Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Pony Promotions

Sorrel gelding (male).
And yes. I can tell the difference . . .
During college, I rode with the LCC Equestrian Team.
It was infinitely more exciting than anything my journalism instructors could teach in the classroom.
Though not quite the same preparation for real life.
Every afternoon, I would present myself to my teacher at the tack shed and draw my piece of string.
This is exactly how it sounds.
There was a bundle of old twine strings hanging from a hook just inside the door.
I would grab one and head out to the pasture.
Once in the pasture, I would pick out a suitable mount (ie: one that I could get close to), and place the string around its neck.
Then swung aboard and ride the horse back to the tack shed to . . . tack up.
Simplicity in itself.
The heaviest thing I was ever forced to carry was a piece of string.
Okay, I will admit that everyone else carried bridles, or at the very least a halter.
I was weird.
And/or lazy.
Moving on . . .
It was a beautiful day.
The sun was shining.
A fairly common occurrence.
The wind wasn't blowing.
Not so common.
I was excited to be out of the classroom and into the field.
So to speak.
I should point out, here, that there were two sorrel (liver brown) horses in the herd.
One a gentle gelding (male).
One a sprightly mare (female).
The differences were obvious.
But I was simply looking for 'sorrel'.
I walked up to the first one and slipped my piece of string around its neck.
Then swung aboard.
The trip back to the shed was quick.
I remember being astonished at the spirit the old gelding was showing.
Wow. He'd never had this much life!
This was going to be a good day.
I stopped near the shed door.
My instructor was standing there. “Wow!” he said. “The last person who tried that ended up getting piled.”
'Piled'. That's a cowboy term for . . . piled.
There really isn't a better way to say it.
Back to my story . . .
I looked down at my mount. “You mean this isn't Chico?”
He looked at me strangely. “Umm, Diane, Chico is a boy.”
“Oh. I never even . . .” I slid off the horse. Sure enough, he was a she. “Oops.”
He went on. “GG has never allowed anyone to ride her bareback. She doesn't like it. She just bucks them off.” He looked at me. “Let's try something, shall we?”
“Umm . . . Okay!” My Dad always said that I had more guts than brains.
He was right.
My instructor grabbed a halter and handed it to me.
I exchanged it for the string.
“Now get on.”
I obeyed.
“Let's run some jumps, shall we?”
GG and I went over the entire course.
I will admit that the jumps were small and definitely not a challenge.
But the point is that we did them.
GG and me.
Something that had never been done before with that particular horse. 
In that particular tack.
My instructor was smiling when we returned. “I've been wondering who to appoint as team captain,” he said. “Now I know.”
I smiled back.
I still don't know exactly what happened that day.
With that horse.
But I was right.
It was a good day.

19 comments:

  1. Wow, what a cool story.
    I think sometimes if we don't know the history of a situation and just innocently go out and calmly do what we'd naturally do, taking that anxiety out of the situation can change the situation.
    No matter what happened that day, the connection between you and that horse is a beautiful thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. Ignorance is bliss, as my dad always says!
      We definitely spent a lot of time together after that . . .

      Delete
  2. You are such a pro--who knew? a real, honest to goodness equestrian. And you obviously have a true connection with horses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, it's funny. I just knew I loved them . . .

      Delete
  3. I enjoyed every moment of that story, Diane. :-) We need pictures of you on horseback.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm . . . I will dig and see what I can find . . .

      Delete
  4. There's something to be said for not thinking and just doing. Awesome story. I had the whole picture in my head while I read it. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Heehee! Yep. Not thinking and just doing definitely fits with me!!! :)

      Delete
  5. All those years on the ranch paid off! (plus your love of horses, I'd say :))

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great "horse whisperer" story. It is also a good reminder of how much we can do if no one tells us we can't. I would love to see a photo of you on that horse....especially now that I know your age
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! Just head in, eyes shut and mouth open! I'm looking to see if a picture exists . . .
      Heehee! The spirit of 55 lives on! :)

      Delete
  7. A great trip that did not end in a pile! You sure went for the gusto.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That horse was so used to people acting timid around her. I think I just took her by surprise! :)

      Delete
  8. You have the magic touch Diane.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have probably ridden a horse 3 times in my entire life, but even though I have little to no knowledge about horses, I still loved this post. What an amazing connection a person can have with animals, and it sounds like you definitely had the special touch with this one!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I miss having horses, it's been a long time. There is no greater love than a girl and a horse! Terrific story!

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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