Riding 29 year old Sandy in 1997

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Nearly thirty-six years ago I bought my beloved Sandy, the beautiful buckskin mare I am riding in the picture above.  She was eight years old at the time, just entering what I consider to be the prime of a horse's life.  By eight, they're well-broke, they've been exposed to a lot of things, they know their job, their personality is pretty much set (well, THAT may happen by eight DAYS, LOL), and you really know what you've got there.

I had her for more than 23 years before she died.  It was a wonderful relationship, I trusted her and she was the kind of horse who didn't want to be fussed with, groomed, bathed, or clipped -- but when you came at her with a bridle, she'd shove her head into it and grab the bit as if to say, "All right!  Let's go have some fun!"  Eventually I learned to ride her bareback and she's the only horse I ever really felt connected with that way.  I could gallop her full speed with a bareback pad and felt totally "with" her.

She was a sensible horse.  There were a couple of times when we could have gotten into a major wreck and many horses would have struggled until there was one, but she just stood quietly and let me get her out of whatever mess we'd gotten into.

In three days, on March 17, my beloved Dash (the bay) will turn 8 years old.  I've been blessed to get to share her first eight years with her, which I missed with Sandy.  But the result has been much the same:  I have a horse entering the prime of her life, who is trustworthy and dependable, who loves to go for a ride, and amazingly, who can be ridden in a halter and lead rope.  I don't even need her to grab a bit for me when I bridle her.  I often ride her with just the bareback pad, too, but I'm not yet as secure on her as I was on Sandy.

I don't know if I'll have 23 more years with Dash; with horses, anything can happen.  I never expected to lose Dutch at age 9, just in the prime of HIS life.  But I hope Dash will be the last horse I ride before toddling off to my nursing home.  She's beautiful, and friendly, and has a sense of humor, and will go anywhere and do anything I ask her to do.  And I love riding her so much.  Poor Dawn is often neglected because, as wonderful as she also is, I just plain prefer Dash.  She was my first foal, and came to me at a time in my life (I'd just been laid off and was about to move to Arizona) when I had time to work with her, and play with her, and develop a bond even stronger than the one I had with Sandy.

So the age of eight is a bit of a milestone for me because now Dash is the age Sandy was, so I can now compare the things I did with Sandy to the things I will do with Dash.  Will I find history repeating itself?  Not likely.  I was 21 when Sandy was 8 and I'm about to turn 57 right after Dash turns 8.

Sandy was the horse of the excitement of barrel racing, with some trail riding thrown in when we could haul out somewhere.  Dash is primarily a trail horse; likely I will never barrel race her.  But I find myself yearning to ride Dash in all the places I used to ride Sandy and will probably do some of that.

It's hard to believe it's been eight years since I was anxiously checking Dottie's udder for changes and poking her rump to see if she'd "softened" yet (I had NO CLUE what I was looking for) only to be surprised 10 days before the expect due date with a leggy stranger in the corral and I met Dash for the first time.

She was friendly from the first moment, loves people, and has been an absolute joy to raise.  Now she is truly an adult and is such a wonderful and sweet mount.

Unfortunately, with the chaos of tax season deadlines, there will be no time for a party for her.  Maybe on Dottie's 23rd birthday on April 26 I will throw a party and celebrate all three birthdays at once.  Dawn will be 7 June 2 so Dottie's birthday is pretty much in the middle and would be a good time for a party.  The weather should be nice then too.

And that's the latest from the Ranch.

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