|Monday, July 1st, 2002|
2:55a - The Rest of the Story
I think the Kathy Bates movie is one I'm GLAD I MISSED... Blood and gore are not my cup of tea in entertainment. I guess I get to deal with too much of it in real life.
I can remember when I worked for Elodie Huttner at her riding stable, she got a mare named TEQUILA off the race track, cheap... She wanted us to ride her for a bit and turn her into a trail horse for the little kiddies to be able to rent... RIGHT!
Tequila was seriously crazy. Left to my own devices, I never would have thrown a leg over her back. I don't like flat out speed, not in cars, planes, bikes, horses... I just don't like it. I want to be able to SEE where I'm going and have time to think if I really want to head there or not, I guess.
But Elodie decreed that we "convert" her. (With a name like that, would YOU expect her to be religious??? I sure didn't.) One of the other gals, the former "first" guide, hopped on bareback and trotted her around the yard. No problem. None at all, looked even as if her gaits were smoother than the rest of Elodie's stock (mostly bulldog QH type with NO pasterns and NO shoulder slopes...) Then she pulled back on the reins to stop her. Not hard or anything, just a normal sized "stop" cue. The mare nearly went over backward with her.
I don't remember now whose bright idea it was, but we decided to break her of that habit before we took her out on the trail by breaking water balloons over her head. (Three of us tried to stop and turn her in the yard without her rearing -- no dice. The legend "unsafe at any speed" occurs to me....) Off to the store for water balloons goes Elodie, who had several youngsters, and figured she could just have some at a birthday party after we got Tequila broke of the rearing...
Joy sat on the ground with a hose, filling. Marty and I took turns hopping up bareback, walking her forward, and touching the reins, breaking the water balloon over her head, and bailing off before she hit. Even though she was only 14.2, we got a milk crate after a while to make jumping on easier. (Joy didn't ride well enough to be relied on to get off safely in time...) We used BOTH PACKS before she quit. By then I hated her. Not only was she high strung and flighty, but actually dangerous.
So, as the most experienced rider, I got the delightful job of using her as my guide horse first.
My first day, I drew a string of 7 year olds who wanted to celebrate one's birthday by going for a trail ride for one hour in the Trap Rock Forest (right next to Elodie's land, so that's where the trails were.) We used to go down a dirt road to the hay field, follow a single file path around the edge of the hayfield, go around a corner and enter the forest dead straight on, so our knees would not bump on the trees (which for some strange reason, were much closer together than when the original trail was laid out... funny thing, that!)
No problem, right??? So we set off, and the last poor little girl, who was overweight, was given Jill, a black and white 1/2 draft horse with a trot guaranteed to jar the teeth right out of your jaw. SHE NEVER CANTERED... too big, too lumbering, and too spoiled...
Tequila set off. WE FLEW! I tried to rein her in, but the CHIN STRAP BROKE. (Elodie picked up her equipment at sales, and breakage was CONSTANT and I kept harping on it being dangerous... one law suit for using inadequate equipment would have been more than they could take.... I rode her as tough as I could, but she never slowed for corners, tree limbs, and was still flat out when we rounded the bush to head into the forest (a trail she'd never been on yet...) The kids had fallen behind (not being mounted on race horses, thank heavens!) and as I glanced at them to see how much time I would have to solve my problem, I noticed that even JILL was cantering...
Leaning forward on her neck, I ran my hand down the front bone of her face, grabbed it right before the nostril openings, and cranked her head to my knee. I knew we'd stop, circle, or summersault... We somersaulted. I sat on her neck until she yielded, then hopped on as she stood up just as the first kid trotted around the tree... (we are now five minutes into an hour ride... Oh, joy...)
Walking through the trees, she actually steered (I do admit to banging her head into a few en route to this delightful state of affairs...) At the half-way point, there's another clearing where we canter if it is not raining... Off we went, and I again dumped her to stop her at the end. Marty was in sight at the time, heading out with her group, so it was quite a deal. I told her about the broken chin strap. She was pretty disgusted, too, at the shape of the equipment. Now, normally, we'd have traded horses, with whoever was heading home taking the animal with whatever was broken and the outbound rider taking the sound(er) stuff... No way was she going to take Tequila, and I did not even dream of asking it. She offered me her chin strap, but Rojo, her big Pinto gelding, had once run off the edge of a canter area, going down a forested hillside about like the one in The Man from Snowy River, but only about a football field long. (Long enough to KILL YOU....) I told her no. He was green at the time, but that is not the kind of thing you want a repeat performance of...
By the time we got back, she and I had come to an understanding, and we skipped the last canter completely. We were home in 45 minutes... I rode right up into the house yard, telling the first kid in line to keep going...Yeah, right. Eldoie came out as all seven kid's horses began to GRAZE her front yard (they weren't even allowed up that driveway... manure, flies, etc...) She was set to get really mad when Marty showed up and told her about the broken chin strap and seeing me have to drop her on her side to stop her. She helped Marty lead the first kid's horse out and get the rest of the heads up and headed toward the livery stable's barn... and the ride got there right on the one hour mark. All the kids said it was the best ride they'd ever had. Elodie couldn't believe Jill cantered...
Later in the summer, when Marty hopped bareback on Sioux Stampede's back to herd in the mares, she found that Tequila had somehow put a very severe cut on her back leg, down low. Blood was spurting 1' from her body. Marty cut her out and ran her into the house yard, shouting as she came. The rest of the herd headed for the livery stables, as they knew the breakfast grain awaited.
Elodie ran to call the vet, and I said he'd never make it before she bled to death... Slowly I reached my hand along her back, working it down the leg until I finally could apply pressure like a tourniquet above the cut. I got light headed being upside down, and before the vet arrived, was on the ground beside her, still holding pressure.
This impressed Marty, who later told me she would not have even TRIED to touch the wound, much less hold it for over 30 minutes. But I think horses know when they are seriously hurt, and if they trust you, will put up with the "treatment". We'd come to our understanding out in the woods that day. No, I didn't suddenly like the mare, but to watch one bleed to death is just not in my make-up.
I'd like to tell you Elodie went out and invested some of the profits in decent equipment, but we were plagued by breakages all summer long. Tequila never did get safe for the clientele, but was a reliable guide horse who would CANTER, not gallop, around the hay field. The next year, Tequila had a filly from Elodie's black and white stallion (Sioux Stampede) that was called Fire Water..and That's The Rest of the STORY...
Except for her showing Sioux at a Regional Championship Pinto Show in Indian costume. Fun, FUN class... try it some time. Do something outlandish -- pull a travois, call the judge "Sky Pilot", and tell him he's the father of your child as you hand him a doll strapped onto a cradle board; be Chief Rain in the Face and have one of your daughters on the rail with a garden hose to be used at the appropriate moment (when you finish your rain dance.... but don't "accidentally" spray the judge if you're mad at him!); turn a dove of peace loose (so it can poop the rest of the day on the judge you are mad at); fly up (leather thong on the lower jaw of your mount) to the judge, execute a sliding stop, and make peace with the judge by STABBING YOUR LANCE INTO THE ARENA DIRT BETWEEN HIS FEET (and pray it is disked deeply enough NOT to fall over and bonk him on the head) -- Ah, it is a totally DELIGHTFUL class, and a favorite with the crowds.
In the original Pinto costume classes, you got a one minute work-out to present whatever you wanted to show off your horse. I used to ride Lady Integration in a leather chin thong with one feather... then run AQHA reining pattern #2, which she knew by heart and could perform in her sleep... She was a very SLOW black and white mare... My outfit wasn't very good, but that used to win us some lower level classes...
Most of the winners were the people who went AUTHENTIC. They got real deer skins, sewed pony beads in proper patterns for the kind of Indian they called themselves (you RESEARCHED your stories heavily) etc.
One time, my girlfriend offered me her BEARSKIN rug to use. She had an Appaloosa, which also have a costume class, but theirs was more liberal than the Pintos, and they sewed bells on places, etc. (Bells are only on DANCE costumes. You did not ride off in a hunt or war party wearing BELLS!) You could not dye any part of your horse. Feathers were legal, but only in "original colors -- not dyed) So, we had to remove some of her little frills and extras for the Pinto show.
Lady Integration had just foaled, and we'd gotten a box stall for her... which turned out to abut on the corner of the ring. So her colt was in sight through the cracks, and in hearing... We were by far the best outfit at this particular show, and I had my patter all down. I was a maiden, the daughter of the chief, who had been killed in an enemy attack. I found his body, stole his prize horse out from under the enemy guarding it, and was now making my get-away. (Okay, so, imagine bushes and trees around the area where I was busy running AQHA reining pattern #2... it made a good story to fit the actions....I had to take EVASIVE ACTION)...
Now Tagre used to show in 11-15 different classes in a show, some English, some western, do dressage, jump, and she was always good for at least three blues. Sometimes in English style classes if she were having one of her "hot" days, sometimes in western if not, the jumping always, unless I GOOFED UP OR FELL OFF, and trail... So, the people who were in a bunch of bleachers up above the stalls down the edge would reach out and beat the metal wall or door BOOM, boom, boom, boom, BOOM, boom, boom, boom, every time she came along areas with noisemakers alone, knowing from long experience that she'd just show better, not blow up... But, about that foal... in sight and hearing...Bareback I could ride like crazy, but BEAR SKIN is slippery. SO, when I set off to evade, everything went fine until we got down in the corner where the colt was, and she didn't want to leave.... I finally got her moving again, but she was mad, and seemed not to want to stop... (three judge show, and a ring man. all in a nice little clump right in front of her space in line... IDEA -- she won't run over them...) so we head right FOR the group, slide in, and BACK into the line-up. One judge KNEW she was out of control and gave her last, the other two gave her first....
We were outclassed pretty badly at the regionals... where there were so many horses entered that the 1 minute workout each made the class last TWO HOURS. (The next edition of the rulebook dropped that one minute work-out, and the class has never been as good or exciting since....) But ELODIE was NOT... even though her horse was dumpy and her costume far from beautiful.
Typically, she went "el cheapo" route -- no white deerskin dress for HER! She wore an old bowler hat, an old hand-me-down, wrong sized jacket of Navajo weave, had pots and pans tied to various parts of her WESTERN white man's saddle, and bunches of dried skins hanging from thongs off the back of the other side. She'd just added a new pelt -- a for real SKUNK skin, properly tanned. We couldn't SMELL it, but old Sioux must have, for he really lived up to his name that day.
She's working the crowd, side pass right, side pass left, horse always facing them (heck with the judges; seeing his rear was good enough for them!)
"You buy-em pot. lady?" Picking out some big wig's wife in a stunning outfit... banging the pot against the rail, the saddle horn, her rein hand... "Good and solid..."
She offered each perfectly normal household item on that side, then went for the furs on the other. All went as planned, the crowd titillated to suddenly find themselves participants instead of spectators, until she pulled out that skunk skin.
One flap of it, and Sioux set off bucking, just like he did most mornings when Marty would herd the mares in on him... which Elodie would always deny, saying that he NEVER BUCKED.... Now, that little guy could really put his head down and whale when he wanted to, and he did, the entire length of the stands before she got his head up, whirled him to face the crowd, and exploded with, "Me sell-um PONY, too, CHEAP!" She got 6th with the worst-looking costume in the ring, but everyone felt she'd earned it fair and square!
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