Sunday, September 22, 2019
Jean and Elaine will arrive this week for a short visit. Jean raised and trained Sunni, and Elaine had a big hand in raising and training Rosie. Jean’s sister bred these full sisters (7 years apart) from the same mare and stallion. Both Jean and Elaine had big hands in teaching me how to handle and ride these horses.
(The above photos are of (1) Jean, in Bend, with her gaited mountain horse, Jackson; and (2) Elaine at the Deschutes, just before glimpsing Miles in the river trying to find foothold on its steep muddy bank. She reacted, reaching for his collar and hauling him up the embankment.)
Jean raised Sunni from a filly and turned this pony into a trail horse, doing lots of climbing and riding in the Blue Mountains. Elaine helped, riding Sunni in an Eastern Oregon rodeo drill team and packing her for trips into the mountains with materials for trail improvement work.
Rosie had a more complex filly-hood with Jean’s sister who had some emotional issues. She taught Rosie to drive and periodically sent the mare to Elaine for “straightening-out”. Eventually, Elaine wound up with Rosie and used her for trail riding. One of her friends bought Rosie, but after a couple of years had to move to another state and couldn’t take the horse. That’s when I learned that Rosie might be available.
Sunni was a wonderful trail horse. She carried me through most of the local trails and into the Cascades, and because I knew about Rosie, I began thinking about driving a horse. Rosie was trained, so a good place to start, right? I made arrangements to take Rosie and soon after she arrived found her enough different from Sunni to be worrisome. She’s hyper-alert, prefers making the decisions, and will test a handler. It’s important to add that Rosie wouldn’t deliberately hurt anybody, she’s just apt to become pushy. I had her retrained to drive and then felt afraid (as a brand new driver) to hitch and drive her.
A couple of years passed during which I trail rode the two horses before finally deciding to revisit the idea of driving. This time, I had Sunni trained to drive, learned to drive her, and then tackled driving Rosie. By now, I knew what to do, felt confident, and began driving her. Rosie and I have worked our way into a more mutually trusting relationship. And I think it’ll keep improving.
From the time she came to me, Sunni has been pleasant, agreeable, willing, and responsive to what’s asked of her. Jean hasn’t seen Sunni in several years and will be pleased with the mare and how she handles while pulling a cart. Elaine hasn’t seen “the new” Rosie being hitched and driven, and she’ll be pleased, too.
Who’s perhaps most pleased is me. From the most novice of horsepersons, to these days when I feel capable of handling my horses adequately, it’s been a challenging but fruitful journey. One of the sweetest things from all this is having been able to adopt a caring family along with great horses.
Dear Readers: The years that amble in the end can provide terrific stories. Diana