Today is Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, according to my calculations.

About 5 a.m., I gave some thought about how I might start our conversation.

Last Thursday I had an appointment with Dr. Wyant. He released me on Christmas Eve and this was a follow-up. After all my shots, I still had Covid a second time. A CCMH nurse told me she’s had it three or four times. They didn’t doctor it. Just told me to wear a mask and quarantine for five days. I stayed home. Kimball has never had it.

On the way out, we bumped into our friend, Becky Collins, who recently transferred to the Medical Mall. She’s the wife of our new preacher, Allen Collins, who Concord elected for the coming year.

Every time I see Becky I think about her mother-in-law, Rosalyn Benham Chambers, who along with my sister, Margaret, almost got my horse, Rocket, shot.

Dad did not like horses because he had to work them when he was a boy and some after he bought the farm to pull out the little Farmall tractor when it got stuck.

Margaret was technically half owner of Rocket but I don’t think I ever saw her catch and ride him. He stood almost 6 ft. tall at the shoulder. She’d show him off and pet him when she had company. He loved corn on the cob. The two girls would entice him with an ear of corn in his feed bucket then snatch it away when he reached for it.

What Dad saw from a distance was this very tall horse standing on his hind legs pawing the air with his front legs over two very scared little girls. The commotion ended when they returned his food and it didn’t happen again.

I trained horses several years and never had one buck or try to throw me. I rode Rocket almost every day to check the cattle.

Lesson 1 was always, “Come here”. With no chickens, other horses or distractions, I’d start the horse around the inside of the corral and pop its rear end with a light buggy whip and say “come here.” I’d keep that up until the horse would stand in a corner and face me. I’ d approach the horse on his or her left side because that’s the side you mount on. Sometimes the horse would bolt and we’d start over.

Day 2 I’d repeat Lesson 1. Then I’d add a big belt around the horse’s middle like a girt with ring on each side (called surcingle.) I’d put a bridle on the horse with a pony bit – straight-hinged bit with huge rings on each end to keep it from pulling through the horse’s mouth. I’d run long reins from the pony bit through the rings on the surcingle long enough I could drive the horse from the ground. Because of Lesson 1, it was always difficult to get behind the horse. When I did drive the horse guiding it with the reins.

Day 3 I’d repeat the first three lessons then I’d go to the life saving lesson – STOP. I’d put a foot strap on each front foot with a hefty ring attached. I’d run strong rope through the ring on the right side of the surcingle down through the ring in he right foot strap, up through the left ring in the surcingle, back down and snap on ring on the horses left front. This called “running a W.” Best advice: Don’t try it at home. Don’t try it on rocky ground. Don’t try it without supervision from someone who has done it before. To be brief, the horse if going to resist you with every ounce of strength it has and lots of things could go wrong. I did it many times without the slightest injury to myself or my student horse.

But I had a set of books from Professor Berry’s School of Horsemanship. It had diagrams to how to do all this stuff.

Anyway. I’d drive the horse while until it got accustomed to all the equipment on it, then I’d say “Whoa” seesaw lightly on the bit as I tightened the “W” taking the horse’s front feet out from under it. The horse would do everything it could to keep that from happening.

When the horse rested its chin on the ground, it had given up and I’d let it get to its feet. About one or two more “whoa” sessions and the horse would lock its front legs when I said “whoa” and tugged at the bit.

When I started riding a horse, bare back or with a saddle, I kept the foot strap on the right front foot, usually with short rope attached.

To teach a horse to neck rein, I’d use a normal bit and cross the reins under its neck. When I pulled on the right rein it put pressure on the left side of the horses mouth and vice versa.

A horse usually “got it” pretty quickly. One didn’t. I had to put my hand holding the reins right up behind his ears, but we got there.

I’m not going to volunteer to help someone train a horse. I’m not nimble enough. But after telling you about Rosalyn and Margaret, I may need your help to keep from being “trained.”

Ideal age to train a horse is 18 months to three years.. KL

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