Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tally Goes To Amarillo

You might have to read back and review a bit, I did.

There was a nice little AQHA show every February in Amarillo. It was early in the year, big enough to pick up some points, but small and cheap enough to do some training. The stalls were dry and roomy, the arena pretty nice, the dirt was real nice and the cattle were big, yearling Brahma crosses.

It was a nice kick-off show.

I was bringing Sonita a couple of youth riders and Tally. Her owner, Tim, and I had an iron clad agreement. We'd see where her head was at, show in the reining, and then, only if I decided it was safe.

 The life long city boy and horse addict was going to Texas with a bunch of cowboys. He bought himself a new hat and a pair of chaps and was just about beside himself. We would head for Amarillo early in the morning and get there in time to get some riding in. I would show/school her in the morning and he would ride later in the day.

I felt myself relax as we traveled the back two-lane roads of Colorado. I loved being on  the road. I had my horses, my dogs, my kid, my friends and the shiny promise of what just might happen. Even Amarillo in February couldn't shake my mood.  

It was cold and windy with just a dusting of snow. It swirled across the road and disappeared in the long grass along the road. The ranches were quiet, the stock stood with their butts against the wind and heads low. We could go for miles without seeing another vehicle. I popped Emmylou in my CD player and cranked it up high enough to hear over the grumbling diesel.

The best part was, I had Tim in my truck  and the dogs and Kathy had the girls with her. We talked show strategy, swapped stories about being kids and sipped coffee out of our thermos. Kathy got to listen to the girls whine about how cold it was going to be at the show. It was awesome.

"I am getting really nervous," Tim said.

"Listen," I told him,"we aren't out to win, just to get her in and out of the arena, remember?"

"I know, I know, it's just so exciting!"

"Well let's not hope for too much excitement."

Tally had loaded just fine, kind of bug-eyed and boogery, but well behaved. She rode along easy enough and even seemed to quiet Sonita. I absolutely had no clue what to expect. I was in too good a mood to worry about it, there was plenty of time to ride before our first class.

We pulled into the showgrounds and settled the horses into their stalls. Tally snorted at the corners, pawed her shavings, took a long drink and completely ignored the crashing sound of Sonita kicking the crap out of her stall. By the time we unloaded all the horses and threw hay, the bright bay mare had her head hanging over the door and was checking out the barn. She settled right into her feed. By the time I had dug around and found Sonita's yellow buckets, poured enough Mountain Dew into the water to coax her into drinking, strapped on her kick chains and retied the haybag she had ripped off the wall, Tally was dozing.

I was starting to feel a little hopeful.

After dinner we went back to ride. The arena was lit but not heated and the temperature was hovering around 30 degrees. It cut out the wind though and it was nice to ride after a long day in the truck.

Sonita was high and snorty, no surprizes there, the girls rode around all giggly and excited, and Tim stood at the rail holding Tally's reins. I traded him and took Tally out to the middle of the arena. She was looking around, flashing a little bit of white around her eyes, but let me on without a fuss. We rode off and she felt just fine.

The Big K leaned on the rail and watched Tally lope her circles. I came around the end of the arena and ran a few stops. She was distracted enough to not try very hard, but she laid down a couple of three foot elevens, so I was happy.

I dismounted and waved Tim over.

"I think she's fine," I said.

"She looks incredible," he answered.

He was so wound up his hands were shaking. I started to say something, but decided to let it be. They would be okay or not. Harping at him about nerves wasn't going to help.

He rode off at a walk, stretching out first one arm, then the other, rolling his shoulders and neck, and taking himself through the stretches we did at home.

K handed me a Corona Light. "Did you tell him to do that?" he asked.

"No, and I'm proud of him for thinking of it," I said.

He didn't comment, just took a swallow of his beer and watched. He was looking a little too amused, K always thought my exercises and drills were kind of goofy. I decided to let that be too, he had brought me a beer.

"You showing her first?"


He nodded and headed out to check his horses. The only sign I had that he might be worried was he hadn't asked about Sonita, my students or my three-year-old. His mind was on Tally. For that matter, I guess mine was too. Tim manned up and started loping circles,Tally flowed like a Nebraska creek in the spring and his smile grew with every stride.


  1. Thank you for another Tally story Mugs!

  2. Well...thank you for a half a Tally story...
    Don't hurt your fingernails hanging from that cliff, now, ya'hear?

  3. I wish this were a movie.

    If this were a movie, there would be background music, and I would get a sense of how this would end.

  4. Gah! I was holding my breath by the end. And Emmylou.

  5. Thank you thank you thank you another Tally story... well, half a Tally story... and now the wait...Thank you again....Ker

  6. Thank you, another glimpse of a helluva story.

  7. I squealed out loud when I saw another Tally story!

  8. So excited for Tally stories! I'm nervous this one isn't going to go well...

  9. You are such an amazing writer! I feel like I am right there with you when I read your words. Thanks for continuing to share! It will be hard waiting for the next edition.

  10. I'm grateful for another story. But, DAMN!! You're such a tease!

    Seriously, you made my day. I have a reason to live through this cold snap, now.

  11. I have to agree with Cyndi and Stumpy; you are such a tease....just give us a little taste in hopes for the main course. :) I didn't have to back up...I'm the kind that can have 2 books and an audio book going at the same time. Will you be able to squeeze out some more teenage Janet and Mort stories?

  12. OOOHHH! Thank you! I can't wait for the next installment!

  13. Did you ever post your stretches in a blog post? If not, I'd love to know what they are. IT makes sense - stretching to make yourself relax after you mount up.

  14. I got goosebumps! Sure hope everything turns out OK for this duo but some how I have my doubts.

  15. Yay yay yay! Thank you so much for the Talley story!

  16. I am very aware that my nerves affect my high-strung mare; several clinic auditors pointed this out to me, and it only made my nerves worse! Since then I have used visualization to try to learn to breathe, relax, and sit deep when nervous.

    Kudos to you for giving Tim the tools to help with his nerves.

    Love Emmylou!

  17. You are killing me with anticipation. Dammit. I was leanin' on the fence right next to you and Big K, drinking a Corona and eavesdropping...and BAM! All of a sudden I was abruptly dropped into my living room.

    Dammit, Mugs, you sure can write! ....(I go shuffling off to make lunch, whining and mumbling to self). Amy in Ohio

  18. Saw this Mugs and though of you. BTW, thanks for the cliff hanger!

  19. What was Tally's breeding? She sounds a lot like a certain mutton withered mare I know.

  20. Anon- She was a foundation bred Hancock.

  21. Was Tim able to ride in his class?
    I know life has you scrambling, your stories are addicting.