Monday, September 28, 2009

Mouthy Mondays

Hey guys. I have probably 15 stories waiting to go up on Mondays. HOC was right, they read better one at a time so I don't want to double up. You are welcome to keep sending stories, I'll store them, but you can see how bad I am at keeping track of when they come in.

I store them all, I want to post them all, but I mess up the order.
So be warned, you might want to hang on to your stories for a bit, I'll tell everybody when to send more.

Also, I don't know if I already posted this one or read it and really liked it (which I do) so I think I posted it...If it's a rerun let me know, I'll put up the next one.

Now you know what I'm like on Mondays.

This story is a good one. The writer wants to stay anonymous, which I'll always honor, so it has an air of mystery......

I never do any writing but you inspired me to reminisce in an old memory and to reflect on the journey my mare and I have had. Thank you for that.

I wasn’t from a horse family, and I didn’t have much money. I don’t know if it was because of this or my embarrassment over my lack of lessons and horse lingo, but I didn't have very many riding friends either.

I bought my first horse from a barn that was a 20 minute bike ride from my parents house, they wouldn't take me to look so I had to find my own way. I was 14 and after 2 years of saving my part time job money I was the proud owner of a small, green, off the track, chestnut thoroughbred mare - at a barn primarily made up of warmbloods.

Now that I owned her, I realized I didn't have a penny to my name for tack. Luckily some of the older ladies at the barn took pity on me and leant me enough pieces to put together a saddle and bridle.

Over the next year I poured myself over books learning about the things lessons and camp never teach you, trying be a better owner and desperate to fit in. I was still pretty much ignored. I heard it all “green + green = black and blue”, you’re too tall for her, she’ll never made a nice hunter, she’s too small, but I didn’t care.

My parents never did come meet her, my high school friends weren’t interested and I was an outcast among the girls where I rode.

But onward we stumbled, learning as we went about basic care and the importance of patience. After about a year I decided I would try my hand at showing and we went to a hunter show down the road.

My mare stood out with her lumpy braids (my first time using yarn), mismatched tack (but I finally owned it), and me wearing rubber boots and a blazer from Zellers. As the trailer dropped us off I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I sat alone all day holding my mare, listening to kids snapping at their parents/coaches and trainers as their nerves started to get to them. I ate my sandwich and groomed my horse far away from the show rings, as others my age dropped their horse with their parents and went to watch the competition.

That day I learnt what "in the shoot" meant, and that you had to count your striding in between fences, and that it probably would have been nice if someone other then an irritated stranger could have held my horse for me while I took a rushed bathroom break. Our rounds weren’t amazing, we were fast, unbalanced and didn't get our leads. When we were in the line up waiting for the placings to be called, the girl next to me informed me that I was only supposed to use a white saddle pad at shows, not blue and she clearly didn’t think much of my outfit.

I tried to keep positive as I waited for the trailer to come pick us up at the end of the day, I cuddled with my little mare and quietly pulled out her braids. I rubbed her body and legs down as she quietly munched her hay.

As I waited, I started to feel self-conscious of one of the nearby coaches watching me. I knew who she was but I knew she wouldn't know me. Eventually she came over and put her hand on my horse’s side. I expected her to tell me I had put my wraps on wrong or some other correction but instead she quietly said "I knew this horse years ago and she's been waiting her whole life for someone to love her like you do, you’re doing a good job – don’t give up" and then she went back to her group of people.

Ten years later, I still remember that sentence over all of the snags me and my mare ever hit, or the negativity I received from other riders and their coaches as I bumbled around the hunter circuit.

I never got bitter, took my horse for granted or got angry at the people who offered me “pointers” at shows. I also never “traded up” to a bigger, flashier horse. My connection with riding boils down to the love I have for my horse, not the labels on my clothes, the name of my trainer or the number of ribbons hanging on my wall.

Still today, I love that now retired mare, and I think it’s appropriate to say that I had been waiting my whole life for a horse to love me like that, to take good care of me as I made mistakes and to never notice that her tack still doesn’t match.

For that I’ll be forever grateful.

OK, here's another one...I think I got it right this time. This is about a first endurance ride, I could so relate.

I must have been about 14 and my favorite riding buddy at the time was 12.

We found a flyer for an endurance ride at the local feed store. It was over the same trails we rode almost every weekend. We just knew we were going to be a shoo-in to win this ride.

We had no idea what the ride entailed or what endurance rides were all about, we just knew that our horses knew those trails and were in excellent physical shape. We were giddy and excited about our big find and made a pact not to tell the rest of our little group so we wouldn’t have so much competition.

The ride started way out on the outskirts of town instead of at the trail head. It only added a few miles onto the ride itself but since we didn’t have a horse trailer it would add a good 5 miles to our ride. But we figured that if we just rode more and more on the days leading up to the ride and really kept our horses in tip top shape we could do it.

So we planned, rode and did everything a couple of teenage girls could dream up to get in shape for the big event. We made sure our horses were shod two weeks prior, we each bought some light weight saddle bags to carry our food and drinks in and of course we talked about what to wear.

So the big day comes, we get up, are saddled and ready to go by 3:30am. The ride started at 8:00 am but we wanted to be there in time to let the horses rest for a while before we actually took off on the ride.

It was dark outside when we took off down the rode. We figured that the fastest, shortest way to get to the starting point was to go down the main drag through town. It was a large four lane boulevard, shouldn’t be too busy at 4am and after all there were plenty of stoplights.

Finally we get down to the freeway, (yes I said freeway) and we decide that the safest place to ride on a major freeway is in the median or middle. Heck is was all nice and level, with sand and gravel. The horses didn’t seem to care about the traffic and it was getting light outside. You know how when you think about how far someplace is you always think that it is less than it actually is?

Well we rode on the freeway for quite awhile when our friendly local Highway Patrol officer pulled off in front of us. He was a little more than annoyed with us. The conversation went something like this… Officer: “Girls what are you doing riding on the freeway, don’t you know it is illegal to ride horses on the freeway?”

Us: (scared half to death) “No sir, we are on our way to an endurance ride that starts at the Garden Drive exit.”

Officer: “You didn’t see the sign on the on ramp that says BICYCLIST AND EQUESTRIANS PROHIBITIED?”

Us: “No Sir, it was dark when we came on to the freeway.”

I thought his head was going to explode. We were quiet as church mice as he stood there scratching his head. I am sure he was trying to figure out how to get us off the freeway in short order. Then he says “Do you know I can site you for riding your horses on the freeway? Do your parents know you are out here?”

We both start to bawl. Site us, tell our parents, we were dead. Of course no one had bothered to ask us how we intended to get to the big ride and we definitely knew better than to volunteer that information. He finally tells for us to get to the Garden Drive exit as fast as we can and to NEVER, EVER, pull a stunt like this again. We wipe the tears away and thank him a million times over and start back out on our journey.

We had lost time and he expected us to hurry so we start long trotting to the exit. As we approach the exit we are sure we are late and that everyone has left without us.

No one was there. No horse trailers, no horses, nothing. We get our maps and entry material out and we start to look at them. Upon closer examination we realize that the ride doesn’t start here. This is the directions for people trailering into town to get to the trail head where the ride is supposed to start. DUH. We have ridden 5 miles out of our way and have to ride 5 miles back to the trail head. And in a hurry to even make it to the event on time.

Obviously, we can’t go back down the freeway.

We have to ride the back roads. We chose not to take this route because is has a long, very narrow, two lane bridge high over the river. We had crossed it before but it was not horse friendly.

A couple of months before a horse had been crossing it and had spooked, jumped over the railing and died. We vowed that we would never cross it again, but here we were, it was either the freeway or the bridge. We decided to take our chances on the bridge.

We didn’t use the pedestrian walkway and led the horses right down the middle of the road stopping morning traffic. We made it across the bridge o.k. but at the end of the bridge is one of our local police officers.

The conversation was very similar to the one we had with the Highway Patrol officer. He didn’t threaten to site us or call our parents but it was uncomfortable none the less. After a good 10 minute lecture on not riding in places that were not safe he let us go on our way.

By this time we were really late. We had another couple of miles to go before we got to the trail head. So we start long trotting to get there.

We finally arrive at the trail head and the check-in staff looked at our horses like what the hell have these two been up to? When I got the look, I knew right away they thought we were idiots.

We told our whole sordid story and they must have thought we were the stupidest kids on earth.

They checked over our horses and released us to go. By the time we got to the end of the ride, our horses were tired and sweaty and so were we.

They had traveled a good 8 to 10 miles further than any other horse there. And we still had to ride home.

The actual endurance riders pointed and whispered. People that we knew pointed and whispered. It was embarrassing. The vet checked our horses and very nicely asked us what happened.

We regaled the whole tragic story. Tears and all. He told us that even though our horses were tired and that they could use a drink, they were probably in better physical shape that most of the horses he had seen that day. I don’t know if he meant it or he just felt sorry for us. He told us to take the ride home slow and give them a good dinner and lots of fresh water and try again next year.

That was my first and last endurance ride. I have never felt like such a loser horse owner as I did that day. I never wanted to feel people looking at me or my horse that way ever again.

It was also proof positive that a horse will give you 110% of everything they have – and then some


  1. It's a good story. I don't know if it was in the comments or an actual Mouthy Monday story but I know I've read it before, too. I don't mind reading it a second time, though!

  2. ess I'll put up another one. Sheesh.

  3. Yep, this one was posted. Love it, though!!

  4. A repeat but definitely a good one! Brought tears to my eyes again today. :)

  5. I added one, I don't think I posted that one.....?

  6. You got it, the second one is a new one. Love both of them.

  7. The first one brought me to tears again. I love that one. Totally didn't mind the rerun!

    The next one was GREAT! HA! How funny - the freeway?!? 'Pulled over' by two different police... too funny. :)

  8. I love that first story too. I was always that girl. The one with the weird spotty pony in my specific case.

    The second one...dying laughing. You know the police had to have been wondering why they had so many horses in traffic calls in one day.

    I don't know if I mentioned it. I've been looking for a new home for the BGM (bratty gray mare) so I can find a more suitable ride for the collection of kids I've acquired. (I just can't say no to my nieces who want to ride) I think I have found the trainer I want to buy from. She showed me five on Sat and they are all great horses at good prices. Very quiet WP horses...morning horses, if you will. Which is good cuz none of the nieces are dying to go screaming around barrells or over fences like I wanted to at that age. Fortunately my old age has slowed me down too. ;) I think I've narrowed it down to two but now I don't know how to pick between the two I love. Mugs - Do you have any tips for fitting the right horse to the rider?

  9. Wow - what a story! I can't believe you guys riding down the freeway...and stopping traffic... and being in the wrong place. I could totally do something like that as a kid! I'm glad everyone was o.k. and made it home safe and sound!

  10. Still love the first story and LOL... the second one was great. :)

  11. fyyahchild-It's a luxurious choice, you have to admit.Ride them as much as possible and go for the best handle. If all the basic needs are met,safety, soundness, training,I'd start being indulgent.
    Color, markings, prettiest face, eyes I could die for.
    The horse who is the most consistantly cheerful.
    Walk into the barn, eyes closed, open them and buy the one you look for first.

  12. The first one brought tears to my eyes..I remember those days and have so much respect for those people that don't give up on their "lesser" (in some eyes) horses for a flashier winner. It's awesome that the mare got to spend her years with the same owner. Second story was hilarious! What a tale to tell..

  13. I somehow missed it last time, so I am glad that you re-posted!!

  14. Yes...tears again...but well worth a second read!

    OMG...that second story was a hoot!! Well done!

  15. Thanks for posting my story.

    I have finally gotten around to starting a blog of my very own.

    My blog is about my journey back to the show ring. After years of battling my weight I had weight loss surgery in June. I am riding 4-5 days a week and taking lessons at least once a week. For my own a training log I am going to recap my lesson on Thursday mornings that way I can go back and re-read them to help mysef and maybe help someone else in the process.

  16. Read that story before but I loved rereading it. And the second one was awesome - I never did something like that but I could image if given the chance I would have.


  17. I missed so many opportunities to be stupid and lucky because I didn't ride as a kid!

    Mugs may I make a suggestion? When you have a post with more than one logical "bit" in it, could you separate them somehow? Maybe with a heading in bold?

  18. that story made me sad. Its really sad that there are such snotty people in the horse world who judge you by your horse and attire etc. As horse people, we should welcome EVERYONE who has the desire to ride and love for the animal...

  19. Hey mugs - are you in your new barn yet? How is it going?

    They keep bringing in more geldings where I am all in the same field... I'm on the search again MUCH sooner than I had hoped to even considering looking for a barn again. However, after he got nailed in the hock *again* I'm pretty sure we need to move on.

    Why can't horses just kick each other in the ass or other NON-joint areas only?

  20. heila - I'm not sure what you mean...
    autumnblaze - They only get kicked in the hock once you own them....

  21. read the first story before, liked it then and liked it again!

    second story: how can I convince this writer to try endurance again? the sport is full of helpful people (like the kindly vet) who won't laugh, I promise! Well, they won't laugh until they tell you a story that can top yours for silliness, and then everyone can laugh together....!

  22. Sorry, let me try again! Recently I wanted to point someone to a specific part of one of your posts. Because there are no headings in a post that covered several topics, I had to count paragraphs and tell them to read at paragraph 17. What I'm suggesting is something like this:

    Feedback on comments
    Several people asked questions about controlling speed in the previous post's comments so I decided to do a separate post on it. Etc.

    HorseJunky's story
    Mouthy Monday story goes here.

    Another story, by someone who remains anonymous
    That story goes here. You could also think up a catchy title for it, or request that stories come with titles.

    Exercises for lazy legs
    And so on and so forth.

  23. Thanks Mugs. Good advice. I'm going back this weekend so I'll see what feels right.

  24. heila- Welcome to my world. Organization is not a strong suit for me.
    I kinda, sorta, write by the seat of my pants. I don't think it's going to change anytime soon.

  25. I loved both stories! The first one I can relate to and the second one made me really laugh!