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].