Friday, November 18, 2016

BOOTS!

                                             


I am a boot kind of gal! I've had a pair of boots on my pins since I was old enough to wear boots, and like the Cowboys of old, " I'll die with my boots on!"

I received a new pair today and I had to tell you all about them!



Aren't they pretty! 
These are from Nocona, and are the new line called LET'S RODEO. These have a very fancy name of Testa Pria. 

Of course I had to put them on right away. 

YUMMY!

Soft and comfortable!


They will be my Show Boots for 2017. I can hardly wait!   The sole is rubber, but has a great deal of flex. I like that because it will keep my foot in the stirrup, but not so much that I'd get hung up if I had a blow-out. They feel like I could wear them all day and on into the night ( dancing, of course!)  
Really nicely made boots, for sure. 

I received these from Russel's Western Wear, so if you want to find yourself a pair, I'd hit that link and head on over. I am sure you will love yours just as much as I love these! 

Thank you Jason and Russell's Western Wear. 



Friday, April 8, 2016

*** Curry Some Favor ***



" The sunshine's golden gleam is thrown
On sorrel,chestnut, bay and roan;
The horses prance and paw and neigh,
Fillies and colts like kittens play,
And dance and toss their rippled manes
Shining and soft as silken skeins. "

- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., " How The Old Horse Won The Bet"



 One of life's greatest joys is the act of grooming a horse. I don't care who you are, or who you think you are, the simple and honest act of currying a horse will soothe your very soul. 



Every little girl alive wants to curry a pony. Hasbro cashed in on that in a big way with My Pretty Ponies. Why didn't I think of THAT! My two girls had all of the My Pretty Pony dolls, even though they had REAL ponies to brush! 


The expression " Curry Favor " sounds like it would directly link to the act of grooming your horse. And though this post is actually about grooming your horse, I thought you might be interested in the origins of the phrase. 



~If not~ skip ahead~ 

The word ~CURRY ~ is a derivative of the French word "Conraier" which means " put into order ". To curry a horse, means to put his coat in order.

Seems to be keeping with the theme...

The last part~ FAVOR~ comes from a different French word and a 1310 poem by a French Royal Clerk named Gervais du Bus.
'Roman de Fauvel' or 'Romance of Fauvel' was a morality play about a vain and greedy Stallion named Fauvel who corrupts Government and Church Officials. The word FAUVEL in English means 'veiled lie' or it could mean a Chestnut horse. So it was a play on words as well! 
In the poem the rich and powerful people humble themselves by bowing down and stroking Fauvel~
thus
Currying Fauvel. 
Over the years the word has been changed to Favor.

Voila! 

END OF HISTORY LESSON
You may begin to read about grooming once more. 





 Currying your horse is a very important part of horse management. 

Obviously brushing the dirt and grime from your horses coat before you slap on a saddle is important. A horse with a 'burr under the saddle' isn't going to be a happy camper. 




Sweat and dirt combined can  cause galling at the cinch. Dirt and rain along with nasty bacteria can cause rainrot.


 A rock in a tender frog will spoil a ride in a hurry, and don't get me started on scratches,mud fever or mud balls on fetlocks.  




 The act of going over every inch of your equine partner may seems tedious, but it helps you to memorize your horse. 

Is that swelling new? 
Was that cut there yesterday? 
Is that pigeon fever or a tick bite?
 Is his coat normally this greasy? 
Why does THIS smell so bad?

As I groom, I constantly add to my data base of knowledge; not only about this horse, but horses in general. 



Currying and grooming also have a long lasting effect on the partnership everyone wants to develop with their horse. 
Think about how good it feels when you let someone else brush your hair or rub your neck and back. Don't you just feel like telling ALL your secrets to your hairdresser?  The act of grooming is universally an act of trust and, ultimately, understanding. We are connecting in a way that is caring. 

I like a few certain tools when I groom, even though there is a plethora ( Do I get extra points for using the word plethora in a sentence?) of tools to choose from. 

BTW~ I am getting no outside contributions for recommending these few items~ I just like em!




My go-to groomer is the 'Jelly Scrubber'. It is a soft pliable piece of rubber with soft knobs on one side and bigger knobs on the other. It whisks the dead hair and grit from the horses coat, and with a simple flex of my fingers, the mat of hair falls to the ground to be swept up at a later time. 
They wrap around your hand and can reach those delicate places such as under the elbows, under the belly near the ticklish sheath area, between the back cheeks, and around the back of the pasterns. 



I also like the hard black rubber curry. They are usually as ugly as hell and everyone seems to have several in their tack boxes. They come in two sizes. 


I have found these colorful ones and can't wait to buy a few! I like these to loosen dried-on sweat marks, or remove crusty stall-yuck that my precious darling likes to roll in. I find them great for pulling the old dead hair off in the spring too. 



Speaking of which- these blocks are the best at removing shedding hair! I will go through one a day! Good thing they are cheap. I seldom use them any other time though, just because they are a little rough on the show coat of my horse. 


I do NOT use this kind of curry comb- EVER. Too rough!


I stay away from the shed-blade for the same reason. A lot of people use them- but for ME and PRECIOUS it is a non starter. The sharp steel on the coat of a show pony is ((shudder)) harsh.



Of course a sturdy well made hoof pick is a must have item. Keep your fold away, fancy horse headed picks or picks made of anything except IRON. My farrier made mine and I treasure it! 



Hard brushes. Buy them. Use them. Love them.


Soft brushes. Buy the best ones you can afford. The hair ones impart a very nice shine on the coat! 

What are you waiting for?

Mommy in Spurs and Bar Hoppin Bob.

Go curry favor with your horse!






Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Parade









" In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it


You'll be the grandest fella in the Easter Parade

I'll be all in clover and when they look us over

We'll be the proudest couple in the Easter Parade"


                                         Irving Berlin


When I was a little cowgirl my Grandparents lived in the very

small town of Port Chicago, California.  







Port Chicago was a typical small town, the kind they write 

about in movies and stories.One wide main street, three

 churches, a railroad and families. Lots of families. 


One of the biggest celebrations for our family was the annual

 Easter Parade down the middle of Main Street. 


The town put on this parade way before I was born, but the 

first one I remember was in 1961 when I was 5 years old. 


I rode on the float with the Congregational Church.




My Dad, though, he rode his big bay mare and carried the

 American Flag with other members of the 

Martinez Horsemen's Association.

 I can still remember how the four men looked, dressed in 

crisp white shirts, with Kelly green ties carrying the 

colors. The horses pranced all the way down the street. I 

wanted to be with them, not on the boring float!




The next year I was allowed to ride my little 

black Shetland pony. Mom made me a red and white 

flowered western shirt with pearl snap buttons. I polished up 

my black cowboy boots and cleaned my little old saddle to a 

high shine. 


As  the parade started, I sat on my pony at the top of the 

street, looking toward the crowds waiting near the center of

 town. I don't think I had ever been so excited in my whole 

short life. 



The sirens on the police cars whined to life, the band picked

 up a walking beat on the drum and the whole shebang 

began to move slowly toward the judging stand that had 

been put up especially for this day, right in front of Leo 

Reese's store. Most of the crowd was there, waiting for the

 Bands to play, the twirlers to twirl their batons and the 

Church Chorus

 to sing.





I concentrated hard on making my pony, Candy, 

walk sedately down the street. I knew my Dad and his friends

 were behind me on their big horses.I could hear their flags 

snapping in the morning breeze.  I caught a glimpse of 

myself in the large plate windows of the Market, a small 

blonde girl on a prancing black pony. 

I reached the edges of the crowd, and waved to my friends

 standing along the curb in front of the Post Office. It felt 

so good! I was so proud of my shiny pony and the red pom

 pom balls my Mom had made bouncing from her bridle.

I remember smiling. 

Candy tossed her head up and down and I thought it made

 her look like Tony the Wonder Horse.





When we reached the judges stand, the speaker crackled to 

life. They were announcing my name, but I didn't hear it.

 Candy had never, ever heard a loudspeaker before. 




She reared straight up and walked on her back legs. I heard 

my Mom scream from the back of the crowd. 


I leaned forward and kept smiling. 


I waved harder- just like Roy Rogers. 


Candy finally touched down, still prancing down the 

street.


I kept waving. 


At the end of the Main street, the rest of the parade was 

swirling around, finished with their part, looking 

for friends and family. 

I didn't see my Mom rushing breathlessly toward me. I was 

on Cloud 9! 


I pulled my pony around and set off across town for my 

Grandmothers house. It was only a few blocks away. 

The tiny clip clop of Candy's feet on the cement street was 

music to my ears. 


When my Mom finally caught up to me, she had a small 

vase shaped loving cup gripped tightly in her fist. 




It was my prize for participating. I couldn't have been prouder

 than I was at that moment.


I still have that little cup, tucked away in the box of treasures

 from my childhood. 


The little red pom poms are probably there too. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fear of Flying~ off the horse and into a fence.






Ralph Waldo Emerson


FEAR

Even the word scares me.

When you are hungry, you can eat.
When you are cold, you can cover up.
When you are afraid, you can't just be unafraid.

It's a word that I hate to admit I have in my vocabulary. As a bad ass Cowgirl, I'd like to think I thumb my nose at fear.
That I eat Fear for breakfast. That I ain't afraid of nuthin'. 
But that would be a lie.

I know a little.....

OK ...

...I know a lot..... about fear.






Especially fear of riding, or more specific: Fear of flying off my horse and into a fence, or a rock, or a ditch.
Because I have done all of those things and even more. I've had so many wrecks that I have forgotten about half of them.
I was always taught that if you fell off, or were bucked off, you had to get back on.

Yep. The old cliche is true.

Ya gotta get back on.

Why?

Because if you don't, you'll start to think about it, and you will be afraid to get back on.

Used to be that when I got bucked off~
 and make no mistake, being bucked off is way different than  falling off! I never just fall off!~
I would bounce, and I would get back on ANGRY.





That old cayuse and I would have a Come to Jesus meeting and I would come out on top
 ...or I'd go to the ER.
Until about ten years ago I owned a little horse that I really liked. But he was unpredictable and a little bit hot. I could ride for hours and then something would freak him out and BAM- I'd be in a Rodeo.


One afternoon, I was riding in a covered arena when the peacocks dropped out of the rafters and flew past.

OOPS! RODEO!


I thought I had him rode, but at the last minute he turned back and I got dumped HARD.
I got up. I caught him. And I got back on. And then I went to the ER.





And Fear came to ride with me for a long time.




I've wondered why.
Why that ride? I've had worse wrecks.
Maybe it was because I was 50 years old and I didn't bounce.



Maybe it was a hormonal change.
Maybe it was just my time to be scared.
In any case, I  had a hard time riding without Fear after that.
They say that knowing your failures will help you overcome them.
I don't think that is true.
I kept riding. That part was easy.
But putting the fear aside- not so easy.
I tried to override the fear, I tried telling myself that I was being a BABY.


That I was being an OLD WOMAN.



That Cowgirls don't feel fear.

It didn't work, because it wasn't true.

Then I had a talk with a good ol' boy named Charles Wilhelm. He's an older guy. Came to riding a bit later in life, but he is amazing with horses and more importantly, people.

I asked him, " How do you NOT be afraid?"
He didn't say, " Oh try this," " or " Retrain your horse.blah blah blah..."

He told me,
" You should be afraid. Fear is what keeps you safe."

He was right.

I needed to embrace that fear, but not let it rule me. When I started feeling fear, I should listen. 
Is it a truly dangerous situation? Or was it a situation that I could handle?

I realized 
There is no SHAME in Fear.

I won't ride with Fear on my shoulder. I won't worry about things that might happen. I am aware of Fear, but I trust myself and my skills.



As weird as it sounds, I am okay with pain or hurt or even death. Every time I put a foot into a stirrup, I have to understand and make a pact with Fear that I won't be ruled by it today.

Fear has gone back to it's hidey hole in my soul somewhere.

I address it.


Then I saddle up.




















Sunday, March 13, 2016



The Stirrup


"My foot's in the stirrup, my bridle's in my hand, 
Good morning, young lady, my hoss he won't stand. 
Old Paint's a good pony, he paces when he can,
Goodbye ol' Paint, I'm leaving Cheyenne."

" Good bye Old Paint "


It's just a simple tool really. A piece of wood or iron formed into a shape, hung by a strap to a saddle. And yet, that simple thing changed the entire world.



I imagine it like this:
Early man climbed out of the caves, took one look at Horse and said to his friend,
" Hold my beer. I want to try something."




Realizing what a boon riding would be, he invented a simple saddle; a rug or skin tied to the horses back. He also probably realized that if he were mounted and his foes were not, he would have an advantage while at WAR.



Loaded down with rocks and sticks, it must have been difficult to get up on the horses back; he needed a step. He needed a step that could go where he went while on the horse, so he would always be able to mount up.




Man developed a single loop, attached to the girth of the saddle. He could hook a big toe in and haul himself up.
As most horsemen know, being barefooted around a horse is Numero Uno No-No. Like in the game Rock/Paper/Scissors, Horse Hoof crushes People Toes.


Men began wearing sandals, and developed a single 'step' attached by a strap to the saddle.




 That worked for awhile, but it needed some improvement.


The next stirrup was elongated and the sides were removed to keep the riders foot from being entangled.
Soon men figured out that when they were riding the horses around looking for War, the foot with the step could rest, while the other foot grew tired. They had to get off the horse to rest. They couldn't go as far, ride as long or fight as well.

Qin Shi Huangdi's Army, Terra Cotta or otherwise, did not have stirrups.



Either did the Early Romans.
Of course they didn't have gun powder either, but I digress.


Enter the paired stirrup.

Jin Dynasty stirrups

This invention is attributed to the Jin Dynasty in China, approximately 322 A.D.



  The nomad Mongolians came to realize that it improved your center of balance to have two stirrups. Not only that, but it gave you a better purchase when swinging a sword.

Traditional Mongolian riding saddle.


The whole idea caught fire and spread through South Central Europe. German raiders improved the stirrup by building in a rectangular loop set in the same plane as the bow. Viking raiders most likely brought the stirrup into Scandanavia.

Viking raiders more than likely spread the use of the stirrup into Scandinavia.

The Early Hungarians improved the shape from a 'slipper' into a pear or apple shape.
About this time they may have also decided that a boot was way better than a sandal for riding.

Pear shaped iron stirrup.

 Crusaders garbed in heavy iron armor needed a larger stirrup to help hold their weight. Their style of riding soon swept the entire European continent.

Crusaders popularized the metal wide bottom stirrup,especially for war. 

Japan improved the stirrup during the Edo Period making the bottom flat, and covering the wood with iron.

Decorated Japanese stirrup.

All the while the movement of Man across the continent was supported by the lowly stirrup.


When people began to cross the Ocean, they brought their horses and saddles with them.



Spanish Conquistadors fitted their saddles with stirrups that had covers over the toes. It had a two fold effect, it  protected the feet and boots from getting wet or being hung up in thick brush while cutting new trails.  Plus it looked cool.



The Spanish settlers into Western America devised a better stirrup, built on that model. The Western tapadero covered the stirrup, and was often lined in fur or leather to keep your feet warmer, as well as keeping your boots from slipping through the stirrup if riding a wilder bronc.

Bohlin Parade Saddle with fancy tapaderos at The Autry Museum, Los Angeles Ca.

Modern pair of tapadero covered stirrups with hand stamped basket weave toes and floral design.

As with anything else, the stirrup is also dictated by fashion, and no more so than today.
The typical English style stirrup, called the irons, are polished chrome, but even they have been decorated with  rhinestones and etching.

Rhinestone embellished English type stirrups.

Etched chrome English style stirrups. 

Western stirrups have the most variations now.
Bell shaped western stirrup with wide flat foot.

Etched aluminium western stirrup, with a slight bend in the arch to relieve foot pressure for the rider. 

Lightweight metal Trail stirrups with 'cage' tapaderos.




Vintage leather western tapaderos with silver diamond embellishment.

Vintage iron stirrups.

Vintage Mexican style Vaquero stirrups.



'Monkey face'  Mexican tapaderos over wooden stirrups.

Spanish inspired Paso stirrups of hammered metal. They can also be used as an anchor when you leave your horse unattended.

Vintage English ladies side saddle stirrup. There was ever only one, as the other foot was draped over the leaping horn.






Bell, Ox Bow, reining, roping, and trail riding, with tapaderos or without. Some have  rhinestones, etched aluminium or engraved leather.

Modern Western Pleasure Saddle with leather covered stirrups. 


The lowly stirrup, the thing that changed the world, has left the function of war behind and is now firmly in the heart of fashion.