Old Horses, New Friends

By Della St Louis

Diana got the riding bug in 2012 when she got involved in the Extreme Cowboy Challenge and American Horse Challenge riding programs. This is when Maverick’s training really went into over drive. The Extreme Cowboy Challenge, although still timed like ACTHA, is a harder and longer ride. Diana found it best to use an Aussie saddle on her short/dropped horse. This kept the saddle from jamming in to the withers and from hitting his hip area, as standard western saddles were too long for him. Usually riding in English, Diana never experienced having a saddle to long for a horse. Diana will admit, Maverick may look a little different with the Aussie saddle, but he is happy!

Maverick and Diana have added to their equestrian discipline by doing the American Horse Challenge (AHCA), but continue to compete in the Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA) and American Competitive Trail Challenge (ACTC). Diana is always surprised with every ride at the heart and willingness that Maverick displays. Last year Maverick was top ten in AHCA taking Diana to Reserve in Legends at the Finals in Abilene, TX, Top 5 in EXCA finals in Hamilton, TX, and won his Silver medal in ACTHA. Diana continues to rack in the awards, winning her silver Elite for riders over 55, and Diana says “Bless his heart, he has won several buckles and spurs this past year”.
Growing up, Diana rode Hunters and Jumpers; she stated that the 17year olds always seemed so much more steady and willing. Her daughter Robin, as a child rode a 20 year old Spanish Gal to win Western Riding and high points in her division. Old does not mean going to the rocking chair for horses or people. Better to be ridden, live and be happy than be left in a pasture and forgotten. Diana will always have glorious memories of Maverick, but expressed that it will be a very sad day when he is gone and there will always be a glow in her heart for the “Old Man”.
Not everyone favors a gelding. Barbara Hackney has a fondness for mares, and she has been riding Lady for over 20 years. Lady celebrated her 28th birthday at the ACTHA Freedom Horse Ride. When we were told how old Lady was, Lady showed absolutely no signs of slowing down, is muscle toned and other then one slightly grayed hair, she easily passes for 10.
Born 9 April 1985, puts Lady at just about the oldest horse riding the ACTHA CTCs. Perhaps that she was born in Colorado at the John Smart Ranch, a place known for hearty horses able to survive the Colorado winters, is the reason she holds together so well, or, she is just one tough Ol’ Gal.
Definitely an all-around horse, Lady started her early days doing western pleasure and halter horse. Back “in the day” halter horses did not need to be 16+ hands as they are today. Built like a Ford Truck, Lady was the perfect Halter fit. Lady went into training for Working Cow Horse, with a low center of balance, and excelled in this event as well.
Living in Nevada at the time and looking for something to do, Barbara set out to find a gal pal. That’s how she ended up with Lady, 1 August 1993, the two became gal pals. Lady too must have been ready for a new owner. The two bonded, and in no time Lady was willing to allow Barbara to guide her through daily routine rides. Lady was very acceptable to trying new things, again allowing Barbara to pick something new to do, and go for it.
Owning the same horse for an extended period of time does have its advantages. Lady loves water and enjoys playing in it. Barbara is always prepared to fight lady at the hose, knows the water trough will be about empty, or will have dirt in it from Lady playing in it. Occasional Lady will get water in her ears from dunking her head in the water, and sometimes there are items in the water that Lady has put there just so she can pull them back out. Lady always talks to Barbara, so she expects that, and that is handy. If Lady ever stops talking, Barbara will know there is something wrong.

This is Part Two of a Four Part series story. Check in next week for Part Three! We welcome all members’ stories! Everyone has a special story to share about their horses and experiences.

We would love to hear yours! You can send stories to Debbie@actha.us.
Please also include a couple of good quality photos!

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