Tag Archives: AQHA

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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Filed under Duncan Steele-Park, Horses, Life in Balance, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

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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Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Horses, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

Running With Shiney

Shiners Fannin Pepto (2010)

Bittersweet is the moment when you perceive that the boy has become a man, the girl a woman, for then you see passageways that are closed forever.  Those days of softness and pliability are gone.  Ahead, there appears toil and disciplined hours that hopefully will insure security and comfort in all seasons, so that  life can go on with moments, perhaps hours, of rest and sociability with family and friends.  As a caretaker for the young, be they human or not, the letting-go as they walk away or as you drive away from the curb extracts a pain within that circulates around the thoughts: Have I done well enough by them?  Do they have what it takes to survive?  What could I have done different?

I trained Shiney (Shiners Fannin Pepto) in ground manners as much as I could while working and traveling at a full-time job.  My life with horses began only eight-years ago when my parents died and I inherited two paint horses.  I began to change when I worked horses.  I gradually became more patient with my life in west Texas that had turned out quite different than I thought it would.  I added another horse.  I bought a fine-blooded mare (Sweet Hija) from King Ranch and from her issued two foals, Fanny and Shiney.  The time came about three months ago to send Shiney to a professional horse trainer to fit for sale.  When I sent Shiney to Jimmie Hardin’s in Aubrey, Texas, I had carried the colt as far as I could.  Since I had only worked with mares or geldings since 2002, he was more than I could handle — or so I thought.

Jimmie Hardin and her crew, especially Peppy, her right-hand trainer, worked with Shiney to fit him for sale: standing, tying, leading, and running with the handler.  Good manners.  Midway in his training, I went up to see Shiney’s progress.  I saw his development in many areas, but one behavior held my attention:  when Shiney ran with Peppy in the corral, he held his head high and the two of them trotted in unison, turning this way and that way, Shiney showing his form and muscle and even excitement to run with a person.  As I first saw them running, I wanted to run with my horse, my colt, that young thing I had blown my breath into his nostrils on his first day, a year ago, May 15, 2009.

Four days ago, Brenda and I picked up Shiney from the trainer.  His mane was braided, coat sleek, and hair trimmed.  All fit for sale in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

We unloaded Shiney after a four-hour trip and I walked him around the sale grounds.  Then, I began to walk briskly, faster, and then broke into a trot.  I held the stud chain close under his chin, neither tight nor loose, and Shiney picked up his pace and we both ran together.  I turned and he turned with me.  I stopped, he stopped.  We ran again.  There, it happened, a powerful creature, joining with a person.

As I walked back to Brenda, she was smiling so broadly: He is so beautiful.  He holds his head so erect.  He is gorgeous.  You two looked so good together.

On sale day, I ran with Shiney three times.  I didn’t have to.  Once for buyers from Laredo and once for Steve Phipps of Springfield, Missouri, who purchased him.  We did not even lead him through the sale ring.  The price was right and Phipps was the one for Shiney.

The third time I ran with Shiney it was for me and him, alongside the barn and trailers, outside in the morning sun of Oklahoma.  I never grew tired or weary with our runs.  I was holding on to him for as long as I could and then I had to let him go.

I’ll never forget as long as I live that I once ran with a colt that was becoming a stallion.  Bittersweet, to see him grow.

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Filed under Horses, Shiney (Shiners Fannin Pepto)

Over the Hill

Over the Hill, February 2009

I am leading Star, Lilly and Sweet Hija over to the Pecan Tree Pasture.  They don’t really need my assistance to go over to the field, but on that day, the horses had not been there in several months and I wanted to walk with them.  The photograph was snapped in February 2009.  Hija was pregnant with Shiney and Fanny was behind Brenda who took the shot.  She stands in the creek bed and is looking up the road to the pasture.

The gate to the Pecan Tree Pasture was closed and I had to open it for them.

Their habit pattern is to go over to the far field and browse on grass most of the day, then near sundown that will come running at a gallop to get their grain in the stables.  Since this photograph was taken, I have kept Lilly close to the stable because of her age.  With Lilly back at the stables, they will not linger in the Pecan Tree Pasture all day long, but come back early to be with Lilly.

Brenda entitled this photograph, “Over the Hill.”

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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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Filed under Duncan Steele-Park, Horses, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

Field Log 5/7/2010 (Shiney’s Little Stud Moments)

North Erath County, Texas, 32.43 lat., -98.36 long. Elev. 1,086 ft.  Turkey Creek Quad.

Shiners Fannin Pepto (Shiney) Winter 2009-2010

Shiney at Jimmie Hardin’s

Talked with Jimmie Hardin in Aubrey about Shiners Fannin Pepto’s (Shiney) training for manners on the ground and around mares and people.  She said that “Shiney is doing really great, settling down, but he does have his little stud moments.”  What a world I thought, “Little stud moments.”  I asked Brenda, my wife, the female equivalent of “little stud moment,” and she said, maybe for women, “It’s a meltdown.”

The first time at Jimmie Hardin’s, when we put Shiney in a corral, he was between two mares and they teased him over the fence.  He was really an excited colt with two mares on either side of him.  The mares pranced in front of him and he ran around in a prancing gait, light on his feet, even though he probably didn’t know what was going on.  He became lathered up and I fretted he was over-doing his excitement, but Jimmie said he would settle down once we left with his travel buddy, Star, the paint from our place that we put in the trailer to help ease Shiney’s trip to Aubrey, north of Denton.  Star munched on his alfalfa while watching his little friend, Shiney.

In conclusion, he is doing just fine despite his little stud moments.

Called up to Triangle Sales in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  They will have handlers to help me show him through the ring.  And, knowing he is a stud, they will not put him between two mares in the stall area.

Pecan Tree Pasture Mesquite Trimming

Indian Blanket flowers are blooming over in Pecan Tree Pasture.

Went over to Pecan Tree Pasture to lob off mesquites that were growing in the field.  The grass is up to my chest in places and I can detect large animals–deer or wild boar–that have lain in the grass.

Yahoo Runs Amuck

While cutting mesquite, some yahoo drove through my gate, wanting to inquire about the trailer my neighbors have for sale.  The yahoo immediately drove off the pasture road and started coming toward me in his grey, F-250 pickup, trampling grass I wanted to let seed and grow higher.  I was a hundred-yards away and frantically waved him to stop.  What the dickens was this yahoo doing coming into a native grass field in his pickup?

I walked briskly over to where he had stopped after coming some fifty yards into the native grass field, scattering birds.  I had my pruning shears in my hand, but my pistol (.45 cal.) was in the pickup some seventy-yards away.  I did not know what to say, but this is what happened.

Yahoos Fighting by Dudley Fitts (Illustrator)

“Yew goin’ git chiggers,” he squawked, referring to the high grass I had come through to stop his onslaught into the field.  An entirely inappropriate opening of discourse after entering posted property (Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association blue sign).  Was there some chigger alert I had missed on the morning news from Stooperville’s Fox News?

Holding my anger, I said, “You don’t need to be rolling into my field crushing the grasses.  It’ll take two months for the grass to come back up.  The trailer belongs to those people,” I nodded in the direction of the Hall Place.

He looked at me, put the truck in reverse, made an abrupt turn around and sped off, then hit high speed next to my water tank and out the gate and on down the highway towards Stephenville.  I paced off how many feet he had knocked down by coming into grassland that was two to four feet high, native species I had planted six-years ago: a total of one-hundred and twenty-five feet of off-road grass crushing.  It’ll rise up again in a few months with the rains.

I’ll close the gate next time to avoid a confrontation.  I was born and reared in Texas, but I am seeing more arrogant and ill-mannered  people than ever before.  I know yahoos are all around us, but jeez!, wouldn’t you think they could all hang out at another cracker barrel in a county over?

The field log is rather caustic today.  Sorry.

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Filed under Field Log, Shiney (Shiners Fannin Pepto)

Field Log 3/14/2010

North Erath County, Texas, 32.43 lat., -98.36 long. Elev. 1,086 ft.  Turkey Creek Quad.

Four Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) soaring about house and Poprock Hill.  First sighting this spring.  (Note: clean off mud nest on front porch.  Verify type again.)

Resident hawk(s) is not a red-tail.  Unable to verify type.   Possible Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). Conventional scream or call.  Same resident hawk with sibling I have seen in the grove.  Nest high.

Grasses emerging in Pecan Tree pasture.  Side-oats gramma is approx. three (3) inches high.  Dead grass has given cover for small untyped birds and gramma sprouts.

Three flocks of Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) seen in afternoon.  Tuk-tuk alert to look up.  Flocks flying 75-100 m.p.h. ground speed est.  Altitude est. 2,000 feet above ground level.  Wind south-southeast.  Three stragglers.  Again, only a few tuk-tuks, indicates leader or alpha call?  These flocks number 200-300, but only few calls.  Why?  Evangeline Chavez in at Bosque Apache in New Mexico sights Crane flights today.  She is 600+ miles away.

Shiney the colt has twenty (20) mane hair samples with roots sent to U. of C., Davis for DNA typing and registration with AQHA.  Brenda reached through corral fence for mane hair.  He’s a good boy.

Nephew of Kelly Dooley, the Dooley place, shoots .22 caliber pistol or rifle to the west of us.  Bullets whiz through corral near Hija and me.  Emergency call to Kelly.  She gets nephew to orient himself away from corrals.  Four (4) bullets pass through air while I am in corral.  Brenda on porch has one bullet pass by.  Bullets sound like big, fast mosquitoes:  low tones, not high tones, buzzing.  Nephew is from town, goes goofy in country.  Deeply apologetic.

Native brush sprouting buds and yellow blossoms in grove.  Gathered two (2) large stones from grove.  Filled Pecan Tree water trough that Olivia helped me fill at Christmas.

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