We lost our herd sire the day Pixie was hired for the Annie Oakley TV series. Not that he left our lives, but he had to be gelded to work. He’d already sired most of the younger ponies, so Dad said it wasn’t a hard decision. Still, it made me sad. Continue reading Pixie: the pony who outran Annie Oakley
Nicker as Ed's mother in a photo on Mr. Ed's stall wall.
I watched in horror as my father’s friend stuck a knife into his leg — on purpose. He’d been whittling a wooden horse as he sat talking on our front porch. I always loved watching his artistry, whether with paper and pencil or that sharp, sharp knife. Stunned, I stared in silence, amazed that everyone else didn’t seem to notice and equally amazed his leg didn’t bleed. At last, he looked my way and laughed. “It’s wooden,” he said as he thumped right above the knife. The sound was hollow. Relief flooded through me and was quickly followed by embarrassment because I’d been caught staring.
You love your horse. You feed him, you groom him, you bring him carrots and horse cookies, you scratch him, and what does he give you in return? 18,000 pounds of manure every single year. Well sure, he lets you ride him too … but let’s not forget all that poop. Nine tons of poop annually. 450,000 pounds of it over the course of his entire life. All of it left there, just for you, so you can rake it up and wheelbarrow it away.
Now you may hate it (unless you’re one of those strange people who finds it oddly therapeutic), but either way you should try to keep in mind this fundamental of horse doo-doo: history was not only written from the back of a horse, but also from the back-end of a horse. Continue reading The Scoop on Poop by Becki Bell
Mangy. That’s how I felt and how he looked, sitting there beside the road with the hot Mojave sun beating down. He’d been there since morning. I passed him while delivering two yearlings to a Thorobred farm in Lone Pine. He hadn’t budged an inch since. One of the truck’s features wasn’t air conditioning — who could afford it? — so the windows were down. I rolled to a stop and yelled for him to get in. Agile, he leaped into the back without a sound. Continue reading When Hoboes Have Reasons
Hang on, Mags. It's only forty feet to the finish line.
I almost killed her. She’ll tell you that right up front. She was ten. I was twelve. She was on my horse, Blue. I was in the center, holding onto the lunge line, when Blue took off, running under a tree before I could stop her. Maggie reminds me of this often, laughing aloud as she reminisces.
Patrick Swayze left this world today after a 20 month bout with pancreatic cancer. He is best known as a movie star, but his truest love was for Eqyptian Arabians, especially his beloved stallion, Tammen. Tammen passed away in 1999. Together again, they can gallop through eternity. Continue reading Goodbye, Patrick
The Station Fire began in La Canada-Flintridge, not far from the famed Flintridge Riding Club. Under the able direction and training of the late Jimmy Williams, this fine stable was the home of stellar grand prix winners like Susan Hutchison, Hap Hansen, and Anne Kursinski. Flintridge memebers Mary Mairs Chapot, Mason Phelps, Robert Ridland, Anne Kursinski, Susan Hutchison and Hap Hansen have represented us in international and Olympics competitions. Fortunately, this fine training stable survived the blaze. Continue reading Fire All Around Us
The doctor’s buzzsaw had barely stripped the cast from my eight-year-old arm when the call came. Ace Hudkin, of Hudkin Brothers Stables, was on the line when my dad answered. “The studio wants to interview your daughter about an upcoming series. They need a gal who can ride.”
Hudkin Brothers, located on Coldwater Canyon not far from the intersection with Saticoy Street where we lived, supplied movie horses to the studios. They used our ponies on more than one occasion; the latest was Pixie, our black and white pony who starred in the Annie Oakley TV series, produced by Flying A Productions. Continue reading Gene Autry, Buffalo Bill, and Me
I resolved to have a horse to ride. I had never seen such wild, free, magnificent horsemanship outside of a circus as these picturesquely-clad Mexicans, Californians and Mexicanized Americans displayed in Carson streets every day. How they rode!
Leaning just gently forward out of the perpendicular, easy and nonchalant, with broad slouch-hat brim blown square up in front, and long riata swinging above the head, they swept through the town like the wind! The next minute they were only a sailing puff of dust on the far desert. If they trotted, they sat up gallantly and gracefully, and seemed part of the horse; did not go jiggering up and down after the silly Miss-Nancy fashion of the riding-schools. I had quickly learned to tell a horse from a cow, and was full of anxiety to learn more. Continue reading The Genuine Mexican Plug by Mark Twain
One end of our circular driveway was directly across from the end of the circular driveway of Les Hilton - one of the elite movie horse trainers of the 1930s through the 1970s. Behind Les’ tidy home, nestled among Chinese elms, was a long, white shed row barn. Corrals lined the rear of the barn, each opening out into a large arena that stretched almost to the railroad tracks.
At various times, several of the best known equine stars lived in that barn. Black Diamond, the famous “wild stallion” featured in many movies, and Frances, the talking mule, were two stars Les trained. The success of Frances was the inspiration for the television series Mr. Ed.Mr. Ed resided in the last stall on the left. While Ed lived there, the stall immediately to his right was the home of Pumpkin, his stunt double. Both of these charismatic palominos became my good friends. Continue reading Mr. Ed: My Childhood Neighbor
Interested in helping support a geriatric crew of three great old timers who are still friendly, healthy and sound? The youngest is 27; the oldest is 35. Even a few dollars can help buy their special feeds and supplements or pay the vet for his dedicated work.