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Brenda's Stories
Riding sidesaddle

The Beginning

by Brenda Zeigenbein
Please note: "Brenda's Stories" are protected by Copyright 2002.


My involvement with foxtrotting horses began in 1988 when I purchased a bay mare for my teenaged daughter for Christmas. I picked up the mare a couple days before Christmas and hid her in the neighbor's barn until Christmas morning. It was exciting for me when Lori opened a box that had a copy of the mare's papers in it, then another box with a bridle and she realized there must be a horse somewhere. We drove to the neighbor's barn to see her horse and take it home so she could show it to her grandparents. Christmas was on Sunday that year and we took the mare back to the neighbors so we could get ready for church. Lori squirmed through services that morning - anxious to return home to ride her horse. When we got to the neighbor's barn, it was evident something was bad wrong. The mare was down and rolling in severe pain. We called the vet and he came out but was unable to save her. She died that afternoon of a twisted intestine. Can you imagine giving your daughter a Christmas present that dies on Christmas day? I don't know if it was my fault or not but I will always wonder because I was not experienced in knowing what and how much to feed a horse. Needless to say, my daughter and I were both grief stricken.

Almost immediately I began searching for another horse for Lori. Soon I found a black four year old mare out of Mr. Koskot. Tom Armstrong owned her and he lived at Salem. We went to Salem on a cold, snowy Sunday afternoon to look at her and to ride her. I bought her and made arrangements for Mr. Armstrong to keep her for me until we finished our fencing. A week later he delivered her to us. Lori rode the mare only a few times when she came down with chicken pox and couldn't ride. Naturally, I felt a need to exercise the mare for her while she was ill. Every day I would put on long underwear, coveralls, and boots and go saddle up. I had a great time! Lori would come out on the deck as I was saddling up and in her most frustrated voice she would say, "MOM!!!!" Lori recovered quickly and took her horse back.

By this time I knew I had to have a horse of my own. I started searching again. I went back to Mr. Armstrong's. This time he had a nice gray mare but he hadn't had her very long and she was poor. Her previous owner had not provided any TLC. I rode the mare and liked her so I bought her. I think we would have gotten along just fine but in my inexperience I rushed to feed her and get her fat, slick, and pretty. In doing so, I started giving her Clovite and quickly she became too much horse for me. I sold her and bought a red roan mare but she was scared of her own shadow and spooked and shied at everything. So I went back to Mr. Armstrong's to look at a big sorrel yearling. Mr. Armstrong and his son saddled him and snubbed him to a big Bashkir Curly mare, the younger Armstrong swung up on the yearling, the older Armstrong was already astride the big curly mare, and down the road they went. This was the first and only time the yearling was rode prior to taking him home. At home I started saddling and working with him myself, and then I began riding him. The only place I had to ride was in an open field but despite my inexperience and no facilities for breaking, I managed to break that horse myself. There really is something to that old saying about God looking after those who aren't smart enough to look after themselves. As I think back, I realize how foolish I was and how badly I could have been hurt. Fortunately for me, Missouri Foxtrotters are known for being gentle and having good dispositions, and this was true of the yearling I bought and broke to ride myself.

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