Four months later, I’m no less enchanted with Jetta than when my daughter and I first brought her home. I am, however, much wiser. Jetta is sweet. Jetta is smooth. And Jetta is very, very fast. I learned quickly that she runs faster than I think!
Our first run together was just that. A run. We did not make a barrel pattern although I had certainly paid my entry fee! She took the bit from me in the alleyway and put a whole new meaning in ‘blew my hair back’. We didn’t make the turn at the first barrel, much less the second or third. I finally got her slowed and stopped somewhere at the back of the arena.
Because I ride with super light hands, at our next run I stepped her up to a bit with a little more stopping power. Unfortunately, not enough. Once again, we bypassed all three barrels and made a nice sweeping run around the arena.
I don’t like being embarrassed. Never have. But I’m too honest a rider to blame a horse for my failings. I’ve never been one to step easily onto a horse and ‘just go’. My daughter does that effortlessly, but I need time to build what I call ‘muscle memory’ so that I’m acting and reacting naturally in sync with my horse.
I’m also very, very determined. Okay … stubborn. I don’t give up easily. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve learned to deal with both aspects. But when you know you’ve got a horse that’s better than anything you’ve owned in a long time, you don’t quit. Jetta is the caliber horse that I hope you will take the time to meet in the rodeo world of Turning for Trouble which will be released next week. I’m truly excited about this story, excited for you to glimpse the world of barrel racing that is so much a part of my life.
With the help of a friend who is also an excellent horsewoman, and much like the women I portray in Turning for Trouble, I found a bit that would keep my little runaway to a manageable speed until we could learn to work together. We’ve had two nice runs since then. Sedate, almost. Not competitive at all. The bit is too much, even with my light hands, but it has served its purpose. Jetta respects that I have control and I have gained back a bit of confidence (not to mention self-respect!) So, I’m back to searching and researching for the perfect bit.
Will it be the last one I use on Jetta? I doubt it. I suspect we’ll transition to lighter and lighter until she is running free and I am signaling how and when and what in concert with my fast, little mare. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
In the meantime, I am enjoying every minute with this sweet girl and I’m grateful for every opportunity to be out of the house and at the barn. Life is good and I am blessed.
Jetta’s Journey began long before I met her but I’m excited for the stage that begins with me. When I first saw Jetta, the owner who’d trained her hadn’t ridden her in a while. Jetta had been turned out for the winter, left to her own happy devices.
My journey toward Jetta began in my childhood and I’m often asked ‘why’. Why horses? Why barrel racing? The most honest answer to that question is, “I don’t know.” In my heart, I know I didn’t choose my passion for horse and sport as much as they chose me. It isn’t pride of ownership. For years, I had no concept of ownership. I rode what my sister made available to me and I was grateful. It isn’t the pride of success. I’ve stayed the course through failures as well as successes.
When I met Jetta, I was looking for something that was ‘not’ Jetta. I’ve ridden enough witchy-women mares to be absolutely sure I didn’t want another. The two horses on which I had my greatest successes and my happiest moments were both geldings. I was adamant I wanted another gelding. Jetta is a mare.
I’d never buy a horse based on color but I prefer a bay or a sorrel. Jetta is a golden palomino.
I wanted something trained, seasoned and settled. Jetta, though beautifully trained, is still a bit young and unsettled.
I wanted something ‘not huge’ but Jetta is tiny, smaller than anything I’ve owned!
I wanted a horse that loves his (er … her) job! Jetta loves running barrels as much as I do.
I wanted something fast because winning is fun, but I wanted something quiet until we were in the alley. Jetta – as my sister warned – is a firecracker now that she’s back in shape.
I wanted something smooth and I’ve never ridden smoother than Jetta.
When I began nagging (honestly nagging!) my daughter to find me a horse, my list was precise. It took almost two frustrating years for my daughter to find what I thought I didn’t want but Jetta is exactly what I need.
Not since my trip to Ireland – where I met and fell in love with a sweet Connemara named Silver Dollar – have I ridden a horse as loving as Jetta. She’d have me stand in her stall with her night and day, if she could. And I’d be content to be there. She wants to be brushed, combed, and petted. I don’t kid myself, though. For now, any human would make her happy but every day I feel the bond between us gaining strength.
We’ve had little success in the arena YET but that’s next month’s story so I’ll end with a picture of Jetta today and tell you that I’m in love with this mare though she bears scant resemblance to what I imagined my dream horse to be. And my daughter is happy that I am (finally) happy and her search is done.
And my final picture is of a long-ago day in Ireland on a horse I’ve never forgotten. Silver Dollar made her debut in America at long-last in “Trouble in Summer Valley”. I invite you to meet her there.
“Nana, we need a Chihuahua. He could be a friend for Toby.” Translation . . . “I want something small and playful and cuddly.” And I really did ‘get it’. Sis, the chocolate Labrador is huge, clumsy and doesn’t listen. Her idea of play is to knock you down then walk on you. Toby, the Jack Russell, belongs to one person and regards the rest of us as his minions who must be tolerated. He does condescend to play with nine year old Wade but always on his terms and his timeline. Cuddle, not so much.
Mama didn’t necessarily agree that the place needed another dog of any size or personality. A barn cat, however, has long been needed. The last two left us and that isn’t a euphemism for death. They found a place they liked better, returning now and again – fat and healthy – to check on us. They were clearly content with their new abode as they came less and less often and then not at all.
My first glimpse of Kit Kat was a picture posted on social media captioned “Wade’s surprise”. A cream colored stray picked up from a local vet, healthy but in need of a few fattening meals and looking quite content in my grandson’s arms. Home from work, seeing her ‘in person’ for the first time, I could only laugh. She was a stray for sure and a blend of colors. Under the cream are a few barely visible splashes of palest tabby yellow. The black ears and tail, though softened to silver and gray, are quite definitely the trademark of a Siamese in the mix.
I wasn’t laughing at her looks because she is really quite beautiful. I laughed because Siamese have always been the one breed of cat I’ve avoided. Who doesn’t recall the infamous twins from “Lady and the Tramp” singing superciliously ‘We are Siamese, if you please. We are Siamese, if you don’t please.’ And that, quite frankly is how I’ve always viewed them. As arrogant, disdainful and, perhaps, a little bit mean. The few that I encountered as a child, always yowled loudly which only added to my notion of a less than pleasant personality.
But Kit Kat’s arrival spurred me to some research. I expected to find intelligent listed as one of their traits but I also found them touted as good-natured, affectionate, inquisitive, energetic, and fun-loving. Those are pretty appealing characteristics! Even more surprising for me, they have also been proven to develop strong bonds with their humans, with those affections extending to other animals within the home. They’re purportedly very good at self-taught tricks so we shall see what Kit Kat devises for her entertainment and ours.
I also found territorial and opinionated and the fact that they’re best avoided when in a bad mood. Hmmm….. We shall hope her moods stay on the sunny side.
I did find reference to that yowl in most articles. Siamese it seems are vocal and communicative and use their voice to train their humans. Like the Siamese encountered in my childhood, Kit Kat has a very loud voice for such a very small kitten. And, according to one article – as her humans – we must now begin to figure out what she wants us to do. As I’m sure we shall.