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!

What are you going to be when you grow up? And other questions not to ask.

This was written on Facebook today by one of our riding friends. Michelle is the same age as Lauren. I think her message and frustrations are important to all of us with children as we try to guide them in their future direction. I thought Michelle did a great job expressing her concerns, her options and fears. I hope we can all share this as for ourselves or with our children as appropriate. My daddy (Harvard grad and airplane exec) always said find what you loved as a child and do it your whole life. Good advice! Thank you Michelle for letting me share this.

There is so much riding on college students who are preparing for their careers. Not to say that there shouldn’t be – you should definitely be focusing on your studies. But what’s really difficult and what I’ve come to disagree with is knowing what you want to be when you grow up and exactly how you’re going to get there. By the time I was able to talk, parents, relatives and teachers were always …asking me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and it was never socially acceptable to NOT have an answer to that question. By the time I turned ten it was “What do you want to be when you grow up so you can make money?” and I thought, “I want to be a jockey!” or “I want to be in the rodeo!” or “I want to be a horse trainer!” and everyone says “No, no, you can’t do that. You won’t make much money.” And so it goes.
Then by 16 or 17 you’re prepping to go to college and it seems like you’ve got to make this decision on exactly what you’re going to be and how you’re going to get there in a very short time frame. In your mind you’re going to be XXX and you’re going to go to XXX school for four years and study XXX and do XXX internships. Then after college you’re going to get XXX job and then you will move up the rankings and things will be holly and jolly.
Except that’s not actually how it goes. My dream was to be a horse trainer so I went to a liberal arts school with a great equestrian program and if I really applied myself and persevered, everything would work out. But again, that’s not how it goes and life changes and you find yourself in one of the darkest places of your life even though you worked very hard and did everything you were told to do.
You see, that’s just the thing. Instead of raising your kids to follow this 4.0 plan where everything goes according to XXX and if you get off track then you are lost forever – you’re a failure, you’re nobody. Instead of teaching your kids that, why don’t you let them find something their good at, encourage them to stick with it and let them figure it out? Because let me tell you – speaking from first hand experience – going to what I thought would be the college of my dreams where everything would settle into place and then having to transfer out and leave literally everything I ever knew about my plan for life? That is the scariest, most anxiety provoking experience that still haunts me every time I make a mistake at school or take a spill off my horse. Feeling wave after wave of disappointment because that big shiny plan that I, my teachers, parents, relatives and peers cooked up shriveled up and died.
Then I moved back to Houston in hopes of creating my own type of equestrian program and the sound of it is much easier to hear than it is to walk out each and every day. I no longer have a university spoon-feeding me lessons on equine health and first aid, or scheduled ride times, or whatever. My future in the horse world is now relying solely, completely on me and that is so terrifying.
I’ll admit the expectations that others had for me and that I had for myself nearly caused me to crash and burn. I started to hate horses; I even began to be disinterested in my own horses. Riding horses began to be unappealing and I would dread a lesson hours in advance.
It took a shocking spill off my horse two weekends ago for this all to hit me and to understand all my anxiety about making mistakes. My endless fretting and worrying before and after each and every round, scrutinizing my every flaw because surely I wouldn’t be able to be a horse trainer if I made this many mistakes. How would I make money like this?
That is not going to be the case any longer. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know how to get there. Everything is a mess right now. I’m going to make mistakes, big ones. I’m going to go careening off my horse into jumps in front of my prior trainers. My heels will sometimes turn up and my leg won’t always be quite right. My back might arch and I’ll miss my spots and sometimes I’ll fold forward. Sometimes I’ll fold forward before every jump. Sometimes I’ll forget a course or two or three. Sometimes my confidence will be so dented that I won’t be able to look my horse in the eye.
But I have been riding horses for almost fifteen years and if that has only taught me one thing it is that I love horses. I want to be a horse trainer and I want to ride in the Grand Prix. I don’t know how I’m going to get there but somehow, I’m going to make it happen.

Please leave any comments or inspiration you might have for Michelle.

In the Spotlight

I don’t talk much about my job.  I do financial things in an accounting department.  But, I am really blessed to have a great job that rewards my work and allows me to have my lifestyle with my farm and horses.  This month, our internal newsletter highlighted my story.  I thought I would share it with you.  One of my co-worker’s Kira, wrote it, and I thank her for such a nice write up.

Mickey, me and Feather

Mickey, me and Feather

When you think of horses, what comes to mind? Beauty? Speed? Possibly Derby Day, with ladies in fancy dresses and floppy hats, casually socializing while holding a Mint Julep? Even those who don’t follow horse racing know of the Kentucky Derby; but, behind all the glitz and glamour is a lot of hard work – more than you may think! No one can attest to this more than Cindy Davis, Sr. Advisor, whose workday begins with feeding the horses at 4 am, while most of us are still tucked quietly in our beds.
Cindy’s love of horses began at an early age and has inspired her to become active in horse rescue. Although no longer operational, through Alvin’s Sunscape Equine Rescue, a group she was very active in, Cindy has help place 12-16 horses in the last 13 years and one of which, was featured on Animal Planet’s “Animal Cops” in Houston.
With the help of her daughter, Lauren, this mother/daughter team currently cares for 6 rescue horses at their ranch in Wharton, TX – some real celebrities too! Bruno is an OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) race horse from New York, who stands 17.2 hands high (that’s 70” at the shoulders, y’all!) and weighs 1,500 pounds. Bruno also has a best friend on the farm, KoolKid, who in his prime was the Houston Barrel Racing Champion at the ripe age of 20.
Unfortunately, not all horses who find themselves at Cindy’s farm had such a glamorous beginning. Mickey, for example, was a rescue from Bartlesville, OK who was severely abused growing up. Upon arrival, Mickey refused to even take a single step – but, fast forward 9 years and a boatload of hard work, Lauren and Mickey were attending the Regional Qualifiers in “Jumpers”, a very prestigious event.
Additionally, seven dogs reside at the farm and numerous cats, most rescues as well. Asked why she doesn’t downsize and move closer to town, Cindy says with a shrug, “it is like coming home to a different world. I love my animals, including all their problems, insecurities and issues. But when they bring home the top ribbon from the latest show, it all means just a little bit more, knowing we did it with an animal that had no chance at all before we took him home.” All in all, life on the farm is a tough job, especially for a team of two, but the rewards are priceless.
Click here to watch Bruno in action:
(Bruno’s registered name is ‘Fiddler’s Pilgrim’. He is number 2 in post position, in the green and white silks)

Good Fortune-no slaughter

I love seeing good rescue stories and this one is outstanding!

By Associated Press  As posted on Mail Online PUBLISHED:10:51 EST, 3 May  2013| UPDATED:13:58 EST,  3 May 2

He may never run for the Kentucky Derby  roses, but Illinois race horse Magna Fortuna and his owners are celebrating a  victory none-the-less — his survival. The three-year-old gelding’s name means  ‘great luck’, and he was a long shot when he won a recent race at Hawthorne Race  Course outside Chicago – one of the biggest race tracks in  America. His mother Lulu was purchased for $300 at an  Indiana slaughter auction by Gail Vacca, founder and president of the Illinois  Equine Rescue Center.

Lucky: Magna Fortuna, with jockey Julio Felix up, rides to a 9 3/4-length win during a horse race at Hawthorne Park in Cicero, Chicago

Lucky: Magna Fortuna, with jockey Julio Felix up, rides  to a 9 3/4-length win during a horse race at Hawthorne Park in Cicero,  Chicago
Dark horse: The three-year-old gelding whose name means 'great luck' was the longest of long shots when he won the race

Dark horse: The three-year-old gelding whose name means  ‘great luck’ was the longest of long shots when he won the race

Vacca found out later that Lulu was pregnant  when purchased. When the foal was born he was first named  Taxi – that was until Vacca traced his  lineage back to an impressive sire — a $2.58 million career stakes winner called  Magna Graduate. Speaking about the race, Vacca said the horse – who was the number six spot in the seven horse race – led the entire  way. ‘He was out for a joyride,’ she said  afterwards. ‘He didn’t even look back.’ Magna Fortuna’s ‘biography’ explains the  moment Vacca rescued the horse’s mother  Silver Option from slaughter: ‘Ms Vacca was at the auction looking for any  thoroughbreds that may have come from the tracks in Illinois when she spotted a  smallish bay mare that was in obvious discomfort from being severely lame in  both front feet.  ‘Unfortunately the mare was already in a  “kill pen” just waiting to be loaded onto a trailer for the grueling ride to  slaughter in Canada.’ After being taken back to Illinois, Silver  Option soon gave birth to Magna Fortuna, who was originally named Taxi until his  routes were traced back to his race-winning father. It was then that Vacca decided he would be  trained to race. Since the victory, offers have flooded in to  buy the horse but so far they have been rejected.