Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Throwback Thursday: Horses in the Desert

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Hello, friends. Allow me to introduce you to Royal Blaze, my scrappy and rotten Appaloosa filly. Blaze for short.

Mom and Dad surprised me, the lover of all things horses, with a four-month-old filly when we lived in southern Arizona between Huachuca City and Tombstone. Talk about hard to wait! I couldn’t ride her for quite some time. We had friends nearby with horse breaking experience, so they had Blaze for about a month. And poof, she came back and we started riding together. Not to say that we didn’t have moments of extreme excitement when we miscommunicated or she decided to make her own choices, but for the most part, we enjoyed our time together.

In this picture, probably taken between 1976-1977, I am in 8th or 9th grade. We lived, literally, in the middle of nowhere. The closest “town” was Vernon. I think that was a six mile drive, but I’m not positive. Vernon had a gas station/mini mart, post office, and maybe one church. Dad worked in Show Low to the west and we took the a little bus over a pass to the east to Springerville/Eager. Our bus driver lived right in Vernon. The bus stayed at her house. I have no idea what she did during the day while we were at school. But we all lived for snow storms and school announcements calling all Vernon kids to leave early to get over the pass.

You can see the mountain lion tree. That huge scrubby tree to the right. Our collie, Jody (Princess Josephine-hey, we had royal animals in our family), went ballistic one night. The next day, we found the huge paw prints. Mind you, this tree is in our front yard. I am sitting on Blaze IN the front yard. Mom is probably on the steps of the trailer taking this picture, due to the angle. That cat was very close to us, probably scoping out little kid or cat snacks.

You can also see the old car in the background, hood open, dad leaning over the engine. Good thing he was a great mechanic, since we owned cars needing regular attention. I wish I could ask my parents about this picture. I think the car belongs to my grandparents on my dad’s side. They made one trip to visit us out in the sticks. Actually, my grandmother or grandfather probably took the photo.

Now. Back to Blaze. In the White Mountains (named for the snow in winter, since they are obviously NOT white in this picture), we roamed far and wide. I shudder to think of the dangerous situations we avoided. I know God was protecting me at all times.

Our property bordered forest land. That meant plenty of wide open spaces for us to roam. Sometimes Jody went with us, sometimes not. She loved to find dead stuff to roll in, and was happiest when she came trotting home stinking to high heaven. The times she wasn’t allowed to go, I had to sneak into my boots and out the door. This did not always work. She was crushed when I left without her.

Timber Knoll was south of our trailer and Blaze and I explored the land on all sides. Once, a HUGE something was causing a ruckus in the underbrush. Loud. Scary. Both of us were skittish and beat a retreat off the knoll. I’m guessing it was a bear, judging by Blaze’s reaction and size of movement. Other times we avoided rattlesnakes and scary shadows. That horse. What a nut. She loved to spook and if I wasn’t paying attention, off I went. And off she ran to home. Or to the neighbor’s barn, which she deemed nicer than our place. I did spend quite a bit of time walking home and looking for that horse. I eventually learned to reflexively hold the reins if she spooked. That frustrated her but kept me in possession of a ride.

We had grand adventures, just me and the horse. Blaze was willing to tackle pretty¬† much anything except water and steep hills. I’m sure my mother had a heart attack every time I left. The area was pretty much wilderness with neighbors far and wide. And I’m sure she prayed for me and uttered words of thanks when we (or the horse, followed later by me) trotted up the driveway.

How about you? Did you have any special pets or adventures when you were growing up?


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Throwback Thursday: The Horse

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This is me with my third horse, Blaze. Royal Blaze.

Actually you can count her as my first horse, since the other two, Sissy and Lady, were more like family horses. Sissy and Blaze were both quite happy to dump me somewhere along the road and run home like horses on fire. And sometimes Blaze ran home to the fancy barn at the neighbor’s house, just for spite.

Maybe I spent more time walking than actually riding, but I did get better at holding on to the reins for dear life, forcing Blaze to stop so I could get back on. Spooking at ANY little thing. Like a rock, or a leaf, or maybe a butterfly. That was Blaze. Sissy just bucked you off and took off running if your heel came within 12 inches of her ticklish flank.

Though, as I think back, some sounds were spook-worthy. Maybe the giant crashing sounds in the shrubs along the road (bear, cow, mountain lion, elk?). Snake in the road? Check. Barking dog. Check. Shadow. Check.

Perhaps I took my life in my hands each time I headed out riding through the forest and range lands, but God looked out for me and kept me safe. Yes, He did.

This photo was taken sometime between 1976-78. I was probably 14 or 15 and we lived out in the middle of NOWHERE in the White Mountains of Arizona. Going to school was a 35 minute (or so) ride to Springerville/Eager on a mini-bus over a mountain pass. Yes! If snow was in the forecast, we got out of school early and headed home before the pass got bad. No sirree, the school did not want to have us spending the night! Going shopping or to work (Dad) was another 30-40 minute drive in the opposite direction to Show Low. Our mailing address was actually in Vernon, about 6 miles away, and our property ran up against fencing for forest land.

Blaze. How much I loved thee, knothead that you were. Mom and Dad bought her for me when she was about 4 months old. You can’t tell from this photo, but she was a roan Appaloosa. When we picked up ‘Fancy’ from the previous owners, she was the cutest thing! Spots were noticeable along her rump, but only if you looked hard. A sparse tail was the only other clue to her breeding. Her daddy’s name was Royal something (this was a LONG time ago, folks) and she had a blaze down her forehead, so Royal Blaze she became.

This horse provided me with hours and hours of adventures and companionship. Every day I’d head outside with our collie, Jody, tell her to get the horse, and whistle. Within minutes, thundering hooves and joyful barks raced towards me from the nearly 8 acre cedar-covered pasture. If if was a good day (for the dog) the three of us would head out for a couple of hours, exploring and playing. If it was really a good day, the dog would find something dead to roll in and stink to high heaven. If it was a bad day for the dog, I would try to¬†sneak outside without her. This never worked, but sometimes I knew other dogs would be an issue, so she had to stay home. These days always crushed our girl.

Some fun things to remember:

-a broken off piece of salt block in my pocket to lick as we went for rides

-making up adventure stories involving cute boys and big events

-freezing my toes and fingers off (not literally) while riding in the deep snow

-cleaning out the horse tank and taking the first drinks of clean water

-climbing, circling, admiring Timber Knoll

-the cool deserted cabin behind Timber Knoll

-dead stuff

-forgetting I had on my dirty old cowboy boots and wearing them to school

-Poky, the cat, riding atop the horse, playing catch with branches trailing along Blaze’s back as we walked through the pasture

-snakes, lizards, tarantulas. Oh, my!

-surviving exit (of me) attempts by the horse brushing as close to the trunks of trees and shrubs as possible, hoping I would come off

We really did have loads of good times together. One just needed to be prepared for her to pull a trick! Good old Blaze!

What’s a favorite memory of adventures you have?

 

P.S. See the tree on the right side of the photo? That’s the spot the cougar/mountain lion spent the night! In. Our. Front. Yard. The dog was having a fit, but we didn’t let her out.

Middle of nowhere, folks. Middle of nowhere.