Tuesday, November 3, 2009

injaynesworld we share "Our Passion For Horses"

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I’ve had a love affair with horses since I was a child.  I’m told that at the age of three, my maternal grandfather, a race horse trainer, would take me to the track and put me on the lead ponies.  I have no memory of this and no photos either, which really sucks, but I believe it anyway.  Growing up, I would have killed (I know that’s a term that’s thrown around loosely, but trust me, I really would have killed) to have had a horse.  Aside from some summer riding on rental horses and hanging around the local 4H barn like an adoring groupie years before the word had even been coined, I never had the chance to indulge my passion.  

Then, at 38 years old, a fossil in terms of starting to ride, I met a bunch of people who had horses and I began to sink every spare penny I could get a hold of into riding lessons.  I had no idea at all of what English riding was, but was sent to a trainer who said to me, “Do you want to chase cows?”   Well, no…  “Then you’ll ride English.”   Uh… okay.   The horse he put me on was a half-Arab, half-Morgan named Pawnee.  Pawnee would pin his ears and try to chase me out of the stall when I’d go to get him and then try to step on my foot when I’d saddle him.   Being used to being treated like crap by the male gender I, of course, was crazy about him.   We were soon galloping wildly out of control all over Griffith Park in Burbank and I was having the time of my life.  

After a while, trail riding wasn’t enough though.   I spent countless hours at the local equestrian center watching horse shows, specifically the jumpers, and I knew that’s what I had to do.  Let me reiterate verbatim, 38 is a fossil in terms of starting to ride, and now I was going get on the back of a 1200-pound horse and jump over a fence.   I should probably mention that I was never athletic.  Nope, no athletic ability whatsoever.   Didn’t even walk if I didn’t absolutely have to.   While that should have deterred me, or at least given me pause, mature decision-making has never been my strong suit. 

Enter a new trainer and a new horse, Argon, a big German warmblood.   Argon was a rock star of a horse.  He was everything I’d been looking for in a man, but couldn’t find.  Tall, drop-dead gorgeous, and gelded.    Best of all, he loved me, too.   And he was for sale!    This was in 1989 and the owner was asking $15,000, a fortune then.   I was a freelance TV-writer at the time, meaning I was often “between jobs,” but since fiscal responsibility had never darkened my doorstep before, why should it now?    I borrowed $5,000 off a credit card for a down payment and promised her $1,000 a month till he was paid off, fully willing to sell my body on a street corner if that’s what it took.   That horse was the most patient, kind, generous creature ever.  He’d take me galloping on the trail one day and into the show ring the next where he’d pack my sorry ass over every fence without complaint.    Here is a photo of us.   Isn’t he gorgeous?   I, on the other hand, look like I’m having a bowel movement.  


If you’ve ever seen the movie I wrote for Animal Planet called “Big Spender,” the scenes where Big Spender is given peppermint candy are based on Argie’s voracious appetite for the treat.  Just the sound of me unwrapping the cellophane would start him nickering and begging.  He never had to beg for long.   I would have given him a kidney.  Argon was the love of my life and our partnership lasted for seven years until 1996 when, at the age of 17, he let out one whinny and just dropped dead in the barn.   It was as if someone had reached inside my chest, grabbed my heart in their fist, and yanked it out.  I slept with his blanket for a month because it smelled like him.

My next steed was a retired polo horse named Bubba who’d actually been given to a friend of mine, but she didn’t ride him much so he became my horse and for the next three years we rode the trails.  Having played the treacherous sport of polo with mallets swinging around his head for eight years, nothing spooked him.  I was probably most at ease on Bubba out on the trail than with any other horse I’ve ridden and we had the best beach rides ever.   In 1999, he was getting older and stiffer and it was time to retire him.  Here we are at his retirement. 

                                                                    
Let me just note here that 10 years later, at the ripe old age of at least 25, Bubba is still going strong and still on the payroll.  I, however, will never be able to retire and fully expect to someday be living under an overpass. 

Anxious to get back to jumping, but also still wanting to ride on trails, I bought a Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross by the name of Kona.  Kona, like Argon, was another mensch of a horse.   I showed him under the name “Hello, Handsome,” because, well… obviously.   This is my absolute favorite jumping photo of us.  

                                                                  
He always jumped the fence, no matter how badly I got him there.  I’m sure that somewhere from the great beyond, Argie was telling him, “Yeah, I know.  She rides like crap, but take care of her anyway,” and take care of me Kona always did.  In 2005, he incurred some kind of freak spinal cord injury.  We never did figure out what happened, but after two weeks and thousands of dollars trying to save him, I had to put him down and, once again, my heart was broken. 

Which brings me to now.   Horses are expensive and while I would sell my soul to have another, apparently the soul market isn’t what it used to be.  When I approached the devil with my offer, he replied, “Yeah, yeah, you and everyone else.  Take a number.” 

So here I sit, horseless.   Riding and hanging out at the barn and at shows with my friends was such a huge part of my life for so long and I miss it deeply.  I still have friends who let me ride their horses from time to time, and I’m grateful, but it’s not like that special bond you have with your own.  Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful day today and I’m going to go over to the barn and watch some of my friends ride.   And, by the way, say what you will about the softness of a baby’s butt – there’s nothing softer than a horse’s nose.  This is me and Argon after winning our first blue ribbon. 

                                                       
I ask you, if that's not love, what is?

29 comments:

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I love horses. I rode english at camp every summer and for a few years took lessons outside of houston. I didn't jump much, did mostly dressage. But, there is nothing more thrilling than being on top of one of those huge quarter horses....

Linda Medrano said...

Oh Jayne, where to begin! First off, the horses are gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous creatures, as is the redhead who rides them with such modest aplomb! You NEED another horse. If I wasn't too old to do so, I'd sell my butt on the corner to get you one. Unfortunately, I am too old (plus not in the mood nor have I been for 10 years), but girl, one way or another, you need to get another one of these magnificent creatures! I look at those photos and I swear the love shines out of them. Magical! Thanks for sharing this!

kimber p said...

I totally agree with the horse's nose comment..so velvety soft and the smell of a horse is scrumptious...

I was raised a city girl and never owned a horse, but my walls and doors were plastered with horse posters, calendars and shelves of every horse book I could get my hands on--I remember winning a bet between myself and my best friend at the time about who would win the '78 Kentucky Derby and then go on to win the Triple Crown..Affirmed was my dream horse, for sure. 12 years old and placin bets...lol I'd have bought my own horse had I been allowed to REALLY bet!! lol

Pearl said...

I just love those photos, Jayne.

You should have another horse. It suits you.

Pearl

Beth said...

I LOVE this post! Like you, I have always had a special place in my heart for horses. When I was young, my grandfather bought a horse named Pokey for me. She was a beautiful Appaloosa. I still tear up thinking about my sweet Pokey.

I've been horse-less for years now but I still feel drawn to them. We befriended the nicest cop when visiting San Francisco because I. Had. To. Meet. His. Horse.

You should get another horse one day. You were obviously meant to have horses.

Maelstrom said...

Chasing cows sounds like fun.

My name is PJ. said...

The photos rock! That last one is absolutely love! I'm so glad I came by to see what the self-proclaimed 'contest whore' was all about. :)

Hi! I'm PJ,host of the Amazon giveaway. You're one of my new followers and I like to meet and greet those I haven't met and gret yet! :) Welcome!

I'm following along on your blog now too!

Kristi Stevens said...

Okay... *sniff* *sniff* *sniff*... When I win the lottery I'm adding a horse for you to my list of things I'll buy. I've committed to taking all my online friends to Figi, but I know you won't go, so you get a horse.

Love,
K

Jayne Martin said...

Thanks so much for your kind comments everyone. I've thought about attending an Oprah taping with the hope that it's on a day when she comes out shouting, "You get a horse! You get a horse! You get a horse!" Hey... it could happen.

Carrie Mc W said...

Great story and photos...don't worry, another horse will find you!

keith said...

Argon, Kona...this was a great post, Jayne!

When Pigs Fly said...

So glad you found my blog. Love the pictures of your horses. I will be a wreck when the time comes to put one of my horses down. I have a 14 year old Oldenburg mare and a 5 year old Hanoverian mare. I attempt to do dressage on both. The younger one loves to jump and would probably be a beautiful hunter. I've got her with a h/j trainer right now and we will start popping her over some things. Here is a link to one of my posts that I think you might enjoy. http://whenpigsfly.squarespace.com/journal/2009/9/22/sisterhood-of-the-travelling-breeches.html
The picture is of me on my older mare. Take care.

Mrsblogalot said...

Jayne these pictures are killing me!

I rode english for years on my beautiful quarter horse. To me he was as tall as a house (16.1 H)!
I still get lovey eyed when I take out the pictures to friends who don't believe.

I stopped riding when Superman took the infamous fall over the jump.

Turned big time chicken and couldn't shake the fear. But I still miss the smells and feel of everything horse and barn! Even mucking out stalls!
Thanks for posting this.

Lucy said...

What great pictures!!

Adam said...

Oh my, Jayne, when I was a kid, I had the same dream for every night in a month, and there was a horse in it. I'll never forget that dream, and the horse looked exactly like Argon!!!

Anyway, I love horses, I think they are the most beautiful and elegant creatures to walk the Earth! I am glad you had the privilege to share some time with them!

PS: Marie is alive and well, she left a note for you in my blog, for she couldn't access yours!!!

Adam (mrelife.blogspot.com)

laughykate said...

I grew up with ponies, I hadn't ridden for years until I was working in Mongolia, about four years ago. We were on those little ponies. I hadn't let on I could ride to the people I was with but I will never forget the extreme sense of freedom and delight when I experienced when I let my pony gallop me all the way back to our camp. So liberating and such an adrenalin rush.

I Wonder Wye said...

We have a wild mustang sanctuary (wingspur.org) -- My husband was a cowboy before going to architecture school -- and he loves 'anything he can do off the back of a horse' - I am learning to love them. But I love all animals -- more than people, ha.

Best Wishes, Marie said...

hola,

i also could not get into familysoup1 either, a cooking blog, because there was a reference to wine.

i am home, i was out in the country in what appears to be a tradition, as it is the third year in a row. some time up to regroup before the holidays hit. we have a connection on a condo and there are house properties around. one of the days that i am there, i walk to the store. about an hour each way. but it takes two hours to get home because i buy a big bag of carrots, and i stop, establish myself, and feed the horses over the fence. and sometimes scratch the little flat spot between their eyes. they are a lot of fun. there were two sets of two. one set did a little head snuggle with me over the fence.

i hope that you get another horse soon.

OMYWORD! said...

This was lovely to read, even though my heart broke a little too - twice.

This also brought back memories of some of my brief encounters with horses, all of which were glorious. My might have to write about them soon. Thanks for the inspiration.

Nezzy said...

WoW, This Ozarks farm chick just feels like I've entered the "National Velvet" zone. Beautiful animals. I used to ride growing up on the farm but hubby is not a fan of horses yet we have a slew of donkeys. Let me tell ya'll, their no fun to try to ride!

I enjoyed my visit to your blog. As we say down here in the hills and hollers, Ya'll have a wonderfully blessed day!!!

brinkaid said...

Sigh.

I'm horseless, too, Jayne. Except for the occasional horse's ass I managed to encounter. Just not the same.

My first love, Fred, was a beautiful black cross between a Welsh pony and a Morgan. We shared a common dislike for little boys. How could you not love that? Fred was my world. I still have his shoes, after all these years. If only I still had him.

Sigh.

Tawnia said...

See Jayne you are a mom:) It's just that your kids have four legs and mine only have two! Thanks for sharing a personal piece of your life!
All my love Tawnia

Sarah said...

Jayne, you can have my dad's horse, well, actually I think he's my sister's horse because, well, you can, I said so!!! I will even bring him to you because you will appreciate him more than my sister. My dad does ride him & take care of him but he doesn't have time to give him the attention he needs because he has to do that working thing. The best pet I ever had was a horse that my dad got me when I was 7 or 8. His name was Buttermilk & he was awesome! You're right though, there's nothing like that soft horse nose...aaahhh, makes me wanna get a horse...

Margo said...

Your horses are gorgeous! My 13 yo daughter and I are recent converts to the horse world. I was allergic forever and never really got too close to them until recently when daughter started begging. Now we spend hours every week at an idyllic barn with a sweet 20 something trainer who used to be a kindergarten teacher. The horses, scenery and people beat anything else I've been around in recent years. I'm starting lessons next month, and going to work at Barnes and Noble part time to help pay for our new obsession :)

kel said...

Well, the bad news is I was referring to riding mountain bikes, not horses. Good news? I grew up on a farm, know tons about horses. Except I'm a cow chaser. The only thing I know about English riding is that the boots are fantastic for rainy days (I have them in brown and black).

Breathe said...

Hi,
I'm new here and was sent over by fragrant liar who said you were of the horsey persuasion.

GIRLFRIEND!

You know, horses are really cheap these days. I'm just saying...

Lauren said...

I live in horse country (Lexington, KY) and couldn't agree with you more--horses are the most majestic and beautiful creatures.

Boom Boom Larew said...

My sister's horse, Faust, was a Danish warmblood. What a beautiful creature. He was a retired therapy horse who died at the ripe old age of 25.

Fragrant Liar said...

I love this post. Love the pictures and especially the horsey kiss you got from Argon.

I noticed my friend Winter (Breathe) commented on this too. She's a major horse girl, and a terrific humorist and writer, fun friend, and all-around fabulous human being. If you haven't checked out her site, it's Horse Centric (http://horsecentric.blogspot.com/).

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