Category Archives: Lilly

Lilly’s* cairn

Rock cairn of Ima Lil Moore, September 25, 2011.

This summer I constructed a rock cairn to stack sandstone and petrified wood on the ranchito. A few feet up from the cairn in the photograph, I smoothed the soil with a hand rake. The smooth soil and the cairn mark the spot that Lilly*, known also by her registered name, Ima Lil Moore (APHA 111214), lies buried, six feet beneath the surface in a grave dug by the backhoe of a Stephenville, Texas, contractor. The cairn is about four feet in height and I pile smaller stones within the hollow of the cairn as I work through the day.

Cairns are built on top of mountains and within them sometimes a tin box is placed so that mountaineers may log themselves in and make a few comments about the climb to the top. I’ve done that with Mt. Taylor and Pedernal in New Mexico, climbs that I remember vividly and relive in my mind as I grow old. I shall not stop climbing. I don’t have a mountain to climb now as a goal, but the South Truchas peak in New Mexico is the only one of the Truchas peaks I have not assailed.  I will find the South Truchas cairn and write of my climb some day.

Lilly’s cairn contains no tin box, but as I look at it during the day I etch comments about her in a notebook that never fades or tears. She was my first and original teacher of horse behavior. I learned the difference between a kick of aggression and a kick of delight. Lilly never bit or kicked in aggression. She suffered to stand in her last days, allowing me to put a sling on the tractor and hoist her up by the neck, whereupon she shook herself and proceeded to the hay bin as if nothing had happened. To her last days, feeble as she was, the powerful King Ranch mare of mine who stood two hands above her always moved aside in respect for Lilly so that she could eat where she wanted. Lilly was alpha among the remuda.

I have thought of writing a post about putting Lilly down, and I will some day, but for now, I fill her cairn with rocks she galloped upon, throwing stones in her run to green pastures and fresh water.  I know those stones and pick them up for her cairn.  And in my dreams, Lilly walks beside me on a trail to the top of a unknown mountain, and she fills my night with peace.

Lilly (1985-2011)


Notes, corrections and additions:

*The spelling of Lilly is “Lilly.”  It is a nickname that originated with my mother.  The flower, “lily,” is spelled with one “l,” but this horse has always had it spelled with two “l’s”.  Call it quaint Texas spelling.  The spelling of names on birth certificates is always interesting.  And, unfortunately, sometimes confusing.


Filed under Lilly

Sandhills, Lilly and clumsy me

Left knee with icebag

Given the fact it’s a Saturday and most people want a calm and relaxing — well, maybe some activity — after a hectic week, the last thing a person needs to see is a knee with icebag.   My apologies, readers, but here it is or rather up there is the knee.

I was chasing Sandhill cranes most of the day to photograph them.  It was Wednesday and I divided my time between working on Blackboard (I teach five online classes of history) and going into the field of 53 acres of Flying Hat Ranch (FHR).  As my posts indicate from Wednesday, I was hearing but not seeing the elusive, high-flying bird.  It was a good day and I got work done, issues resolved on Blackboard and shot a number of photos for fieldwork.

I found and marked with an engineer’s flag several lithic tools in the field.  But every time! I heard the Sandhills, the camera was either in the truck or at the house.  Besides, until late afternoon, I didn’t see any.

Brenda comes home from work and I am walking back to the ranch house from the barn and I hear the Sandhills and look above me and what to my wondering eyes should appear but about 300 Sandhills, in at least two V-formations.  Beautiful and they were calling.

So, I broke into a sprint.  On my first or second spring up the lane, something popped or snapped in my leg.  I skipped, not sprinted, to the house and got the camera, but the cranes had their throttles to the wall and I missed the shots with the camera.  But I did see them.

My leg hurt and in the middle of the night, at two o’clock, I woke up in pain and by Thursday morning, I could barely walk.  I went to Fort Worth to the clinic and they sent me to Harris Methodist hospital for x-rays.  The P.A. told me I might be looking at an orthopedic surgeon!  Or rather, he would be looking at me with a scalpel in hand.

As it turned out, Friday I learned (after icebags and pain pills) that nothing was broken or torn, but it was arthritis!  Good news?  Bad news?  How in the dickens can arthritis bring me down to jumping on one leg from bed to bathroom, for crying out loud?  I don’t know, but next Wednesday I have an appointment with my Primary Physician for a yearly checkup and in addition to him invading my body cavity without mercy, he will enlighten me on the knee.

Brenda is taking care of the dogs and Star.  I’m looking at walking canes on the web.  Ever Google “canes”?  Well, live long enough, you will.  There are all sorts of canes.  Canes that fold, canes that have stupid heads on them, curved canes, canes with swords and even canes with risque girls painted along the stem and nose (there’s a whole glossary of cane nomenclature).  I’ve not picked my cane.  I have some nice looking cedar staves down along the barn I may craft upon and develop an Etsy Shop for homemade canes.

Lilly, the good old girl that we had to put down in January, had osteoarthritis too, and in the left knee really bad.  But, you know what?  She got up with a struggle and ate and walked and even pranced in the snow despite her knee.  She’s taught me a lesson about arthritis among many I’ll eventually churn out on Sage to Meadow.  I’m up and I’ll be in class Tuesday.  Star will be fed — I’ll do it slowly.  I’ll continue to contemplate canes.  If my knee continues to be painful, I’ll have to hire a person to do some seasonal work.  I’ll do a jig in the snow.

Frankly, if I had to hurt myself, I’m glad I was chasing Sandhills rather than tripping over the cat.  And, if I had to learn a lesson about dealing with the pain, who better to be my teacher than Lilly?  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  She did and doesn’t even know it.

Enough of this!  Now, where’s that pain killer I used to give Lilly?  Oh, yes, it’s in the tack room next to the saddles.


Filed under Adventure, Lilly, Sandhill Crane

Lilly’s Mound: early Winter morning


Lilly's Mound in an early Winter morning at Flying Hat Ranch, Texas, 2011 (click to enlarge)

In the far background are the Twin Mountains of north Erath County, Texas, 1,400 feet. Ducks swim and feed upon and beneath the pond in the middle of the photograph even in this cold weather.  The gate opens into the arena pasture.  The small mound with cedar posts upon it, to the far, far left in the photograph (you may have to enlarge), is Lilly’s Mound, 1,065 feet.  The mound is small and does not stand out in the photograph — in fact, hardly noticeable — , but it is a meaningful part of this good earth to me and Brenda and Star.


Filed under Cedar, Flying Hat Ranch, Horses, Juniper, Lilly, Star

Lilly (1985 – 2011)

Lilly (1985-2011)

Lilly died today.  Born January 20, 1985, at Cibolo, Texas, on the ranch of Janis Hawthorne, she had two issues, the last one being Star Bars Moore who remains on our ranch.

Lilly had osteoarthritis.  She had been down since yesterday for eighteen hours, but had come up for me this morning.  The vets were called at 8:00 a.m.  She had alfalfa and a natural sedative to lessen her pain before the vets arrived.  I told her I was beside her and not be afraid.  She was not.

Lilly has been with my family for eighteen years and our grandchildren have ridden her.  She carried my stepfather on trail rides for many years and Brenda rode her with great pleasure.

Her son, Star Bars Moore, watched at a distance as we put her down.  I had talked to him about what we were doing and he lowered his head, not so much about what I told him for he did not understand, but that I had come directly to him to talk in fair and caring tones.  He watched at a distance as I covered his mother in the good earth of this world.

We shall miss this fine horse.



Filed under Life in Balance, Lilly

The eve of a new year on the ranch

Pigeons flying towards a new year above the Santa Fe plaza.

We make resolutions and there’s nothing wrong in doing so.  We plan to do better, give more and finish the big chores we have had on our list for months, maybe even curtail or give up our vices.  Well, maybe not completely give them up, but back off bad habits.

I work with students, horses and the land.  I work in order to live, not live in order to work.  That’s a big, big difference.  Working with students this last year has been more rewarding than ever before in my professional career.  I attribute that to my nearing retirement and wanting to give what I think is of value to the student before I put the chalk in the tray and walk away.  Time is fleeting and I don’t have time to cover all the points, just the most significant.  So, for this next year, I resolve to cut the excess from the lectures and discussions and get right to the core: finding your voice, writing down your voice and tending to your own garden (Voltaire, Gilgamesh, Trilling).

For my life with horses, it’s a sadder year coming.  We are selling Sweet Hija who is pregnant with a female and Shiners Fannin Peppy, the first foal out of Sweet Hija.  Brenda and I will be left with our two paints, Star and Lilly, both having their share of health problems these days.  In January, we are going to Oklahoma City for the Mixed Winter Sale at Heritage Place.  Market forces beyond my control have cut through our ranch operations with a vengeance and the cost of horse breeding and market conditions force my hand.  What Brenda and I are trying to do, in taking Hija and Fanny to the sale in Oklahoma, is to put these fine horses in the best sale around so that they will have good homes or ranches to live out their days.  So, for this next year, I resolve to focus on Star and Lilly, build some good, strong pens in the Pecan Tree Pasture for their safety.  I resolve not to think too much about our loss of Hija and Fanny and the little one — difficult to push that resolution through next year, I guarantee.

And, finally with the land, I resolve to set up brush piles for the little critters, deer and birds about the place, not shredding every single bush like some of my neighbors.  Further, I want to learn the name of every tree species on Flying Hat Ranch, or at least make a major dent in nomenclature.  I will also continue to plant native grasses about the pastures.

The eve of 2011 is here.  I toast to love, health and fortune to be found among horses and land, family and students — yours as well as mine.

Sweet Hija at full gallop in winter snow (2010).

Fanny strutting in the grove with Shiney (summer 2009).


Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Lilly, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny), Sweet Hija

Willful Lilly

Willful Lilly walks to Well House Corral (December 27, 2010).

In the ongoing story of Lilly (Ima Lil Moore), she is a willful horse.  The above photograph shows her this morning, after browsing a few minutes in the front pasture, walking intently to the fence panels of the Well House Corral.

Lilly had spent the night in the stables underneath a 150 watt light bulb.  When I went down this morning to feed her, she was up and moving and whinnying for her breakfast, even pinning her ears back slightly when I entered her stall.  After she finished her grain, I put out two blocks of green alfalfa for her to munch on.

And, this is point of the story, she turned away from the hay rack and deliberately walked out of the corral and into the pasture with a determination of a yearling.  She’s twenty-five years old, for goodness sakes!  Then, after a bit of browsing, I shot the above photograph of Lilly.

She’s going to die — we’re all headed that way, for sure — within who-knows-how-long?  Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?  Jim Scroggins is coming out to the ranch with his back hoe in the morning to dig a grave pit for Lilly.  Don’t be sad.  I’ll set up panels around it so that no one will wander into it.  It’s a preparation, sort of like making a will or planning a funeral with your favorite mortician.  (My political mentor when I was young was Groner Pitts of Brownwood, Texas, a funeral director.)  If Lilly makes it through the winter and I and the vet think she will, I’ll fill up the pit with water and maybe ducks will swim in it.  It is there, however, just in case.

But, for now, Lilly is a willful mare, stubborn in her habits, sleeping longer than usual and limping a little with arthritis.  Kinda like your grandfather or grandmother.  She has her life today and she willfully directs herself to green winter grass, lying down in the sun and drinking from the stock pond with ducks swimming about her.  It’s a good day to live.


Filed under Horses, Life in Balance, Lilly

Lilly: A Kick of Delight

Lilly (2008)

Lilly must have attracted my stepfather because he was always frugal with money and as long as I knew him, J. W. (Jesse Walter) never purchased horses.  Until Lilly.  He bought her in about 1993.  She was eight-years old.

J. W. had married my mother  in 1951, worked for Texas Power & Light Company and kept watch over two parcels of land in central Texas:  a 35 acre area near Goldthwaite, Texas, and a 13 acre plot, called Salt Creek, near Brownwood, Texas.  Lilly stayed, from time-to-time, in both places.  Star, her colt, was born at Salt Creek.

Lilly is a black and white tobiano paint horse.  Tobiano indicates a color ensemble of paint horses that is not speckled, like paint that is thrown from a paint brush, but rather broad swatches of color that can be interpreted as representational figures on the horse, as American Indians were wont to do: woman lying down, warrior standing up, galloping horse, and so on.  She stands about 14.5 hands, fairly short for a horse, but good for easy mounting and fast breaks and stops.  Crazy Horse would have liked her, as he painted hailstones on his mounts and Lilly had broad patches of black.

Lilly Saddled (1993)

Lilly was J. W.’s trail horse.  She would be his ride on daily trail rides around central Texas and may have, on one occasion, gone with him to Colorado for an elk hunt.  J. W. did not hunt elk in his later years, preferring to stay back in camp, taking pictures on a Kodak camera and conversing about the fire.  Lilly may not have gone with him, but I think I remember her being framed in a photograph in the high country.

I first saw Lilly at Salt Creek.  She was beautiful.  Still is.  My daughter rode her when young.  Brenda has ridden her and so has Olivia, my granddaughter.  I never rode Lilly.  For some reason, Star was my steed and when my family rode with me, they chose Lilly and I rode Star.  I don’t regret not having ridden Lilly because I am always around her.  I have been her keeper since September 2002, when J. W. was diagnosed with leukemia.  Twice a day after I moved her and Star to Mingus, I have tended her, groomed her, had her feet trimmed and doctored her bruises and scrapes.

When J. W. fell ill and I went to Goldthwaite to feed her the first time, Lilly saw me coming down the pasture road in my little Mazda sedan.  She munched a few more bites of grass and then followed me to where I parked.  I had a bucket of oats in my hand and when she saw the oats, or smelled them, her head shot up and she rolled her head slightly, giving kicks of delight (I know now) as she walked beside me on my right side to the feed bin.  I had not been around horses that much and the kick seemed out of place to me.  Horses kick because they are threatened?  What is going on with her, I thought?  I knew that I was not threatening her and was in the process of feeding, so what was going on?

I was a bit fearful of her and moved away.  I stopped walking and reflected.  Lilly is happy she is being fed, I reasoned, not apprehensive, so, the kick must be a behavior of delight, not attack.

A cold, sharp wind cut across the hill to the stock pen where the feed bin was located.  She needed her oats, I thought, and I need to become acquainted with her because J. W. can’t come out to Goldthwaite anymore.  Lilly stopped when I did.  I started walking again and she walked right beside me, a 1,000 lb. sentient being that could hurt me.  The whole process of feeding and my stepfather being ill and I had sheep to round up at Salt Creek and I had mother to worry about now since she was in bad health too and I had to drive back to Mingus and teach in Abilene the next morning, all this was on me and now I have Lilly to contend with.  I thought I can’t do all this.

Cold wind or not, Lilly and I stood together.  She wanted her oats.  Fair enough, let’s continue.  She went down the walkway of the pen and stopped near her bin and I walked between her and the stock fence, inhaling scents of her and the fall season, grasses dying and wind from across our neighbor’s pasture to the north.  I poured her oats into her bin and she chomped.  Simply ate.  And I stood there looking at this beautiful animal.  I reached out and touched her, caressed her and she continued to eat, letting me stand beside her.  The event of feeding Lilly turned from apprehension to friendship, a subtle first-step in getting acquainted.  Because Lilly allowed me to be with her, I reasoned that in the coming weeks I could manage the end-state of my family’s affairs.  I would come to the stock pens and feed Lilly and be lightened.

My Stepfather, J. W. Hollingshead, Central Texas (ca. 1990)

J. W. never saw his horses again.  I would narrate to him what I was doing, but he was concerned about other things, but I told him anyway about Lilly and Star and rounding up the sheep to sell in Goldthwaite and Star helping cut the sheep into the pen on his own, a naturally penning tendency in some horses.  J. W. let me manage the horses and livestock for the first time in our family.

In J. W.’s personal effects, there are ribbons and medals and trophies of trail riding with Lilly.  They are just courtesy awards given to every trail rider, but the awards signify a bond that goes back in time, back in prehistory when humans approached horses and the horses allowed the touching to occur.  Lilly has been a part of our family for seventeen years and I have been her keeper for eight.  She’s family.  I know now she kicked that first day out of delight for oats and for me.  Rest assured, I’ll be with that old girl, all the way to the end, be it a cold day or hot.


Filed under Horses, Lilly

Lilly: An American Paint Horse as Family

Ima Lil Moore "Lilly" browsing early in the morning (8:30 a.m.) before going to her loafing area along the fence line.

I will be posting on Lilly, our oldest mare in our small remuda.  She is twenty-five years old and will turn twenty-six this January.  Her registered name is Ima Lil Moore.  Her pedigree is found on our ranch website, Flying Hat Horses. She is a paint horse and the mother of Star, another paint on our place.

I am posting on Lilly because she is in good condition going into the winter, but she has osteoarthritis and has trouble at times getting up, a bad sign for a good horse.

She is a part of our family.  I mean that in the closest sense.  She has been a companion for our foals when they were young, a good saddle horse for our grandchildren and a constant companion for me.

I want to write about her and explain to you why she is close to me.

Today, she rose on her own after I softened the arena so she could get traction.  Today, she is fine and I am happy.  It’s a good day for her.  Remember that: good day.


Filed under Horses, Lilly

Cactus Illusion II

Caralee Woods, Cacti Illusion, Fort Worth, Texas

Caralee Woods of Kanab, Utah, sent me a cactus illusion she had in her home at Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas, several years ago.  She writes,

Here’s another cactus illusion, one of my favorite photos.  It was taken in a hall that led from the kitchen to the garage in the Fort Worth house.  You will remember there was a series of three small square windows in which I put little pots of small cacti.  The sun would shine at a particular angle, making a shadow on the white opposite wall.

Caralee Woods and Jimmy Henley live in Kanab, Utah, and are building a strawbale compound.  You can visit their website Building Our Strawbale Home! Caralee was a regional book representative for Harper and Row before she retired.  Her husband, Jimmy Henley, was the undergraduate dean at Texas Christian University and taught sociology.  He was a grade school and high school friend of mine in Brownwood, Texas.

Their home at Eagle Mountain Lake near Fort Worth was featured in Architectural Digest [n. d.] before they sold it and moved to Kanab.  Their home was built with many of the lines and forms of the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth.

I used to house sit and take care of their companions (doggies and kitty cats) while they vacationed in the American Southwest.  I grew so attached to their companions that I regretted when they returned and I had to leave.



Caralee and Jimmy’s home was not featured in Architectural Digest, but in the local Dallas and Fort Worth newspapers.  See the comment section below.


Filed under Lilly, Plants and Shrubs

Cactus Illusion

We had a scare today.  At 11:30 a.m., I trained the binoculars on the pasture beyond the arena to check on Lilly and Star who were turned out today.

There is a special spot along side the fence and under a mesquite tree that Lilly likes to loaf, and when I looked at her favorite spot, it appeared that she was on her back, legs stuck along the posts of the fence and injured.  Maybe even comatose from stress and the heat.

I yelled at Brenda to put her boots on, “Pronto!”  She did and we climbed in the pickup and I quickly drove by the barn to get rope, halter and blankets.

We drove rapidly through the pasture gate and sped alongside the pond under the live oak trees.  Rounding the curve, Brenda said, “There she is, in the grove, under the live oak tree, standing up!  She’s not by the fence!”

Sure enough, Lilly loafed under a tree, head down, drowsy-like.

What I saw from the house was the reflection of the sun off a stand of prickly pear cactus.  The paddles of the cactus were long enough to appear as Lilly’s legs and the shine seemed like Lilly’s white coat.  I had looked carefully, but I had seen a crisis in the stand of cactus, not reality.

I was embarrassed at the panic, but what could I say?  “Sorry, Brenda, I didn’t mean to get you upset.”  She understood.

This heat is affecting my brain pan.  It’s okay, we have siestas, the horses are well-fed and cool under the trees and this is summer in west Texas.

Taking a cue from an Irish saying, “If we waited for the rain to stop, we’d never get anything done.”  Well, here in Texas, if we waited for it to cool off, we’d never get anything done.

But, I can do without cactus illusions.


Filed under Adventure, Horses, Lilly