Timmy and the Girl-A Timmy Tale

            Gina shimmied under a low spot beneath the white, pipe fence separating the front pasture of Kuhaylah Arabians from the road, and, as always, the pony trotted right up to her. She pulled the carrot from her pocket and, not wasting any time, he took the entire treat in his mouth before the rest of the herd noticed. The pony, the smallest of the bunch and not a purebred, stood out from the rest of them. He was a cutie though, a beautiful coppery, golden color, with a dishwater blonde mane and tail. A jagged, white, blaze ran the full length of his face to the tip of his nose. And on this lovely spring day, his slick coat glistened in the sun.

The pony didn’t leave after he finished the carrot. Gina was drawn to him because she was an outsider in her circles too. And, like him, she had dishwater blonde hair, although it was cuter on him in her opinion. Gina felt less than cute with her skinny body, flat chest and long, stringy, often tangled, hair. Gina spoke softly to the pony, rubbing his neck and scratching his cheek, the way she knew he liked. “I love you little boy, I wish I could stay here with you.” Tears streamed down Gina’s cheeks. She hugged his neck as the events of the previous day came crashing back into her brain.

“We have to add Gina Targoff to the list,” Chet whispered.

“Of course! She should be at the top!” responded Cassie, in a louder whisper. Chet, Cassie, and their minions all giggled.

Gina was keeping her head down, pretending to read whatever textbook she had opened in front of her. She refused to cry; she would not show them weakness. Even though Gina knew they were whispering loud enough for her to hear on purpose. Samuel James Middle School was almost a daily exercise in humiliation. She fought back the tears though…

“Yeah, Gina is definitely the ugliest girl in the school,” said Chet.

They all laughed again.

The golden pony put his head on Gina’s shoulder as if he were trying to comfort her. She hugged him tighter and let the tears flow until there were no more, but she continued to hug him, taking in his horsey scent, and allowing it and the quiet to calm her mind.

“Timmy has really taken to you,” said a voice behind Gina. One with the slightest hint of an accent, an accent from another country though, not rural Texan as Gina had grown accustomed to.

Gina straightened and jumped back a step from the pony in one quick move.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here.” Gina gaped up at the woman astride a black, Arabian stallion, solid black save a small white star on his forehead.

“Come closer girl,” said the woman.

Gina walked toward her and saw that she was probably around her mother’s age. She was attractive, with an exotic look about her. She had her long brown hair pulled back with a black velvet scrunchy. But then Gina’s eyes were drawn back to the horse. So much like the black stallion she had read about, except the one in the books was solid black. But this stallion before her had the same wild look of the one in the books; thick black mane, forelock blowing in the breeze about his face, and a thick, flowing tail. He pranced about a bit and snorted a couple of times. The woman said something to him that Gina couldn’t quite hear, and he settled down.

“What is your name?” asked the woman.

“Gina…Gina Targoff. Please don’t have me arrested. I’ll never come on your property again.”

The woman laughed. But in a lilting way, not in a, you’re darn right you’re going to jail, kinda way.

“I was actually thinking of offering you a job. I’ve watched you with Timmy. You two have formed quite a bond.”

“Timmy, a cute name, for a cute little boy!” said Gina.

The woman laughed again. “My name is Antonia Silva, and I am the owner of this ranch. So, what about the job?” Antonia asked.

“I don’t know anything about horses or ranches,” Gina answered.

“Do you know how to drag a water hose or carry buckets?”

“Umm, yes…” answered Gina.

“Okay, good. We’ll start with that.” Antonia smiled.

Gina smiled back and then jumped when something firm and soft rubbed the small of her back. She spun around and little Timmy nuzzled her chest. Gina reached out and stroked his face.

“He loves you and trusts you. You’re a natural with horses,” said Antonia.

“He’s so sweet. May I ask how he came to be here among…” began Gina.

“…among all these purebred Arabians?” Antonia finished.

“Well…yes. Is it rude to ask?” said Gina.

Antonia laughed again. It sounded like music to Gina. “No, it’s not rude. He was my horse when I was a young girl in Brazil. The story of how he and I came to be here in this small north Texas town is a long one.” Antonia rubbed her black stallion’s neck and smiled. “Spend a little more time with Timmy and then head up to the big house and I’ll show you around.” Antonia wheeled her glorious steed around and galloped up the hill toward the house.

Gina watched the beautiful woman in control of such a magnificent animal and couldn’t help wishing that could be her one day. She turned back to Timmy and gave him a hug. “Did you hear that boy? Now I can see more of you and no more sneaking around!” One of the chestnut Arabian mares had come closer, curious about this skinny, young girl in the big pasture. Timmy laid back his ears and turning on a dime chased her off as if to say, “This is my girl!”

Gina laughed for the first time since she could remember. It had been a long, emotional journey from Dallas to Dale City. Even though they were only an hour apart, they were miles apart in cultures. The small-town Dale City students at Samuel James Middle School did not respond well to newcomers. For the very first time in a long time, Gina felt like she was where she belonged.

The Red Filly-Chapter 1

            This must be what love at first sight feels like, Bethany Resmon thought to herself as she watched the flashy red filly galloping with tail held high. The young horse looked like a mythical creature as she floated across the green pasture, flipping her head as she ran. Bethany felt as if her heart would burst from her chest. She memorized every inch of the filly as her mom drove their 1978 Ford F150 up the long, winding gravel road that led to the house and the main barn.  All the horses were beautiful at Kuhaylah Arabians, but this filly stood out from the rest, red gold in color accentuated with flaxen mane and tail. Her delicate, dished face adorned with a white star and strip, sat atop a long sloping neck and her exquisite, curved ears danced above her head as she ran.

            “Mom, stop the truck!” Bethany shouted.

            Another pickup moved toward them as it exited the ranch, so Helene pulled into the grass on the side of the gravel driveway before pulling their old truck to a stop.

            “Mom!  Look!” Bethany was still shouting.

            Helene stuck her hand in Bethany’s face, flat and palm side down.  The signal that Bethany was being too loud.  Bethany’s eyebrows scrunched down for a second, she really hated when her mother did that.  But instead of getting in an argument, Bethany placed her left hand on her mother’s chin and turned her head toward the filly. 

            Helene immediately dropped her hand and watched the young horse too, mouth agape. Bethany knew that when her mom was young, she had read the Black Stallion series and had dreamed of one day owning her own Arabian. In fact, Bethany had followed in her mom’s footsteps when she started reading the worn paperback copies of the books her mom had kept all her life. They were the only things Helene had kept from her childhood.   

            “You see her, Mom?” asked Bethany.

            “Yes…she’s beautiful…,” Helene’s voice quivered.

            Bethany saw tears in her mother’s eyes.  Her mother never cried.

            “Are you okay, Mom?” Bethany asked.

            “I’m fine.” Helene laughed. “I’ve just never seen anything like her before in my life.”

            A sleek, black, Ram pickup pulled up alongside them.  The young man driving it lowered the passenger side window as his tires ground to a stop in the gravel, and dust floated out behind his truck. Their windows were already down because…no A/C and late spring in Texas.

            “Hi!” said the young man.

            “Hi,” responded Bethany and Helene in unison.

            “I’m Tyler.  I’m the trainer here. Are you my new student?” he asked while looking at Bethany.

            “Yes,” said Bethany.

            “Are you excited?” he smiled through perfect teeth.

            “Yes,” Bethany said again.

            “She’s just nervous,” said Helene, “I’m Helene and this is my daughter, Bethany.”

            “Well, it’s nice to meet you both. I’m looking forward to riding with you, Bethany.”

            Helene poked her daughter and she responded, “Me too.” And smiled.

            “It was nice to meet you both,” said Tyler again.

            “It was nice to meet you too,” Bethany and Helene said in unison again.

            Tyler raised the passenger window and pulled away.  Helene pulled their old truck back onto the gravel drive, the air was full of the sound of the tires from two trucks grinding over gravel as dust misted about them both.

            “Mom, you don’t need to make excuses for me. I didn’t say anything wrong,” said Bethany.

            “It’s just that you don’t seem friendly when you just give one-word answers,” said Helene.

            “Mom, you worry too much about me.  My answers were just fine,”

            “But Bethany…”

            “Mom, please just drop it. Please.  You always do this.  This is a good day. You just saw a beautiful red filly. Just enjoy it. Please.”

            “Okay, you’re right.  I just can’t help but worry.  You’re my only child and I love you.”

            “Mom, I love you too. Just relax,” Bethany said with a smile.

            When they pulled up to the house, a tall, attractive woman with long, rich brown hair flowing down her back was standing in the driveway talking to a young man. The woman, who appeared to be around the same age as Helene turned toward them and waved as Helene pulled their truck to a stop.  Bethany waved back.

            “Mom, that must be Antonia Silva!”

            Helene and Bethany both stepped out of the truck.  Bethany ran straight to the woman and gave her a hug, while Helene was left standing by their old pickup, tugging at her baggy, full length skirt and equally baggy top. Her stuck-in-the-seventies look was complete with big gaudy earrings and necklace and un-pedicured toes in sandals.

            “Hello, Bethany’s Mom. I’m Antonia Silva,” said the exotically gorgeous woman, complete with lovely accent.

            “Helene, and…and, hello, nice to meet you,” Helene stuttered, as she reached out her hand. “I’m sorry my daughter ran up and hugged you like that, she’s not normally that affectionate with strangers.”

            “Mom! Stop apologizing for me!”

            “It’s okay, Bethany, your mother is just looking out for you, as mothers do,” said Antonia. She then turned toward Helene, took her hand in both of hers, “Helene, what a lovely name.” Antonia then turned back toward Bethany and said, “Bethany this is Strider, he’s my right-hand man.  He’ll show you around the place.  He graduated last year from Dale City High, so maybe he could give you a few pointers for when you start there in a couple of years. He’s taking classes at community college right now,” Antonia smiled.  “I’m going to take the lovely Helene inside to sign some paperwork. Bethany, Strider, you two enjoy yourselves.”

            Bethany watched as the two women walked toward the house, then turned back toward Strider and asked, “Your name is Strider, like in The Lord of the Rings?”

            “Yes, my dad loves those books,” said Strider.

            “So, he went with Strider instead of Aragorn?”

            “He thought Aragorn would be too weird.”

            Bethany laughed. “Well because Strider is so normal, right?”

            “Yeah, he didn’t think it through.” Strider laughed too.

Bethany opened her mouth to respond, but Strider interrupted. “Hey, I know you. I thought you looked familiar.  You go to Samuel James Middle School, right?”

            “Yes, how do you know that?”

            Strider laughed, “I’ve seen you when I pick up my twelve-year-old sister from school, plus you’re in the same grade as her right?”

            “Oh, your sister must be Loreth Castillo. Wow, your dad really likes Lord of the Rings!”

            “Yes, he does.” Strider laughed again.

            Strider put his arm on Bethany’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s take the jeep to the stallion barn. I’ll show you Antonia’s prized black, Arabian stallion.”

            “Like the black stallion in the books and movies?!”  

            “Of course,” said Strider. When they got to the jeep, Strider removed his arm from Bethany’s shoulder and gestured toward the passenger door. “Get in.”

            Bethany obeyed and could hardly sit still in the passenger side, she was so excited.  She hoped Strider didn’t notice that she flapped her hands a couple of times outside the vehicle before getting in. She managed to force herself to stay calm once seated inside.  She was very aware that most people did not do such things, but she was so excited that she couldn’t help herself.

            Strider backed the jeep out of the garage and headed out the same gravel road Helene and Bethany had driven toward the house, but instead of turning right to exit the ranch, he veered off to the left where the road split.  They rode in silence and arrived at the stallion barn in five minutes, but it had seemed like much longer to Bethany.

            Strider pulled up near the barn and stopped the jeep.  They both stepped out and Bethany froze in place when she spotted the magnificent, black stallion peering at them over the white, pipe fence just past the barn. His nostrils flared as he whinnied shrilly at them.

            Bethany was awestruck by the beauty of the stallion.  He’s perfection. Solid black, just like the one from the book series, save a small white star planted in the center of his wide forehead.  She was mesmerized by his glistening black coat and four perfect black legs which ended in four black hooves. His thick black mane and tail rounded out his perfection. Atop it all, was a chiseled Arabian head complete with delicate, curved ears and ending in front with the sculpted, flared nostrils. He looked just like the picture of the stallion on the cover of her mother’s copy of The Black Stallion. So many beautiful horses at Kuhaylah Arabians, but the red filly is the most beautiful of all!

            “He is beautiful, isn’t he?” said Strider.

            “Yes! Will I get to ride him?” asked Bethany.

            Strider laughed, “Maybe one day,” he said. “You want to pet him?”

            “Yes!”

            Bethany snapped out of her reverie and followed Strider to the fence. A small gasp of glee escaped her mouth and she reached up to rub the black stallion’s soft nose. 

            “His name is AV Olympic Spirit, but we just call him Spirit. His sire is Affirmativ, another beautiful black stallion,” said Strider.

            “Spirit,” Bethany repeated as she continued to rub the stallion’s nose.

            “So, if I can’t ride Spirit, can I ride the red filly out front?” asked Bethany as she continued to pet the stallion.

            “What filly out front?” asked Strider.

            “The one with the blonde mane and tail,” said Bethany.

            Spirit grew impatient and stomped his foot.  The stallion still let Bethany rub his nose though. Animals were always drawn to her.

            “He knows it’s feeding time,” laughed Strider. “And I think you’re talking about Fyrestorm,” said Strider, laughing again.

            “Why are you laughing?” asked Bethany.

            “Nobody has ridden her yet.  She arrived here with her dam, Fyrelite, from a ranch in Wyoming,” said Strider.

            “Why hasn’t she been ridden? Is Firestorm, one word or two?” asked Bethany.

            “She was never touched in Wyoming apparently, so she’s completely wild, and Fyrestorm is one word and it’s spelled with a y,” said Strider.

            “But she can be trained right?”  When she had seen the red filly, it had immediately become Bethany’s dream to ride her. She felt determined to do so.

            “Well, theoretically, yes. But Antonia has just let her run free in the mare’s pasture so far. I’m not sure she’s planning on training her. Fyrestorm has excellent bloodlines, so she might just be planning to use her as a broodmare,” said Strider.

            Bethany dropped her hand from Spirit’s nose and her eyes filled with tears. The stallion snorted and stretched his muzzle toward her demanding her attention. Bethany smiled through her tears as she reached out and rubbed his nose again.

            “Don’t cry, Bethany.  See, Spirit doesn’t even want you to cry. Maybe the filly can be trained eventually. You will have to gain her trust first, though.  She doesn’t come near anyone,” said Strider.

            “I can do it! I can gain her trust!” And to herself, I’m going to ride Fyrestorm, I just know it!

Quick Stallion Spotlight-TA Arapaho

*TA Arapaho (Ekstern x *Algira by Balon)

Just a quick post about my favorite pure Polish Arabian stallion, so everyone will now I’m alive and well! I love this horse and will post something more elaborate about him at a later date.

One of his offspring, the beautiful filly, TA Melania, resides at The Franch along with my horsey loves!

TA Melania (*TA Arapaho x *TA Mariette by *Kordelas)

TA Arapaho currently resides in Dunkirk, New York at Mystic Side Arabians. For more info on this gorgeous stallion, click on the following links:

mysticsidearabians.com

Facebook-TA Arapaho

Facebook-Mystic Side Arabians

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Picked up this little beauty at Half Price Books! It’s a little beat up, but being the 1968 edition, it really brings back memories. I first read this glorious story about a young boy and wild black stallion when I was in elementary school in the 1970s, so pretty sure this is the edition I first read. You can read about my introduction to this wonderful book series, here.

I’m re-reading this story for about the 50th time and love it as much as the first time! When I finish it this time, I’ll post a review, but spoiler alert…it will be a 5-star review for sure!

I hope all of you are well and staying safe. My plan is to re-read the entire series, so, many reviews will be forthcoming. Also continuing to work on The Red Filly and hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of winter. I hope 2022 will be a good year for all of us!

Flame aka Fyrecracker

2021 IALHA National Championships, Working Equitation, Caballos Bailadores Nacional at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Ft. Worth, Texas

Doreen Atkinson having fun with her horse, JC Jedidiah, competing in WE

I’m a little late with this post, since this working equitation competition took place in Ft. Worth on November 11th, but I managed to get such awesome pictures and I just wanted to post them. I’ll later be doing a post that’s more detailed about working equitation (WE), because it is featured prominently in my work in progress, The Red Filly. Doreen Atkinson (pictured above), is an S judge and the current At-Large Director of USA Working Equitation the national organization for working equitation in the USA, and an awesome ambassador for the sport!

Okay here’s the pics!

A Horse Named Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving with Eddie Arcaro up after winning the 1936 Travers Stakes (photo-BloodHorse Library)

So I came across this article from Bloodhorse today while perusing Facebook about the first woman to train a Travers Stakes winner, and in the 1930s no less!

The article features the horse because he was appropriately named for an article posted on Thanksgiving. This horse was even struck by lightning, but went on to win the Travers after fully recovering from that injury.

Mary Hirsch was his trainer and she opened the door for women trainers to start being taken seriously in the male dominated horse racing industry.

George Bull presents Mary Hirsch with the 1936 Diana Stakes trophy at Saratoga Race Course. (The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame)

I haven’t posted in a while, but thought this was an interesting read. For the full article click here:

The Story of a Racehorse Named Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2021 everyone!

Much Ado About Horses

This post is just for fun because I received these beautiful books from Much Ado About Horses today! I haven’t read them yet of course, but wanted to post a few pictures because I love them so much! Much Ado About Horses is a website that sells hard to find and out of print Arabian horse books. They mailed these to me within a couple of days of ordering them and in excellent condition so I highly recommend them! Check out, muchadoabouthorses.com.

My Friend Flicka-by Mary O’ Hara

So as I said in an earlier post, I acquired this book along with the sequel, Thunderhead, from my granny, Frances Grimes, many years ago. I loved them as child and decided to read them again during the Covid lockdown last year. They rekindled my love of horse stories, so I became more serious about writing my own. I’m currently plugging away at The Red Filly, one chapter at a time. I actually created a rough outline/beat sheet, so I do know where I’m going with it at least. I joined an awesome writing group during all this Covid mess and they are helping me with edits along the way. This pandemic has been rough on all of us, but I’ve managed to achieve a few positives after I figured out how to restructure my life. I often wonder, if I am forever changed by the last year and a half…but I digress…on to the review!

This is a story of true love between a boy and horse. It’s the kind of bond a young horse loving, apartment dwelling girl like I was growing up, dreamed of. The main character, Ken McLaughlin, unlike me and probably a great many of the kids who have read this book over the years, is growing up on a ranch in Wyoming in the late 1930s surrounded by horses. But, he longs for one of them to be his very own. He’s a day dreamer and because of this causes many mishaps around the ranch and can’t focus on his school work, so his father doesn’t want to reward him with a yearling to raise as his own like his older brother has done.

Mom comes to the rescue though, as she often does in this book and the sequel, Thunderhead. She insists that Ken needs a yearling to raise to help him focus. After a horrific incident during the gelding of the yearling colts, Ken decides he doesn’t want the gruesome procedure carried out on his yearling. He decides he wants a filly to avoid the barbaric practice. But in his father’s eyes he picks the worst filly on the ranch. She’s been running wild with her dam her entire short life and won’t allow anyone near her.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, but you get the idea. Ken is determined, his dad is not happy with him as usual, his mom loves him unconditionally and supports his decision, while a wild filly awaits…

My copy of the book has had a rough life, but it’s managed to survive countless moves over the years.

Fortitude

Thunderhead, Copyright 1943, Mary O’ Hara

I’m currently reading the 1943 edition of Thunderhead, by Mary O’Hara, which originally belonged to my Granny, Frances Grimes, who passed away in 2014. What’s weird though, is even though she knew how much I love horses, she never mentioned her love for them. She also owned, My Friend Flicka, the first book in this three horse book series. I just finished reading that one and will soon post a review. It had been so long since I had read these books that I forgot the herd stallion, Banner, was half Arabian. And even the wild stallion that they call the Albino is said to have some Arabian blood. It’s amazing to me how Arabians seem to show up everywhere in the horse world, in one way or another!

I titled this entry, Fortitude, because of a passage in this book where, Rob McLaughlin, is talking to his son, Ken, about the boy needing to learn how to handle disappointment in life and he references a quote from a book called, Fortitude: “It’s not life that matters-it’s the courage you bring to it.”.

Even though I’m not a big fan of the character, Rob McLaughlin, because he’s often stubborn and overbearing, I was struck by that passage. It is very difficult to react well when things are going wrong.

I’m currently quarantined because I was in close contact with someone who is now struck down by Covid-19. I’m on the fourth day of said quarantine, and the first three days were not handled well by me at all. The first day was the worst, because I allowed my anxiety to take control of me the whole day, and that night I couldn’t sleep because my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I’ve wasted three days of prime writing time just waiting to get sick. I kind of snapped out of it a little yesterday; did a few household chores and worked out, but no writing…

Well now I’m writing this, so I guess that’s something, even though I’m reaching the end of the fourth day. To quote Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Sheila Varian-Dreamer and Doer

Sheila and Farlotta

Not too long ago a fellow horse loving friend loaned me the DVD, “The Legacy of Sheila Varian”. He said, “You’ll love this because it’s all about Arabians,” or something along those lines. I didn’t watch it right away because I figured it was a boring documentary about some rich lady and her horse farm. I finally popped it in a week or two later and found myself drawn in by this woman, who was the quintessential dreamer of dreams!

Sheila Varian did not come from a rich family. She fell in love with Arabians the same way I did, through reading the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. Her parents weren’t horse people but supported her dreams and at the age of eight she started riding her first horse, a Morgan/Percheron mix and because money was tight, learned to ride bareback. She didn’t acquire her first saddle until the age of twelve.

Horses were in Sheila’s blood, heart and soul from the start and while working as a high school physical education teacher, she worked toward her dream. Farlotta was her first Arabian and most beloved of all. When Farlotta passed on to the rainbow bridge at the young age of seven due to health problems, Sheila was holding her cherished mare’s head in her arms.

Sheila later acquired the mare Ronteza, who would set Sheila on her way toward creating her legacy. In 1961 Sheila and Ronteza won the Open Reined Cow Horse Championship at The Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. She was the first amateur, the first woman and had the first Arabian to take the title.

Through acquiring mares from Poland and careful breeding over the years, Sheila Varian created the dynasty that is now known as Varian Arabians. Her is a link for the video that tells the story of this great lady and her legacy:

The Legacy of Sheila Varian

At one point in the documentary Sheila talked about following your dreams. I can’t remember the exact quote, but what she said really made an impression on me. This woman was not rich, or beautiful (in the traditional sense), but she was driven. I’m sure she encountered pain and roadblocks along the way, but she didn’t let that stop her. She lived the life she wanted and that is inspiring!

Sheila and Ronteza