Monday, July 6, 2009

Marcel & Me ~ Chapter 1

This is going to be a small series..a biography if you will of a rider, a show horse and how the two became a team!

Pamela Davis learned how to ride at Ross Drake Stables at Oakwood Farm in Hartland, WI. During the 60's and 70's Ross and his wife Candice ran one of the largest schooling programs for saddleseat riders in the country. Pam would often work side-by-side with the Drake's show string, fifteen or more of them would be diligently working toward that perfect equitation seat, all the while dreaming of winning the "Good Hands" at Madison Square Garden.

"Our only obstacle was that we would be laughed out of the ring on our school horses! So included in my dream was an American Saddlebred show horse." Pam reminisced.

* * * *

Fast forward 20 years. Pam decided to take riding lessons through a local park district. For some reason she thought the lessons would be Western. Dumbfounded was her expression when she discovered the park district was actually a Saddlebred barn! Not having ridden for so many years, Pam's body would ache for days after a lesson. It did not matter. She loved it and would stay after her lessons just to watch the show horses work.

"The owner of the facility could clearly see "SUCKER" written in neon across my forehead!" Pam smirked as she told me. "One day the instructor told me my regular lesson horse wasn't available. I would have to ride one of the show horses. All I could think was 'This is only my fourth lesson!' but all that came out of my mouth was 'Huh...OK!'"

(Marcel, the talented show horse with one of his young student riders!)

They were short handed that day so Pam was instructed to get the horse ready herself. She took the halter and entered the stall. Inside was a 16+ hand chestnut gelding with a mostly white face and four white stockings.

"He never looked that big from outside the stall!" She said.

When he saw the halter, he spun and made for the back corner of the stall. Pam had not worked with horses for a long time so Marcel was able to evade her for several go rounds. She finally caught, haltered and clipped him to the tie. She picked up a curry and stared to groom him. He turned and tried to bite her! She jumped away for a moment and then started again. Again, he tried to bite her, over and over again. They danced their way through both grooming and saddling. She needed help with the bridle.

"There was no way I would deliberately put my hands by THAT mouth! It was humbling when at the age of 41, salvation is found in a 12-year-old girl!" grin.

In came one of the young riding students to assist her. He tried to bite her too but she just slapped his neck and told him to knock it off. He stood at attention and bridled without fuss. Pam led him out into the arena and made for the mounting block. He tried to bite her. Mirroring her 12-year-old mentor, she slapped his neck and told him to knock it off. He did not stand at attention. Instead, he flattened his ears! Pam was starting not to like Marcel.


SmartAlex said...

Somehow I've missed ever seeing a photo of Marcel in his show horse days... Even though I know how the story ends, I can't wait to read this!

sunvalleysally said...

OHMIDOG (yes I meant it that way). Julie - where oh where did you find MY CHILDHOOD SADDLEBRED! Well - I know there is zero possibility of that because too many decades have flown away, but this is so coincidental that I have top to toe goosebumps because what did I see here but my beloved Henry who was my first and forever Saddlebred love. Henry, who was 17 hands even with a fresh trim. Henry, who patiently taught me to post the trot and had a mouth so soft that my 7-year-old uneducated hands could set his head, Henry who was so responsive that at our Big Tenth lesson I was allowed to "graduate" to double reins - Henry, who is the reason I can never hope to become a judge because I can't ever see anything else in the ring but chestnut with blaze and high white! I LOVED this story and oh how it takes me back! Please - more!!!