Monthly Archives: March 2016

Wild Lemon Pie

We were prowling pastures horseback, me and my wife and granddaughter, when we saw a splash of white, I mean really white, blossoms on a large green bush with the most wicked thorns. The fragrance was like orange blossoms. That bush has always been called Limón or wild lemon, but I now find that the real name is trifoliate orange. I don’t know if it’s a true native, but it grows all over the Central Texas. The fruit is like a lemon: yellow, thick-skinned, mostly seeds, but with a tart acid flush. It ripens in late summer, long about county fair time.

Last year we (my granddaughter and her aunt, my daughter, and my friend Carlos) decided to make a pie of it. We tried to enter it in the fair, but it requires refrigeration, and that’s not available at the county fair. Well, as it turned out, it was mighty like a lemon meringue pie, and it didn’t last long around here. We all enjoyed it–really fast. You might try it if you live where this bush grows.

Wild lemons, inset: the squeeze process, the pie without the meringue, the pie with the meringue.
Photos by Clover Cochran

We made a pie crust (actually with gluten-free flour) and partially baked it. Then we squeezed a couple dozen of the hard little lemons to make juice, and added sugar and cornstarch and cooked it down to a pudding. We poured the pudding into the pie shell and slathered it with meringue made with our friends egg whites and some cream of tartar and sugar, and baked it till the meringue was slightly browned.


Bubba and the Cutting Hoss

Reflection of the sky and tree line in the pond.  A moon rises into the sunset.

Bubba was always chewing Mail Pouch tobacco. He was also a horse trainer, cuttin’ horse to be exact. It was ‘long about the middle sixties that he got this little cow bred mare in for training. The owner wanted her shown in the cutting at the Fat Stock Show in Houston, as it was called in them days.

Well, after starting the mare on cattle for a month or so, she commenced having a problem. She was “charging.“ She would keep creeping forward into a cow she was working, one of the cardinal sins of contest cutting. So Bubba made him a device to stop that. It consisted of a lightweight chain they went over the mare’s head, passing down through the bridle to a ring on the breast collar, and up to the saddle horn. He called it his “brain chain.” When she went to chargin’ cattle he’d bump the chain and she’d back off. But, right before he bumped it he’d spit tobacco right between her ears. It got so that if he spit, she quit, even without the chain after a while.
Well he went to Houston and entered the cuttin’, and of course right in the middle of the second cow, on a really good run, he felt her starting to charge. Bubba spit between her ears and she jumped back like she’d been shocked. He won the cutting, but the judge came to him afterwards and said

“Bubba, I give it to ya, ‘cause it was a good run. But ya did somethin’. I didn’t see what ye did, but I know you did somethin’. But if I ever find out what ye done, I’ll wring yore neck! “

How Severe is a Snaffle Bit?

Three yearling horses walking briskly across the green pasture with trees in the background.

There’s a lot of money to be made in the equestrian market by coming up with a new improved piece of ironmongery for a horse’s mouth. The balance is between severity and effectiveness. Some hold that only a snaffle bit and noseband are humane, everything else is gimmickry. Others are convinced that all problems stem from having metal in the horse’s mouth and advocate bitless bridles. There are many ways to reinforce the power of a bit for a horse that doesn’t want to “give” to it, longer shanks, gag bits, tougher curb straps and chains. They all work, but the main thing that makes anything work is how it is handled. The horse learns to respond to the bit or noseband by operant conditioning. If the hands handling this bridal ask and release when a response is made, the horse will learn to hunt for the release. Really, it’s the way any device is handled that makes it humane or inhumane. It’s like my mother-in-law says about car wrecks:

“They are all equipment failure; they’re caused by the nut behind the wheel!”

What is “Plow Reining?”

Left hand holding both reins of a double bridle.

There’s an old pop song that goes “we live in two different worlds.” I often feel that way about horseback riding. The one world, the cow-horse world that I grew up in, is a place where reins are held in the left hand while the right-hand opened the gates, shook hands with friends, coiled a lariat rope, and waved to people driving by on the paved road. In the other world, I ride with people wearing helmets and gloves and riding breeches who always ride with the rein in each hand. The cowboys and horse trainers would do that on a young horse, they called it “Plow reining” but when a horse got educated enough to use doing ranch work, the reins were always in only one hand, usually the left. I got to thinking that two-handed must be the European way to ride. Then I saw Reiner Klimke riding in an old film carrying a double bridle in one hand and dressage whip held straight up in the other. Now we see Portuguese and Spanish working equitation riders with the reins in the left-hand, as they work with their Lance called a “garrocha.”

An old man offered his horse to a young person to ride one time, the kid picked up the reins in two hands. After a bit the kids comment was “he seems confused!” The old man said

“heck, he ain’t confused, it’s just he ain’t been plow reined since a two-year-old, he’s insulted!”