Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chapter 3 ~ My One & Only Horse Ally

My Grand Father ~ James Milam Leavens

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I had only one horse ally in my family, my paternal Grandfather, James Milam Leavens. He loved and respected horses and it was he who introduced me to different breeds and horses of quality.

One Saturday morning, Grandfather came over unbenounced to my parents, to pick me up. I was up and dressed at daybreak anxiously watching for him out the window. I was privy to the scheduled events for that day and could not have been more excited. We were going to the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show! This show was held once a year at the infamous Pin Oak Stables and was considered by most to be the social event of the year for Houston, Texas.

Crowds of people flocked to the rings, men wearing suits and ties and the ladies in their Spring finest. Hats, matching dresses, bags and shoes completed with wrist length gloves. With a back drop of laughter, amid the chatter, most of the conversations were centered around a favorite contender. It had all the elegance of high tea with the exception of a few awkward steps to avoid any horse mishaps.

It was here that I was introduced to the world of horses at their finest. Showcasing each individual breed and their talents, I was not only able to experience the horses, but so many disciplines of competition as well. Arabians, Tennessee Walkers, American Saddlebreds, Thoroughbreds as well as Hackney Ponies were all there. Horses cleared jumps I could not see over. Arabians and their riders costumed in vivid colors captured everyone’s attention. Grand carriages being pulled by perfectly matched pairs as well as Roadster Ponies flying around the corners so fast, it had the crowd gasping and waiting for the jog carts to flip over! Class after class opened me up to new worlds of horses and riding styles, but the class that left the biggest impression on me was the Saddleseat American Saddlebred class.

The Ring Master lifted his horn beckoning the show horses through the gate. Trotting in a fashion I had never seen, in came the most breath taking creatures God had ever created! Heads held high, long refined necks and longer legs with a knee popping trot and a confident fire in their eyes captured my heart like no other breed ever had. Hardly able to breathe, I soaked every moment of it into my soul, just knowing that I would relive this day in my mind a million times over. Every rider, no less elegant that their mount was dressed in day suits with matching Derby hats. Their long riding coats were slit in the back and seemed to glide over the back of the horses as a cape would if the wind had captured it. I fell madly in love with American Saddlebred horses that day; a passion I am sure to carry with me to my last breath.


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


How kind of you then, to have left a comment on my blog when you saw it. Do you know Kelley at Tea Cups and Ponies? She is a mid-wife to horses and her blog is also so gorgeous like yours. I love how you describe your encounter with the horses thanks to your grandfather; I always felt as a child, that they were the most beautiful creatures that God created. Elegant, strong defined bodies and excellent subjects to draw, I used to draw horses all day long. My uncle was always intrigued with my ability and speed with which I captured a horse!

My husband is afraid of them, and sure, one must respect them, but he kids with me and says, "What is this thing with women and horses?" I have a little toy horse that I have sitting on the table and he often fools around with it and says, "Where's MY horse!" He has picked up the bug!

Have a fabulous day, Anita

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

That is what the trick is; going everyday, living the dream, working on it and most of all: LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION until it hits you. Then, you can make it start happening! That is what I am doing. I just finished my Master's thesis about 3 weeks ago and I am now free to move on to the next dream: writing and illustrating my own books.

I am so glad that you are able to draw some inspiration from my vision of peace, beautiful d├ęcor, and writing!

Peace, Anita

Oregon Equestrian said...

My maternal grandparents were my horse enablers during my childhood.

My youthful show thrill was seeing the now nonexistent Portland International Livestock Exposition (the PI Show). It combined all styles of horse showing plus rodeo events. It was my first exposure to 3 and 5 gaited horses, and if one got there early enough -- jumpers.

Then there was the main branch Multnomah County Library where I read every available horse book before moving on to the dog books followed by Louisa May Alcott.

Oh the equine dreams sparked in childhood!

Alice ~ Folk Art Primitives said...

What a sweet story! Thanks for stopping by my blog! It's interesting how we find each other, isn't it? How did you stumble across this rug hooker's blog? Have a happy day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories! My uncle was once a judge (Tennessee walker) at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. It was so much fun!

Anonymous said...

The American Royal in Kansas City was the star in my Saddlebred Crown. I got out of school for a week every October and sat through every class except the ones in which I showed. I still have my Barnsby full cutback saddle. The thrill of a Championship 5 Gaited class will be with me forever.