Horse Blogging


30 Mar 2011 12:25 am

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“The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy!”

Fra Giovanni in 1513 in “Letter to a Friend”.

In the extreme north of the north of my home town are small, humble neighborhoods full of horses. I drive by this enchanting but poor neighborhood several times a week.

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One day recently I drove by the horse field and witnessed a foal struggling to stand up.

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With my deep apologies to Grizzly Moms and a “meh” toTiger Moms, I have to present another natural example of motherly love. While visiting the horse field I discovered the phenomenally fierce love of Mama Horses. The above photo captured this Mama horse charging after a horse that got too close to her baby.

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I find beauty everywhere I look for it. Lately it has been difficult to focus on it. The New Year started mildly enough but then the world seemed to go off track. The day that a madman shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a Pandora’s Box of evil and hatred opened up.

All the hatred in the world can’t conquer love and goodness. I’ll just keep focusing on that.

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17 Jul 2009 11:23 am

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I found this photo in a box of family photos that had belonged to a late cousin. I don’t know who it is but it’s a family member on my Dad’s side. Everyone loved horses. My Dad always had horses and with his friends would ride his horse from Fort Smith to Rogers, Arkansas and back. He did this when he was sixteen years old. Mom’s and Dad’s didn’t feel they needed to keep a tight noose on their kids back then.

25 Jun 2009 06:01 pm

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Horses cool off as they swim and play in a pond off Steep Hill Cutoff.

Photo by Kaia Larsen

Kaia Larsen is a photographer for our local newspaper. She always manages to capture magical shots. I love this photo of horses keeping cool.

It’s really hot outside but after all, it’s summertime in the South.

02 May 2009 12:13 pm

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Today is the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. Lots of tradition, fancy hats and beautiful horses.

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Scout

Growing up with a horse made my sister and I naturally interested in horse racing. Lucy and I loved watching movies about horses, reading books about horses and sometimes we even pretended we were racehorses. We both wanted to be Velvet Brown in National Velvet. (starring Elizabeth Taylor) We loved the movie so much we learned every word of dialogue.

We learned to canter, trot, sprint (the only kind of dancing I ever did) and mimic the reining in of a well trained horse.

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We learned to make mint juleps, we wore fancy hats, we had our own footraces and then we would venture in the back pasture to ride Scout. Scout was a pinto, not a thoroughbred but he had the heart of a race horse. When I took him out alone he had fleet feet. He would run like the wind for me. He was always a little more careful with Lucy riding on back. I wasn’t exactly what you would call a “Horse Whisperer,” but Scout and I had a real kinship. I never had to raise a spur or switch to get him to respond. Just a little pressure with my legs and he knew I was ready to rumble. What a horse!

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Every year we rode Scout in the rodeo parade. Our grandmother always made us riding outfits for the rodeo. Our grandfather bought us new boots every year. In the photo above, Lucy and I are wearing our rodeo outfits while singing with our cousins, Jeanne, Vicky and Gaye. I believe we were singing, “Going to the Chapel.”

One year our outfits looked just like Velvet’s when she rode Pie in the Grand National Steeplechase. We wore hot pink cowboy hats.

Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post has a take on the race. I’m not a better. The race is about horses and running for me so I wouldn’t venture a guess on the winning horse.


Here are some interesting race links.

Shaking off Long Odds at the Derby

Roses are just a soft part of the Day

‘The Walk’ Longer than the Run for the Roses

Groundswell builds for ‘America’s horse’


This one will bring tears to your eyes.

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UPDATE: The results of the always exciting Kentucky Derby this past Saturday were delightful. I watched as Mine That Bird came from behind and won the race! It was heartwarming to watch Calvin Borel’s “rose to the heavens” tribute to his late parents after he rode the great horse to victory.

01 Mar 2007 01:13 am

calfroping

KAIA LARSEN • TIMES RECORD

Jerry Solesbee ropes a calf Tuesday afternoon on his property in Greenwood with friends. He and friends Don Womack, Jim Sharp, Junior Holland and Roy Cates were practicing team roping for a competition at Coal Hill this weekend.

I’ve always liked cowboys, having grown up in a western Arkansas Rodeo culture. A cowboy is a straight forward sort of person not much into nuance. What you see is what you get… cowboys do much of their work in isolation, roping cattle, riding the range and keeping the livestock safe. The cowboy culture as developed in the American West brought us rugged individuals known for their personal honesty and self-dependence.

During my husband’s first tour to Germany back in 1977, we were surprised to learn that Germans were crazy about American cowboys and western culture. Times have changed I know, but I still miss the days of John Wayne, James Arness, and Gary Cooper.

I recently finished reading Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough, the story of Theodore Roosevelt. The book chronicles seventeen years of Theodore’s life from his delicate childhood fraught with near fatal asthma attacks to his struggle to manhood and life as a cowboy.

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Teddy didn’t just play around with horses and cattle, he lived the rugged life of a cowboy in the badlands. After his wife, Alice Lee and his mother, Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt died on the same day, Teddy returned to the Dakota Territory living the life of a cowboy while overcoming his great grief. The strenuous life carried him from illness to good health, strengthening him in body and soul.

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Twenty-Sixth President

1901-1909

When we lived in Panama just a few minutes walk from the great Goethals Monument I had many occasions to think of the greatness of Roosevelt. The amazing achievement of the construction of the Panama Canal and the program enacted to bring under control mosquito borne illness greatly decreased deaths of the canal workers and made Panama a much more healthful place in which to live. Teddy Roosevelt put America on the map as a world power, steering our nation from the nineteenth to the twentieth century with his robust belief in American power and goodness.

Teddy Roosevelt was one of the elemental American men and he was a cowboy.

Which brings to mind Ronald Reagan, another intrinsic American cowboy.

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40th President of the United States (1981–1989)

Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

Reagan differed from Roosevelt in political policy but was similar to TR in his optimistic outlook and belief in the goodness of this country.

Another man standing up against great opposition in order to accomplish a monumental goal, that of defending our country from the threat of Islamic terrorism, is President George W. Bush. He has the heart of a cowboy too.

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43rd President of the United States

I believe America still loves her cowboys. I don’t believe America will elect a non-cowboy in 2008. We are living in serious times.

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Nope. Obama’s just a drugstore cowboy. No Home on the Range for him.

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Uh. Hillary. Wrong hat.

05 Sep 2006 11:09 am

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Laura and her horse, Scout

Congress will be dabating and voting on a bill banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption this week.

I am all for that bill.

Horse slaughter bill reaches trail’s end

By Elana Schor

The lobbying battle over banning horse slaughter for human consumption will move to the House floor this week as celebrity supporters square off against agricultural groups and members temporarily abandon election-year partisanship to consider the bill.

Consuming horsemeat is uncommon among Americans but remains an accepted practice overseas, creating a small market for three U.S.-based horse-slaughter plants. Reps. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) have secured a promise from GOP leaders for a Thursday vote on their plan to close those plants and halt government-sanctioned horse killing. But the bill has run into a surprising amount of opposition in a culture built on pony rides and cowboy movies.

Former Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas), now lobbying for a coalition of farm and veterinary groups seeking to bring down the bill, questioned why a bill banning horse slaughter merits floor time on one of the few legislative days remaining in the House’s crowded September session.

“A large number of members are surprised it’s coming to a vote,” Stenholm contended last week.

But the bill has broad support. Sweeney and Whitfield have joined with Democrats to round up more than 200 cosponsors after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sidestepped their amendment last year aimed at blocking funding for the slaughter plants.

01 Sep 2006 12:07 pm

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KAIA LARSEN • TIMES RECORD

Jennie Griffin gives her 5-month-old Egyptian Arabian filly, Mystic, an orange Popsicle Wednesday at their ranch, Griffins Arabians, near Huntington. Griffin said the grandkids can’t eat Popsicles in front of Mystic or she will take them away.

29 Aug 2006 11:25 pm

horserunning

COREY S. KRASKO • TIMES RECORD

Cpl. George Harley with the Fort Smith Police Department waves his arms to keep a horse from running into traffic on North Sixth Street Monday as police and animal control officers try to capture the animal that was wandering loose near Division Street. The horse, which was coaxed into a halter a few moments later, is owned by James Thompson and had escaped from a pasture at North 20th Street and Kelley Highway.

When I was a kid our family had a pinto (or Paint) horse named Scout. He was beautifully colored with a rich, brownish rust coat and white markings which looked like the map of the United States. Before Scout came along we had a donkey named Tarzan but he was so noisy some neighbors complained so my Dad sold him and bought Scout.

He lived in our back pasture and every morning it was my job (and my brothers and sister’s) to make sure Scout had his feed, hay, water and salt lick. When winter came Scout would stay in a shed that had an opening in the front. When it was especially cold my mother put one of my grandfather’s old wool coats on Scout’s back.

At night my Dad closed the gate to our front yard and let Scout out of the pasture to graze. In those long ago days we had no air conditioning so always had our windows open during the summer. I would wake in the morning to see Scout’s nose pressed into the window screen. Sometimes he woke me with a very wet sneeze.

One night Scout got into our garage which is where Daddy stored his feed and hay. He also had his Al Jolson records stored in the garage and Scout stomped on them. Scout would chew up every pecan and dogwood tree Daddy attempted to plant and kept my brothers’ ball-field well fertilized.

One time Scout panicked when it was storming and jumped down into the deep ditch between our house and our Italian neighbors, the Portas. The water was deep and my mother put on my Dad’s boots, grabbed a bridle and jumped into the ditch to pull Scout out. I will never forget how that frightened me. I thought both were going to drown.

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When it snowed my sister and I loved to go to the back pasture to watch Scout make his “snow angels.” He loved to roll around in the snow and left a pattern not unlike what we made.

Our Dad bought Scout in Oklahoma and when he brought him home he was wild. An Indian man named Chief helped Daddy “break” him. Daddy taught me how to saddle Scout, bridle him, groom him and command him. Scout acted “age” appropriate with each one of us. He was spirited with me, gentle with my year old brother and a little slower with my little sister.

My brave Sgt. Major brother, who is a year younger than me, (and leaving for Iraq soon) didn’t fare as well with Scout. He simply wasn’t as interested in Scout as he was in the Cowboy boots he got every year and the kicking tee for his football but I recall that almost everytime he climbed up on Scout he would get bucked off.

My sister and I had a riding club and would venture out on Scout to meet our friends with their horses. Our grandmothers made us cowgirl outfits with matching flags and my sister and I rode Scout in the Rodeo Parade with our riding club. We did this for several years.

One day when Scout was staying at our uncle’s ranch I was home alone, sitting on the front porch, while my parents, brothers and sister were off on errands when a beautiful, shiny, black quarter horse came running down the road.

As if he had a right blinker on, he made a turn into our driveway and ran through our yard. I jumped off the porch and ran to the backyard, grabbing a bridle that hung outside the garage. Tommy, the boy across the street came running over and we set out after the horse.

First he ran into our back pasture and finding no way out turned around. He ran past us at the entrance but we kept following him. Down a side road he went and a lady ran out of her house with a bucket of oats.

While he stopped to sample the oats, I put the bridle on him and Tommy and I took him back to my house. We tied him to a tree in the front yard and I called the local radio station that broadcast lost pet reports. They immediately reported a found horse and within thirty minutes the owners arrived with a trailer to pick up the beautiful black horse.

All this happened within a two hour window. When my parents, brothers and sister got home and heard my story, at first they didn’t believe me but when Tommy Across the Street and the lady with the oats confirmed that the horse had indeed, come and gone, they were believers.

I had a hard time believing it myself.

When I was in the eleventh grade my Dad sold Scout because money was tight and we were growing up and needed clothes. I remember our mother taking us to buy fall clothes for school with some of the money. My sister bought a grey pleated skirt and a white shirt with grey and yellow striped patterns on it.

I chose a rust colored wool sweater and pleated skirt. My brothers also got some new blue pullover sweaters. All of us regretted the sale of Scout but at first we were at least able to hear about how he was from his new owners. Then one day we lost touch with them and I never saw Scout again.

Everytime my sister and I wore our outfits we called them our Scout clothes but we felt guilty at the same time. We missed Scout. Every year when the Rodeo came we went to the parade to look for Scout. Sometimes we thought we saw him and would run alongside the parade until he was out of sight.

Seeing the photo of the beautiful horse in our local news made me think of Scout and the horse that ran away. Ours is still a city full of horses.