Monday, April 24, 2006

Horses, Horses, Horses

The things I care most about in life are family, friends, art and horses. Horses are the core of my art. I paint, sculpt, create mosaics & prints and write about horses. One magazine article I wrote about horses garnered me a first place in a tri-state journalism competition and a profile of a rodeo barrel racer earned me first place in a Southern California competition.

Several of my equine artworks have been juried as well. A portion of my living is derived from working with horses. I could fill a book with the life lessons I have learned from horses and perhaps someday I will. For now, I will say that horses have provided me a direct connection to nature unlike anything else I've experienced.

What I want to write about today is the Pierce College Mounted Drill Team's performance at the annual Farm Walk yesterday. We had eight scheduled practices for Friday nights, but the weather didn't cooperate and we had to double up our hours, practice on Wednesdays, Sundays and whenever. It was challenging. Mind you, the horses we ride are part of a herd used in the summer for week long mountain trips in the Eastern Sierras and wild horse areas of Nevada. Most are quarterhorse draft crosses and some are Mustangs. In other words, large, rough and tumble kind of guys. Nothing refined about these bad boys.

From September to May they come to Pierce College to work as lesson horses for the horse science and pre-vet program. Yes, horses have to earn a living. Expensive animals to keep, they must earn their way.

Anyway, all year-long they have misbehaved during practice. Pinning their ears, biting and kicking at each other, bucking and resisting commands. Totally terrorizing some of the inexperienced riders.

The day before Farm Walk is bath day. This is their first cue that something is up. This herd does not get bathed very often nor should they. Shampooing, detangler in the manes and tails, trimming uneven hair, bluing for the horses that have white on them and polish on the hooves are the finishing touches for this spa treatment. The second cue is when they are put in separate stalls rather than in the paddock where they will very quickly destroy our day-long grooming work by rolling in manure. Not pleased with being so confined we tell them how cute and what good boys they are, followed by lots of carrots, of course.

Sunday arrives, another grooming, saddling and dress rehearsal. They're still acting out, but not quite so badly as before. Finally, it's time for the first of four performances. We mount, our drill captain introduces each of us as we trot single file into the arena to a cheering and clapping audience. All ears are perked, they respond to the whistle, no biting, no threats. Suddenly they are perfect gentlemen and we have four perfect performances to the delight of all in attendance and most of all 10 grateful riders.

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1 comment:

Lloyd Irving Bradbury said...

Thankyou for sharing. L zm nspired by your creations and thoughts abut them= Irving

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