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!


  1. DeeDee ( 27, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Oh mugs! Now I understand and know that I am and always have been a horsaii. A city kid that always wanted a horse. That moved to california and found horses to ride whenever I was out of work. And was 50 years old (over 10 years ago) before I owned my own, real live horse. And that horse awoke the horsaii in my Jersey shore, MIT engineer husband.
    Thank you for all your shared thoughts and stories. What a grand year ahead!

  2. I saw a quote today that made me think of all of us Horsaii...

    ‎"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed ." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    That just about sums it up. LOL.

    I'm glad you had a good Christmas. Any resolutions this year?

  3. This post took me back the the countless horse pictures I drew in class, books I read and the rental horses I rode that my Dad probably couldn't really afford. I always feel so blessed to now have my own horses in my own yard and share that passion with my daughter.

  4. Mugs, the abandonment of your first serious relationship reminds me of a story that a friend told me about when *her* boyfriend broke up with her:

    He said, "You'll never love me as much as you love [that horse.]"

    She said, "Yeah. And...?"

    ...and he left.

    When she told me the story, I said, "Yeah. And...?"

    and she laughed.

    When I told my at-the-time boyfriend the story, he said, "Yeah. And....?"

    Reader, I married him!

  5. For years my summers revolved around an hour weekly riding lesson. My dad didn't let my sister and I have a horse. Now as an adult, I wouldn't be without them. Some people buy art work to hang on their walls. I look out the window and see our herd come galloping up to water.

  6. Geez, the first serious boyfriend was lucky you "just left". If someone suggested selling MY horses for a down payment on anything, he would have wished I had JUST LEFT, quietly and ladylike. Because my instincts would tend to be anything but.

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  8. HaHaHa! I *still* have the scrap album of horse postcards, articles, etc I made at about 8 years old or so.

    And my first serious relationship ended when I was told that "when we get married, you won't be keeping your horse."



  9. My first spoken words were not "Mommy or Da Da", they were...
    "Up,Up Up" as my mother had held me up to pet horses and then sat me up on one as a toddler.I was hooked from then on and connected to them far deeper than with people.To this day my human siblings rer=rer to me as their sister/ herd member.

  10. Re: the men in our lives vs. our horses...

    My friend Captain Sue always says "How could he possibly compete with a thousand pounds of throbbing muscle between your legs?" ;)

  11. nagonmom- poor guy was totally confused. For the most part I was a well behaved good little Catholic girl. He might have understood if he had ever been riding with a few of my Horsaii friends and me. We were wild screaming maniacs in a bikini top and cut-offs then.

    Calm Forward and Straight - Bwah ha ha ha!

  12. Anonymous-That's me Mugs! Not Anonymous! My own blogdoesn't know me! What's up with that?

  13. man, i can TOTALLY relate. i'm a dirt poor college student without her own horse, but have found (through about 25 hours of dedicated searching) a place that will let me clean stalls and clean barns in exchange for rides. my parents never understood- my mom always gets on me about it, saying that i could be spending time making money instead. she doesn't get that riding is the time i use to escape from work, stress, homework, sadness, and the looming debt im aquiring for myself. i would be insane if i couldn't escape for one day a week and just be around horses.
    i am a shy, forgetful, messy clutz for 6 days a week. but around horses, i can stand out. I never forget to close the field gate or when vaccinations are due. i am compulsive about how clean my stalls and barns look, and i can pitch manure into a bucket from ten feet away. best of all, i can feel beauty under me and be a part of making something good when i ride. that's all i need.

  14. I came to horses very late- I think I have the horsaii gene but I could easily have been an unwitting carrier because for the first twenty five years of my life I thought I was afraid of horses.

    After that changed I had a lot of catching up to do but my love of horses has become pretty central to who I am by this point...

  15. jlynn12 - Wow that hit home for me. I'm a big ol' mess most of the time and then something about me just clicks at the barn. It's the only time I feel completely engaged and in the moment whether I'm riding or just cleaning stalls and taking care of horses. Thank you for articulating that point...its something I think I'd like to share with my own family who doesn't really get the horse thing either.

  16. I must be homozygous horsaii. I took my horse to another barn for the rest of the winter, so he could get some winter riding. We still have 3 horses at home, and he's only 5 miles away. But I miss him, I miss not letting him out in the morning, and checking on him 10 times a day, and bringing him in at night. It feels like I have a hole in my heart.

  17. I was an uncoordinated little string of a girl who didn't really connect with the people around her. My first horse was a Schwinn ridden madly up and down the sidewalk, neighing like a fiend. In school, the kids liked me - I got along with them all right, but I was absolutely not interested in the Beatles, or boys, or makeup, or bell-bottom pants....they wrote me off as a little weird - nice, but weird. My best friend in school had horses and for that I would walk through fire....I trotted along in her footsteps, and we would talk horses for hours. Bless all of the Horsaii - Bless them every one!!!!

  18. My first words were "HORSEY-HORSEY-HORSEY" screamed at the top of my lungs anytime I spied one. It could be standing in a field, a picture, a shadow, or drifing of to sleep.

  19. Before I had my first pony I rode imaginary horses all the time.My bike was always a horse and my best friend Ann's dad made us our own "Saw Horses" complete with tack and bale string manes and tails.We LOVED those horses and wore them out.

    I sat in my chair and rode along with the Cartwrights each week at the beginning of Bonanza. I never missed an episode of Fury, Zorro, Gunsmoke, Bonanza or Wagon Train.

    Many years later I knew I had hit the Man Jackpot when my then potential serious guy and I were on our 2nd or 3rd date and were at his friends house hanging out and watching TV and an episode of Bonanza came on.My now wonderful husbands name is Jay and when we met and began dating he was a non horse person...when the Bonanza theme song began to play we both immediately began to ride along from our seats. At first I thought he was mocking me but then he says to me....You know how Adam was the oldest Cartwright brother and then he is gone after a few years then Candy came on the show. I am the fourth Cartwright brother and younger than Little Joe, they call me Little Jay Cartwright!! And he was really serious and hilarious at the same time. 22 years later he is now quite the rider and would do the Cartwrights proud riding the range at the Ponderosa!

  20. Horses have been an incredible relationship barometer in my life. I laughed out loud before I read your response to "we can sell your horses and put a down payment on a house." I didn't need to read your response, as horsaii, we all know what happened next.

    Horse= joy. It's that simple, and that complex, for me.

    Lovely column!

  21. OMG, I can relate to every single comment, including being a hardcore Bonanza fan. I wanted to marry little Joe when I grew up.

    Years ago I went to one of those singles gatherings where people try to hook up in 5 minutes. I told one guy about my horses, he told me about his 4 kids, and commented that horses are expensive, could I ever consider selling them and helping pay child support? Uh, no, could you consider selling your kids?

  22. Did you guys ride your Schwinn on every bumpy rode you could find so you could practice trotting? I did.

  23. I was probably one of the very few teen girls who was devastated when I got "boobs" and then they developed into "big boobs". It made me look topheavy and totally ruined the sleek tailored look of my Hunter/Jumper show clothes not to mention that I hated having to wrap them and wear 2 sports bras to decrease the bounce factor while competing or riding in general.

    How many of you ladies have had either a dog or a horse in your life that was 100% dead on in letting you know that a boyfriend/husband/friend was a piece of crap and should be gotten rid of?? I have had Dobermans for 35 years and horses most of my life.They have NEVER been wrong about the humans they have encountered w/ me. I only wish I had listened alot sooner in a few circumstances.It would have saved me alot of $$ and grief.My most beloved and fiercely loyal and protective male Dobie was a titled obedience Champion and I had him from a pup till he died @ age 13. I dated a man who I probably in my own inner radar knew was not the guy for me but yet there was some attraction. The very first time I allowed him to come into my home my dog who had been OK with the guy outside of my home walked directly up to him as he was sitting on my living room couch and lifted his leg and pissed directly on him and stared him down while doing so.He then placed himself in between me and the guy and uttered a very low but very serious deep growl.He had never done that to anyone before or after that man. I listened to my dog and stopped seeing the man. That man ended up seriously stalking, terrorizing and beating his next "girlfriend". It was on the news and made our local papers.I consider myself very lucky and I loved and hugged that dog many many times afterwards.

  24. Greetings from rain soaked Southern California.

    I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to :-)

    May God bless you and your family in 2011 ~Ron

    And always remember: Smiles don't have to be saved for a rainy day. It's good to waste them :-)

  25. I tied ropes to my Schwinn for reins...and could ride my bike that way, too!


  26. I tell people that horses aren't a choice - they're a calling. Like being gay or being in the church - you don't get a choice about it, it is just the way you are.

    I can trace my current life back to an email I sent when I was 32. I emailed the only horsey person I knew and asked if she knew anyone that gave lessons. I hadn't ridden in 12 years and it seemed like it was either "now or never".

    And so it started. The lessons, the non-committal boyfriend of 10 years saying that he couldn't deal with the horse thing. The breakup. The new life. Meeting the farrier. (We were riding on the beach and he told me the story of the girlfriend that told him it was "either her or the horse". We both agreed that, it's hard to find a good horse and easy to find a new girlfriend or boyfriend. The farrier's first Valentines gift to me: A clinic with a local horse trainer and the horse of my dreams. Reno (the horse) and I never looked back.

    I'm 40 now. My husband the Farrier and I live on a little farm, we have 4 horses, 4 donkeys, and misc other animals. I coach the local kids equestrian team and I ride drill. We're broke most of the time. The horses eat all the extra money.

    I wouldn't change it for anything, and I will be forever happy that I sent that email asking about riding lessons.

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  28. Who looks at those ridiculous Christmas adds for Lexus on TV and thinks"What a waste of money" when if same add was for a new truck and horse trailer we would all be thrilled if we saw that Christmas morning?

  29. Wow - I thought I was just wierd. :) It's nice to know there are so many kindred spirits out there.

    The catch in the throat while watching a horse race really hit home for me. And I've been known to stop the car in the middle of the road to watch a couple of horses run and play in a pasture. And I love to ride, but my very favorite thing to do is to watch my horses eat. They are so content.

    And do you all mourn the sale of "Perfectly Good Pasture Land" to be split up into a new subdivision? Breaks my heart every time...

  30. Hey Mugs...if you are still there :)

    Quick training new second horse has been way over-bitted, and goes way behind verticle if I even just lightly touch the french-link snaffle I am now using, to the point of touching his chin to his neck or chest. I ask for whoa, and he will keep going; if I jiggle, he tucks and keeps going. Eventually if I gently work the bit and drive him forward with my hips, he will make contact and eventually stop. I just want to be sure I am doing this right...I can get him to stop if I reef on his mouth, but I don't want to do that. He's also very hollow-backed from riders reefing on him, and I want him to start using his back and engage his hind-quarters. I think I just need patience (he was ridden as a trail horse, is only 7, and has a lot to relearn) but didn't know if there was another way to get him to respond more quickly. He is trying to learn, just can't quite figure it out yet.

    Thanks! Jackie

  31. Hey, Mugs...think I got it!

    When I am riding, I am "soft" and relaxed - when I want him to stop, I get "hard" - resistant, put up a wall with my hands, stop riding, whatever it's called - until he stops, then I go "soft" and let him think about it. It's working, by the way...I love it! And I'm not pulling on him at all!