The horse and the Bull-Lenten writing #39

I have seriously tried four, unique, different approaches to writing tonight. Nothing is working. Either from a technical standpoint or from a Cindy’s head standpoint, nothing is going right. 
I went with plan number five. That was a blog I had read Monday and thought was pretty terrific. After watching NBC telecast the world cup from last week, I was amazed again at the grit and determination of the riders to win. Competitiveness fosters a lot of things for us. Many times, it is innovation.
Here is tonight’s blog. Enjoy.

by Sunil Bali, 26-03-2017
Rucci was born into a family of grape farmers, but was always much more interested in mechanics and engines.

Rucci realized that the productivity of his farm would be far higher if he had a better, more reliable tractor. So he decided to build one.
His tractor was so good that other farmers wanted one. Rucci’s tractor business grew quickly bringing him considerable wealth. So much so that Rucci treated himself to a very expensive sports car.
Although he loved his sports car, it frustrated Rucci, as he found the ride unnecessarily rough and the transmission unreliable.
Given his expertise of building tractors which were reliable, robust and more comfortable than any other tractors, Rucci wrote to the owner of the luxury sports car firm offering his advice.
A few days later, Rucci received a very curt and dismissive reply from Enzo Ferrari telling him that he should keep his advice to himself and stick to building tractors.
Angered by Ferrari’s response, Ferruccio “Rucci” Lamborghini decided to grab his bull by the horns and design his own car.

The horse and the bull have been rivals ever since.

ps. The tractor in the photo is a Lamborghini tractor. And One I would be proud to drive.

An Open Letter to my Daughter’s Teacher

1611000_10206264573146823_332706424748759814_nWe have a guest writer today but I think she expresses what a lot of us feel as it relates to equestrian sports.  I will never forget talking to Lauren’s rural high school about getting PE credit for her horseback riding and they told it was not a sport.  So many misconceptions.  Anyway for any of you that were or had horse-loving kids-this sums up what they learn as they ride.  I think it is outstanding!
To my Daughter’s Teacher,
Today my 7 yr old daughter came home from school a bit sad. When I asked why, she said you told her that if she kept missing days, she would get bad grades. I understand where you are coming from, I’m sure it’s frustrating for you when she’s gone, but she’s missed 3 Fridays since the beginning of the year to compete in something that at 7 years old she’s found to be her true passion, Eventing. And so you know, there are not many 7 year olds that event. It’s difficult. It’s mentally and physically demanding. And she works harder than any kid I know her age because she enjoys it, and loves her pony, at a level beyond words.
It was interesting you told her that today, because in her backpack she had her report card with 6 A’s and 1 B. She also had her standardized test scores, where she scored above her peers in every category. But most interesting was the sheet of paper you also sent home, listing out what I should expect of my second grader, what I should work with her on. And as I read it all I could think is how much my daughter is benefiting from all the hours she’s spending at the barn preparing for her competitions. How much she is learning from all the hours, day in and day out, she practices. And finally, how my expectations of her are so much higher than yours, because of her riding.
Under the “Life Skills” portion it states she should be zipping zippers. She can put on a pair of leather half chaps by herself. Zipper level: Expert. It states she should be able to snap snaps and button buttons. She can put on her show shirt and jacket, a stock tie, breeches and her helmet. She can also tack up her pony by herself and apply bell boots, open front jump boots and brushing boots, and she knows which ones to use when.
It says she should know how to wash and dry her hands. Not only can she do that, but she knows how to clean and condition her boots, bridle and saddle, bathe her pony, pick his feet and apply hoof polish, organize a tack trunk and shovel and sweep manure from the grooming bays.
She’s supposed to know one parent’s phone number, and her parents names. She knows the names of the 30+ horses at the barn. She knows what size girth to use, and when to use a running martingale. She knows what hole to put the jump cups for a 2’ course, or a 2’6 course. She also knows how to change her diagonal, turn down centerline, make a 20 meter circle and how to ride a transition.
There was a section for “Following Directions” where it says she needs to be a good listener. She listens to her trainer give her a jump course consisting of 10+ fences, which she has to immediately remember, and then jump. It says she has to remember multiple directions at a time “such as brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes and moving your backpack.” She can remember and ride a dressage test, cross country course and show jump course in one day.
It says I should play “Mother May I” with her. Everything her pony does, is because she’s asked and she knows she has to ask correctly. She weighs 50 lbs. He weighs 700. She has spent hours learning how to not only ask, but listen, when she wants something from him.
It says she should have responsibilities, such as packing her lunch. She can not only feed herself, but knows how to feed and care for a pony. She can groom him, put on his blanket, braid his mane and brush his tail. She can scoop his feed, throw his hay, fill his water buckets and lug all 5 gallons 100 feet from the hose to his stall (though I do have to help her hang them.) She knows he always comes first, even when she’s hot and tired or it’s cold and raining.
But most of all, she’s learning about hard work. She’s learning how to succeed, and how to fail. She’s learning patience and compassion and best of all Love. Love for her pony, Love for her sport, Love for learning.
Dear Teacher, while I know school is important, I also know there is more to life than what can be learned in a classroom. These experiences aren’t just teaching her the things that come from a book, but things that are making her a better human being. When she looks back on her life, she won’t remember missing those 3 days of school. She will remember her last show on her beloved pony Champ, her first ribbon at a USEA show, and how she and her Best Friend spent 3 days in the rain together doing the thing they love the most, being Eventers.
The proud mom of a horse loving little girl

Fun turns to Fractures

IMG_0537Continuing onto our weekend, the girls decided to up the fun factor at the farm.  Our pasture heads down into the woods and ends in a lovely park like area.  As we have walked the dogs each evening we have talked about how fun it would be to add some simple little log jumps.  We have looked enviously at the fallen logs in the pasture next to us.

Yesterday afternoon, Lauren and her friends decided to create their own little cross country course in the park.  To the extent possible with the talents of three young girls, old granny and six miscellaneous pooches we dragged logs, bushes and other objects to make a series of small jumps.

The girls went and got Snow, Mickey and Feather and started jumping the course, adding a jump at a time.  One of us, got the brilliant idea to see if we could tandem jump the widest log.  It might have been me with that idea, but either way I went along with it, snapping away furiously on my camera to create the most awesome photo.

Its all fun and games until someone has to wear a cast on their arm.

Its all fun and games until someone has to wear a cast on their arm.

I think everyone was about ready to go in then.  But everyone wanted to try one last jump.  All the horses had been jumping easily and well.  Mickey, perhaps, was a little hyped up.  He had been serving as Jordyn’s walk trot pony and was pretty excited to be back jumping, turning and racing along. But both Snow and Feather were doing their usual style of jumping.  That meant Snow was jumping just enough to safely clear the obstacle while Feather was being an over-achiever, soaring to new heights over one foot high logs.

Lauren’s last jump was like all the others except perhaps Feather flew a little higher and landed a little harder.  Jumping a log my Yorkie could have scrambled over, in a fashion meant for Olympics jump off rounds, Feather went high and then smashed to the ground causing Lauren to smack down hard on the mare’s back.  Somewhere in her past, I feel a lion jumped on Feather’s back, bringing back that instinctual but usually well buried, fight or flight  response.  A while back when Jordyn landed hard on Feather’s back she bolted forward much like last night.  When she bolted forward, Lauren was already spiraling to the ground like perfect football toss.

Immediately, Laure wailed in pain.  “Call 911, my arm is broken!” She cried.  Okay, honestly, Lauren has a lot of falls, we all do.  Most are much better moments later.  Not this time.  Then I spotted the weird alignment of Lauren’s forearm.  I knew it was broken and was dislocated.

Things happened quickly here, Keith brought the truck down and we got the cussing, screaming Lauren up in the seat.  I almost forgot I had my granddaughter, Jo, with me until I was reminded coming out of the drive (I know, bad granny!).

Having moved we were at a Houston area ER and they did an adequate job of getting X-rays and managing pain meds.  When surgery became the obvious next step, I tried to get any of the orthopedic guys we had used in the past (and that is a pretty long list).  None of them were either in town or taking this case.

The ER doc let me know  me who was on-call for their hospital. I had known that doctor for a long time, had credentialed him as part of my job at the time and did not think he would serve as a good surgeon in this complicated case.  The ER doc made many calls and finally Methodist hospital agreed to take Lauren and her badly broken arm.  She was transferred by ambulance near midnight.

This morning Lauren went into surgery to correct a fracture and dislocation of both the ulna and the radius bones in her forearm.  The fractures were open and protruding from her skin.  Lauren has been in much pain and had moments of sleep over the last 36 hours.  The doctor says no riding for three months.

I appreciate greatly all your prayers, offers of help, messages to my family and just your love and support.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers as the next few days hopefully brings some pain relief and no infections to battle.


Silently praying, she led her horse to a new life

By Susan Salk on March 25, 2014

reprinted with permission from


Alyssa on Stan now as a top dressage contender.

Alyssa on Stan now as a top dressage contender. Stan, a 17 hand beauty, has blossomed under his owner’s care.


Clipping the lead rope onto her horse’s halter, Alyssa Stevens began to pray.

Please let him walk off the property and onto the trailer waiting across the street.

Her heart hammered, she felt a little like she was stealing her own horse, as she lead him away from the California rescue facility where she’d found, purchased and boarded ex-racehorse Stan the Man before her experience there had soured.

“I bought him in 2008 for a $5,000 adoption fee and continued to board him in the same place, taking lessons on him, and even volunteering for them,” she says. But after nearly a year later, in which Stan had a bout with colic, and began to look to her a little shell-shocked, as if he was losing too many battles with more-dominant herd members, Stevens decided to cut ties.

Stan the Man
Sire: Welcome Dan Sur
Dam: Lil Sweetness
Foal date: April 25, 1994

When she arrived, Stan was bleeding a little, perhaps she thought, from the nips and kicks of more aggressive horses. And the facility owner’s dogs were barking a kind of aggravated if not threatening chorus, as Stevens walked onto the property to get her horse. A van and driver waited across the street, door to the back open and ready.

“It was April 2009, and up until that point, I’d never taken him anywhere off the property. We’d just ridden in a round pen. I’d never even taken him on a trail ride,” she says. “So I had no idea how he’d respond to being asked to walk up the driveway, cross the street, and get on the van. I just kept praying as he walked beside me, and it was amazing. He came right with me and hopped right on.”

Following the tense departure, Stevens and Stan rode an hour that day to his new home, only five minutes up the road from Stevens own home in northern California

imageStan, back in the day, with the nicks and cuts from other horses.

At the new facility, whose close proximity allowed Stevens to visit him everyday, Stan blossomed.
“When I first got him, I thought he was an aloof horse. And I thought well, that’s just the way he is,” she says. “Probably about a year and a half after I moved him, he started changing. He started whinnying when he saw me; he started being my horse.”

And now Stan is so connected to Stevens that she practically needs to reserve him a room when she travels!

“I went on vacation last year for a week, and when I got back, everyone told me it was just awful with him. He wouldn’t eat, he was moping around— he was so depressed!”

That connection has also done wonders for their riding partnership.

During a recent dressage clinic with Sabine Shut-Kery, an accomplished German equestrian, the pair received high praise.

“She told us after the clinic how it was such a pleasure to teach someone who has such a wonderful connection with her horse,” she says.
Six years together and the trust and connection is stronger than ever.
The 17-hand gelding has gone from being nearly unmanageable maneuvering around an arena to being so smooth Stevens plans to enter him in dressage shows this year.

“When I first had him, I couldn’t even take him on a trail ride, because he was considered hard to manage. Now we go on beach rides, rides through the woods,” she says.

Thinking back to their uncertain beginnings together, and even a couple of bucking sessions early on that left her in the dirt, Stan the Man today isn’t even recognizable as the same horse as he was back then.

“It was quite an ordeal for me to make the step to move him from his first barn, but after I finally did, he has become an amazing horse,” she says. “Now I take him to clinics with world-class dressage riders and he’s the star of the show, even surrounded by Warmbloods and Friesians—he’s absolutely amazing, and we have such a connection.”

I appreciate this story so much.  We have to adopt them, buy them, find their spot where they are well treated and commit to spending enough time undoing what bad other’s may have done.


400 Blogs!!

For the 400th time, I am writing on my Exechorseluver blog.  I started this blog almost two years ago and have enjoyed telling my stories about my family and the escapades at Six Meadow Farm.  I am so happy you all have chosen to ride along with  me!  It means so much to me when I get a comment from one of you after posting a story or have someone come up to me at a horse show and talk to me about the blog.  THANK YOU!!

Here are some stats for the year 2013-

Crunchy numbers

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people.  This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013.  If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 206 new posts, growing the total 2013 archive of this blog to 397 (400 as of today) posts. There were 519 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 127 MB. That’s about a picture per day.

The busiest day of the year was July 22nd with 435 views. The most popular post that day was RESCUING-JOEY.  Which if I had to pick a favorite post, this certainly was a great one!

Here are some top photos of the year as well-you can click on the link beneath each picture to read that piece.  Enjoy the year in review and thank you again for being a part of Exechorseluver!!

Guest Blog-Ruby Moments

I am cross-posting a blog from a rancher wife and mother from SW Idaho. This is a recollection of her memory of a childhood event and initially she is writing from the perspective of that child. Made me think of my dad, my daughters and my grandchildren and the love I have felt for them all. Thank you Rachel for allowing me to cross post. If you have not read her “25 Things I want my Ranch Kids to Know” you should! You can find on her blog as well.

Be sure to leave Rachel a comment if you enjoy her work!