Western Side Story

By Gayle Carline

     Wel­come to my column!

     Each month I plan to bring news and infor­ma­tion to the west­ern rid­ing com­mu­nity. I may cover shows or write about peo­ple and their horses, but the focus will be on the folks who walk, jog and lope. But before I hit the trail, let me tell you a lit­tle about how I got involved in west­ern rid­ing and writing.

     Nine years ago, while I was still design­ing soft­ware for an aero­space com­pany, I expressed an inter­est in writ­ing, so my hus­band bought me a lap­top com­puter. I tried to write, but I never did any­thing much beyond the annual Christ­mas letter.

     Then two years later, my hus­band bought me rid­ing lessons for my birth­day. The instruc­tor was also a friend of mine, Tina Duree-Bevan, who had been train­ing horses and rid­ers for many years. After about six months of rid­ing once a week, I asked, “Is there a way that I could ride more often?”

     That’s when I learned that my friend was a woman with a plan.

     I was intro­duced to Cop­per Kist, a red dun Quar­ter horse geld­ing who was a cham­pion in the trail arena. A patient cur­mud­geon, Cop­per endured my ambigu­ous seat and weak legs as he wound his way around the poles. Before I knew what hap­pened, I was being fit­ted for fringed chaps and a cow­boy hat, and show­ing in trail events on the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Asso­ci­a­tion (PCHA) cir­cuit. By the season’s end, Copper’s exper­tise helped me win a sil­ver buckle as the Reserve Cham­pion for Basic Trail.

     Halfway through the show sea­son, I met a three-year old filly named One Zip in Time. She had come to Tina for some train­ing, and to pos­si­bly find a buyer. Although her barn name was Annie, the roan frost­ing on her chest­nut coat led to every­one call­ing her Frostie. She was sweet, ath­letic and tremen­dously skit­tish. I knew I was unqual­i­fied to own such a young horse, but I was con­fi­dent that Tina could train both of us, so I bought the lit­tle red mare. We began a tumul­tuous rela­tion­ship that has included show­ing on the PCHA and the AQHA cir­cuits, in addi­tion to a breed­ing expe­ri­ence that resulted in adding a sec­ond horse to my col­lec­tion; my two-year old geld­ing, Snoopy.

     And that’s when I started to write. My friend, Kip Mis­tral, intro­duced me to CA Rid­ing edi­tor Kim Miller, who read my work and gave me a chance. Since then, I’ve man­aged to con­tribute a few arti­cles here and there on west­ern horse shows, horses and people.

     Why do I limit myself to the west­ern com­mu­nity? Although I love to watch all dis­ci­plines, I guess I am just a cow­girl at heart. I like the feel of sink­ing into that big leather sad­dle and stretch­ing my legs down to the sub­stan­tial stir­rups. The draped rein that I hold in my left hand says ‘cool’ the way James Dean looked in a sports car with one hand on the steer­ing wheel and the other rest­ing on the door. I even like the sparkle of the show clothes and the ornate sil­ver on the tack. Plus, I think that, at my age, my body might reject Span­dex leggings.

     So every month, I am going to be bring­ing news of the west­ern com­mu­nity, whether it is show cov­er­age and infor­ma­tion, trainer news, or even a horse/rider pro­file. This means that I’m invit­ing all west­ern rid­ers to let me know what’s going on in their part of the world. You can email me at [email protected].

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