Monday, December 27, 2010

The Weather Outside is Delightful...

I hope you all had a good Christmas, I sure did. Mild weather and some great riding.

I'm working like a fiend at the paper, so I'll put up my Christmas column and get to the next post later in the week. I edited a little, I don't talk about Horsaii in my column, I just substituted "horse people." Most of the Fountain community already thinks I'm a little off...

All I want for Christmas….
By Janet Huntington

The best Christmas I ever had was the year I didn’t get any presents. I had gotten my first horse, Mort, the summer before with the understanding he was also my Christmas present. Come Christmas morning I could barely wait for everybody else to open their stuff. The second I could get away with it I jammed on my boots and took off down the street to visit my horse. I was in heaven.

I am Horsaii. I know, I know, many people say they’re Horsaii.

What does it really mean? Is it someone who grew up on a ranch working cattle on horses they raised themselves? Is it the show mom who hauls her kid from one event to the other doing everything in her power to get that one last point needed for the finals? Is it the kid at the local gymkhana racing her horse full out around the last barrel?

Maybe. Personally I have always felt Horsaii are born with a horse gene, it is often hooked to the kinda spacey, arty gene. History doesn’t seem to matter, horse crazy just shows up.

All I know is when I was a little suburban kid being hauled around in the Vista Cruiser with my brothers and sisters I spent every moment looking out the window to catch a glimpse of a horse.
As a young teen I willingly gave up ever owning an album (yes, I’m that old) a radio, going to a concert, or any of the various typical teenage things in order to pay for my horse.

I rarely thought about clothes, other than my Levi’s, dates or cars. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to look good in those Levi’s and I was very aware of the cowboys, but nothing came between me and my horses, except the Levi's.

I left my first serious relationship because of two fatal statements the poor guy made.
The first was, “You can’t train horses for a living, you’ll never ride as good as my sister,” and the second, “We can sell your horses for a down payment on a house.”

I don’t think I ever pointed out the error of his ways either, I just left.

My horses have affected most aspects of my life, from career choices to the kind of car I drive (that would be old, rusty and paid for).

I am willing to eat Raman at lunch, never go out to dinner, movies or bars, I don’t even have cable. I haven’t taken a vacation in years. None of it matters and I don’t feel poor, because I have horses.

I can walk into a sleepy barn or bury my hands in a shaggy mane and I will feel better, no matter what has happened in my life. My horses give me security, comfort and strength. They fire my imagination and add fuel to my art and my writing.

Being a trainer helped me establish boundaries and expectations with my family and myself. I learned to be patient, I learned to think before I act, I learned to be kind when I didn’t want to be, but knew it was for the best.

I learned to be hard when I had to and developed a strong sense of fairness. Horses made me strong.

So I guess that’s why this suburban girl thinks she’s Horsaii. I can connect and understand with just about every other Horsaii I meet, no matter what walk of life they come from.

Horsaii don’t have to own a horse. They may have never ridden a horse or even patted one.
But the unexpected catch in your throat when you see a horse race through a field, or the fact that the only reason you’ll suffer through a parade is to watch the horses go by and fill your head with their delicious scent is proof you’re Horsaii.

When you get a glimpse into the kind depths of their dark eyes, feel their silken neck under your hand and your heart aches just a little, you know you’re Horsaii.

So when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas I had to think. My family is a good one and I’m glad to be related to all of them. My horses are healthy and right up the street if I need a quick pat in the middle of a hard day. I can ride with many of the wonderful horse people I have met over the years and still have a blast. I can still experience the thrill of learning something new as I wrestle with a lariat and try not to rope my own head.

I guess I’m in pretty good shape for the holidays. Merry Christmas to all you Horsaii. I wish you a pat, a glimpse or a good ride on a pretty horse for your Christmas present. I know it’s what I want. Yip!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

I'm not gone. Just been coping with a blown up vehicle and a crashed computer....Rumor has it I'm getting a lap top for Christmas, so I'll be able to blog all the more, sharing a computer w/ my other half has me bumped off most of the time. The computer that is.
I will be back soon!
Have a great holiday and GO RIDE YOUR HORSE! I AM!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The barn was quiet. The horses looked at me over their stall doors in total silence. They stood perfectly still, only their flicking ears told me they weren’t statues.

“What’s up boys and girls?” I called out and quickened my step. There were no happy snorts, no bobbing heads urging me to hurry with breakfast, no impatient thud of Madonna’s foot against the door.

I gave a quick head count and didn’t see Cupcake. I jogged over to his stall and leaned over the door. The horses heads turned to follow me in unison. He stood in the corner with his head hanging.

“Hey buddy, what’s the matter?” I crooned as I grabbed a halter and stepped in the stall.
Cupcake looked at his side and groaned.

“Ah geez,” I muttered.

We had a wicked little virus circulating through the place. It was presenting with sudden colic symptoms and little else. The horses would be colicky on and off for several days, keeping us up nights , worried and anxious.

It would finally end with a violent bout of diarrhea and the horse would be fine. I had been fighting it in the lower barns and had managed to keep it out of my upper one. Until today.

“Of course it would be you, Meathead,” I told the miserable little colt. “I’m never going to be able to send you home am I?”

My standard policy with clients and illness was to keep the horse with me, take care of him until he was recovered, and only charge board until I was back in the saddle.

This usually worked fine but I was ready to be done with this little horse. I didn’t have much use for his owner and knew she’d squawk about having to pay board.

I was tired of sick horses, tired of cleaning their stalls and tired of worrying how I was going to pay my bills with all of these horses suddenly out of training and on the econo boarding plan.

“Well, c’mon,” I told him, “let’s go walking.”

I walked him around the barn and down the road. The boss stepped out on her deck as we walked down the road.

“Another one down?” she asked.

“Of course,” I answered.

She tromped down the stairs and fell in beside Cupcake and me. We circled the house and headed back toward the barn. Cupcake walked a few feet behind me on a loose lead.

“Are you going to call the owner?”

“I’ll give him half an hour and then ring her up, you know she won’t let me call the vet," I kicked the gravel and sent a spray at the dogs. They scattered and sulked off insulted.

“I’ll go saddle what’s still standing upright,” she told me.

It turned out I was right, Cupcakes owner didn’t want the vet out and pitched a fuss about him being out of training.

“He wouldn’t be sick if he wasn’t at your barn,” she sputtered.

“That’s true,”I said, doing my best to keep my voice congenial.
"you can come pick him up if you want to.”
“I don’t want this virus at my place!” she snapped at me.

I hung on the phone and let the ensuing silence stretch out as long as she wanted.

“Fine, I’ll leave him there,” she finally said.

“I’ll call you if I need the vet,” I answered and hung up before she could snark at me again.

Cupcake had a tough time with the virus. He hadn’t been particularly healthy when he came in, his worm load had been pretty heavy and he still was a good 75 pounds shy of where he should have been.

So I spent a lot of time walking him, taking him out to graze a little, or just standing by his stall watching him. Within the week he had gotten over the worst of it and started picking at his feed again.

So when I came in to a barn full of happy hungry horses one morning I was relieved to see his pretty little face looking out at me.

“It’s about time you perked up, you little Gomer,” I told him as I filled his hay tub.”I guess I can safely scrape the worst of the yuck off your stall. Nothing like a stall bound horse with the runs to brighten up a day.

I went to work on his stall, scrubbing off the walls and hauling his water barrel out to scrub it clean.

I stood next to him in the stall, holding the hose as I refilled his water, humming a mindless tune. I felt Cupcake sniffing my elbow and stood relaxed. He nosed at my hand and I moved over to let him get to the clean water.

The little colt buried his nose and played, snorting and splashing water all over. He curled his front foot under him, I could tell he was dying to crawl right in the bucket.

I scratched his withers and hung my arm over his back. He bobbed his head faster in the water keeping time with my scratching fingers.

“Looks like you’ve made a friend this week,” the boss said as she leaned over the door.

“Yeah, he’s decided I’m OK,” I replied.

“Are you going to ride him today?” she asked me.

“No, I think he should just get some turn out. A day in the sun is probably just what the doctor ordered,” I said, “toss me a halter would ya?”

Cupcake turned to me and stuck his face in the halter. As I led him out into the upper arena he walked quietly by my shoulder. I untied the knot and hung the halter over my arm.

Cupcake stood still while I scratched his neck and around his ears. His eye was dark and sweet. I backed away and he wandered off for his first taste of freedom in 50 days. He laid down to roll and came up with a buck and a snort.

I watched him tear around the arena with his head high and his tail flagged and couldn’t help but smile.