The more things change

Jordyn, about two, riding in her first barrel race on Drifter with my Lauren and Lauren & Kallyn Davang

Jordyn, about two, riding in her first barrel race on Drifter with my Lauren and Lauren & Kallyn Davang


If you have not been to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I dare say you have not been to a rodeo.  Every spring, for over three weeks, the Rodeo takes up residence in NRG Center.  It includes all the traditional rodeo events but also carnivals, shopping, tremendous food and lots of fun for all.  And while our barn is now focused on the English disciplines of Dressage, Hunters and Jumpers, my roots are in ranching, barrel racing and Quarter horses.

I love rodeo time and enjoy that the schools and businesses in the Houston area get caught up in rodeo theme as well.  Businesses declare it  Rodeo Day and many come outfitted in wildly patterned cowboy boots that sit in the closet for the rest of the non-rodeo year.  Schools have Rodeo Day as well and the kids force their parents to buy new boots (last year’s are outgrown) and western shirts.  Fortunately for my granddaughter Kendyll, there is no lacking of horse/rodeo themed clothing available to her as handed down by sister Jordyn.

Kendyll, a little over 2 1/2, with Jordyn's same little western shirt and Jo's boots.

Kendyll, a little over 2 1/2, with Jordyn’s same little western shirt and Jo’s boots.

Kendyll is older than Jo was in the picture above, but they are both still getting indoctrinated in the “cowboy” life as I would put it.  When I was a kid growing up outside Chicago, there were not many opportunities to don my cowgirl boots and head anywhere but the barn, certainly not to school.  I loved Colorado and cherished my summer-time there where I got to dress like a cowgirl 24/7.

But I feel even in Colorado, where spotting someone in jeans and boots is pretty commonplace, official rodeo days don’t happen at the schools.  I came to Texas by happenstance.  Unless you don’t believe in happenstance and then that is a whole other discussion.  The girls and I came from Florida as I was recruited for a job here.  I never dreamed I would live in Texas but I have to say many things about it have brought me back to my Cowboy and my momma’s Oklahoma roots.

I have looked all over (although not out in the cold garage) where I would probably find a picture of my sister, my mom and I.  My sister and I were little, like three and five maybe.  We were at Elk Falls Ranch.  My sister and I had on nifty aqua blue skirts and vests with fringe.  We had on cute white cowgirl boots.  I know you will miss seeing that.

My family has been dressing like cowboys (girls) for many generations now.  As Jordyn and my other grandkids continue the tradition, I find it comforting and wonderful that these horse based traditions are being passed along.  The grandkids represent the third generation to ride recreationally.  Clearly, people have had horses as a necessity going back thousands of years.  But this family has chosen to ride and live (in spite of the English direction we have taken in recent years)  like the cowboys that came before us, still cherishing a well built horse and a comfortable saddle.  Texas helps us remember our roots.

As Marcel Proust said, and I remember from my suffering days in European Literature, “the more things change, the more they remain the same”.  It is so true.  Ride on.

My daddy-my first Cowboy love!

My daddy-my first Cowboy love!



Using your head

The skid marks from a a big green jump standard on Jordyn's helmet.

The skid marks from a a big green jump standard on Jordyn’s helmet.

pip cal

I knew it was bound to happen, that it was just a matter of time.  Piper, Jordyn’s new South Carolina ride, is a cute pony and a nice mover but still pretty green.  While she is not overly spooky or difficult to ride, she is a little inexperienced.  I think we ended up being good owners for her as Jo can ride her but the pony still needs instruction, which Lauren can give her.

Jo had gotten pretty used to heading to ring with horse Mickey and trotting for an hour or two.  Sometimes fast and sometimes slow, Mickey was not interested in breaking into a canter with his young rider.  Piper, on the other hand, is not so laid back.  I figured if Jo kept taking her faster and faster at the trot it would just be a matter of time or weather or barometric change that gave Jordyn her first taste of a canter off the lounge line.  I didn’t have to wait too long.

Friday night, it was Jo and I at the farm.  Everyone had come and gone for the day.  I was working on some stuff at the barn and Jordyn had headed to the arena to ride.  About 30 minutes into their ride, I heard a terrifying yell and looked over to see Jordyn and Piper cantering around the arena.  This would have probably worked out okay as Jordyn was sitting the canter very well and Piper was not misbehaving, at least not passed cantering when she was supposed to be trotting. But Jordyn was pretty freaked out.  She continued to scream and periodically pull the reins back but Piper was responding more to the screams than the reins.  I was unable to do anything but watch them canter around.  Anyone who has ever ridden knows the canter is much easier and comfortable to ride than the trot, but it is way faster, a preamble to a gallop and a run.  Jordyn has not discovered the joy of the canter yet, just the fear of going fast.

Finally the pony made a sharp turn at the end of the arena and headed straight for the big jump at the center.  I yelled at Jo to turn her away from the jump.  I have no doubt this little, talented pony would have jumped the three-foot jump if Jordyn had not moved her away from it. Jordyn tugged at the reins and the pony swerved to the edge, knocking Jordyn off-balance and swinging her head directly into the  heavy, green jump standard.

There are moments that stand still in your life and this was one of them.  I knew she was not dead as the screaming had continued in earnest.  Sneaky, our Corgi, (she says she is a doctor) and is extremely compassionate, got to Jordyn on her short legs before I did.  I would just like to say that while Sneaky gave Jordyn many encouraging licks and prods, Jordyn just yelled at her to get off of her!  Sneaky, just trying to take care of her young owner!  No apppreciation, there!

I was pretty happy when Jo sat up on her own (no broken back) and clearly her jaw was intact and working.  While I would discover that Jordyn had road rash from her tiny cheek, down her shoulder, to her hip and on her arm, the most impressive thing was her helmet.  Just recently we had moved up to this helmet as the fit was not right on her old one.  If she hit the jump hard enough to implant the paint into the helmet, I sure do not want to ever see what her little head would have looked like without it.  I am having visions of a squashed melon.

i have always said after years working ER and in the medical field, you can fix anything but a broken brain.  I know you have heard it before but here it is again–wear your helmet!

Just do it.  Do you want to have a squashed melon?  I didn’t think so.


Piper stood quietly by Jordyn as she laid on the ground.  Jordyn got back on Piper and rode her around for a few minutes.  The following day she rode her in the morning on her own and then with Dev for her lesson.  Jordyn is a brave,courageous little girl.  She was bragging to anyone that would listen about how she cantered all by herself.

Oh, and she is very lucky, too!


GG Jim-A Life Well Lived

My mom and Jim-2012

My mom and Jim-2012

My step-father, Jim Foust, died yesterday at age 97 and three/quarters.  I know you probably think that is not surprising but believe me this was one person for whom advancing age never seemed to touch.  My grandkids, his great grandkids, called him GG Jim, great-grandpa Jim after Jordyn first coined that name for him.

Glenn Taylor Foust (Jim), was born in 1917.  And has remained all 97 of these years pretty much aware and remembering the details of his great life.  My mother met Jim first as Dr. Foust.  He was her OB-GYN in the 1950’s as she was pregnant with first my sister and then I.  In essence I have known Jim all my life since he cared for my mother and delivered me into this world.  Pretty crazy.  And while he was part of bringing me into this life, Jim saved my life once, literally, as well.

My family moved off to Chicago for many years as Jim continued to have a thriving practice in Denver.  When my family returned to Denver in the 1970s,  my mother was once again a patient of Jim.  My dad died in 1991 and as my mom embarked on a life of her own, Jim was doing the same having lost his wife as well.  They met again walking in a Denver park.  Before any of us had time to think about it, the two of them were heavy into a relationship.

I remember Jim and mom coming to visit my family in Florida in the mid-1990’s.  Ally was taking horseback riding lessons and Jim went along with me to watch.  He filled the time telling us stories of being in the cavalry.  Have you ever met anyone that served in the U.S. Cavalry?  Jim was an excellent horseback rider and had pictures of himself jumping four-foot or larger jumps on huge thoroughbreds.  My dad was a horseman but Jim actually had done the things that Ally and subsequently Lauren would compete in.

I was an avid swimmer, competing for over ten years.  Jim had been an outstanding swimmer and diver as well (not something I did well).  It was another thing we had in common.  As the relationship deepened between Jim and my mom, I was very happy for her to have found such a love again. They were married in 1997.  I think they both made each other very happy.  Not many of us get such second chances.

Jim had a place in Tucson and I remember so many terrific times with the family there.  Over dinners he would tell us stories of his hunting adventures in Alaska.  To this day, I believe there are still trophy animals in one of the Denver museums that Jim hunted, killed and had shipped back to Colorado for display.  He had amazing times hunting on horseback in wild, completely untamed country. Jim was great golfer as well and won tournaments at Cherry Hills in Colorado along with many in Arizona and other locations. He was still swinging a golf club even in recent years.

I realized a little late in Jim’s life that I had missed a tremendous opportunity in my journalistic endeavours.  I wish I had been able to devote some time to Jim  and to hearing his life story, from birth to the war, to medical school and training, to his wild adventures in some of the real frontiers of America. I think his story would be one from which we could all learn a little something.

For my children, especially Lauren and Ally, Jim was the grandfather they knew best.  I do not say that to disrespect their other grandfathers, but because of my mother, Jim was so much more involved in their lives.  Jim cheered all the girls on from childhood and as they grew into adults.  I am sure even today the kid’s pictures still grace the walls (and refrigerator) of his home in Tucson.

Jim, Jordyn and Bruno.  95 year old Jim wanted to ride him.  I said no.

Jim, Jordyn and Bruno. 95-year-old Jim wanted to ride him. I said no.


When Jordyn came along both mom and Jim were her biggest fans.  Jordyn made a lot of trips to Denver and there was a deep and special love between the three of them. Jim was great with all the great-grand kids and seemed to have a special rapport with them.  Maybe it was from having delivered so many babies, he appreciated how special they were.  He carried a little book which held all the names and birth dates of his family from young to old.  He would read the roster off for me, telling me a little about each one.

Jim with young Riley.

Jim with young Riley.

Jim was my step-father.  He loved my mother and I.  He cared about my children and grandchildren.  In many ways, I feel he was one of the last of his breed, of the tough, but wiry and resilient type that met challenges head-on with his usual surgeon like decisiveness.  It is the end of era for me. It is the last part of my momma that was left.  I think it is ironic that he died on Valentine’s Day-he was such romantic and blessed my mother with flowers so often.

God Speed, Jim.  You were one of a kind and brought so much love to my mother and my family.  I would tell you to rest now in peace but I doubt you are slowing down even for a moment as you embark on Heaven and all its delights.

Glenn Taylor Foust, Jr

May 18, 1917-Feb.14, 2014

A life well lived



Weekends with warmth

It was a warm and beautiful weekend weatherwise, but the true warmth of the weekend was getting to spend time with family and dear friends.

Mia hanging with the mares

Mia hanging with the mares

We are like a family out here.  Maybe we have just been lucky to get outstanding people as boarders but we certainly have.  One family, Keith, Wendy and Mia, from the first moments of meeting them, felt like long-lost kinsfolk.  And the feeling has just increased over time we have spent with them.  Shortly, they will be off to Malaysia and it is proving very difficult to say goodbye.  From the relationship Wendy has established with baby Kendyll to young Mia’s willingness to help out with anything at the barn, they have been great.  We got in some last pictures and time together this weekend.


Wendy with Betty Sue.  She tsaught Betty to break into the tackroom for treats and many other illegal activities.

Wendy with Betty Sue. She tsaught Betty to break into the tackroom for treats and many other illegal activities.

From left-Kendyll with her best pal Wendy, Jordyn, Piper me and Muffy

From left-Kendyll with her best pal Wendy, Jordyn, Piper me and Muffy

We will really miss this family as they leave and hope they are posted back to the US (Houston) real soon.  Kendyll and Lauren say they are going to Malaysia to visit but I don’t really see that happening.

Saturday morning lessons took place and Jordyn rode her Piper pony for the first time under Dev’s instruction (they were not quite ready for the big arena previously).  Both horse and rider were outstanding.  We got a great video of Jordyn trotting away, managing circles, halts and reversing on demand.  I am really happy with the progress they are making.

All seemed to have a good lesson.  Feather is making progress on listening to Lauren between tight jumps.  Mickey and Alex worked on handy turns (Mickey says he’s got this!).  Mia and Isabel jumped higher with style.

We had some new boarders come out to see the barn this week and have made the decision to board their kids, Molly (a pony)  and Kinny (a big warmblood) with us.  This married couple met at Texas A&M first day orientation.  What a great story!  I think they will be terrific additions to the barn family.

We needed to make some changes to accommodate the two new horses so while Luke got busy with stall changes, Ally, Lauren, Jordyn, Kendyll and I moved the junk we had been storing in the area.

I am pretty sure this is not what my doctor had in mind.  Kendyll is sure doing her part though while Jordyn steers the broken mower.

I am pretty sure this is not what my doctor had in mind. Kendyll is sure doing her part though while Jordyn steers the broken mower.

I asked Jordyn if she wanted to go ride with me.  She looked up at me questioningly, “Like you are going to ride a horse, Granny?”  Yes, I had decided it is time.  With my first hip replacement it was more than three months before I got back in saddle.  At the doctor this last week, I passed all the tests with flying colors.  I still have more physical therapy to finish but am glad I am getting around so well.  The doctor released me to swim, ride or walk as I desired.  YIPPEE.

Alex complained that Mickey had been a little slow yesterday.  Slow was just what I was looking for in a horse to make my come back on!  Jordyn and I got the horses saddled as the fog was just burning off on the brilliant Sunday morning.  Mickey was a champ and we even managed some trotting before I decided not to over do the first time back in the saddle.

Piper and Jordyn as the fog burns off on a lovely Sunday morning!

Piper and Jordyn as the fog burns off on a lovely Sunday morning!

Two bay horses and two cowgirls!

Two bay horses and two cowgirls! Oh and Lula too!

To finish up, the warm weekend, Libby, Mia, Isabel and Lauren worked together to get our jumps re-painted.  What color did they go with?  Predominantly, PINK!  I appreciate all the help everyone gave on this project.  And that includes the parents that made multiple trips to the barn to accommodate the young painters.

Our new boarder told me she had talked with her mom about my barn.  Her mom reportedly told her that she would have loved a pink pony barn when she was growing up!  I guess some of us just will never outgrow it!

Many thanks for riding along.

Painters and Kona hard at work.

Painters and Kona hard at work.