Monthly Archives: December 2020

Rio 2020

 Yesterday a friend of mine showed me a short video on her cell phone. It was thirty seconds or so of a young boy on a big black horse. They were cantering around in her arena.

Then she told me that the little boy was twelve. He was visiting her farm and wanted to ride the big horse.

She knew he was capable, and had not been able to ride in some time. So she put him up on her four year old half Lusitano, half thoroughbred gelding.

The horse, young as he was, took care of the boy and they had a joyous good time galloping around.

Then, I recognized the horse. He was one that I had trained. He was the son of a stallion named Rumbero, who was a Lusitano from Portugal.

His mother was a thoroughbred of racing bloodlines. This was one of the nicest, best minded horses I’ve ever had the good fortune to have as a student.

His name is Rio.

I have a half brother and some cousins of him and they are all intelligent and willing, and they learn fast, and seem to never forget lessons

Sadly, Rumbero left us for greener pastures over a year ago, but he left this legacy.

And it causes me to think, what is “value” in a horse? Is it beauty, or conformation, or fame or Pedigree?

In my opinion it’s the mental capacity and generosity of spirit to safely give a fun ride to a twelve year old boy!

Christmas Presents and Christmas Presence

 I see the profusion of toys, colorful plastic abundance, under the Christmas tree. It’s a whole different era from when we were children.

And even more so from when our parents were young.

The big thing in my Christmas was my family and I driving in the night through a snowstorm, from Tennessee through Kentucky to Indiana. There would be the distant farmhouse with a string of Christmas lights, those hen’s egg sized bulbs in all colors.

There would be the icy hills to climb that my dad would have to stop and put on the chains to surmount.

Then, finally, the cheery red cheeked warmth of my aunt Deedee‘s house, with Christmas tree, Holly, and candles. There was the joy of getting together with all my cousins. We would go from house to house and visit and play and “talk story.”

All totaled there were at least 20 kids who were my first cousins.

Then Christmas day came. There were a few things that were “boughten” gifts.

Then there were toys and other items made from wood by my dad or one of my uncles.

Occasionally there would be skates, or a baseball bat, or even a bicycle from “Sears and Sawbucks”. But, I guess what I remember the most were the oranges, the Brazil nuts, the walnuts, and the dates. The sweet, sticky gooey dates.

The 50s were more about each other and about joy, and optimism, and less about material things.

And there was music.

We sang Christmas songs, folk songs, Broadway musicals, even college songs. And we ate. Boy did we eat!

There was turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan and pumpkin pie —oh my! My grandma, and my mom and her sisters and sisters-in-law were magicians in the kitchen. We stuffed at one house, and went on to stuff again at the next.

Then, I guess what brought the meaning of Christmas to my young heart and mind was experiencing the Christmas programs at the churches.

Part of my family was catholic and part was protestant. But we went to midnight mass at one, then Christmas morning and Sunday services at others.

There were candles, hushed excited faces, and more music, with choirs, organs, and hymns. We were transported by the wonder, the color, the light and the magic of Christmas with family and friends, and neighbors.

I pray that we see that kind of Christmas once again, when we can be together without fear.

Right now presence means more to me than presents. 

Home Grown Tomatoes in December?

We were having breakfast. It was Christmas Eve. Also, it was the day after our 53rd wedding anniversary.
I made “California omelettes”.

That’s an omelette with cheese, bacon, and avocado.

Sally remarked “fresh homegrown tomatoes at Christmas?”

It seems like another Christmas miracle. But it’s not a miracle, and yet, in a way, it is. The secret was taught to me by Sallie’s dad.

His family were truck garden farmers in the part of Virginia known for tomato production. The Hanover tomato.

The Taylor farm was at Seven Pines. His uncles ran the farm and hauled vegetables to the farmer’s market in the Shockoe Bottoms area of Richmond.

“Poppy” explained to me that at the end of the season, before the first frost, they would pull up all of the vines with their green tomatoes, and hang them upside down in the cellar, or some frost free place.

The vines would continue to produce big, red, luscious tomatoes far into the winter.

We’ve been doing this for years, and it is amazing to walk into the tractor shed, day after day and continue to harvest fresh, ripe, tomatoes!

We’ve even occasionally had tomatoes in February. And it’s just like Guy Clark says in his song,

“there’s just two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love, and homegrown tomatoes!” 

Moose, a Cow Horse

Man, I just gotta share this one with you!

You may not know this guy, Moose. He’s my little gray stallion. He was born in May 2016. His mama is a smallish gray mare, so when he came out, inky black with a full luxuriant tail, he looked enormous by comparison.

So we named him Moose.

Over the past four years he’s developed into an iron gray medium sized horse with a lot of personality.

I got his mom from a lady who had bred her to her own stallion, a son of an imported black horse named Rumbero, the rumba dancer. The offspring, who was called Jet, turned out to be a genius, and was kind and easy-going to boot.

So I bred the mare to Rumbero himself, to produce Moose. 

Moose started under saddle as a three year old. He was full of himself, but also a quick and willing learner.

In no time I was riding him outside the arena, and he had a “handle“ like a much older horse. His stop was like a reiner, even from the very beginning.

His turnaround, likewise, was balanced and light. Now he’s going to be a five year old, so yesterday I rode him into a pen of heifers, with myself in the saddle, and thought I’d see how he’d react.

From the very first moment he showed curiosity about the heifers, and he followed them out of their pen into the small square pen where we work.

As we moved the group of young cattle around, one black heifer who was a little bit larger than the rest caught my eye. She must’ve caught his too, because, as I concentrated on her, he began to watch her movement. He didn’t ignore the other six, in fact he almost went for them, lowering his head as if to bite their tails. But, as the bigger black one began to sort away from the others he began to match her movement.

If she stopped he stopped.

When she turned to go the other direction, I backed him up a couple steps, then he launched off to catch up to her.

Finally he made four really good quick turns on her, so I pinched his withers and backed him away from the cow. As I rubbed his neck I thought, “Good, we quit while you were enjoying it!”

Moose showed willingness to work a cow, right from the first. I was thrilled.

Moose, whose registered name is Musico, the musician, is a Lusitano. His ancestors were bullfighting horses in Portugal, mostly of the prized Veiga family bloodlines. They are known for their incredible cow sense.

Boy! Am I looking forward to the next few years with Moose!