Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 6

The story begins here.

The new program down the road from my home was a non profit, aimed towards providing horseback riding lessons for the local Native American tribe. Normally, this program was only for the Native American youth, but white volunteers were accepted as well. The bargain I had striked up with LF was cleaning, feeding (since I lived so close) and helping babysit the group of kids while they each got a lesson. In return, I had access to ride when a horse was available after lessons, and possibly a lesson from LF. This wasnt the greatest deal and didnt always give me very much time in the saddle, but I was happy with it as it provided me my horse time.

LF had a small breeding program. Not as selective or even as successful (in terms of breeding stock quality animals) as J's, but my uneducated knowledge of a well conformed horse or even bloodlines back then were slim to none. LF had one breeding stallion named Tuff Design, Joey was his barn name. He was a red dun Quarter Horse and stood about 15.1hh. He was a seemingly nice stud and was gentle with the small children. A few years later as my own horsemanship knowledge expanded I learned that he was not only poorly conformed and didnt deserve his stud status, but he also had a serious breaking point when it came to training him. If you pushed him just past easy peasy riding and asked for more consentrated work, he could get a bit aggressive.

But to a young teenager with no stallion experience, I thought he was a nice guy and I loved seeing his babies.

Tuff Design, and Maggie in the background.

I spent all that summer helping LF run the lessons. I would pack a small sandwich for my lunch, and meet LF at the barn (really, the facility was a barn used for hay and tack storage, the rest was all pasture. A few of the pastures had shelters but not all of them). I helped her feed and get ready for the day's activites. I started to even get saddle time on group trail rides on one of her broodmares, Maggie. I was in teenage horse crazy girl heaven. My entire summer consisted of all day horse time and I thought I was getting a pretty good deal.

I was foolishly enthralled with LF as well. I believed she was extremely knowledgable and took nearly everything she said to heart. Her program was considered "Native Horsemanship" basically a spinoff of natural horsemanship. I liked her ideas of forming a relationship of trust with the horses, and in honesty, I did learn how to use a progression of pressure (moreso, how to be very light in my hands) and how to ride off of my seat. I rode bareback a lot at her program, and emersed myself in this new theory of "Native Horsemanship."

I developed an interest in one of her first foals (at this time now a three year old). Her name was Fawnie, Berts Tuff Bunny on the registered papers. She was an Appendix Quarter Horse and was a classic example of a dun. I thought she was not only beautiful but a sweetheart and I began "leasing" her from LF. I paid $50 in cash every month (amazingly, got my parents to agree to it) and it was in exchange for riding her whenever she wasnt needed for lessons. Fawn was a bit bull headed at times but I loved her. I believe she was the first horse I rode bareback in fact.

Bert's Tuff Bunny, aka, Fawnie

This was the time when that Pixar movie, Spirit Stallion of the Cimmaron had come out, and naturally every kid had seen it. Moreover, everyone wanted to ride Fawn because she looked like Spirit with her dun markings. LF also liked using her for lessons. Not too long after we started leasing her, I was getting less and less time with her, and was instead appointed riding time on some of the older (boring to me) lesson horses. There was Joker, a 22 year old leopard spotted Appaloosa (a really opinionated guy), and Snowy, a 26 year old Grey Arabian mare. But she was being leased out to a girl who jumped on her. So I had more time on Joker's back then Snowy. I did get to ride Maggie, LF's broodmare as well, and sometimes Joey, but I was upset that I was paying money to lease Fawn and never had access to her. LF always brushed me off about it when I would ask her, and would play the guilt trip on me that I wasnt paying for a "full" lease (apparently, it was a 1/4 lease?).

Then one day LF took myself and the girl leasing Snowy to the same Hunter facility I had taken my first lesson at. The girl was trying out a jumping horse there and if she and her parents liked him, would purchase and keep him at LF's place with her allowed access to use him for lessons. LF had me come along to later ride him and get an idea of if he would work for their lesson program.

That was the first day I laid eyes on the gelding that would soon become my first horse.

Part 7


Rising Rainbow said...

Interesting how we look at those with think have knowledge with such admiration when we begin our equine journey.

I remember stars in my eyes for an old cowboy with a rental string. I doted on every word. I so loved his stories. Now I hardly remember a thing except his name, the fact he believed horses should be respected, and the name of his stallion.

Sounds to me like this woman was taking advantage of you. Sad that people can do that with kids. Reminds me of the people I'm currently posting about, they feed off of children. Very sad.

Can't wait for the next installment. You are doing just find with your cliff hangers. LOL

Story said...

@Rising Rainbow - they just always know that us horse crazy kids will do anything for a ride. Very sad indeed.