My earliest memories of being totally fascinated by horses has to stem back to Saturday mornings during my middle school years. I can remember watching Stage Coach Theatre, Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey, The Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue and El Fago Baca and every other western I could find on TV until my dad threw us outside ‘for our own good’.
It was later that my dad clued me in on this seemingly uncontrollable fixation; my family history has always been involved with horses as far back as anyone can remember. My great-great grandfather was a cavalry officer in the Prussian Army and raised horses in Northern Germany. My great grandfather established a similar business in what is now Slovakia raising horses for the Hungarian Empire. And my grand father carried on the family tradition graduating from the military academy in Buda-Pest.
I think I was in the 5th grade when I asked for an Invisible Horse model for my birthday and began writing a book ‘the encyclopedia of horses’. I was sure that I would grow up to be a Veterinarian. Did you ever send away for the book ‘How to Break and Train Horses’? It was always advertised in the back of publications like ‘Boy’s Life’ and ‘Western Horseman’. I did.
After living in Virginia we moved to Turkey where horses were still an everyday occurrence in numerous aspects of commerce. Horse drawn carriages would take you all over town for no more than 25 cents. Various vendors used horse drawn carts and both the police and military used horses for parade and crowd control purposes. My favorite Turkoman horse belonged to the Italian high school and was turned out in the back field that I passed every day on my walk to school. He was a lanky ,gleaming red animal with lots of chrome and ran with his tail flying, while allowed to roam free in their pasture.
Riding horses really didn’t begin until I landed in Colorado and was able to use horses from Special Services at Ft. Carson. This led to my creating an arrangement with the staff at the Broadmoor Hotel where I was able to trade mucking out stalls for and hour or so of riding their rental horses. One of my good buddies was dating a girl that was Miss Rodeo Colorado and she had a barrel racing horse, Tomahawk, that she competed on which was always left to roam free during the winter. I will never forget that particular ride when I was asked to help catch and ride this little fire cracker after being out for several months. I would have done rodeo rather well.
Horses took a hiatus during my early motorcycle years and it wasn’t until running into people who were to become my second family that I began riding again. My wife and I started helping out with the Pony Club. Eventually we found a great Quarter Horse, I’m a Chip, and we stayed immersed in horse sh.t for the next 30 plus years.
I was a stockbroker with EF Hutton when I became the local tax-shelter/syndication expert and this lead to my writing a series of articles on limited partnerships in the horse industry. The next thing I knew I was being asked to help form partnerships involving several breeds of horses for farms from Massachusetts to California. My greatest memory of that period was when I syndicated a little bay Egyptian Arabian, named Shah El Shams, for Dorian Farms. That little colt went on to be named one of the ‘Top 10′ horses in the breed at the international show in Scottsdale and was sold to a farm, in Norway, as its’ foundation stallion for $1,000,000.
Hi Fidelity Doc, or ‘HIFI’, was undoubtedly one of the greatest horses to set foot on this planet. Of course I am a little prejudiced, but if you are looking for a good horse, look for a Doc Bar -Two Eyed Jack horse; preferably red. I can still remember Gretchen calling from Hemphill’s telling me I needed to leave work immediately and get up to their place or risk loosing a great animal. Boy was she right. Drop dead gorgeous, a real cheer leader. Nice ,when she wanted to be. Trail smart, if you didn’t mind princess feet through the mud and fast. HiFi past away a couple years ago at age thirty-two. She was the source of a lot of great memories.
My last horse was a buckskin Tennessee Walker named Huckleberry. Barely 14.2 but he had lots of go. His fast walk made HIFI canter and she was 15.3. This guy was the finest trail horse you could hope for. One time we were out on some adjoining property and came across a particularly wet area that I wanted to cross. Well, I scoped out what I considered the best way across and asked him to go. He definitely hesitated, but being a good guy, he started forward only to get stuck up to his knees. He didn’t panic one bit. I got off and asked him to come and he just slowly worked his legs free. Then he took me to a different place to ford the creek and we barely got wet. Amazing animal.
Now my involvement with horses is pretty much limited to visiting and supporting the Friends of the Mustang organization in Grand Junction, Colorado. These wonderful people are a group of horsemen who volunteer with the BLM to maintain the wild horse area on the Bookcliff Mountain Range. Last Fall I went on a couple of rides with a friend of mine in the club to survey the herd and saw over forty mustangs in the wild in one day. Please take a look at their site www.friendsofthemustangs.org and consider supporting their great effort.