Category Archives: Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

Shadows and Eric of 203

I suppose we all have nested away some items, some event or photograph we cherish.  I published a photograph several weeks ago on the feed bin in the far field with clouds that I had set aside in the files, but every time I came across the feed bin and clouds photograph I wanted to post it and share it with readers in the blogosphere.  I present two things here with a short story line, one is the long shadows in Stall 1 of the stables, the other is an artwork of Eric Andrews of Taos, New Mexico.

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A January 28, 2011, photograph of Stall 1 in the stables

When this photograph was taken on January 28, 2011, the late afternoon shadows of the stall panels were surrounded by cold mist of a winter’s day. I was terribly sad because I had recently sold three of my prize horses at an auction in Oklahoma City, and the absence of Hija, Fanny and the foal-to-be was anguishing. The economy had gone sour and I had — through my own ineptitude — lost money on the stock market. So had other people lost money, but they had not be forced to sell their companions. I sold the horses — no small relief, to be sure — to fine people in Canada and Missouri and I was comforted in the transfer. The photograph illustrated to me the emptiness in my life at the time.

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Walking the Acequia 2, Eric Andrews, 203 Fine Art Gallery, Taos

Eric Andrews’ painting, Walking the Acequia 2, is one of his current paintings for sale and is a good example of his art.  I possess one Eric Andrews painting.  He and his wife own the 203 Fine Art Gallery in Taos, New Mexico. After the death of my mother in 2003, I wanted to invest my inheritance in either fine art or land.  I eventually settled on buying the Flying Hat Ranchito. Before I bought the Flying Hat, however, I traveled to Taos and Santa Fe to put together an ensemble of southwestern paintings of the Taos Society of Artists — Bert Geer Phillips, Ernest L. Blumenschein, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse and W. Herbert Dunton.

As I made a laundry list of the paintings I might purchase, going from art gallery to art gallery, I met Eric Andrews at the Parsons Gallery in Taos. It was an immediate friendship. I traveled to his studio out on the High Road to Taos from Santa Fe to visit with him and his wife and see their work. Although I made the decision to buy my ranchito, I bought Eric’s Vadito II that hangs over my fireplace (you can see it on the “About” page of Sage to Meadow). The painting above, Walking the Acequia 2, illustrates my acquaintance with Eric and my deep interest in all things acequia.

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Founders of the Taos Society of Artists at the...

The Taos Society of Artists -- image via Wikipedia

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Bearable lightness of humans with horses

Courtney Hampton on Fanny in Missouri (2011)

Considering all the events of the past week, I thought I would pass this e-mail along to you from Courtney Hampton who traveled to Oklahoma City on a mission to see and evaluate Fanny.  She bought Fanny and this is her comment on riding her the first day.

I just thought I’d give you an update on how Fanny is doing. We arrived at Heritage Place at about 5 a.m. Friday morning and loaded her and Diesel (the other mare we bought) up and headed to Missouri. It was about an eight-hour drive, but we stopped several times to let them stretch.   She handled everything very well. When we got her home (about 1:30 p.m.) we turned her and Diesel (aka Ms Royal Fever) out in the big arena (their new home for two weeks until the others get used to them).   As soon as we let them go they took off and started running and bucking.  They were definitely happy to get out of the trailer!  It was about 55 degrees out, so all my other horses started running around too.  (It hasn’t been that warm in weeks.)  What a sight to be sure!  Fanny was sure strutting her stuff! (I will attach pictures.)  She and Diesel ran around that arena for half an hour. So cool to watch!  After their energy had worn down some I threw some alfalfa out and they went to munching.  Later that day, about 4:30 or so, I went down and decided to ride them both for a few minutes just to see how they did.  I started with Fanny first as I wasn’t sure how the race mare was going to be (I’ve bought off the track horses before and they can be a little hard to handle).   I saddled Fanny and of course she just stood there like a pro.  I got on her and rode her around for about 30 minutes and put her through some paces just to see what she could do. She did everything I asked like a champ: roll-backs, counter-bending, side-passing, stop *which that mare can STOP!*  Then I took her out and walked her around the pasture that we have our weanling calves in.  Of course she was very alert and nervous but she never spooked — even when our flock of guinea hens flew by her.  She started shaking (poor baby), but then just snorted and walked on.  Since she was doing so good I quit her and unsaddled and fed her while I rode Diesel (who has a pretty good handle on her for a race mare and I was pleasantly surprised).

— Courtney Hampton to Jack Matthews, January 16, 2011

This is the sweet side of handing off horses to young people whose attachment to animals renews those of us that have become coarse.  Some of the bitter goes away when you hear-tell this kind of narrative.

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To the land of open range

We carried Fanny and Hija and her unborn foal to sale in our two-horse trailer named Equi Spirit.

Fanny or Shiners Fannin Peppy sold at the Heritage Place Mixed Winter Sale on Thursday in Oklahoma City.  Courtney Hampton of Summersville, Missouri, purchased Fanny.  Courtney’s work and pleasure with Fanny will center about Barrel Racing competition and Fanny will do Courtney well.  For Courtney and Fanny, it seemed love at first sight.  The hind socks on Fanny are white and shaped like wings and I trust Fanny will fly like the wind with Courtney.

In the listing of horses to be sold at Heritage Place, our second and third horse, Sweet Hija and the unborn foal, came up for bid at 8:00 p.m. Friday night.  All day long I prepped Sweet Hija and her unborn foal for the big event, going into the make-up ring — a place where you walk your horse in an open area — and then up the walk to the auction arena where a professional handler takes control.  When the presentation began, I walked with Hija and she showed her King Ranch style:  energetic, fully alert, stepping high, ears forward.  Yet she stayed close by me as I walked her from her left side.  For five minutes she presented her Running W, the brand of King Ranch, to the crowd before I handed her off to the handler that took her into the the bidding arena.

When she came back to me she was no longer mine.  Sweet Hija and her unborn foal passed into the kind and humane possession of Kim Elliott of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Sweet Hija and her foal will reside near Calgary, on land and terrain that gave Bierstadt panorama to the films, Open Range and Legends of the Fall. Kim Elliott acted and her horses performed in both movies.  Ms. Elliott told me and Brenda that When horses come to our ranch, they are there for good and they have the terrain of Open Range to look at day after day.  How can Brenda and I be so happy and mournful at the same time for the unexpected fortunes of our three horses?  We are and we will be.

 

Sweet Hija and foal's new home with Kim Elliott on the open range near Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

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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).

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Nuzzles and Campus

Horses on Bianditz mountain, in Navarre, Spain...

Horses on Bianditz mountain, in Navarre, Spain. Behind them Aiako mountains can be seen.

My summer has ended.  Although the season does not astronomically change until September 21st, my summer is over.  I will feed the horses in an hour or so, then drive the interstate highway to campus, officially beginning the Fall semester.

Our summer has been dark and bright, jagged and smooth.  Broomweed has been shredded, horses husbanded and a vacation to the high country taken.  Brenda painted our doors Taos blue and green, symbolizing a color that repels the ills of the cosmos.  But they also look beautiful.

Here is one of my favorite pictures that I will carry with me as I return to campus.

Shiners Fannin Peppy "Fanny" Nuzzling Jack

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Fanny at the Vet

Shiners Fannin Peppy, Photo by B. Matthews (2009)

Sometime last Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny) severely lacerated her right leg between the fetlock and knee, a gash with minimum loss of blood.  When I cleaned the wound, I discovered that it was much more serious than at first glance and may have penetrated to the bone.  The night before, as a matter of routine, I had placed four horses in two corrals and had left open entry gates to the stalls.  Fanny is an active two-year old and may have injured herself on a gate that was open.

Within two hours of this emergency, I drove Fanny to Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery (ESMS) in Weatherford, Texas, and Dr. Skeet Gibson and his staff took x-rays, cleaned the wound, wrapped her leg and put Fanny in a comfortable stall with alfalfa and Purina Strategy (grain).  He sutured the wound on Monday after the swelling decreased.  Fanny has remained at the ESMS since Sunday and will be confined for a few more days until the laceration heals.  There was no bone impact from the laceration, although another round of x-rays will be taken in two weeks to determine bruising.

Dr. Gibson says the prognosis is very good and the chance of bone damage is minimal.

Fanny is the horse trained by Duncan Steele-Park at GCH Land & Cattle Company.

I have been visiting Fanny and she is healing nicely.

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Fanny with Verbena

Fanny with Verbena, Spring 2010

I thought you might like this photograph.  I do.  It doesn’t have all the right composition angles, but it’s a good snapshot.  But, ’tis not a Kodak moment any more, folks, is it?  Digital.

Anyway, it’s a picture of Shiners Fannin Peppy on a warm spring day a few weeks ago.  Fanny is coming up the pasture to where I am standing on Poprock Hill.  The sun is shining brightly, it’s probably near high noon as I recollect.  You can see that her coat is sleek and she is a good two-year old that has been trained well and tended–Duncan Steele-Park’s regime of education.

In the background, emerging and standing brilliantly, is a nice stand of purple verbena.  Verbena has been all over the place this spring–in pastures, corrals, stables, front yard, back yard.  There’s some yellow flowers also in the mix and some yucca blossom stalks about ready to burst.  It’s just a fine, sunny picture on a good day here on Flying Hat.

And, here she is up on the edge of Poprock Hill, being cute and pretty and all-horse.

Fanny with Live Oak, Spring 2010

Equus Fanny, Spring 2010

Equus. Long ago and faraway I read the play, Equus, and saw the movie with Sir Richard Burton as the psychiatrist.  Peter Shaffer wrote the play in 1973, based on a true story.  It’s not a pleasant story at all, and I won’t summarize it here, but the play and Burton’s acting inspired me to delve more into depth psychology and formative events in human development.  As a result, I became immersed in anthropology.  I was already in anthropology as a sub-field of my discipline, history, but I went way, way down into the discipline and eventually began to teach cultural and physical anthropology at a college in the Texas Panhandle.

There are many starting points for learning a field of knowledge.  Wherever you find that interest, follow it and exhaust your curiosity by reading late into the night, visiting museums and researching in libraries–wherever it takes you, go, go, go!  One of my starting points was Equus.

Did I say I liked horses?

Yes, I did say that, especially Fanny in verbena, on a sunny spring day.

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Yucca Nuzzles

I have some photos about plants, animals, terrain and fossils I would like to show you.  There’s always a photo opportunity here on Flying Hat.  April offers some comforting snapshots about the place.  There’s a lot of communication taking place, even with horses and yucca.

Fanny and Jack at Stable Alleyway

In “Fanny and Jack in the Stable Alleyway,” I am with Fanny and she wants to show her gratitude for the grain she got this morning.  She sees the camera and wants to get her picture taken as well as give me a nuzzle in the neck.

Fanny is not an aggressive horse.  Nonetheless, around horses, a person must be cautious.  They are flight animals and when frightened, they will kick or bolt forward.  Fanny is a good mare and her trainer, Duncan Steele-Park and the crew at GCH Land & Cattle Co., have taken her good qualities and improved them.  From the day of her birth, we have been familiar with Fanny, lifting her feet and touching her.

Fanny Nuzzles Jack

A nuzzle on the neck is good sign that the horse has “joined up” with a person.  “Joining up” is a trademark term of Monty Roberts, The Man Who Listens to Horses (1996) and From My Hands to Yours (2002).

Our horses have human contact–tactile contact–every day.  The touching includes a “sacking out” with the hands.  “Sacking out” is an term describing a procedure to rub the horse with a foreign object, i.e., a sack, halter, lead rope, blanket or with the hands.  A daily touching and haltering with the horse boosts the familiarity between horse and human.

In most cases, horses anticipate the tactile contact.  Lilly, our oldest mare, will glide up alongside us and stop, allowing us to rub her under her mane on the neck.  The horse’s approach should not crowd the space of humans and it is best if they stop a few feet away and present themselves, more or less, with their flanks exposed.  Even after a person becomes acquainted with equine behavior, it is always best to position the body at the flanks or broadside to the horse.

Fanny's Head on Jack's Shoulder

The daily contact with horses is a good thing for them and us.  We rub the horses once or twice between the eyes, a place they cannot see, as a sign we are trustworthy.

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Read on, there’s more…

Pale-leaf Yucca (Y. pallida)

I have spent thirty minutes typing this yucca plant.  I may be wrong, but my factor analysis seems correct.  It is a Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida).  As stated in my “Notice to Readers of Sage to Meadow,” if you discern an error in my typing this plant, please correct me.

Pale-leaf yucca is endemic (native only to a particular area) to North Central Texas and may extend into the Edwards Plateau, growing on rocky soil and outcrops of the Blackland Prairies and the Grand Prairie. It bears sage-green or bluish-green, orderly-arranged leaves having a noticeable waxy bloom, or glaucous appearance. The rosette itself is stemless and small, providing a spherical, coarse-textured look in the landscape. It may be single or have multiple offsets. Like all yuccas, Yucca pallida requires good drainage. It may be grown in the shade garden for textural interest, but may not bloom as well as those in more sun.  [Texas Plant Database, Texas A&M University.]

In my analysis, I also figured the yucca might be Yucca contricta (Buckley yucca) or Yucca necopina (Glen Rose yucca).  In the next few days, these yuccas will blossom and I will provide field photos.

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Verbena with Poprock Hill

I write so often about Poprock Hill, I thought I would provide a photo of the hill.  This was taken earlier this April before the full eruption of grasses, but you can see the proliferation of verbena in the foreground.  Notice also the abundance of Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida) on the terraces below the ranch house.  Poprock Hill is aptly named by local settlers because of the poprocks that are plentiful about the hill.  I collect them, and with each rain poprocks emerge from the soil.

Poprocks on Silver

“Poprocks on Silver” shows several poprocks, large and small, that I have collected.

These photographs I have posted illustrate that even on simple, unglamorous land, there are natural items that are noteworthy and significant for study.  The yucca plant I typed (hopefully, correct) required me to go back out to the terrace and look closer at the edges of the leaves to determine if there was a white line or if the leaves were curled, narrow or broad.  As I began to type the yucca for posting, I got interested in the yucca for its own sake: what was it?  Was it rare?  Endemic?  The Glen Rose yucca is a uncommon plant and needs some protection from extraction and destruction.  Did I have a Glen Rose or not?  I find the yucca in Texas worthy of further study.  I may start a yucca farm.

Finally, I think this post with photos shows how connections can be funny and personal between species.  Fanny and I communicated and I think both of us got pleasure and companionship out of the contact.  The yucca could not respond.   Whoa there, cowboy!  From a Native American point-of-view, the yucca and I were talking to each other, weren’t we?  It showed me its style, color and emerging blossoms.  I watched it and it “told” me what it was doing.  Yes.  Certain species of the yucca can be used for soap, shampoo.  And, when I give Lilly her supplement for her osteoarthritis, the veterinary insisted that the supplement include yucca.  This personalization of plants and animals is beneficial to us all: medicine, companionship and a unity that, however briefly, overcomes life’s estrangement.  That’s talking with the plants and animals.  Maybe they are our relatives.

I wish you a pleasant week ahead: nuzzle your yucca, but be very careful.  Like with all relatives.

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The Horses of Flying Hat

I thought I would put in one post a photograph of each of the horses I work with on a daily basis here at our place, Flying Hat.  All of these photographs can be enlarged by clicking on the photograph. By enlarging the photograph, if you have a moment, will reveal a lot of detail, as these photographs are usually 2.0 plus in megabytes.  I like to take photographs using the most detailed mode (within reason, of course) I can.  You can always lessen the detail in a photograph, but never add detail to it.

Shiners Fannin Peppy

This is Shiners Fannin Peppy or “Fanny.”  Fanny has been in training — elementary school — for a hundred days with Duncan Steele-Park at the GCH Land & Cattle Company of Weatherford, Texas.  Fanny is a daughter of Sweet Hija below.  Fanny is quite vocal.  She will begin to nicker once she knows that I am going to feed.  It is a vocalization that is more of a chortle, kind of a gargle, deep-down in her throat.  Fanny will continue to nicker-chortle every fifteen seconds or so until I put feed in her bin.  Translation to English:  “Oh, boy, I can’t wait, can’t wait for my grain.  Oh, boy, oh boy.”

Sweet Hija

This is Sweet Hija or “Hija,” as we like to call her.  I purchased her in 2003, from King Ranch.  She starred in a King Ranch video for marketing before the auction at Kingsville.  She cut cattle with J. R. Ramirez, her trainer, in front of two-hundred prospective buyers.  I bought her at the King Ranch Legacy Auction in 2003, in front of  2,000 spectators — really stressful, but fun.  When I walked to the stables to view Hija after purchase, two stalls down from her was her grandfather, Peppy San Badger.  He was looking over the crowd and his granddaughter.  Peppy San Badger was nearing the end of his days, but he was still eager to see people and his progeny — be around the excitement.  I am sorry to say that I did not appreciate his background and heritage that day as I was just beginning to understand the quarter horse culture.  Peppy San Badger, Hija’s grandsire, was one of the greatest quarter horses ever to have lived: he rewrote performance records and records in the show pen.  He died in 2005, less than two years after he saw Hija load up into our horse trailer and come to Hannibal.  I have a photograph that shows Peppy in the background, Hija in the fore.  I’ll try and retrieve it for you some day.

When I saddle and ride Hija, I have to give her a run around the round pen before I mount (it’s been a while, however, since I’ve ridden) because she has that spirit of Peppy San Badger.  He would give a little buck when you first mounted him, but not a mean buck, just an energetic buck that he was happy to be alive — so also, his granddaughter.

Ima Lil Moore

This is Lilly, the oldest mare in the remuda.  I inherited Lilly and her son, Star, upon the settlement of my parents’ estate in 2003.  Lilly is the alpha mare of the remuda.  She is challenged by Fanny for placement at the food trough.  Lilly likes to take her good time these days to come to the stall.  I favor her and let her use the alleyway to get into her stall (see the alleyway above) rather than have her walk a longer distance.  You can also see in the photograph above, the barn cat, Paint or Little Paint.  Odd, but he has the same markings of Lilly.

Shiners Fannin Pepto

Here is “Shiney.”  He is all-boy, a colt and a peppy one at that.  He is the son of Sweet Hija.  This is the guy I am having so much fun with these days.  He is an intact male and I have him for sale, but Brenda and I have talked about keeping him — me more than her — but it would require the construction of a stallion run.  Shiney is such a fine boy.  I really like working with him.

Stars Bars Moore

Star is a gelding and the baby-sitter for Shiney.  Star and Shiney inhabit the large outdoor arena and are given to playing many games of “Gotcha,” a variation of tag.  Star is a large horse.  I often refer to him with affection: The Beer Wagon Horse.  Star is the son of Lilly.  Star is known far and wide as the levitating horse of Flying Hat — check a previous post this winter on the blog.

A friend of mine at the college, Roland Stroebel, says to me almost daily, “I’m homesick, Jack.”  By that he means that he wants to go back to his farm south of Cisco, Texas, and work with the land and his cattle.  He misses his farm — homesick.  When Roland’s work is done at the college, he leaves and I can see him working with his fine Angus cattle into the evening darkness.

When I am away from all of the horses and land upon which they trod, I am homesick for their companionship, their warm breath and smell.  It is said:  “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person.”  I believe that with all my heart.

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Fanny Returns

Shiners Fannin Peppy and Jack Matthews, GCH Land & Cattle Co., March 2010 (click to enlarge)

Shiners Fannin Peppy, “Fanny,” came back to Flying Hat yesterday.  At the hands of Duncan Steele-Park, her teacher, she has had three months of the best training I could afford.  Fanny will be a excellent pleasure horse, a fair cutter and all-around riding horse.  Duncan assessed Fanny:  She’s a good horse, but in this high-dollar business of cutting horses, she could not compete at the super-athlete level that is required to succeed.  I’m not a swimmer, either, he said, and I and you, Jack, have to play to her talents, to her disposition and behavior.  It’s unfair to force her into being the athlete she is not.

I could not have asked for a better teacher for my horse.  Let her be herself, play to her strengths.  Fanny came back home and was welcomed by the remuda: they kicked and ran and whinnied, communicating excitement.  I’ll have more photographs about Fanny, but for now, you’ll have to settle for the photograph above: myself, my companion.

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