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She and I: Remembering Sapphire

Posted by Sharon Labels: , ,

    Sapphire. I named her before she was born.

   It was the spring of 2008 and my favourite mare, Silk, was expecting her first foal. What would I call this special one? In the early hours of a day in May, I awoke from a sound sleep and that question was answered. "Silk is going to have a filly and I am naming her Sapphire!' Where did that come from? That name was not even on my list of names. But so it was. Sapphire was born in late day light as my friends were arriving for Horsewoman's Weekend at Wildwood Reining Horses. The delivery was normal and Silk bonded as she should. Sapphire had arrived and she was a perfect, delicate copy of her mother. I bought her a pink halter because she was so feminine.

Silk and Sapphire

   The little sorrel filly didn't take long to show me some fancy moves. Like her dam, she had "sting" but with a gentleness too. I loved her to bits but worried too that she was fragile. My neighbour, who did chores for me one weekend, worried too. "She looks like a little deer," she said. "I'm scared something will happen to her on my watch."

Down the fence we go!

Strutting her stuff

As a yearling

    Sapphire managed to injure herself a couple of times but other than that, grew up normally on my property in the Chilcotin. As a yearling, she babysat the next foal crop through their weaning time. She was not much bigger than they were. As a two-year-old, I started her under saddle but rode her only lightly that year because of her size. She never bucked but she could get pretty excited like Silk did. In 2011, her three year old year, she should have been competing in three-year-old reining futurities but she was behind in training and very immature mentally. I was in no rush. However, I retired from the reining pen that year so she was never shown.

It Was Meant to Be

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In 2011, my beautiful mare, Prima, was expecting a Wimpys Little Step foal.  I imagined she might even foal out a palomino (the signature colour of WLS) filly. But the much anticipated event turned horribly wrong. On May 13 (Friday the 13th!), Prima lost her bay Wimpy colt. I was devastated, my dream shattered. 

The years passed and the dream faded . . .  until a photo popped up on Facebook last June . . . a palomino filly out of a Wimpys Little Step mare. Only a couple of weeks old but she caught my attention. And she was for sale. I inquired about her and liked what I heard. A combination of breeding, conformation complete with a pretty doll head, talented full brothers and sisters and a breeder who was super easy to work with sold me. I put a deposit down.

In October 2022, I brought Crusin Step O Kismet home. She is a sweet, kind and beautiful filly who will brighten my winter days and has given purpose to my life. I have missed working with the youngsters!

Thank you to Tammy Stewart for giving me the opportunity to own Kismet, daughter of Crusin Whiz (by Topsail Whiz) out of Wimpys Star Pine (by Wimpys Little Step). I am pretty sure it was hard for Tammy to let her go.

Kismet . . . because it is kismet that led me to her. I was meant to be.

Pick a Peach

Posted by Sharon

I have always believed there are lines of connectivity that are outside our five senses. There are threads out there in the universe that connect in ways we don't fully understand. The following story is one of those things.

 A few weeks ago, a friend of mine approached me to help her find a reining horse. She was quite specific…she wanted a four year old mare, well bred, trained and suitable for her level of riding. I immediately told her it could be hard to find but I knew of one possibility. I checked with the trainer and the mare was still available. After much interaction re: texts, photos and videos with the both the trainer and me, she committed to buying the mare. Since the pretty dun mare was entered in a reining show in Alberta, Sherry chose that time to make the trip to see her and to arrange a ride back to BC. Before the show, though, Sherry and her husband parked their motor home in my yard and we caught up. It had been 16 years!

 The first day here, we saddled my mares and rode. It was a beautiful day and at one point, we stopped and talked for quite some time, sitting in the sun on our horses. Sherry was not quite happy with the barn name her new mare had been given and we discussed that a bit before the conversation shifted to stories of our childhood and how we grew up. Sherry's mind was very much on her father, who she had just lost, and many memories were of him.

  "We didn't have much money," she said, "but one day Dad and I were in downtown Calgary, and we walked by peaches for sale. Dad said, 'Go ahead and pick a peach.'"

 But Sherry was hesitant, having never ate a peach before because they were expensive and not something the family could afford. Hesitantly, she picked out a little peach.

 "No," her dad said. "Pick a peach, a good one!" and he reached in and chose the biggest, fattest peach and gave it to his daughter, who bit into the delicious fruit. Sherry remembers with absolute clarity walking away, juice running down her chin, holding her dad's hand and looking at him like he had hung the moon.

 From the beginning of her story, the hair rose on my arms. Finally, when she reached that point of her story, I had to say something.

 "Sherry," I said. "It's gotta be "Peach"! Don't you see? It has already been decided."

Because, you see, the registered name of the mare she had just bought was Einsteins Peach and Sherry had "picked a peach".

I'm sure her father is smiling.


 Below, in Sherry's words, is the story.



Affairs of the Heart

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I don't believe there has ever been a time in my life that I loved my horses more. I begin each day looking out the window at them; I visit each one in the early morning sun; I breathe in their aura, their acceptance, their love. I tend to their needs throughout the day – fly masks, meds if needed, feeding in the winter - and I ride. I am "home" when I am on the back of one of my mares.

My view in the morning
A couple of days ago, when I caught Sapphire, I impulsively hopped on her bareback (with the help of a fence) and rode her back to the gate that way as I used to in the Chilcotin when I had to walk to the river field to catch her. Legs wrapped around her, I absorbed the oneness and the world slowed. "You," I thought, "Are my rock. All of you are my rocks. And my heart."
"You are my heart."

Revelations and Insight

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     I wish I could have blogged my trail riding vacation in Utah every day (so much I could have written) but time did not allow and, to be honest, my priority was not sitting at a computer at the end of the day. For a time when I got home I thought of writing the details up day by day while they were fresh in my mind but scrapped that too. As the days went by, other thoughts, insights and revelations surfaced and it is those I am putting on paper now.
     I have wanted to ride in Utah for a long time, ever since my husband and I visited the areas around Moab almost 25 years ago. Living alone as I do now and with financial restrictions, it was almost impossible but last fall I decided I was going to do it. Why? Because, at 74 years, I wasn't sure how much longer I would be able to. Pushing aside nagging reminders that I should not be spending money I might need for something else, I researched my trip looking for the perfect place to go. I wanted to be able to ride on my own – no guided rides – and I found Paria River Ranch.
    Trading off my trailer for a newer one with larger living quarters just before I departed increased my anxiety about the cost of the vacation but I stayed on course, loaded Sapphire and Cameo in the trailer and Mischa in the truck and got on the road for what would be a three day haul to Paria. As it turned out, it was four. I drove right into a Montana snowstorm and spent much of one day parked. Better to lose a day than to be in a wreck though. Horses, dog and I were safe.
Pulled over here when I-15 north of Butte turned to ice.
      When I arrived at my destination, settled in and looked around, all my doubts about the wisdom of spending the time and money on this vacation for me vanished.
Revelation #1: This trip was the right thing to do.
     A kind of peace settled over me. This is why I came. Let the adventure begin.
Parked at Paria River Ranch.
Paria River Ranch
    In the next days, I explored the trails around Paria River Ranch, one time on Sapphire, the next on Cameo. The first ride I rode Sapphire and led Cameo, not sure how she would be left by herself in a pen at the ranch. They seemed as eager to see the sights as I did.
Sapphire and Cameo take in the sights on my first ride in Utah.
Long Canyon
     On the third day, by pre-arrangement, I met with a cousin I didn't know I had who lived nearby, an opportunity too good to miss and we visited and went for dinner in Page AZ. The next day I agreed to a group ride to Resurrection Canyon arranged by a gal who lived there. It was a good group of riders, friendly and considerate but...
Revelation #2: Having trail ridden by myself or with one other person my entire life, I am not cut out for group rides. (Can't train on the trail, can't stop to take photos when I want, etc)
     A new friend with a big rig hauled me to the Resurrection Canyon trailhead and then to Buckskin Gulch trailhead the next day, both rides of which I would not have done since I had not planned to haul out at all. I was so proud of my mares loading into a side door of his trailer (a big step) beside his geldings! I took Sapphire the first day and Cameo the second. They hesitated, then stepped up only because I asked.
My ride to Resurrection and Buckskin Gulch. Note side door.
Cameo and I Buckskin Gulch Ride

Revelation #3: I had been in a rut - always working to make things better at home when there was a world to explore.
   Of course I met people at the ranch, some of whom I will keep in touch with. A couple from Las Vegas are planning a trip to Alberta next year. As occasionally happens to me, she and I had an almost instant rapport and I gave her a copy of my book because, as I told her, "You will get it."
     After two days of riding with someone else, I was ready to be on my own again. I had intended to ride Nautilus but seeing a group ahead of me, I changed to an exploratory ride down the river, eating lunch at the end of Copper Slot Canyon. We crossed the Paria a couple of times being ever vigilant of quicksand, and I re-centered again.
     My cell phone was my connection to home and a way to post photos of my adventure. Unintentionally, I took several people along on my adventure. Also unintentionally, I seem to have inspired a few to do something like I did. Reading the comments on Facebook, it was heartwarming to know most were happy for me. A few made their presence known by NOT commenting which in itself spoke volumes.
Revelation #4: I refuse to feel guilty or privileged for taking this vacation.
Revelation #5: This holiday trumped any vacation at a beach! That being said, I recognize it would not be for everyone. It can be physically demanding and the added responsibility of horses and dog daunting for some. For me though - perfect!
     For the last three days a good friend joined me, one of only a few that I would allow to ride one of my mares. Marion flew down the day before I booked out of Paria River Ranch. We rode once from there then left to ride the old Paria Townsite on the way to Bryce Canyon.
Sapphire and I at the Paria Townsite
Marion and Cameo along Paria River (Paria Townsite ride)
      The icing on the cake was Bryce Canyon, my last Utah ride. No photo can possibly capture the grandeur and to ride through it, on my own horse was, well, the experience of a lifetime.


      On a final note, kudos to my mares, who accepted, with grace, everything I asked. Neither one had been on any kind of extended trail ride like this before. They were sure footed, trustworthy and trusting. They did buddy up of course but that could be expected.

     Did I make any mistakes, do anything stupid, on my trip? Yes. I'm still a country girl at heart and I tend to trust too easily. Or is it that I just don't think that there are people I shouldn't trust? On the way home, when I was looking for a place for my horses to overnight, I stopped in a little town thinking there would be a rodeo grounds there. Not much was open but I asked a couple of fellows chatting on the street. The one in the truck said he lived there but the rodeo grounds was privately owned and he knew of no other.

     "I have a little patch of ground you can use," he said. "Jump in and I'll show you." So I did! What was I thinking? In today's age, one should not ever do that. He truly was a nice man, showed me the little pasture but I chose not to use it as it seemed unsafe to turn them in at night. Only later did I think how stupid that was to get in the truck with a strange man...
Revelation #6: I underestimated myself. A lifetime of always trying to do better, to be better had allowed doubts to creep in (sometimes by others but mostly by myself for allowing it to happen) that I still did not do things as well as I should. But a ton of experience behind the wheel and on the back of a horse had prepared me for this trip as it has done in the past. I don't scare easily and I don't stress and that has saved many a potential dangerous situation. My horses will do anything for me if I ask nicely and I can still hold my own physically on a long day in the saddle. I cannot ask for more.
And I did gain insight into myself and others and what makes us all tick. I now have a better understanding of that part of the country, too, and its people. I always learn when I visit some place new but there's questions unanswered too, like "What makes those rocks that colour?" and "Why are the lines in the rock" and "How did the early settlers survive?" I'll be looking for answers.

And my new motto (borrowed from Nike on the advice of a friend): "Just do it!"


It's the Little Things

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It doesn't take much to make me happy. Four new tires on my horse trailer will do it.
A couple of days ago the guys at Fountain Tire installed tires all around on my Sooner and although the bill stung a little, I was on a high for the rest of the day. It's the little things.
For many this might not seem like much of an event but for me, travelling alone with horses I love, it is. Only two other times in all the years I've hauled horses have I bought four new tires for my trailer. I clearly remember both.
In 1974 I was on the rodeo circuit with my good barrel horse, Duchess, and hauling her in a two horse straight-haul Miley (a step up from hauling horses in the back of the truck). As the tires wore out one by one, I replaced them with used ones, always travelling with extras in the back of the truck. But Duchess was winning money every time and finally, on the way home from a race in southern Saskatchewan, I made a decision. I had enough money to replace the tires. So I stopped at Canadian Tire in Moose Jaw and bought new rubber all around.  (I think they cost me $50 each.) I remember to this day how good it felt driving away worry free. Those tires lasted a long time until – you guessed it – I replaced them one by one with used ones with extras in the truck box.
After the Miley, I bought my first living quarters, a used, two-horse straight haul Roadrunner with a bed, stove and icebox in the living quarters, not much compared to the living quarters trailers of today but a real jewel then. I paid $3500 for it and traded a nice little mare for part payment. That trailer would be part of my life for many years. I hauled to horse shows of course, the beach for weekend get-a-ways with the kids, moved my horses to BC with it and pulled it up rough mountain trails to trail ride. I got it stuck and unstuck more times than I care to remember and of course I had flat tires. I replaced them with used ones and became a regular visitor to the "tire man" in Armstrong. He knew what I wanted when he saw me coming and supplied me with used tires for both the truck (a beat up 1978 GMC) and the trailer for several years (extras in the back of the truck).
1992 - The Roadrunner at Larch Hills before it was painted.
Enter a man in my life. The living quarters trailer got a paint job and made even more trips to the mountains as well as everyday use for my business training and showing reining horses. Don made fun of my load of 'extra' tires and even lug nuts (but that's another story...) but I was always struggling to make ends meet and could not afford new tires for the trailer.
1995 South Country Slide In, Cardston AB with my granddaughter
In 1994, with my new partner's blessing, I paid up a horse in the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. We would be driving the long drive in late November and Don had changed a few tires on that trailer.
"I'm going to buy you tires all around for the trailer," he told me. "I don't want to drive all the way to Oklahoma wondering how many flats we're going to have. Go see your tire man."
And so I did. Tim saw me coming and he knew what I wanted – or thought he did.
"I want four tires for the trailer," I said. "You know the size."
 I could tell he was already thinking about what he had. He started to turn back to his pile of rubber and then realized what I said.
"New ones?" The look on his face was so funny I laughed. I think I enjoyed telling him that just a little too.
He was not quite sure he had heard correctly but I assured him I did want new ones and again, as I had so many years before in Moose Jaw, I drove away with confidence. I would not have to worry about flat tires for a while.
1994 The trailer painted and with new tires in Oklahoma
And so, when I drove away from Sundre with new rubber all around on my trailer, it lifted my spirits just as it did those other two times.

My Sooner with new shoes!
 Sometimes it's the little things.