Monthly Archives: October 2019


   We just enjoyed a long overdue visit with an old friend, Dr. Cliff Honnas DVM. This time it wasn’t on account of a sick horse. We were there for a pre-purchase exam of one of our Andalusian horses. It was a delight to reconnect with him and to see his smile as he greeted us at his spacious facility near Bryan, Texas.

   I was anxious, of course,as I anticipated the outcome. But his response reassured me, and made me proud of this ancient breed of horse. “Glenn just brings this ‘ol pony in out of the pasture without washing him off, or giving him a cookie…” he grinned. Then as he showed us the x-rays he said, “ He’s perfect”!

   Smiling, we drove away with one less horse in the trailer, feeling very happy that a knowledgeable horsewoman had chosen to become the new owner of one of our steeds. It was last year’s winner of the basico championship in Doma Vaquera, TCR Leonidas, ( Banbury Ella X Trovador ). Then I realized, of course he passed his exam! He’s a Lusitano! At least he’s half Lusitano, and the other half Spanish (PRE).

   You see, those two countries have spent the last five hundred years carefully breeding horses under the watchful educated eyes and hands of experienced horsemen, ranchers, and cavalrymen. Moreover, in Portugal, the breeding stallion was only allowed to produce offspring after being tested in the bullring. The Rejoneo, or mounted bullfight has kept the bar high for soundness, athleticism, and trainability in the Lusitano. Once again, survival of the fittest comes through as our Leonidas sailed through a pre- purchase exam with flying colors! He will now change his career from ranch using cow horse to dressage competitor in the hands (and saddle) of his new owner, Heather Kilby. 

Our thanks to Heather, as well as her coach Pam Grace. In addition, I thank my own coach, Manuel Trigo, without whose patient teaching I would not have understood the structure of a training program for true collection in a dressage horse. Muchisimas gracias don Manuel! 

Finally, I thank Donna Meyer, my dressage teacher for putting up with me weekly as she has strived to help Leonidas, as well as several others (“all those gray horses”) put up with this old cowboy trying to learn the art of classical equitation!

Foggy morn’

‘Woke up to find the world wrapped in fog. What a wonderful change fog is. It muffles all sounds, it prickles my skin. I can’t see beyond the first fence, I can only just make out the silhouette of an old oak outlined against the faint light beginning to glow in the East.

Fog means that the season is changing. This is the first harbinger of Autumn. I look up, and above me I can still see Orion,the hunter! So, I know this fog will “burn off” and leave us a clear, hot day. But the fog tells me cooler days are coming.

It makes me want to go clean the barrel of my rifle, and go to Walmart to get my hunting license. For, we need venison in the freezer. I noticed tracks of good sized deer in the mud beside one of the stock tanks as I rode by yesterday.

Cooler weather’s coming, folks. It’s right around the bend. That’s what the fog is telling us anyway. The best season of the year is about to be born; Fall in central Texas!

Computer Games

I found myself watching children playing a computer game a while back. On the screen were characters moving through a labyrinthine setting. The goal of the game appeared to be to rack up points by quickly assessing the movements of these characters and countering them with your own actions. 

The tool used to do this was a device consisting of buttons and a joystick. Of course like any game there was a set of rules. The kids were doing quite well by the sound of it. Along the way they were learning important basics of how to utilize personal computers. The  games were controlled by artificial intelligence, somewhat like I remember computer chess used to be, only a good deal more complicated. 

  Back at the barn, while working with a young quarter horse, getting it prepared to be saddled, then ridden, I realized that this was my computer game. The horse, a herd animal, had its own set of rules programmed in by the predator-prey relationship. It was my mind against his. I was at first perceived as a predator by the horse.

I was racking up points by directing his movements in a way that would give me a win by gaining his confidence. His actions were controlled by a mammalian brain which was loaded with thought patterns and an ability to process information to come to a conclusion.

It got even more intricate and complicated after I had been riding him a few weeks and went to the pasture to work some cows. There I had to link my brain with his to counter the thought processes and moves of a cow, while working with added assistance, and sometimes hindrance of three canine brains. I guess I’ll market this game as Equi-Box!


Sallie and Carlos and I sat on the front porch in swings and rocking chairs. Carlos was recounting some episodes of television cooking shows. We all agreed that the current trend toward rapid fire competition cooking bothered us in some way.

 It seems that the emphasis in many endeavors is speed. But, what about Kevin Browning’s melt in your mouth brisket that takes a whole day to slowly develop flavor and tenderness over oak and mesquite? Or consider the classic French Beef Bourguignon that simmers for hours blending the flavor of wine and browned beef and vegetables into a world famous stew? Some things just don’t happen in thirty minutes or less. 

Those of us who have demonstrated the poor judgement to engage in the art and science of colt starting have sooner or later paid the price for rushing the job or cutting corners. Our students don’t understand “hurry”, and being much bigger and stronger than us, we’ve ended up back on Mother Earth abruptly.

 When we don’t take the time to do it right, bad things happen to both horse and man. Ancient principle: a job worth doing is worth taking the time to do it right. Having been told this as a child, I’m still trying to learn it in my seventies! 

The old hackamore men of California considered two or three years in the bozál almost adequate amounts of time to prepare a horse to carry a bit in its mouth. We’ve all seen the amazing white stallions of the Spanish Riding School dance and perform awesome leaps.

 I’ve been told that the majority of those talented charges are old enough to vote! They didn’t learn those movements overnight nor by force.  It’s like the saying, “I had a big list of things to do today, but now I have a big list of things to do tomorrow!” Here in south Texas we use a Spanish word for tomorrow — mañana.