My Tunes

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My 45 years with horses.

I started taking riding lessons when I was 9 or 10. I took my first lessons at Bill Juff's riding school in Wootton Bedfordshire in England. Ray or Jane gave the lessons. My first lesson was on a pony named Strawberry. I would have one lesson then spend the day grooming, cleaning tack and doing other odd jobs. If I was really lucky I got to ride one of the ponies back to the paddock bare back. I loved it there. I would eat my cheese and pickle sandwich lunch in the tack room that smelled of leather and saddle soap.
Here's a picture of me on my way to spend the day at Bill Juff's riding school. It was taken in 1963 or 1964 when I was about 10 yrs old.

Arlene in 1963 or 64.

I would often ride one of the riding school ponies in the local gymkhana's. I remember taking a pony called Silver to one of the gymkhana's and I just loved him. I even went with Bill Juff and some other people from the school fox hunting. We rode with the Oakley Hunt. I rode a pony named Merrylegs. I'm against fox hunting and all hunting. My friends and I let the little fox run between our ponies and never said a word.

I attended another riding school at Castle Mill Bedfordshire to learn how to jump. I remember my first lesson was on a bay called Gypsy.
They had a lovely indoor school, with mirrors even.

When I was 16 I bought an Exmoor type pony called Brandy and had the best fun ever. There wasn't anything we wouldn't have a go at. We even tried tackless riding and jousting. (Not at the same time).

For a few years I kept Brandy with a man from a local gypsy family named Sam Smith. He was a genius with horse and taught me many thing's about horses. He never learned to drive or owned a car, so he used a horse and cart to get about. I went with him sometimes to deliver manure to local gardeners. I can remember someone had a horse that was being really bad and nobody could ride it. Even though Sam was very elderly he mounted that horse and to everyones delight that horse became so well behaved and didn't put a foot wrong.

Here's a picture of us taken in the summer of 1970.
1970 Brandy and me.

Brandy and I covered hundreds of miles exploring Bedfordshire alone. I'd stop at village shops to get something to eat. Brandy would eat anything and refused to go past a village shop till I went in and bought him something like a Mars Bar or a bag of chips (crisps). I never had to tie him up. We would also find stuff to eat on our long rides in the fields. He loved to go blackberry picking and would tear into the bushes and make a pig of himself. We even rode through down town Bedford and crossed every bridge including the suspension bridge. I would take him to get re-shod at Ted Pages blacksmith forge close to the center of Bedford, in an area known as Black Tom. The building had a low roof and cobblestone floor. The smoke would fill the place up as he got his hot shoes fitted.

Here are some more photos of Brandy.
Brandy tacked up

1970 Brandy, cousin Carolyn and me.


The last picture was taken in June 1976. I left England a few years before and gave Brandy to a lovely girl named Rachel who loved him for the rest of his long life. As soon as I returned to England I took my 11 month old baby son for a ride on my dear friend.

Here are some more horses I owned.

Eb about 1980
This is Eb and me taken about 1980. He was a Morgan Thoroughbred cross. He loved to swim and we swam across the Spokane river. We spent many days exploring the Mica Peak area.

Me and Magic 1984
This is Vice Regal Magic and me in 1984. He was a Morgan show horse.

I had the privilege of owning other horses and ponies over the years and wished I'd taken more photos.

In 1988 while pregnant with my second son, William, I bought a 2 year old Morgan colt from Apple Pi Morgans in Moorcroft, Wyoming. His name is Apple Pi Foxsun Bay. Here he is in his younger days.

Foxsun as a youth
Standing in his horse house.
Cantering in his pasture in front of our house.

He was 'out standing in his field'.

The above photo is of Foxsun, Brad and William taken in 1996 on our ranch.

The next picture is of me and Foxsun working cattle in December 2007. He is the most honest, gentle, layed back horse I have ever met. He lives with the cattle and has been best friends with my pet cow, Dandylyons, for 17 years. I bottle fed her and he was her babysitter.
Foxsun can go a year without being ridden and even with a belly full of grain he's just as layed back and well behaved as you would ever want. He still looks good and I believe it's not only because of the easy life he has led but also because he was never ridden till he was over 3 years old. His body and mind were ready at that age.
Gates have been left open over the years and he's proven to be trust worthy and reliable. He even brings home cows alone when they escape.

The following picture are of my dear old Morgan Foxsun and his old cow wife, Dandylyons.



One day Wildairo will be turned out with Foxsun, then he'll be able to stand up on the bluff and keep an eye on thing's like Foxsun does.


nikki said...

What beautiful horses and photos! Looks like you have had some pretty amazing horses in your life! I bet that you have so many awesome stories and experiences you could write about with all of your horses too! :)

arlene said...

Hi Nikki,
I can't imagine what my life would have been like without horses.
It's so funny because I've loved them since I was a little girl and it's never worn off or got old.
There's always more to learn to about them.

Linda said...

I love the "cow-wife". That really needs to be a children's book. What a great history and I love the pictures. You are a horsewoman in spirit and action and I enjoy your blog immensely.