run fast, but it was not enough to over take the lead and we came in second for the day in our division.

I discovered that Saber is now working great and it is time to start fine tuning my skills to match his speed and turns. So back to Brad's with the trailer and the horse and we are going to start working my shooting skills and markmanship.

More later on this subject as I have two weeks to get prepared before our Border Wars with 1st Ohio.

Below are some pictures that I took on Sunday so enjoy them.

This is the Ron Hubert clan. The family was part of our balloon setting crew for us all day Sunday.

My good friend Nancy Latham and her good freind Lynette McCellan

Below is Sue Morlock

Friday, August 29, 2008

Arabians & Half Arabians excelling in the sport

I received my latest issue of "the Modern Arabian" in the mail this past week. On the cover was a Cowboy Mounted shooter and the publication dedicated a very nice 10 page article called Ready, Aim, Fire.

The article covered that in's and out's of our sport and showcased some very nice purebred and half Arabian horses. Kudos to AHA for showing that our Arabian horses are just as versatile as that "other breed" we hear so much about within CMS.

One point that the article keep coming back to was how much "heart" our Arabians have when it comes to shooting. Not only do the have the ability to with stand the gun fire and the sights and smells, they also look out for their riders. Time again owners said that their horses put them were they needed to be for shots and wins. Even Frank Turben stated when asked by Marsha Hayes, What made Witez Dynasty known as "Tez" such a great shooting horse? He responded after a few moments of silence "He went where I thought."

Yep, the magic between the Arabian and rider is beauty and poetry in motion, even if it is fast motion. Our Arabians can run and they run FAST, my own half Arabian A Saber Salute can out run me on the stages. I am still new to this sport and I look forward to day that I shoot as fast he runs. Not only are they quick but they are very, very agile. My black Arabian stallion APMJ Blackjack is probably the cattiest horse I have on the place and he really likes the shooting. My biggest problem is going to be in my 2nd stage of childhood, being able to keep up with him when he turns. He is just plain quick and fast and sometimes my old body just doesn't go with him.

One thing that I would like to express to readers of my blog, if you own an Arabian or Half Arabian and you belong to the AHA. Please log on the website and sign your horses up for the Open Event Incentive Program. They now included CMSA as one of the host associations for the OEIP. I would really like to see the caterogy grow and take off as one of the largest groups for points tabulations that OEIP has to offer.

Also I would like to say way to go Grey Meckfessel and Pepsi, they were also featured in the article. I have video of Gary and Pepsi on my YouTube site as well if you want to see this great pair in action.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

YouTube & Misc.

As the summer has progressed, I have either taken videos or pictures of my CMS friends. When it was my turn to shoot, friends have taken over my camera and videoed in my absent. Either way you can view videos of various shoots held in Indiana that I have attended and enjoying watching some of the other members in action.

I will be attending at least 4 more shoots held in the state in the next three months so there will be lots more to see. So remember to stop back by soon, pull up a chair & pour yourself a drink . Relax and enjoy my novice summer of Guns~N~Horses.

Some History

I began riding at a very early age, first in front of my father in the saddle when I was 1 year old.

My little sister Debbie is between my dad and I. I think I am three in this picture taken in the summer of 1964. Notice the horse has a very short tail. This was he fashion back then

By the time I was 4 or 5, I was riding alone on a pony and working cattle along side my grandfather and my father. This entailed gathering cattle off the US forest service land or BLM land, sorting cattle for sale in the fall or driving cattle from one allotment to another. These allotments were 6 square miles or larger, covered in sagebrush, rocky tabletops, or pine forests where cattle could hole up and hide from you. Our cattle were not tame by a long shot and if they heard you coming, they would high tail it with calves in tow as fast they could run from you. If you or the stock dogs couldn't’t get in front of them to turn them, you prayed they would hit a fence and then drift the correct way to the holding pens. Otherwise, you came back the next day and tried it all over again. It would take at least 4-5 cowboys to do this and we would start very early in the morning and ride until very late afternoon on most occasions. I began roping at age 8 and like heeling much better than heading. My father and I would team rope at the county fair or at local brandings around the Harney County area. I was of course riding a bigger horse because the pony just couldn't handle the calves, as they were just about as big as he was.

One thing about that pony he taught me how cuss and it wasn’t much to my mothers liking either. But he was a very cantankerous little pony. He and I had many discussions on who was in charge much to my mother’s dismay. I have tried to clean my act, and I still slip on more than one occasion. Dang it…….

This is Scotch the pony; notice the hobbles on his front feet. He had a nasty habit of leaving camp and taking the other horses with him. I am standing at his shoulder my smallest sister Beverly at his head. Taken at Rainbow meadow 1967.

Gathering cattle in the spring of the year was quite fun for me as I would get to be out of school early by 3-4 days. When work was to be done on the spring round up all hands were called into service even a girl. I must say I was much more tomboy than girl! The cattle were moved from the winter grounds on the valley floor of the Harney Basin up into the summer grazing pastures of the High Desert. Ponderosa pines were in abundance and I loved trailing the cow and calf pairs through those forests to reach the high meadows of my grandfathers Upper Ranch. The ranch was the base camp for all operations in the spring. On most days, it is normal for us to travel 30 miles a day out from the ranch to gather cattle and move them to separate areas of the 10,000 acres that he had in forest service permits or private ground. I forgot to mention that grandfather ran 2500 head of brood cows 300 head of top Hereford bulls and had remuda of 45 horses. The cattle were left up in the hills until late fall and then gathered to be brought back down the Harney Basin. I wasn’t allowed to leave school for the fall roundup. That was one discussion I wasn’t willing to cross my grand father about. He was a big stickler for school education.

My family also had a cattle operation and we had about 1100 acres of private ground and ran about 326 head of brood cows, 6 horses for working them, and my mother had a flock of Suffolk sheep that numbered about 115 head. We put up our own hay for all of the animals and I worked for my grandfather in the summer in the hay fields. I started out being a rake jockey and making 8.00 a day and in junior high graduated to Swather operator, which I held until I graduated from High school my last year I was paid 25.00 a day. Big money for a school kid back in those days. The average haying season ran from late June until late August. We were able to get one cutting of wild hay, and then two cuttings of alfalfa. Grandpa told me that I was the best he had at cutting a clean field and keeping the windrows straight. He never gave out compliments and I always cherish anything he had to say that was positive.

I trained horses for my Dad and my grandfather in my spare time, and it was my job to start the colts for them when horses were purchased. My dad & grandfather taught me natural horsemanship long before it became a “new thing” and I learned how to turn out nice, soft, supple, horses that would work cattle one day and become a 4-h horse on the weekend.

In 1978, I was chosen to represent our county on the Harney County Fair court. This was a very high honor and sought by many country gals with a country/horse background. This wasn’t your garden-variety beauty contest. We had to be pretty to look at, be graceful, poised (which I had a few problems with) and well mannered, but we also had to ride very, very well. The reining pattern of choice for our horsemanship test was the old pattern with one large & small figure 8’s, correct flying lead changes, rollbacks, spins, and sliding stops. We were judged on our Rodeo Grand entries that were fast, furious, and you needed a good stop on your horses. You also had to have a horse that would tolerate parades with all the noise, pomp and circumstance that goes with environment. Contestant scores were based 75% horsemanship and 25% on the rest.
These are tryout pictures from 1977.

The following summer, in 1979, we traveled to over 35 rodeos in 13 weeks. Two large parades, the Portland Oregon Rose Festival, and the Snake River Stamped in Nampa Idaho, plus assisting with choosing the next court for 1980. It was a grand summer. I learned a lot about public speaking, standing up in front of crowds and working a crowd for benefits.
Yep I have even rode an app or two!

After I left home, I kept horses in my life; I spent many years in the horse show ring and dealt with many crappy snobbish people. Arabians are part of my life now and I love their spirit and intelligence. They get a bad rapt for being stupid, but they really are not, they love to please and I haven’t found one that you can’t do it all with. Just look at Saber, shooting horse, western pleasure, sport horse, English show horse, and of course sidesaddle in western, English and jumping. I have jumped him aside 3’6”. I have been invited to Equine Affair twice, once in Kentucky and then Ohio to showcase jumping aside. I have also been invited to ride in the parade of breeds at the Kentucky horse park for sidesaddle demos in 2002 – 2006.

One thing that I love about CMSA is the people, they are a breath of fresh air and it feels like home to me. Cowboys and Cowgirls working to one goal. Have fun, Socialize, and ride fast horses, with blazing guns.

Just a side note: In 2003, I was published in the Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul ~ I wrote a story called Great Grandma Hazel and the Sidesaddle. My sister jokingly tells folks that our family is now cultured since I have been published. I just have to smile at her and get embarrassed, as I never thought it would make the cut in the first place. Just goes to show what happens when you least expect good things to happen.

I have been doing sidesaddle since I was 11 the story tells about how I got started riding and why.

They call it a Disease

If you ask my parents what I have they would tell you it is an affliction, end of story.

But if you ask millions of other horse crazy people in the world, (usually more women than men) they would tell you it is a disease. There is no cure for this sickness except to buy, rent, lease, or be close to a horse. Sometime even that isn’t enough to help the allure of the equine passion. Just a whiff of horse sweat would drive me nuts, I always thought, if I could just make a perfume that smells like a horse I would be a millionaire overnight.

My Father Bob McDonald, even as a young boy you can see horses were a big part of his life. No wonder it runs in the genes!

Sadly, my father is to blame for my affliction, if you can call it that, on my first birthday; dear old dad brought home a Wonder Horse. How many of you remember those? Plastic horse with a wooden handle through the head for the riders hands to hold and wooden handles for the feet rest on. The horse’s front feet folded back under it’s self with the hind feet tucked under their plastic belly, the horse was mounted on four metal springs attached to a metal tube rack for support. You could either rock this horse back and forth or bounce on it. My father, bless him, with only good intentions, promptly put me on it and started to bounce me. (Just a little harder than I wanted according to Mom) Needless to say I took my first spill from a horse (plastic at that), and ran to my mother for safety. Dad, the true blue cowboy that he was, took me back and placed me back on Wonder Pony, because everybody who rides a horse knows the golden rule “if you fall or get bucked off you get right back on!” That was the last time I cried about a horse, unless I was told, “no you can’t ride or no you don’t need one of your own.” I liked that horse so much and I could bounce it so hard that I could walk him across the floor. I think that is when Mom, bottle of aspirin in hand and with hand held to head told Dad that poor Wonder Horse had to go and I had to find another mount.

This brings me to the plastic stick horses, soft plastic heads that were red, black, or brown. My favorites were the black ones! They had string manes, and vinyl tape reins with a small silver bell attached at the bottom of the bit, a wooden stick coming out the bottom of the horse’s head, painted whatever color the horse’s head was with a candy cane stripe down the length. This stick horse was just the right size for you to throw a leg over and gallop all over the house, the yard, or the driveway if the notion took you. Between the ages of 4 and 7 again according to Mom, I wore one out about every two months. Not because these darling horses were hard mouthed, but because the farrier with no amount of coaxing could add more stick length after I worn it down and it became too short for me. I remember one afternoon asking Grandpa Henry to please take one of grandma’s Vi’s broom handles and put poor Blacky’s head on it, because he just didn’t fit me anymore. Grandpa kindly declined, I think, because he was afraid grandma would put his behind on the stick. With this turn of events I finally grew up enough to get a real horse. This brings me to the one and only Shetland pony in my life.

I became the owner of Scotch the piebald pony at the tender age of 5 years. Dad had an uncle that lived about an hour from our ranch, and he had this little Shetland pony. It had foundered and needed another home. So Dad took the pickup to Beulah along with a bottle of real Scotch Whisky to trade my uncle for the pony (now that is real horse trading material)and hauled this pony home for me and to give Mom some needed peace and quiet in the house. Mom on the other hand did not get her needed rest because I in turn kept asking her all day “Mommy would you saddle and bridle Scotch for me PLEASE?”

Mike standing behind Scotch, my youngest sister Beverly, at his head and myself standing at his shoulder. Taken at Rainbow Meadow, Oregon 1967. Notice the hobbles on his front feet. He had a nasty habit of leaving camp!

Scotch was a great pony that is if you didn’t mind having your legs scraped on everything from bushes, to gate posts or get a bath whether you wanted one or not, because he would lay down in irrigation ditches, with saddle and all, just to remove you from his body. I remember one incident when Scotch tried to rub me off on Dad when he was talking to a gentleman in our yard. Dad was explaining something to this guy and lifted his arm up to point out a building to him. Scotch saw this as the perfect opportunity to get rid of me and proceeded to run under Dad’s arm. Needless to say it wasn’t one of his brighter moments. Dad decided he had enough of Scotch and his antics at my expense, and got on and rode him for about 20 minutes. Funniest thing you ever saw, this great big man on this little horse with his feet dragging the ground. Scotch just trotting trying to bounce Dad off. I never laughed so hard in my life. What Scotch did teach me at an early age was to envy my Dad’s saddle horses. These were the big honest horses in my life at this point. They always seemed to do what Dad told them and they didn’t put Dad in the fence or the water. Unfortunately Scotch was all I had until Dad brought home Mohab.

Mohab was half Morgan and Half Arab, and if I remember right the only Arab that Dad ever allowed on the place. He had a funny way of traveling because when he loped he loped sideways like a dog and Dad started calling him ole rubberneck. The reason for this nickname was because no matter how hard you tried to neck rein or plow rein him over to direction that you wanted go, he would just counter canter the opposite. So Dad trained him to calf rope since he liked to run straight, but that didn’t last long when Mohab got into some wire and cut his hind legs pretty bad. After that incident and he healed up, he became my new horse.

Mohab and myself – first time in 4-H 1968
Harney County Fair, Burns, Oregon

Mother was stilling hoping for peace and quiet with this new horse because I had two more sisters by this time and the three of us kept her pretty busy. Also neither one of them had the affliction for which she was grateful! Unfortunately for Mom I still bothered her to help me saddle and bridle, because the horse was bigger and he always would lift his head higher than I could reach to put the bridle on. Funny how horses always know how to out smart a 6 year old kid.

By now I was becoming a better rider and Dad would take me with him in the spring of the year to help turn out the cattle in the forests of eastern Oregon for summer grazing. This was a big highlight for me because I got to spend two weeks with my Dad and grandfather up in the hills at buckaroo camp and ride all day. Another bonus to this was getting out of school early at the end of year. It was only a day or two before school ended officially, but it was fun to tell all my friends that summer vacation was starting early for me. I rode in the hills every spring until I graduated from high school and I still have fond memories of trailing cattle through the ponderosa forests.

My horse riding skills improved daily because I was always riding, even in the winter. When you live on a working cattle ranch you ride continuously no matter the weather or the conditions. I think it made me a better-rounded horsewoman for it. Of course Mom still got the brunt of my horse adventures, especially in the spring when I would come in from at ride bare back and then throw my pants with horsehair and sweat stuck to them in the washer usually unannounced to her and promptly turn it on so that I could have clean jeans for riding the next day. I never looked to see what else might be in there and mom was hollering at me because horsehair got everywhere even in the clean clothes!

Brandings were a fun event for me as well; I think it made my Dad nervous for a change instead of Mom. He was always warning me to remember to keep my fingers out of the dallies when I was roping. I remember him saying, “Remember to keep your thumb up Sis!” I never worked on the ground with my mother or my youngest sisters. That was just not my style; I wanted to be horseback and roping to bring the calves to the fire. I was now riding my Dad’s best working stock horse “Chester”. (Who, by the way if you were to ask him, Dad would tell you to this day that I just ruined “Chester” chasing barrels.) I probably did, but it sure was fun! Chester was the best roping horse that Dad had; he knew when to pull, when to let off, and when to hold the rope tight. I pretty much just sat there and threw the loop. When things went smoothly it was fun, but when things went wrong it could get ugly. I remember one year when I was roping and the rope got stuck under my horse’s tail. Now talk about a bucking fit, it made ole Wonder Horse look docile. Chester clamped his tail down; Dad started yelling “turn him out from under it Sis,” and the other cowboys just got out of the way to give ole Chester room to move. I managed to get the rope out, but I had lost the calf and that hurt my feelings more than the ribbing I got at lunch break.

Dad and Chester, 1971 winning the Harney County Stock Horse Futurity for the 5-year-old division.

I grew up with knowledge of horses that just scratched the surface, I thought I knew enough to break colts out for other people and then I went to college, got married and had kids. At this point horses were not a part of my life and it just about drove me crazy. The horse disease had reared its head again. My first husband just about died the day I came home with a friend and said, “Hi love, I just bought a horse.” The look on this poor man’s face was pure devastation; you would have thought I had slugged him in the stomach. He did finally understand that no matter how much you take the girl out of the country the country is always going to stay in the girl. Horses are the same way, you take the horse away from the girl but the girl is still going to long for the horse. Or figure out a way to get the horse to the girl. Yep you guessed it. I got the horse to the girl and it was a Half Arabian gelding, black just like my stick horses of the past and green so that I could break him out the way I wanted. His name, Shadow Dancer!

Shadow and I at a local Indiana horse show, riding saddle seat aside.

Poor Shadow was now the victim of a person that hadn’t been around horses for about 12 years. I was so excited to have another horse that I did just about everything to him, western riding, English, cutting, roping, and driving just to name a few. As time went on we even went elk hunting together, which he enjoyed as long as the elk were still alive. The dead part just wasn’t his cup of tea, but if you needed to know where the game was just look between his ears, for those ears were greatest radar detectors for elk or deer that I’ve ever seen in action, he always would see them before me.

I sent Shadow to my niece to use for pony club so that she and her sister would not have to share a horse. I always had one and I though it was only fair they should each have one to ride. My friends have all teased me that I have given away the best horse that I will ever own. Yet I ask them “how will I know unless I get a new one and see how that colt will turn out?” I have been blessed with several Shadows over the years and each one is always a new challenge and I look forward to many more. I hope that Mankind will never get a cure for this affliction and hope that many more ladies and gentleman get to be just a crazy as I have been. You never known when it is going to strike you whether you are young or old but I can tell you that there isn’t a more wonderful way to spend your life than with a horse!