Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hoofprints in Reserve, New Mexico May-Dec. 1989

Krista, cousin Beckie and Eryn


In May of 1989, we sold our dear little house in Tenmile and drove to Reserve, NM to our new "home"...a line shack at Pueblo Creek (the only place available for habitation Gary was able to find for us). He left BLM for the Forest Service and we had to rent for the first 6 months. I was pregnant with Jessica. I think the horses were the one thing that preserved our sanity, at least the girl's and mine. They were 12 at the time and deeply immersed in the saga of Snowy River (the movie) which they watched by night and lived by day. Jess was born in August (5 1/2 weeks early) and decided early on that she would make life even more miserable for all of us, being very colicky and in general, not exactly happy to be living in Reverse. These are the ONLY photos I have of Billy during that time.In mid-January, during a blizzard, the cowboy managing the ranch decided to evict us (we found out later, he was also managing a goodly sized marijuana farm in the back 40 and probably feared the girls would chance upon it on one of their Snowy river rides.
So it was that we ended up in Nutrioso, Az  where we spent the next 6 years.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hoofprints in Tenmile, Oregon

It's strange to look back and realize how often Gary rode with the girls. And he ALWAYS rode Billy when he did. Here  Krista is on Barkey (the black quarter-horse). We didn't have him long after he ran away with her and she fell off and broke her wrist. 

Sometime during all these episodes, we purchased Nova, a thoroughbred. As I was tying him up short, as Emery had taught me, he freaked out, pulled back and caught my ring finger in the rope, completely severing the top from the first joint, leaving it barely attached. The people were gracious enough to load him back in their trailer, tear up the check and leave us to race to the hospital where an amazing surgeon shot a hyperdermic needle directly into the top of my finger, reattaching it, and it healed beautifully, all nerves and nail in tact. PTL!~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hoofprints in the Cascades

Clipping Billy with Smokey the cat supervising...
 Yes, I do believe he is KISSING the horse!!

This was our last trip to the Cascades with the horses...Krista is riding Lacy, the sweetest horse EVER...she was Quarter-horse/Arabian. Eryn is on the infamous Bridgette, the orneriest horse EVER.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hoofprints on the Beach

 Gary and me

Although we only lived about 90 minutes from Bandon by the Sea, Oregon, I remember taking Billy and Major only once and that was when my sister, Teona and family came to visit. I think it was a pretty big fiasco and didn't bear repeating. The funniest thing that happened that day was that Billy decided to suddenly drop to the sand and begin rolling, successfully dislodging my very unsuspecting sister. She wasn't hurt and we managed to get him back on his feet before any serious damage was done to the saddle. But let me just say, riding Billy was always an adventure.

Teona and me

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hoofprints in the Oregonian Snow

As you can see, we did get snow in Oregon...not often, but wow was it ever beautiful. Billy's coat was like an Eskimos' and he never minded the cold, although I'm sure we must have blanketed them at night. 
As you can tell in the second photo, Krista is on crutches. Here's what happened...coming back to the barn after brushing Billy in the pasture, Krista was sitting on Bill holding the brushes, while Eryn led him. They were near the creek bed and something moved, spooking Billy. As he darted to the side, she fell off and broke her femur, resulting in surgery, 3 long pins in her hip and another surgery a year later to remove them. A very sad tale indeed. But there you have it. He was not perfect afterall :-(

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hoofprints in the Tenmile Pasture

 This is my MOST favorite picture of me on this wonderful horse named Billy...We were taking bonefide lessons at this time from Nancy Hart (Pony Club guru, from whom we later purchased the 30 year old hackney-quarterhorse mare named Bridgett for Eryn)
and I actually look like I know what I'm doing :-)

Billy doing what he most loved doing...munching...

He did not have exclusive rights to the 6 acres of pasture, however...he shared it with 4 goats (the one here is Bonnie, a Saanen-Nubian cross) and 2 other horses. (above is Bridgett). The sticks in the foreground are actually blackberry bushes and in late August, they were loaded with blackberries, one of Billy's favorite delicacies. He always had purple lips in late summer. You can't hear it of course, but Bonnie wore a little Swiss bell and the sound of tinkling could always be heard out in the pasture.

We were actually in Oregon during a 10 year drought period, so contrary to expectation, it didn't rain the normal amount. But when it did, double rainbows were not all that uncommon.
Billy never minded the rain. He not only seemed to love it, but even more loved the mud it created for his famous mud baths. He was notorious for trying to look like a very happy pig!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hoofprints with the Cousins

Stagecoach in front yard 6/85
Gary with cousin Richard Murie. For perspective, just consider,
Richard is in the Air Force, has been married for many years
and has 3 beautiful little girls of his own.
 the girls with cousin Gabriel Combs.
Krista, Gabe and Billy

Gary with Billy and Eryn on the lunge-line 

Cape Sebastian, Oregon 6/86

Krista and Eryn LOVED their stick horses, 
so creatively made by their Aunt Julie 
(not once but twice!...they wore out the first ones).  
We often had company visiting from Arizona. when the Murie grandparents would come, always bringing their huge fifth-wheel, they'd invariably bring one of the Murie cousins...this time Richard. Gabriel visited a couple of times, once with the fam and once or twice with Grandma Bailey. The horses, and Billy in particular were a major theme for any visit from ANYONE 
(not every person was capable of mounting and staying mounted 
on those wild and wonderful stick horses afterall!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hoofprints with Grandpa McCaleb

From time to time, the grandparents would come up to Tenmile to visit. This time, dated 9/84, Grandpa McCaleb was enjoying himself immensely doing what I think he loved most, tending to horses and being with the grandkids. He was an excellent rider and very much liked to ride Billy.

 Here he is in the "Governor's Troop" Pennsylvania National Guard at Gettysburg 1939

 Pop is on "Ace High", the horse he rode after the war in Germany during the constabulary and had shipped back to the states.

Horse and place unknown, but probably during the constabulary days.

I know he loved coming to visit us on the farm, watching the girls grow up surrounded by goats and chickens, ducks and dogs, horses and cats. We always had a garden, did loads of canning, hiked a lot, rode more and lived very close to the earth.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hoofprints in the yard

Eryn and Krista riding their beloved Stick Horses

 If the girls weren't riding their REAL horses, they were jumping rope fences with their stick horses or playing inside with their Breyer Horses. I remember one time stepping quietly into the living room and observing a very somber couple of girls being very serious and sad in their play (I think one of their horses had just gottten hurt or had died) I realized that a very heart-rending George Winston song was on, so I quickly changed it and suddenly, the horses were fine and all was well with their make-believe-world. Funny how deeply effected they have both always been by music.

Billy drinking from the "swimming pool" was just one of his antics. Once, when Gary was setting a fence post and had a wheel-barrow of wet cement ready, he looked around and Billy had slurped a huge mouthful and was about to come back for more! Another time, after we'd filled our little trailer with sticks from the windstorm, Billy decided he could help by systematically removing them one by one. He was SUCH a character.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hoofprints by Lake Lucille in the Cascades

We often took the horses to ride up in the forest. There were SO many places of real beauty in Oregon. 
I must admit, I loved it, loved the life we had there more than anywhere since. Diamond Lake, Crater Lake, the Umpqua River, the Pacific Ocean all within 1 1/2 hour drive or less.And no matter which horses we had at any given time, Mr. Bill was ALWAYS with us, if any of them were.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hoofprints in early Tenmile

Eryn out in the pasture with Bill.

It's hard to believe the girls were so very little when we moved to Oregon. But they were obviously born to love horses. Looking at the album of Billy recently, we were struck by the time-warp effect of the photos...Billy never seemed to change, but the girls sure did. Thirty years is a long time...not only for horses but for little girls. We actually came to Oregon with 2 Morgans, one of which we acquired green-broke from Emery. More on that later. But we were able to take them just about every weekend up to some BLM land and ride double with the girls. We even started taking riding lessons in the big Douglas County arena from Nancy Hart, head of the the local Pony Club. I cannot ever admit how shocked I was when she told me, quite confidentially when Gary was at the other end of the arena: "your husband is a natural, you know", because , although his dad was in the mounted US Cavalry during WWII, he himself was never particularly taken with horses. (and I had grown up with them).  Poor guy. Little did he realize exactly WHAT he was marrying into when he married me. 

Hoofprints Deeply Etched in My Heart

My narrative has become dry somehow...too factual and objective. I think I need to address what has transpired barely 17 days ago. Then perhaps all the in-between will be more meaningful.....................................................

"to Billy...  Pain rends my heart. This morning we say goodbye. I am not there, neither is Jess, (Gary and the girls thought it best if we go to fiddle camp) but the reality of the huge emptiness awaiting me upon our return is quite nearly more than I can bear. I cried myself to sleep last night, as did Gary and Krista. We weep, yet in our anguish, each of us knows we cannot prolong this. Each day, each pain pierced step as you try to maneuver the 2" barrier from stall to corral where you have your special pea spot, it becomes more apparent this can't go on. Soon you will fall, or not be able to get up. The corral is deeply etched with the trails your hoof leaves as you drag your left fore with each step...and there are many craters, about 5' in diameter, evidence of your battle with gravity each morning trying to get up. Oh Billy, how we have loved you these 30 years. And frankly, you have been the perfect horse in most ways. Because I couldn't ride you the past 4 years with your ring-bone steadily worsening, I think what I will miss the most is your soft nicker standing there at the corner of the corral by the back fence, breakfast, noon, evening and the deep, rich, wonderful smell of you as I bury my face in your neck fur. Mary Mels Billy. This morning we say goodbye. You will go to sleep. We will weep and we'll weep a lot. But I know it's really for us that we weep. Not for you. For you, this is a mercy. Oh God, help us to FEEL this deep inside us. Surround, encapsulate the pain with the assurance that it is LOVE that dictates our actions. Give us the fortitude to get through this day and the next and the next without this beloved horse who has accompanied us through SO MANY years. We love you Billy. You have given us more than you know and each of us will carry with us memories etched and carved with countless episodes of Billy being Billy. And thank you Martha Graves, wherever you are. Could you possibly have known what that 18 month old colt was going to give to this once so fractured little family?
Billy has been the glue that helped put us back together. 30 years! Wow, we have been so blessed. Thank you, dear God, for the gift that has never stopped giving. And today, we give him back to you." 6/24/11.

Photos taken June 14, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hoofprints from Flagstaff to Oregon

In January of 1983, we moved from Flagstaff to Tenmile, Oregon. Gary was no longer a forestry student pursuing his Master's at NAU but a bonefide BLM employee in Roseburg. We found a beautiful piece of property with 8 cross-fenced acres complete with pond, perennial creek, barn and a little doll house ( or so I thought...Having only been married to Gary for 6 months, I had not yet learned to value and appreciate his ability to appraise a situation and when he said the place needed a lot of work, I was unconcerned. How could we ever have known that given a little time, we would end up gutting the house, putting in insulation and new windows, and tongue in groove wainscotting, wall-papering, drilling a new well when the old one went dry, building a holding tank, putting in a new septic tank when the old one collapsed, etc?) The land was surrounded by ranch land and infinite acres to ride. Billy was more than happy to graze all day and munch blackberries when in season. We acquired some milk goats and chickens and in time, another horse. We had begun to home-school and life was good.