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Thanksgiving in Texas & horses of courses

So Thanksgiving was Brilliant! I was the only kid (on my Dad's side) at the Event... My Pa & Lin's FIRST anniversary! it was super - even though now what was planned ... quiet jazz piano night at their lil' bar. Pa's back was out ... decades of lifting his father, my grandfather Big Dick, in and out of his wheelchair. Big Dick had ALS,... Lou Gehrig's disease ... but as my Dad said this year, he would not have sacrificed any of it to save his back (now wrecked) for his relationship with his father. Boy, i can understand that.

So when his back was excruciating, we stayed home and Linda made us an impromptu dinner of pasta and shrimp from ... what looked to be nothing at all available! and it was exquisite. Pretty awesome.

I rode horses every day - sometimes twice. One day we all rode at park with this wonderful trail through woods and along pastures. This is Dad on Champ by a historic bridge:

We ran into a friend Dad sees on the trail almost every time he goes there... Larry L'Heureux. Or the Joyous One. And that he was. He was on an Arabian ( he has a couple, and a Walker too) and had a really great saddle - the epitome of what i wanted but didn't know it until i saw it. I thought i wanted an Aussie outback style - English but more secure, but not as heavy as Western. But Larry rode a Crate Endurance saddle. Arabians do very well in Endurance.

Since my Dad can only trailer 2 horses at a time, and we were on 3, someone had to wait, and i wanted to keep riding, so they told me to ride to the highway. They would be coming back for me.
Linda on Bullet:

Well, i didn't understand, and set off in the wrong direction, but they swung by on their way out and pointed me in the right direction. The trail was gorgeous ... autumn color, with red and orange and yellow berries, and tall grasses...and of course that incredible Texas sky opening up the entire horizon to possibilities.

I found the highway, but i couldn't see where they could pull the trailer up to pick me up. The trail continued under the highway through a tunnel. Timothy was a bit uncertain of this tunnel, so of course I had to take him through it to show him all was well. On the other side was a sign with an arrow saying Trail Head. Cool! so we cantered along the forest path .. until it suddenly got rocky and we slowed to pick through the rugged terrain...as Tim is barefoot (no horseshoes). Well now we had gone for a couple of miles, cantering when the path was sandy and smooth and moving slowly in the rocks, and still no trail head. It was now WAAAY to much a pain in the ass to go all the way back, but i was definitely getting the idea that I had made a mistake. And I didn't have my phone. I always ride with my phone, but i hadn't been carrying it in Texas as much. After 4 or 5 miles from the start of our adventure, we came to a road that was an entrance to a park. I hoped Dad would find me there, so i headed to the highway. Sign says "Y'all come back now!"


i dismounted to let Tim graze on the untrammeled green grass on the roadside. Traffic was light. I watched for Dad. A truck and trailer passed us after a while, but coming from the trails, not from Dad's.
It took a right into the street across the highway from us. I decided to ride Tim back to Dad's...it couldn't be very far. But thought if he were to come looking for me he would be headed towards home and that meant i should be on the opposite side of the highway.

I watched the traffic and headed to a place that was narrower with good visibility in both directions. I started leading Tim across the highway, and about half way across he started having second thoughts. I kissed him on the nose and told him if he didn't get a move on they'd find us both later with a dashed white line right down the middle. He came along and as I was about to mount up, I saw the same truck and trailer coming back to the highway. For some reason i paid close attention, and the window went down, and it was Larry! He crossed the highway and motioned for me to come back across to him over there.

Tim and i went over and Larry said that Dad was looking for me. I said I knew that and explained the mixup on my end, and that I was worried he was pissed. Well of course he was pissed. Larry dropped the tail gate of his trailer and i sent Tim merrily aboard, and we turned around in the big parking lot of the Park and went back to the Trails. Larry and I started talking and before we'd got back to the highway we knew we shared interests in Philosophy, Jung, and ... as I explained why Dad would be worried more so than your average Pa, given the accident last year. I saw Dad and his trailer passing us a few seconds later. I told Larry and he said we should just go on to the Trails and wait there. But that was just a break in a flowing conversation that bubbled up between us. Next thing, I discovered we had both survived Near Death Experiences.

Larry believes we are here for some purpose - called back until it's finished or somesuch. I've heard that before, and am both charmed and dismayed by the prospect.

Dad's phone number is so easy that dyslexia renders it unmemorable, but Larry let me call his wife on his cellphone to see if she might be able to look it up, By the time we had gone around the loop of the parking lot there to turn around, I saw Dad driving back in towards us, thanked Mrs. Joyous One, and hung up.

Dad got out of his truck asking where Tim was, and Larry sketched out the scenario and offered to drop me and Tim back home Dad seemed uncomfortable putting Larry out further, but Larry and I, not ready to face his wrath, and not ready to cease our discussions, pressed to meet him back at the ranch. Heh... And it all came out right in the end. Until two days later ...

So, Dad has 3 hunks o dynamite that hail from the quarter-horsey world — 2 of whom are youngsters and one of whom is a BRAT like me. at the ripe ol' age of 18 or so.... I can't believe it, cuz he's frisky and prancy and "full of bullshit" as Pa says.... but really he's a helluva character and God i wish i had that kinda horse... but Chrizz is pretty and sometimes he's bliss to ride and the beach is always heaven. So not complaining.

Of the remaining beasts, Champ is 7 - the same age as Chrizz - and Timothy is going to be 4 in January. Champ belongs to Linda, and works very well for her as is. Timothy can always use more schooling, although they are both very well-mannered, sweet horses.
ie: they don't *need* anything, much like Neil's dog Cabal didn't *need* training from me, but he *did* need to learn how to curb his enthusiasm with Neil. With me he was sweet as pie because he only gets that worked up around his Neil.

So this morning, Champ and i got into a thing about being caught up...he'd let me only come so close and then he'd tear off again. Well, after 15 minutes of this, i decided fine, you are full of beans, let's go with that, and started free-lunging him around the paddock. And it was going pretty well...he was bucking and snorting and kicking up his heels and I kept him moving. I guess to Dad and Linda this looked like I was just loud and dramatic and got the horses all stirred up. And that might have been it from the get go.

Chrizz is soooo much calmer than he was when i first started to ride him almost a year ago. But I put that down to his past history of abuse and the fact that he's 1.an Arabian and 2. he's young. But, like Bullet, he runs over to see me when i arrive at the stables and practically gulps the bit so we can go for a ride. But he has always been a freak when I am tacking him up... the saddle blanket, or the grooming bucket, or any and every bag or bit of plastic can have him pulling at the rope and trying to get free. Once I tell him he's being a clown and can stop that nonsense, and perhaps let him smell the offending whateveritisthathe'sseenevryfuckingdayforthepastyear, he's usually curious and unspoiled.

Sooo... Dad came over and took the halter and after a couple of seconds, had Champ. It's one of those things that being competitive won't help you with. He has a way with the horses he sees every day. Now, while I believe I am learning all the time, I have been around horses all my life...not in the saturation and concentration he has since he discovered horses— hell he's got 3 in his backyard!~ but it's still kind of ironic, being *schooled* by my Pa when I couldn't get him anywhere near a horse for 25 years. And it's really fucking cool too. I am beaming just thinking of how oddly proud I am of how well he suits being a cowboy. Not that any of the pride is on my account. He got that from his good buddy Eldridge and all the real cowboys he knows.


So Dad and I went across the street to a huge pasture, home to a herd of little ponies that work at the fair during the summer for pony rides, but get to spend their winters in high grass. Dad and I had ridden there and I had ridden there by myself. And both times i had a nasty experience with one particular pony - a very pretty liver chestnut with white mane and tail that is very territorial over a young colt sharing the pasture. The ponies run over to check you out, and then go on about their short business. But this mad little beast circled around the colt, preventing anyone from nearing it, and then charging at me and Tim ... or was I on Champ then? with squealing hostility, spun around and kicked him both back legs. Dad said he just charged back and the pony would flee.

So we are having a fine time, when the dwarf equine freakshow came running from waaay far away just to terrorize Champ, and i turned on him and whoooped to scare him. I guess because I do this when charging at plovers on the beach in California on a skittish Arab I thought a solid quarter horse wouldn't have a problem with such yeee-haw behavior. But Champ got the bit between his teeth and tore off across the pasture. The pony ran for cover, but Champ wasn't reining in. I turned him at the top of the pasture and then headed back towards Dad, thinking Bullet would calm him down. I lost a stirrup reaching for a dropped rein.

I LoATHE split reins! I just don't get why so much work has to go into reins! Chrizz's are split but pinned together with a hole and thong, so you don't risk losing one and having the horse step on it and SNAP!

I tried to let Dad know it would be OK, but i wasn't so sure. I heard him yell "Stay with him!" Which is one of the 3 things you can do with a runaway horse. Another is not to, which is a natural instinct, and one which i did not possess until, maybe, the wreck last year? And of course the BEST solution is to grab one rein and spin him, forcing him to slow his momentum until you can gain control. You don't have much hope of pitting your muscle against the enormous muscles in a horse's neck, but pulling his head around can usually get his attention and break his stride. That said, Chrizz bolted with me on the beach one day. Sam was trotting ahead and Chrizz just took off. So I am holding his head at a right angle and he's galloping sideways!

So Champ is pelting through the brush heading for the far end which is wooded with a big gorge being the natural boundary of the property, and I am past the point I could have circled him, as there are trees and a shed and used tractor equipment lying about, and I'm hoping he isn't seriously suicidal and that he knows about the gorge. So I headed him right into a tree, and sure enough, he stopped. Then, ass over tea kettle, I stopped too. Pitching forward with the momentum even with a saddle horn! and I landed on my head - hard.

I was seeing spirals and swirls and stars.... still, I got up as fast as I could. I didn't want Dad seeing me on the ground, stressing unnecessarily .. or maybe necessarily? i didn't know... I haven't evacuated the saddle in 25 years or so. When Dad came around the corner I had my arms wrapped around Champ's neck and he was looking a bit contrite. I got back up, and rode for a bit, but he needed to be spun and I was too dizzy, so Dad and i traded off and i rode Bullet and he spun Champ to make sure he had the weevils out of his system.

But now i guess i know i won't die the minute my head hits the ground! Yeay! So that's a good thing.... It's been haunting me for the past year, since I ride mostly alone, and Chrizz doesn't usually keep going once he jumps when being startled, but you never know. I think with the titanium and the bone grafts, i'm probably better-welded on than most people.

I am not taking this for granted, I just feel a sense of relief.

Champ and I got a few more days of riding in, and I rode Tim even more than that. I miss them all. Fluffy superfurry animals. When I would feed them in the evening, it was fun to be followed across a pasture by three horses. Even if it was all about the food. :) Well, isn't that what Thanksgiving is most remembered for?

Tunez !: Crooked Mile by Steven Jackson - A Case for Case: A Tribute to the Songs of Pete