I was born in 1958 and I was my Grandpa’s first grand baby and his favorite. I had Grandpa and Granny all to myself for five years until my brother came along. My Dad was in the air force, when I was born and my mom and I lived with my grandparents for awhile until my parents found us a home. Once we had our own home, we lived within two blocks of my grandparents. I’m pretty sure my Grandpa had something to do with that. As I was growing up, I was more aware of my Grandpa raising me than my dad since he was gone a lot.
My Granny was a seamstress and a stay at home mom. My mom had a job, which I don’t quite remember what it was she did because she was never around as I was growing up. All I remember as a little girl was being raised by my Grandpa and Granny K. Grandpa. Grandpa would take me to go to my great uncle’s farm in the country almost everyday to visit him and feed his herd of animals. He had pigs, chickens, cows, and horses. My great uncle was a bachelor till he died at age 81, so his animals were his children and he let them live anywhere and I mean anywhere. They lived in the house, on the tables, chairs, cabinets, porch, truck roofs, you name it they ran that place not my uncle! Whenever Grandpa would take me to Uncle’s I would always take more interest in the horses than I did any other animals. Grandpa would prop me up on the fencepost and I would sit and watch the horses bucking and kicking and running free in the pasture. As a little girl, I would watch rodeos and always wanted to be a cowgirl and ride like the cowgirls in the rodeos did. My Grandpa and parents could never afford to buy me a horse.
My parents divorced when I was fifteen so I felt then that I would never have that horse I wanted so badly. Grandpa told me maybe someday when I was all grown up I could own my very own horse. He told me it was a very big responsibility and that meant to me it cost money and I would always need a place in the country to keep them. I made a promise to my Grandpa that someday I would own a horse and give him the unconditionally love that my Grandpa K always gave me. After graduation I had a job, an apartment (no room for a horse) boyfriends came and went, bought a car, had many friends with horses but no horse of my own.
In my late twenties, I got married and as my husband and I traveled through Arkansas, and Texas, I still missed having that horse, I so desperately wanted. During our marriage we raised many dogs and cats instead of horses. I couldn’t have children due to ovarian cancer (free and clear now) so my dogs and cats became my kids and family. Once my husband and I finally settled in Texas. I got that horse I wanted so badly and not only one but 3 horses! We went to a horse auction in the nearby town and bought a big bay gelding. Sailor cost us about $1200 and was an Appendix horse which meant he was part-Thoroughbred & part-quarter horse. His name was Sailor. Sailor was out of Easy-Jet, a big time race horse and very high strung indeed. Sailor had a mind of his own and let’s just say we butted heads a lot more than I cared to talk about with many injuries to show for it, that still give me pain today. Three months later, we bought two more horses, Sugar, a bay mare and a beautiful dapple gray mare named Salty, they both kept Sailor in line. As any horse owner know mares are well known for keeping geldings calm.
In my high school years I rode my friend’s horses, but after fifteen years of not riding in order to become a better rider I knew I would need to take lessons. I found a semi-retired barrel racer to teach me and thus my love for riding and especially barrel racing became known. Besides teaching me the basic riding techniques she taught me how you become one with my horse. Through the good times and bad times in my twenty years of marriage, my horses became the only reason that I felt my world was not crashing down around me. The constant fighting with my spouse, would always find me running to the barn where I would find comfort with my horses. Whether it be while riding my horses or just talking to them it was like talking to God and telling him my problems, and knowing that he was listening.
In a verbally abusive marriage you never feel like your good enough. It can do a lot for your self esteem or give you lack of. Whether it be whinnying for treats, food or just a good brushing, the cold nose rubs against me was my horses way of telling me “Hey Mom, everything will be fine, your always good for us”. My horses also gave me the unconditional love that I never seem to find in my marriage. The horses depended on me and because of that I knew that I would have to break free of this bad marriage and find myself a new life where I could finally be happy. Despite our arguments through the years, we managed to come to a peaceful agreement over separating our animals or family as they felt to me.
It was very hard breaking up a family, but animals seem to understand that as long as they get food and hugs they are pretty much happier anywhere they get to go. I got my two chocolate labs, my two cats, and I kept Salty the dapple gray mare. I let my spouse keep Sugar and Sailor because of the accidents I had caused by him. Sugar and Sailor became pretty attached to each other and Salty always felt like the odd girl out so I knew she was the one to go with me. Whenever I rode her over Sailor and Sugar she always was more easygoing, calmer, and easier to ride and I had a lot more patience with her than I did with Sailor or Sugar.
In February of 2001, one year prior to my divorce, my Grandpa K died. I promised him on his death bed that I would find a way to be happy someday and make sure that I would always have a horse with me no matter what for the rest of my life. Right after my divorce instead of moving home where my family was, I moved to Oklahoma for a year to live with some friends to find some peace within myself. I bought a house on 13 acres in the country and decided that I needed to get Salty a companion so she wouldn’t be lonely anymore. Horses do better with a companion so they don’t get lonely and destructive.
One Saturday, a roping friend from Texas went on a horse search with me. We picked up a horse newspaper from the local vet’s office and called at least fifty ads we saw in the paper. On our horse search we finally settled on horse number fifty. Her name is Kelley. She is a Registered full AQHA, American Quarter Horse Association equine. She was a fifteen year old bay mare with a white tornado stripe on her forehead and two white socks when I bought her in 2002. Her previous owners said she was broke very well and had no bad kicking or biting habits. She stood quietly tied to the trailer, would pick up her feet, and loved to be groomed and loved on. She had been used for roping, herding, and even trail rides. My friend and I both rode her in their arena and after we both rode her knew she was a perfect fit for me. So we paid the couple and loaded her up in the trailer and took her home to meet Salty. At first Salty and Kelley didn’t like each other but Kelley being the bigger of the two horses, let Salty know she was going to be the boss. My two horses became the best pals ever. Through many more tough times as a single woman even when I was on my last twenty dollars, I always made sure that my two dogs, cats and two horses had food and water even if I didn’t.
In 2006, when I moved to the home I own now on 1.10 acres, I joined a local chapter of NBHA-TX (National Barrel Horse Association) Barrel Horse club and twice monthly, I would take my Kelley & we would run barrels with many other ladies our age and younger. I sold Salty to a friend of mine back home because he wanted to breed her and I never had the money to do so. Salty has since had two beautiful paint babies which makes me a grandma!!!! Yea-haw!!! Whenever I go back home to visit Salty, she still whinny’s at me and looks for those apple cinnamon cookies I use to always feed her.
Even though Kelley is now thirty two years old with a mind of a youngster, I had to retire her from running barrels because of a knee injury. She never ran as fast as some of the other barrel horses did but she always loved to run and always held me up when we made turns around those barrels. I know we will never become a famous barrel racer like the Pros that compete at the National Rodeo Finals but we are one with each other and can read each others minds & never fail each other. She is my best friend and I’m hers and I can not imagine my life without her!! One day I will have to say goodbye to my girl but it will be bittersweet when that time comes. I have chosen to have her cremated so I can keep some of her ashes with me and the remainder of her ashes will be used to plant a tree at my dear friends farm near the creek at the Altwein Farm in New Braunfels, Texas. It is an 150 year old farm which is a landmark in Texas!
Until the time when God chooses to take her to heaven, I pray daily to keep her and myself safe and healthy so we can be together for along time to come. Whenever I’m near my Kelley I hear a little voice saying to me,” My little grand baby, you are finally happy and have the horse you always wanted”. I look to the heavens and know that my Grandpa K is with us at each and ever turn in our lives also keeping us safe together!!