Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Tribute to Lady

(I started this back in 2007 on the day we had to put Lady down but couldn't bring myself to finish it. Perhaps now I'm ready to finish and share it. We'll see!) 

Probably my favorite photo of Lady is this one of her standing at the fence. 

This picture is grand-daughter Annie turning the end pole on Lady probably 6-7 years ago?

Lady is pictured with grand-daughter Laramie Jo to the right. That one was probably taken about 2004 or 2005 I think!

I know it’s a bit odd, but I feel I should do this eulogy for a good friend of mine… a horse.

Her name was Lady…. which was a misnomer. She was a lot of things but not really a Lady. She wasn’t a sweetie, or a pet…none of the personality traits of a Lady. But she was special…. really, really special.

She was a pretty little mare. We called her buckskin but it wasn’t the mouse tan of many buckskins. She was gold… the color of a new coin. And in the spring when she shed-off, she had dapples that looked like coins had been sprinkled over her hide. Her mane and tail were black. Some white socks, some black. And a pretty blaze of white down a pretty dished face with dark points.

Many years ago (1972?) my husband went to the Benkleman horse sale with his drinking buddies in the midst of winter and brought her home. It was cold. The story was that they almost hit a train at Bird City coming home in the middle of the night in heavy fog, the driver and passengers well oiled, the horse in an open trailer.

They said she’d been brought down from Wyoming by a horse trader. She’d been clipped and/or blanketed because she was slick and shiny, too much so for that time of year. She came home without protection and developed a bad case of distemper next day. We put her in the old brooder house with an old blanket or quilt draped over her. My daughters can still remember the horrible gobs of snot coming from her nostrils. She pulled through, a testament to her toughness.

That was some 34 or 35 years ago, if I’m figuring right. No papers but she must have been a two-year-old, or possible three.

Today, at age 36+/-, she went home to God’s pastures.

How did she live so long? In recent years a lot of it had to do with tons of loving care given her by my son-in-law. Not love so much for the horse as for his wife and children who loved the horse. Lady was not much of a man’s horse. Any man who ever trimmed her hooves or even her bridle path had huge respect…. and a ton of special names for her. One that comes to mind was “Sow,” after she bit an experienced horseman’s thumb, never mind that she was twitched at the time. Others I won't mention; you all know what they probably were!

But let me get back to her special qualities. Let’s see. She was never known to buck or rear, although she wasn’t above showing teeth or hooves on occasion. She had some cow, was quick and agile. My daughters and granddaughters all learned to ride on Lady. My niece took her turn with her in the horse-less horse project. Both my grandsons rode her at least once. My oldest grand child Kaylee put the youngest, Coy, on her when we visited this August, turning him loose to ride the old mare alone. I’m not sure Coy was that impressed but it meant a lot to grandma and his mom.

Racing events were her bailiwick with pole bending her specialty. Not too many years back she took a grand daughter to top place at a county fair over some really fancy horses. For many years she would stand outside an arena with eyes closed, obviously napping, but once she was through the gate she was ready to rip.

Any horse person worth their salt would understand why we are all a little teary eyed over her passing. But to get the full picture, you need the rest of the story.

You see, Lady was, more than anything else, a survivor. Something to hang on to when the going got rough. You see, my husband was an alcoholic who ended up making both his own life and that of his family a real hell. When we struggled with him, Lady was there. The girls started to ride..... on Lady and another mare named Franny!

Then when my husband ended his life and put the girls and I into rebuilding our own, Lady was there. We moved to a different location in the same community, and Lady went with us. Other horses came and went, but Lady was the constant.

When the girls moved on to college and marriages, I moved 250 miles east to my old home territory and Lady went with me. She stayed at my Mom's place with free run of the pasture for a few years. I quite frankly thought she had retired forever at that time. Then when my oldest grand children started learning to ride, Lady went to Colorado to live with them. And I got to see her every time I visited. One by one she taught them all to stay balanced and hang on. She became the mount for grandson Brody when he visited his cousins. And for just one time, for Coy! 

Her duties didn't stop with grand children. Their Colorado ranch is home base for a Christian youth ministry based on horses and rodeo. Lady became a mainstay for teaching kids to ride. I'd like to have a dollar for every child who ever sat her saddle.

The grand-daughters all moved on to bigger and faster horses. And they all tried to save the grandma-horse from abuse. Campers had to be told she was too old to ride everyday. But every one still loved her. Her legs stiffened but she survived. The final year her eyes went. Once the boss horse, she now struggled to stay out of the way of the rest of the herd! At the end, she only trusted one other horse to lead her through the gates and around the pastures. If they got separated she was frantic. In the end it became obvious that while she was surviving, it was with fear and misgivings.  As a senior citizen, I was once more learning from her example, accepting a painful but realistic message!

And so it is we came to the end of a long and meaningful life! One that stayed over 30 years to show us how to persevere and survive through just about anything! 

We will miss her! And none of us will ever forget her!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Horse Induced Scars All Over My Body

Well, maybe not ALL over my body! But I do carry two that I can think of.

The first I've carried for over 45 years! A friend had a horse but no place to keep it so I talked Dad into letting me keep it over the summer. I loved to ride and only had a small pony. Having daily use of a bigger horse was like heaven to me! 

He was a pretty fair little animal but a little green! I thought I could ride but in honesty, I was a little green, too! We were out riding in the fields one evening and had started toward home. But I decided to turn him around and lope in the opposite direction one more time! 

No, that wasn't his idea. As I leaned forward in the "go" position, he threw up his head in a "no way" action. His neck hit my mouth. Ouch! I had a prominent eye tooth (we didn't have money for such things as orphodontics) which basically impaled my upper lip, left side.  Showed it to a small town doctor (ex-missionary) who told me to put Bactine on it. That was my first experience with Bactine. It healed fine but to this day I have a slightly skewed lip line there. Gives my smile character!

The second scar was a mite scarier. When my girls were just getting into horses (ages 7 & 9 maybe) we had a young buckskin gelding we had raised from our all-time favorite mare, Lady! We called him Butterscotch! We'd had him green-broke by a trainer and had brought him home, but not kept up the riding on a regular basis. One day my husband insisted I should ride him out around the field with our daughters, they on their good old reliables, me on Butterscotch! I didn't want to do it because I didn't think the horse was ready for my level of riding skills. I think hubby was just trying to prove to me that I wasn't a horseman at all! Turned out hubby was right but it nearly cost me my life to prove it! Maybe that's what he had in mind all the time!

After having successfully made it around about 80 acres of stalks, we were nearing the yard, when Butterscotch decided to rear. Now, a buck I might have handled, but not a rear. At times like this I have this way of splitting into two beings - one that can see, analyze, reason and know just what should be done, and the other that pays absolutely no attention to the first, but just does what its natural reaction says to do. As the horse was rearing, my mind said I should let go, get thrown clear and be rid of this beast. The other part of me would not have any part of that but insisted on holding tight to the saddle horn, pulling leather as they say. Like my natural being liked the security of hanging onto something solid, never mind where it might take you!

As we were going over, I was pulling horn and saddle and horse that was attached, all 800 pounds or so, directly toward my body which was headed for terra firma, and I do mean firma.
I distinctly remember saying to myself, You dumb idiot! You're going to kill yourself by hanging on! But do you think I could let go? Not on your life.... or mine! 

I think if the horse had come directly onto my chest dead center (pun intended) I might not be writing this today. But I took the horn to one side on my right boob, then felt it slip into my armpit area. I wasn't knocked out though maybe a mite short of good air. Seems I got up in a fairly timely manner. You can bet I did not adhere to the code of the West. I did NOT get back on. Not did I ever get on that horse again. I think he went to the sale barn. If I remember right, he bucked off daughter #1 on a cool 4th of July! I remember he kicked me lightly on the thigh once when he was but a foal. Needless to say, he was not one of my favorites!

This actual train wreck did not really leave a scar so much as a fatty deposit on my upper right boob. Several years later a doctor decided to aspirate it, then do a little outpatient surgery and remove the fatty tissue part. Left a scar at that time! I forget about it until I go for a mammogram when they always ask about it and I say, oh that! That's where a horse fell on me! Sounds adventursome! But it was just plain stupid!

Yes, I love those horses but they are bigger than we are! 

Friday, October 17, 2008

JR and the Grain Bucket

Ever notice how when certain groups gather they share stories around common themes? Women in general will get together and trade stories about the birthing of their children.

Country women will do that, too. But they also like to trade stories about their country experiences..... with animals, ..... machinery, ....... storms, ..... and combinations there-of.

Ranch Wife's recent story about saddling a horse reminded me of my many horse-induced scars..... some visible, some only left in my vivid memory!

One invisible one (at least I hope its invisible) occurred when I covered for daughter #2 at feeding time one evening. At that time, she had the sweetest, most easy-going horse she probably ever owned..... JR.  Of blue blood ancestry (grandson of the great Secretariat), JR was supposed to become a fast prize-winning barrel horse.  Not! He inherited his grand-sire's beautiful red color but not his speed. From somewhere he also picked up a big white spot on his belly, making him a registered Paint. But as I said, his best quality was his lovable disposition. Never ever offered any bad habits, ever!

Daughter's other horse at that time was her mare, Cindy, also pretty easy to get along with. The two horses were usually kept in separate runs but for some reason, Cindy was in the pen with JR that day. No problems there. They got along great!

So I go to feed. Its mid-winter, fairly dark of evening. The pen has a small barn where-in is the feed bunk, JR's normal dinner table. Of course there's no light inside the barn but I figure there's enough to find the bunk, dump in part of the grain, then head outside to find Cindy's tub on the ground. 

So I enter the stall, bucket in hand. JR hears the bucket, comes to supper and starts eating as soon as the grain hits the wood. Cindy, being the well-mannered (and smart) lady she is, waits outside the door some 12-15 feet away. I turn to move around JR to the door when there is a sudden burst of fire (well, it felt like fire!) on my hind side. My instant thought is that I've backed into a protruding nail in the dark. This thought is followed with logic. No, that could not be since I'm moving away from anything with that part of my body, not backing into anything. I was moving forward and this pain was most definitely on my back side. On my Burcham butt, to be precise! (We in this family tend to have inherited a well padded portion from those particular ancestors!)

It takes a few moments for me to realize JR is shuffling about, tossing his head, staking his claim on his grain lest Cindy try to come steal it. Later inspections under lamp light confirm that this dear sweet horse has indeed planted his chompers not on Cindy, but on yours truly! On my butt no less!

Sweet Cindy did finally get her share that night but if I could have, I would have taken JR's back. No, maybe I'd best not try that! I've always wondered if JR even realized what he'd bitten into.

After nearly 20 years, I don't think there's a scar but I haven't really looked lately!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

God Bless the Western

Good brother mine sent me a link ref this morning that provided a nice trip to the past. I don't know how to establish a link here, but this is the address:

Oh, my, how I miss those folks! All of them! I look at them today and realize the plots were a bit skewed, violent, cheesy and un-real. But they kept me entertained. I'd sure put them up against the urban based stuff we see so much of today.  And all those horses! Wow!

But that's just my opinion! 

Hope yo enjoy as well! 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dog-Gone Great Music Shows

My life has been a whirlwind recently!  Almost a blur! Fortunately, I did get to recharge Sunday afternoon and evening or I'd most likely be passing out on the job! So far.. not!

It stated with a bluegrass concert Thursday night - Cherryholmes! A family group - parents and 4 kids. I hadn't heard of them but when the university puts a bluegrass group on their concert series, I figure they may be worth having a look! Well, they were! Fantastic! Mom is so-o-o-o-o talented! And energetic! Beautiful voice! Great looker and her with four kids! Dan is a character! Two daughters and two sons. All musically talented. Ages 15-25 I think. And only have been playing instruments for 9 years. Makes me ashamed of myself for not doing more with what little talent I have. 

Friday, sister and I headed for Wichita and Michael BublĂ© concert. Oh my, oh my! He is great! Wonderful singer! Fantastic big band! And great entertainment! Really knows how to play to an audience! 

We stayed at my niece's ranch. I've decided to call it the Box 4 Zs. Maybe it should be JT Box 4 Zs. Zues, Zeta, Zeb and Zena. Those are the four dogs. They have a lovely place in the country. One of those best of two world's kinds of places - not town but not a full farm either. Anyway, they are a lovely set of canines..... beautiful and full of life! And mom and dad aren't bad either!

One of my responsiblities for the week-end was to dog-sit for Bow. I live in an apartment that is part of Bow's house. Anyway, everyone - me, the folks upstairs, everyone - left Friday morning, leaving Bow in charge. Bow is an outdoors dog, king of the farmstead, and quite capable of tending things in our absence. But I knew he was going to be both lonely and a little hungry when I got home Saturday night. So when I arrived, I stepped out of the car and opened my arms to welcome his expected show of affection. Picture Bo Derek and Dudley Moore running toward each other across the beach - that was Bow and me. Well, he was running, I was stepping forward with my hand extended. That's as close as I got to the image I'm trying to portray.  My intention was to offer a reassuring pat, but Bow was into more personal responses. Now, you have to realize that Bow is not a small dog. He is more like a small horse. He lovingly, with a heart full of joy and mirth, grabbed the extended hand in his open mouth, slobbered the kiss of affection there and moved on to dance around the object of his affection.... me. One little problem! His upper canine - dagger that it is - touched the top of my hand in a love pat that was more than just a little tap. Ouch! I now sport a band-aid to contain the wound until it heals. You know, love can be like that...... painful, and leaving a wound! Like, he meant well..........  And I love him......  We just both need a little more time in education or therapy, I'm not sure which!

Anyway, it was an extended week-end full of great music, beautiful dogs and some neat football games on the tube. Oh, and Braum's ice cream! What more could a person ask!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bucket List, you say?

So bj has crossed one off his list with the use of "astute." I thought I'd look it up just to be sure it was a good thing. Shows shrewdness (does that make me a shrew?) and perspicacity. Now, that's a new one - perspicacity. Perceptive, keen vision. Wow! Like that one!

Speaking of bucket lists! If you haven't seen the movie, get it and do a viewing. Very thought provoking. Humor, yes, as one would expect with Nicholson, but also touching. I saw it in a theater and was not prepared with a hankie. But its a good hankie film.

So I think I should pay more attention to a bucket list. I tend to just get through the day or week or whatever. Take whatever happens. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some very interesting things just happen.

But I really should put a little thought into what might be good on a bucket list. Places I'd like to visit mostly.  But should also include things I'd like to do. Like sing more. And get back to quilting.

I've been reaching for a few bucket list items this fall. Bought some concert tickets, in pairs. It's no fun going alone. So far, I've heard Garrison Keillor and went to a production of Sweeney Todd. Loved Sweeney. Thought it might be gruesome (was once in an amateur production so knew what to expect) but they really handled it all quite well.  Fascinating theatrics! 

Tonight it's blue grass music, a favorite of mine. And tomorrow night my sister and I are going to a concert by Michael Bublé. And I'd never even thought to put him on my bucket list. Heck, I don't even have time to MAKE a bucket list!

See you at the theatre!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Guidelines for Getting Thru Presidential Elections

Just one month to go! Can we get there and still love one another? Can we get through it and still love ourselves?

I've been contemplating some premises and guidelines:

1. When receiving e-mail and snail-mail pieces, remember you will be offended by the ones that disagree with you....... and lo-o-o-ove the ones who get it right.... as you see it! 

2. Try not to consider the candidates statements of faith or demonstrations of patriotism. Some mighty despicable characters in history have professed to be this religion or that. And anyone with one arm can wave a flag! Only God really knows what is in their hearts!

3. Consider the candidates' promises with a grain of salt! No one at Point A knows what's going to work when he gets to point B. And if he or she is that sure, they may miss out on making a change that will make a real difference.

4. Don't look at the pictures; they may lie! Haircuts, fashion selections and natural beauty do not necessarily a smart mind make! 

5. Try to listen to words said for content.... though it be hard! 

6. Look for the good in every candidate! If your choice loses, you will be stuck with this one so it might be nice to have something to look forward to.

7. Try to analyze past record in context, not in the words of the opposing side only! Remember that things are seldom the way they appear!

8. Note: Balancing all the issues will probably mean not getting what you want on each and every one. But making a one-issue decision can be dangerous.

9. When hearing the stories of having survived tragic events, consider how that prepared the person to make decisions in office. That's the real question here. Perhaps the only real tragedy for a candidate is not having any tragic history to pull from!

10. Strive to be God-like.... practice unconditional love.... regardless of the other's person's choices. 

See anything here you can use? Probably not. Oh, well! We can have a get together after the election and celebrate..... or not!