I grew up in the country, but I wasn’t born in a barn. More like a cornfield. We had a barn, but it was not your typical horse stable, and the horses never slept in it. It had a room we kept the saddles in and a heat lamp for baby calves that were chilled and needed a dry space to warm up in the winter, it had a stanchion area for milking a cow (that was one of my jobs when I was in high school), and it had a bigger open area we saddled the horses in, and then two stalls and a headgate for restraining cows if they wouldn’t let their calves nurse or if they needed help calving. I spent a lot of time in our barn as a child, but I didn’t learn how to muck a stall until I was in my twenties.
When I was sixteen years old, my dad bought me a beautiful black colt to train. That colt took all of my focus, my affection, my time, and attention, and I was devastated a few months later when he got badly hurt and had to be put down. I remember making a promise to him, in those last painful moments, saying I would never forget him, and that I would keep his memory alive forever. It was the most difficult part of my teenage years, giving up on that colt.
I started drawing horses when I was four. I remember I had been given a large book of colored construction paper, and if I had been more frugal I might have understood that such a variety of colors could have been used more creatively. But I made a horse drawing on each page of that book, using a black marker, creating rather pudgy replicas of the species, usually only supplying them with the two legs nearest the viewer, but never forgetting the feed pan for them to eat out of. All of my first drawn horses were happily eating grain from their feed pans.
I’m baking treats today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, and I’m baking them for my horses! I’ve actually never done that before, but a reader commented over on my Cowgirl Recipes page and requested some recipes for making your own horse treats. Having read several horse treat recipes online, I went to the kitchen to see what I had on hand, and made up my very own kind of horse treat. They turned out great, and my horses loved them! Here’s the recipe so you can share some love with your equine friends this Valentine’s day!
“Did you mean to leave this out here?” asked my husband, as I was pitching hay into the horse’s feeder. I looked up to see him holding what appeared to be a black mud crusted length of coiled rope. “What is it?” I asked. “The new halter.” Sure enough it was the brand new bright purple halter we had bought, and me being the forgetful person I am, I had evidently taken it off a horse and dropped it. Only now it was mud soaked and trompled in manure, sporting a new horrible color and the smell to match it. How do you clean a halter? I was certain it would never look new again.
This might be one of the more obvious posts on this blog, leaving some of my readers wondering about my credibility as a cowgirl, if I have to explain something so elementary. But one of my goals with my writing is to provide a resource for beginner horse lovers, and we all start at the same square one, so in this post I’m filling in one of those first blanks: how to saddle a horse properly. If you’ve never done it before, it’s not something you want to guess about, as saddling the wrong way can result in a bad accident and possible injuries. These step by step photos will show you what to do and what not to do when you’re wanting to learn how to put a saddle on a horse.
I made myself a mecate the other night. No, it’s not some sort of South American recipe—it’s the rein and lead combination you see a lot of buckaroos and vaqueros use with a bosal or a regular bridle. The mecate dates back to the time of the Conquistadors, and is pronounced “may-kah’-tay”. They are commonly made from twisted or braided horsehair and cost a pretty penny.