A Horse of Course – Scooter

Young filly

Young filly

In the early spring of 1992, I had a yearling filly for sale. She was really cute, but not really what I was looking for to train.  After putting an ad in the Horsemen’s News, I received a call.  A young lady was looking for a project that would grow to be at least 15 hands and was very interested in the filly. Only catch was, she couldn’t have two horses. She already had a small yearling  and would take $100 on trade for him.  She said he was a real goof-ball but would not get super big, so since I was getting a good price for the filly, I agreed.

I arrived at the Big Boy restaurant in Oshkosh with snow flying everywhere. The scene was similar to parents switching kids for the week as we unloaded our cargo and switched locations. The little sorrel gelding she presented was indeed small, and slightly built, but he had attitude and this made me smile.  They called him “Windjammer”, but I just wasn’t sure the name fit him. As soon as I brought him home and let him go flying around the pasture, I knew he would be known as Scooter forever more.

 

Scooter was one of those rare horses that taught me as much as I ever did him. He made it all easy. He ran his heart out each and every time we competed and never let me down. Because of his small stature, barrels would never be a prime class, but wherever quickness and agility prevailed – he always nailed it.  He was most effective in Keyhole, Poles, Jumping Figure 8 and Tire Race.  In keyhole, he would literally slide to a stop, spin in place and head back out in such a small area he never messed up the lines. Often times we would turn just inside the entry which was highly difficult.

Scooter was also effective in classes like ball and pail, flags and spear race were his ability to place his rider just where she needed to be created one flawless ride after another. I hardly ever missed when I rode him.

Scooter 8

Scooter was great at tiny tot tire race

My little buddy was also good at other types of activities as well. He was so much fun in parades as he would prance and dance the entire time, he was calm and relaxing on trail rides and even won first place in a 50 mile endurance ride at Kettle Moraine. This win was partly due to his ability to go out at an extended trot for miles with ease.  Even when I tipped the scale at 200 lbs for that ride, he never showed signs of noticing. He did that ride in total ride time of 4 hours and 14 minutes.

For years, Scooter and I were inseparable. He even allowed my inexperienced step-daughter to use him in some events as well – he was a real trooper.

Scooter never colic’d, well I cannot say never, because it was colic that ended his life. It is because of his  toughness and great heart that we probably did not even notice he was having problems until it was too late. What seemed a slight belly-ache was actually the beginning of the end.  We took him in to the vet hospital and after a full evaluation they said he was prolapsed and he had turned a corner.  They could not figure out how he could still be standing, but he was.  We lost him that day.

Because we had so many great adventures together, I am sure I will write about him again down the line, but for now all I can say is that I miss him.

A Horse Of Course – Joshua's Mooneuver

Joshua's Mooneuver

Joshua’s Mooneuver

Many who know me are well aware of my passion for speed and games on horseback. I have loved to compete in everything from barrels and poles to monkey on a barrel. While it may be true that the majority of horses I have owned were for the fast and furious, there have been some that were born and bred for a more refined showing experience.

Josh was such a horse.  Born in 1984 as a registered Quarter Horse he stood about 15.1 hands and was the prettiest bay color. Josh was owned by a family who used him for halter and showmanship events. When it came to riding, they were more interested in POA’s; therefore, Josh was not well trained for mounted classes.

Unfortunately, one evening Josh rolled in his stall and knocked the gate off the front. The hardware was pointing downward so when he rolled back he caught his rump on the protruding bolts. This resulted in a very deep gash going from one side to the other over his hips.  After a long recovery period, it was plain that while his health and movement was not affected, his ability to show at halter was no longer possible.

It was at this time, in 1991 that I was over visiting his owners and found out that he was for sale. This opportunity provided me the perfect chance to train and show a horse for English and Western events.  Of course, because at he was 7 years old and never ridden there were a few rodeo moments, but not many. Soon enough, Josh was beginning to show signs of becoming a respectable show horse.

I remember his first show on May 3, 1992.  It was held at the fairgrounds in Baraboo and he was a brat.  He bucked in his bareback class and continued to rush everything until he began to

Alexandra Gotch learning to ride

Alexandra Gotch learning to ride

get tired. It was at this point that he started to show some promise. Of course, what I haven’t told you yet is that I was 5 months pregnant. I also look at the videos and can see where I had much to learn. My feet pointed out and I leaned forward way too much (a habit I still have to this day).

 

Overall, my time with Josh was always interesting. I loved him dearly. Besides for pleasure events, I enjoyed trail riding and parades with him and after that first few months, could always trust him with any rider.

Sadly, just as we were beginning to progress and learn together, our time together was cut short. In late fall 1995 Josh came down with Colic. The vet came out and we did what every horse owner does to bring them out of it. He responded well and showed signs of full recovery; however, overnight he took a turn and we lost him.   There have been other great horses since Josh as there always will be, but the good ones are neither forgotten

nor replaced. What is most sad is that he left us so soon and was never able to reach his full potential.

All the Cars I Loved Before…

Sitting in a vehicle in -15 temperatures got my mind to wandering. Actually, it is amazing that my frozen noggin could conjure up thoughts with as cold as it is, but there ya go.  Watching my husband turn the key in the ignition and hear the vehicle fire right up really made me remember the “good old days”?

I distinctly remember at least 3 vehicles when I was in my 20’s.  The oldest was a 62 ½ Willy’s Jeep pickup truck. I loved this truck because with a paperclip or piece of wire, you could fix about anything on it. Yea, it was a bit rough, but was strong enough to push a plow in the winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another vehicle, a little less old was an early 70’s International Harvester. This aqua/white poor excuse for a crossover sounded like it was going to fall apart at any moment while driving it down the road. I really shouldn’t complain much because this is the 4 speed I learned to drive on.  How many young people these days can admit to learning how to drive on a stick shift?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, was the pretty one of the bunch – a maroon and black 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Now this car was one hot ride. Of course, this two-door also came with power steering, automatic windows and “bucket seats”.  I loved riding in this car. Unfortunately, I hit a patch of black ice one day and ended up riding on two wheels – Dukes of Hazzard style- through the ditch as I sheared off yellow posts.  I miss that  car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may think that I am simply reminiscing about “all the cars I loved before”; however, there is actually a reason for my musing. As I watched my husband easily turn a key to hear the engine roar in the bitter cold, I am reminded of how many times I sat in a freezing cold vehicle, pumping the gas in order to get it started.  Then after it did begin to come to life, having to use every ounce of finesse I could muster to flutter that same gas pedal until the engine smoothed out and stopped threatening to quit entirely.

Anyone else remember these days?

Wisconsin Game Cams – January 2013

Wisconsin is an amazing state full of lush forests and abundant wildlife. It is pretty amazing what you can catch on camera these days.  One of my favorite ways to catch the outdoor action is with game cameras placed in different spots on the property.

We use a couple of Moultree cameras purchased about 5 years ago at Gander Mountain. These cameras work quite well, but are not as sophisticated as what you will find on the shelf now.

Over lunch, I walked out to get the mail and grab the SD cards from the cameras. It is like Christmas each time I put one in my computer to see what is inside.  So far I have seen cats, dogs, coyotes, buzzards, deer (bucks, does and babies), raccoons, crows, squirrels and turkeys.  Today, I hit the jackpot with camera 2.  As you can see from the pictures that follow, many different animals stopped by to get their picture taken in this two-week period:

 

The first image is of a very young buck that survived the fall hunt. He looks to be a spike, but there are shadows of tines. Next year he could have quite a pretty rack. When it comes to capturing images of deer, the time-frame is split pretty much 50/50. We see bucks, does and fawns both in the dead of night as well as midday equally.

 

 

 

 

Next is a turkey. This is just one of several flocks of turkeys we have roaming around the place. I have seen pictures of over a dozen snapped by camera 1 near the front of our property. Who knows – maybe this fella was taking up the rear and moving quickly.  Over the years, it is not uncommon to take turkey pictures exclusively during the day as they roost in the trees come night fall.

 

 

 

The third picture is of a raccoon.  So far I have only seen one in the pictures taken by our cameras this year, but who knows, we may get lucky enough to see babies at some point in the spring. These fellas only show up on camera at night, much like the coyotes.

 

 

 

 

The last image is of one of the coyotes we have in the area. While I have seen both coyotes and wolves during the day while out riding, I have never seen them on camera except at night. Over the last few years, the population of coyotes and wolves alike has increased; however, from what I have seen, they are not increasing drastically in this area.

What has increased; however, is the turkey population. As a girl, I remember enormous herds of deer in the farmer’s fields, but very few turkeys. Thirty years later, it is the turkey that predominates and the deer that are less abundant.

What type of wildlife do you see when you are out walking or driving near your home?

A Horse Of Course – Duke

While it is true that I have owned many horses and each share a special place in my heart, there are those that stand out for one reason or another. Duke is such a horse.  He stands out not because he was a pure-bred, fast or exceptional in any commonly measurable way, but because he was a gentleman.

In 1977 as the first pre-trained horse I ever rode, Duke was a true learning experience. His stature was only about 15 hands tall and stout. I had never ridden a horse that neck-reined – WOW!  The first time I touched the rein to his neck, I had to hang on. Lucky for me he had a long, thick mane.

To look at the pictures here, you would think that he was not all that remarkable. What you do not see in these pictures (well maybe except for the last one), is how he overcame his common background to be extraordinary in many ways. Duke was my first barrel horse, and while he was not the caliber of horse seen at the big rodeos, he was consistent and steady and won many awards for being more like the tortoise than the hare.

Ok, looking back at my own presentation, I could also say that I was a bit rough around the edges as well – Look at that HAIR!

One of my first big speed events was the Little “I” International. This was an indoor competition held at the Colosseum in Madison Wisconsin. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s the footing was not as good as it could have been and there were some mishaps. It is curious that during this first event I was wearing a helmet. This is a habit I quickly lost.  Luckily, the one time I needed one, It was there. The picture that follows shows just what happens when you do a face-plant in rich dirt and slide into the wall. My helmet was cracked, my teeth were gritty but I had a smile on my face!  Any tumble that you and your horse walk away from without too much pain is considered a success.

Duke was a horse of many talents. Not only was he my first mount for horse shows and speed events, he also was a solid partner for coon hunting. Back in those days, we hunted for coon on horseback exclusively. There is nothing like a ride in the dark of night with nothing more than the moon or a head lamp to light the way.  Duke was unflinching as he walked ahead in the blackness and never budged when the gunshot rang out.  I really do miss those days.

Finally, I had so much fun with Duke as a parade horse. Pictured here in the Adams-Friendship 4th of July Parade in the late 70’s, Duke was sure to please the crowd. He performed many tricks such as loping in place, rearing and prancing side to side.  Then, with as much ease, he would relax for kids to approach and pet him.

Duke lived well into his 20’s. In the life of a horse, this is considered acceptable; however, there is never a good time to lose a great friend. It has been over 20 years since his passing, but I still remember all the barrel runs, parades and moonlit hunts that we shared together.

Do you have a remarkable old friend that has shared so many adventures?

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