Friday, December 16, 2011


When I wheeled into the Big K's my stomach was jumping.

This was a big test for Tally. There was going to be no bail-outs on this ride.

I had called the Big K earlier in the week and asked him what it would take to get him to ride her.

"I'll see if Tyler will ride her," K had said."I'm not particularly fond of that mare and I sure don't plan on getting busted up over her."

"I don't know if it's fair to put Tyler up there."

"You think it's fair for me to crawl up on her but not Tyler? He's the help."

"Good point," I conceded.

"He's younger too."

"You're right."

"He bounces, we don't."


"He'll think it's fun."

"I get it K, I get it."

"He's cheaper."

"Oooh, you're right K, Tyler's the man for me."

K was right, Tyler was  more than a little excited when I asked him to ride Tally. She seemed to appeal to everyone and the general consensus was, 'if Mugs would just step up and ride the hair off her,' she'd be a good horse.

If Tyler could get her ridden down for me he could call me chicken as much as he wanted.

I let him tack her up so he could size her up. I was relieved to see he was approaching Tally like a professional. He wasn't cocky and he wasn't nervous, he got her ready like he expected her to be good, but kept an eye on her.

Tally relaxed into his confidence. Maybe this was going to work.

Tyler led her towards the big outdoor.

"You might want to ride her inside, at least the first time out," I called.

"Okay." Without hesitation, he headed for the indoor arena.

They might want me to step up, but Tyler took me seriously. He wasn't used to seeing me this wound up and my time on Sonita had proven I wasn't easily unnerved.The Big K and I followed on foot. I closed the arena doors while Tyler tightened his cinch.

"Give me a sec, Tyler," I told him, "I'm going to close the doors by the cattle pen."

"Do you think she'll jump?" K asked me, with a worried look on his face.

The gates to the cattle pen were only about a foot higher than the one she had cleared with Crystal.

"I'd feel better if we closed the big doors," I answered.

"I'll get them then" he said and crossed the arena to close the doors.

Tally stood quiet, at ease enough to cock her hip. She looked around when K slid the doors shut, but didn't seem concerned. K stopped and talked with Tyler for a few minutes. I wandered over to pick up on what he had to say.

"Stay deep and don't over ride her."

Nothing new there.

Tyler looked at me, a question in his eyes.

"She's going to try to jump out from under you at some point, she's quick and nobody else has been able to catch her. Once she starts running she really gets going."

"OK, I'll be ready."

He gathered his reins, put his foot in the stirrup and gave an experimental bounce or two. Tally's head came up, but she didn't step away, so he mounted in one smooth motion.

Tally took one step, two, Tyler stayed relaxed and open to her.

I saw it coming.Her eyes went hard and small, I finally understood what Kathy meant went she talked about "shark eyes."  I froze as I watched her hind legs step deep underneath her.

K saw it too, there was no freezing on his part.

"Tyler, here it comes," was all he had time to say.

Tyler automatically deepened his seat, pushed his feet father into the stirrups  and relaxed his back. Tally bolted forward, leaping into the air in anticipation of a pull.

When none came she shot forward and they were off. She blasted around the arena, once, twice, three times, her legs churning and her speed increasing with every stride.

"Son of a gun," K muttered and gave me a quick glance, "you weren't kidding."

Tyler picked up his inside rein in an attempt to guide her and Tally finally had the fight she had been looking for. She launched into the air again, shaking her head at the contact from the reins. Her balance was off and she teetered for a second with only one hind leg on the ground. Tyler threw his weight into her shoulder and the other three feet crashed back to the ground. Without missing a beat she was running again, this time careening out of control.

She ran straight into the wall, turning at the last second, intent on slamming Tyler's knee into the support beams. Tyler cranked the outside rein and lifted his leg out of the way, he blocked her turn just enough to make her hit with her shoulder instead of him.

She bounced off without thought and raced around blind, the only thing stopping her was when she would hit another wall with a resounding clang.

"Let her head go and find your middle!" K shouted.

My admiration for the young man grew when I saw him loosen his hold and rebalance himself. I couldn't believe he could even hear K, much less be able to let her go.

Tally settled back into her flight around the arena once she had her head back. Tyler found her rhythm and just rode. The dust was so thick it was getting hard to see them, but the pounding of her hooves told us she hadn't begun to tire.

Finally Tally began to slow. They flew past us and a wide grin flashed across Tyler's dusty face. He had her.

"Great, you're doing great," K called, now try and circle her."

Tyler picked up his rein again and this time Tally responded. They galloped a big, loose circle, by the time they made their third loop she had her head down and was working like she should. By the fifth she was chuffing her contended train sound and her eyes had gone soft.

"Wow, she does look good," K said to me.

I went to the bench on the wall and let my knees collapse. My hands were shaking and there were tears in my eyes. I was embarrassed to no end. K gave me a small smile and turned away so I could pull myself together.

"Now that you've got her, let's make her work," K told him," we'll see what Janet has been teaching her."

"Come through the middle and ask her to change," he said. Tally switched her leads in a single  smooth and fluid stride. So it began.

The Big K and Tyler put Tally through a solid workout. As her focus shifted more and more to Tyler he stepped up the game. I held my breath when he asked for his first stop. She parked it sweet and solid.When he let her rest for just a split second before he put her back into her lope, the surprised look on her face made me laugh. She wanted to quit.

They stopped some more, then spun, then loped out and did a few turns on the wall. When all opinion was wrung out of her and Tally had  given herself completely over to Tyler's legs and hands, K finally said, "OK, let her stop."

Tally stood with her head hanging and her eyes closed. Her sides heaved and the sweat poured off her. Her neck and flanks were covered with foam. I had never seen her so tired. I wanted to step to her head and rub on her, but K stopped me with a look. He knew me way too well.

"That was some amazing riding," I said to Tyler. "What do you think?"

"I think she's fun," he said. Sweat was running down his dusty face making rivulets of mud. his breath was deep but even and his hands were steady. Only a little twitch in his stirrups betrayed the adrenalin still running through him.

"I can ride her for you if you want."

We made our deal and I left her in Tyler's care.


glenatron said...

Wow, he sounds like one hell of a rider. I really hope that you decide to put some of these stories together in a book one day. They'd fit really well and it would make a great gift for a few people.

DarcC said...

All I have is WOW, and as always can't wait to hear more. That is some serious presence of mind he had, to react in time to turn her into the wall so she hit it and not him.

Melissa said...

A Tally story that didn't end with my stomach in knots. I will consider that a Christmas present ;)

Anonymous said...

I hope for books one day too!

Taterz said...

Gah That was awesome!! I wish my brain power stayed working like that when things get a little hairy. I feel like such an idiot when my horse spooks and I accidentally smack him in the mouth. And I agree with Grace. Definitely a great Christmas present.

rheather said...

Wow, just wow! My heart is still racing.

I'm hoping that's a happy ending to Tally' story.

gtyyup said...

Yep, all I can say is hell of a ride! Excellent writing Mugs...we're right there with every stride~

TBDancer said...

As I was reading every word while holding my breath (;o) I was HOPING Tyler would NOT let Tally stop when she was ready. She wants to run? Okay, then, let's RUN. The stopping when THEY want is an error a lot of inexperienced riders on OTTBs make when the horses would rather "run like the tail is on fire."

Sometimes they do it because they aren't clear on "canter," and sometimes it's a game they play called "scare the rider," which ends with a dismount and then back to the stall ;o) An EXCELLENT post, Mugs. Can't wait to read more.

Anonymous said...

Another Wow. I was holding my breath, and had tears in my eyes. Thank you.

Becky said...

I know I'm going to get jumped for this, but it really is an honest question...

I really expected Tally to get more of a spank for her beady little shark eyes and deliberate attempt to hurt a rider. Would it have been useless, since she was so quick to anger? Is working them really hard really enough of a discipline? When to pick a fight head-on and when to let it go is something that's really confusing me nowadays.

Yes, yes, I know. Pick a fight is a terrible phrase, but I think you know what I mean.

PS: Go, Tyler, GO! Yeehaw. :)

EverStuff Shrimp said...

I've been following the Tally story since the begining of the first post. I find myself holding my breath, grinning like an idiot, eyes wide with anxiety, the whole gammit. Every day I check to see if there is another installment. Thank you for sharing this.

mugwump said...

Becky - A spank does nothing in this situation.

Post coming....when to spank, when to ride...

RHF said...

Tally reminds me of the mare I put down this spring because she was turning out to be too dangerous to ride. Too bad I didn't have a Tyler to work her through it :(

deedee said...

Delerious with delight. Merry Christmas to all!

Anonymous said...

what a wonderfully told story ! thank you for sharing the story and your talents in the telling. you keep me coming back for more! fortunately i have never had to deal with an exploding bucking horse. whenever mine wants to forge ahead when i am not asking her to do so, she responds well to the one rein stop. first thing i ever taught her was how good it was to stop LOL.

jenj said...

Wow, Tyler sounds like a very special horseman. I can't wait to hear more about him and Tally!

barrelracingmom said...

Is Tyler single?? ;p

Awesome post! Thanks!!

foxtrotter said...

When you write, I can hear and see everything your writing about. Thanks for that and for making me think about what I'm doing and what I may be asking my horse to do by my actions.

Shanster said...

Wow - whatta post!

nagonmom said...

Great story! But you cannot stop here forever. At least I hope you don't. I would love some longer term follow up. I think. I hope.

liberitarianqh said...

Thanks for the ride. I have a mare who's similar but hasn't run into or jumped over anything. I put a friend on her a little while ago, after scrutinizing my ride on the hot rod, and she found the gas pedal right away. Her face turned white and she started muttering loud utterances about being on a runaway. She almost bailed but I told her to circle the mare. Within 6 strides she was back to pushing to keep loping. This mare should be working cows. Wish I had the opportunity to try her on them.

Anonymous said...

so when's the book coming out??

Jill said...

awesome chapter! Thank you. SO glad someone was able to push through her shark-ness and find what was on the other side. I sure as hell wouldn't have been able to!

As always, keen to see what happens next!

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Yes! Tally found someone. I was hoping you'd find someone who would ride her out! Bet she was a dream to ride :)


laundryca67 said...

Mugs, your stories leave me wanting more. Btw, tears running down my face after reading that. What a rush!

Peanut said...

What a great story - well told. It must have been hard to have someone else ride her in some ways. Can a horse like Tally make enough of a mental change to ever be ridden by a less skilled rider?

Morganrider said...

Wow is right. I wish that I was an 1/8 of that kind of horseman. Easier said than done. Still shaking my head in wonder.

twhlady said...

Another great addition to the Tally chapters. Still waiting excitedly for the other half of the Mort endurance ride.

Jan said...

Mugwump, wow- what an intense story. And so well written. Thank you. I felt like I was right there in the arena with the three of you and Tally. Great writing.

Lara said...

How old is Tyler now... is he single? ;)

foxxyfjord said...

Thank you! What a good way to start my day this morning...logging on and finding a Tally chapter waiting.

Good to have you back!

luvredponies said...

What a lucky girl to find someone who wouldn't quit her or abuse her, but was able to work through her fears. Tyler sounds like a great catch - make sure that one stays on the payroll!

MichelleL said...

Excellent story telling... I was captivated...agree there is plenty of life experience here for you to write a book about and I am sure I am not the only person who would pay to read it...and the sequels.

Bif said...

Cruel, Mugs. I have a sliver of hope this is where Tally ended up. But just a sliver.

Anonymous said...

To the person asking about "spanking" this mare... there would be nothing more counter-productive than that ime.

I've known several Tally like horses (mostly mares) and all related.
First thing my mentor taught me is that there are some horses that you do NOT pick a fight with because you will NOT win and you will NOT make progress with them.

Btw, Mugs... we call that flat look with the eye rolled back at you the "orca eye" in my parts. :)

Lara said...

Anon - which lines have you seen this attitude with?

Anonymous said...


These ones were Paso Finos. Most of the ones that I've known were from Puertorican lines, including my old, aloof, cranky lady.

Love, love, love these lines. In the right hands you will never find a better horse. Incredibly responsive, light, sensitive, smart, work-minded, and will give their all for the person that's earned their respect.
They don't know how to quit either.

In the wrong hands they can be turned into neurotic, unpredictable, ulcer-ridden, wrecks. :(

But I love these horses. Maybe I'm a little crazy, but I've yet to ride a horse that's as much of a joy and fun to ride as them. They're a challenge, but so worth it.

Anonymous said...

Let me add..

These are not horses that you cuddle, pamper, or fuss over. They don't seem to care for it for the most part.
They're not in your pocket horses. The boys are a bit friendlier than the mares, but every mare that I've known has been extremely stand-offish.

mysanity said...

I could hear the hoofbeats and smell the sweat. My knee kinda twinged when I read the smashing attempt. I've been there before.

CurtsBooks said...

Wow. I am impressed w/Tyler. Keep telling this story.

Albigears said...

I can't figure out why you were embarrassed...?

Peanut said...

I agree with Albigears. Mugs, I hope you're proud of all of the great training you were able to give a troubled, complicated horse. The fact that you could ride and train and learn from her is impressive.

Follow by Email