It’s the little things

As I was pumping gas the other day I had a thought as I caught a whiff of diesel fuel. I haven’t bought diesel in over a year since we bought an SUV. It made me think of all the things that have changed in my life in the last 5 years.

We’ve lived in our home for nearly 5 years. The yard is not perfect. Neither is my flower beds. I wish daily for a garage. I cringe when they call for hailstorms because I don’t want the vehicles to get trashed. Eventually we will get there.

Shaun’s 4th birthday is in a couple of weeks. I look back on his photos and see how much he has changed. From a 9 pound baby to his rambunctious, drive-his-momma-nuts self that he is now. Seems like yesterday we were going to our last few doctors appointments and preparing for his arrival.

I have a gray jacket I wear a lot of the time. It’s from the last time I got to enter the BBR Finals in Oklahoma City. On days where I don’t feel like myself I can look at the back of it and remind myself that yes, I once was a barrel racer and will be again sometime soon. I still have the horses and even though I don’t get to ride as much as I would like, I will again.

All these little things remind me of how life has changed. Don’t ask me how I like life now, because there are days where I don’t know the answer. Things change, people change, and life never stays the same. But as long as you wake up in the morning and start a new day, it’s better than the alternative!

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It’s been how long?

A few weeks ago in the mail I received a membership renewal for the Better Barrel Races association. Knowing what it was I didn’t even open it. The thought of me not riding my mare and going to barrel races hit me the wrong way that day, so I just tucked it away and forgot about it.

I have been a member of the BBR for a number of years, and have attended their World Finals in Oklahoma City several times. Last year I renewed knowing that I was already pregnant with Chance. I intended on riding after he was born, like I did with Shaun. I did ride most of the summer, but the last barrel race I went to was Labor Day 2013. My mare got sore after that and we didn’t get her feet figured out until nearly fall. By that time I was big and fat, so I didn’t get back on my mare until April of this year.

Now it’s already mid-August, and I can’t tell you the last time I got to ride. Between two kids, a full-time job and other activities, there’s plenty of room for excuses. Not to mention my horse is missing shoes, and I’ve missed the horse shoer the last three times he’s been here. I don’t know that she’s missing getting rode, but I know I am missing getting to go to the jackpots and rodeos. I look at the rodeo results and photos and think back to the last 10 years or so when I went to the Kansas Pro Rodeos. Now I wonder if I will ever have a horse to take to the rodeos.

My old mare is 22 this year, and deserves the best. Shaun keeps asking which horse is his and I tell him they are all OUR horses. I just can’t let go of that brown mare quite yet. I really don’t want last year’s run to be our last together, but she’s given me 16 great years and doesn’t owe me a thing. So if that run was our last together, I can accept that. She will have many more runs with Shaun and Chance hopefully.

2013 BBR World Finals, Oklahoma City, OK.

2013 BBR World Finals, Oklahoma City, OK.

It’s just a horse

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase, “It’s just a horse” I might be able to buy another one. My horse is far from just a horse (at least in my twisted little head she is).

My mare, Sweet Heart Slew turns 20 today, and as she was standing it the fog this morning, I thought of all the times and trials we have been through in the 14 years I have called her mine. See my earlier post, Impending doom here.

Here’s an appropriately titled poem, Just a Horse, I found online. I am unsure of the author since it was not provided.

From time to time, people tell me,
“lighten up, it’s just a horse,”
or, ”that’s a lot of money for just a horse”.
They don’t understand the distance traveled,
the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a horse.”
Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a horse.”
Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a horse,”
but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a horse,” and in those days of darkness,
the gentle touch of “just a horse” gave me comfort
and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it’s “just a horse,”
then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,”
“just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a horse” brings into my life the very essence of friendship,
trust, and pure unbridled joy.
“Just a horse” brings out the compassion and patience
that make me a better person.
Because of “just a horse” I will rise early,
take long walks and look longingly to the future.
So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a horse”
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.
“Just a horse” brings out what’s good in me
and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a horse”
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being
“just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase
“just a horse” just smile, because they “just” don’t understand.

 

Impending doom

In one month my mare will reach her 20th birthday. It’s hard for me to believe that she’s that old. She was 6 when I bought her on April Fool’s day in 1998 while I was going to school at Hutchinson Community College. The purchase may have never happened if it wasn’t for my mom and sister.

My mare, Sweet Heart Slew

I had the cash left over from a sale of another horse and it was burning a hole in my pocket. My sister and I heard of the consignment sale at the sale barn in South Hutchinson, organized by a local rodeo company. The sale was about over when the “granddaughter of Seattle Slew” came through the ring. We looked at each other and said, lets go for it. She did the bidding and we ended up with the brown mare, however I had to borrow $250 more than I had from my sister and my mother. My mom still claims she owns the tail..

The first week I worked with my new mare was eye opening. After one afternoon ride, she had made me so mad that when I got back to the barn with her I handed my sister the reins and said, “here, take her. I don’t want her. She’s nuts!” However, through a little more digging we found she was passed through several sales after running on the track and was just not broke. But I didn’t give up.

We won our first award in 1999 in the Southwest Barrel Racing Association. I believe it was in the rookie class or another class since they weren’t 4D races yet. We later went to win our first jackpot, another SBRA race in Holly, Colo., that next year. That was a great feeling, one I will never forget. Then came college rodeos, and although we never made a short go at one, I believe she became the horse she is because of some of the experiences we had at those college rodeos. More jackpots, and bigger 4D barrel races and eventually Kansas Professional Rodeo Association rodeos. We made the KPRA Finals in 2004 and 2005. She had colic surgery in 2006 and was out for 8 months. We qualified (by default) for the 2008 KPRA finals and ended up 3rd in the average.

Through the years the brown mare and I have traveled to many barrel races and rodeos and accomplished numerous goals. There’s been times when she was hurt and it felt like the end of the world when I had to sit at home, but I still had her. She’s got a lot of heart and is one heck of a mare. I keep saying one more year and I will retire her.

Well, I believe that this year, 2012, should be her year to retire. After having my son in May 2011 I worked at getting her back into shape, and me back to where I wouldn’t disgrace her by flopping all over her back. My goal for 2011 was to get her qualified for the BBR World Finals in Oklahoma City. That we did. I got my last race to qualify at the Christmas Cash race in Amarillo, Texas during early December. Heck, I even crawled on my sisters gray horse Okie to make sure I had another race I needed the Wednesday before we went to Amarillo. Hopefully we get to go to Oklahoma City in April.

BBR World Finals 2009. Made the short go this year.

Running at the Syracuse, Kan., KPRA rodeo in 2009.

Running at the 2010 Sunflower open race at Scott City, Kan.

Running at the 2009 Peg Birney and Jennifer McDonald Memorial Race, Meade, Kan.

2011 Christmas Cash race, Amarillo, Texas