Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure
As a young teen, I donned my Troxel helmet, grabbed my English saddle, and mounted a rotten, chubby pony. That beast is why I will never own a pony. Plutchie taught me the basics: grooming, tacking up, walk, trot, canter, and novice jumping. Later that year, I moved on an unwilling Appaloosa gelding. He was followed by a green broke Paint gelding with a major attitude problem. I spent a portion of my youth soaring over jumps and racing through trails. Like many youths, I gave up riding.
Over the years, I considered returning to the stable. I joined friends at their horse shows or on trails, but I didn’t return to a barn until my blue-eyed girl who can’t ride a bike wanted to take riding lessons. As my blue-eyed girl learned to groom. Tack up. Walk. Trot. And lope. I realized that although she can’t ride a bike (and has no desire to learn how to) she will charter her own path from barrel one to two to three and from pole to pole.
As my blue-eyed girl learned to lope, I traded my English saddle for a blinged out HR Custom barrel saddle and my FES spurs for a pair of short shank western spurs. After years of not being in a saddle the return was less than glamourous.
My farmer taught me about animal care. I know that animals need proper care, food, and water to be productive. This translates to horses. In Chicago, activist groups are labeling horse carriage operators and the entire industry as abusive, inhumane, and outdated. While individuals are entitled to different opinions, there is no evidence that carriage horses are mistreated. Chicago’s carriage horses have access to food, water, and shelter. They work a six-hour workday in comfortable conditions. I can pull the carriages that the horses pull in Chicago. My closest friend and I can pull the carriages loaded. They’re not heavy, they’re made to be easily pulled.
Activist groups also argue that the city isn’t the place for horses because of the traffic and noise. Through scrupulous training and handling, carriage horses are comfortable in loud, urban areas. The horses’ owners wouldn’t bring an untrained and a poorly acclimated horse into the city.
Horses built Chicago. Horses have an inherent drive to work. Even my buckskin mare, has a drive to work. She loves every opportunity to take laps around the hay field, to traverse the woods, and to run a pole or barrel pattern.
Speaking of a pole pattern, my blue-eyed girl is set to run her first pole pattern this month. Look for a little blond, who can’t ride a bike, kicking it on buckskin mare.