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Match Made In Heaven

Brenda and Beauty at Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1990
Brenda and Beauty at
Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1990

continued by Brenda Zeigenbein
continuation of previous story entitled, The Beginning

It was at this point I began to develop an interest in showing and we made our first trip to Ava. One trip to Ava and I was really hooked. The obvious problem was I needed a show horse but couldn't afford to buy another horse. I decided to take my gelding to a trainer to see if he might make a show horse. In trying to decide who to take my gelding to, I remembered meeting Clarence Zeigenbein at L.D. Dampier's sale the year before. I had seen Clarence from time to time at the horse sale in St. James and since I lived in Rolla, only ten miles away, I went to St. James hoping to see Clarence and talk to him about riding my horse. Sure enough, Clarence was there and I made arrangements to take my horse to him in February.

When February rolled around, I loaded my horse and took off for Eldridge where Clarence was riding out of Bobby Ripley's barn. It was an interesting experience. I saddled up my gelding to show Clarence and he went off in a stiff legged pace. Because I broke him to ride in an open field and was afraid he would run off with me, I had pulled him up in the bit and held him back causing him to pace. Clarence didn't say anything - just put him in a stall.

Clarence got a black mare out of her stall and turned her out to exercise. He then got a gelding out, saddled him, rode him a few minutes, and then let me ride him. Then he saddled up another horse, another, and another. Each time he would ride for a few minutes and then let me ride. I was having a good time - I loved to ride and I wanted to learn all I could. I do remember noticing that each horse seemed to be better than the last one. I didn't realize at the time he was setting me up. When I didn't appear to be terribly excited or interested in any of the horses I had rode, he then went out to get the black mare. I trailed along behind not wanting to miss a thing. He called to the mare and she ran as hard as she could run and skidded to a stop right in front of him. This mare was not real big and not especially beautiful. She was cow hocked and had sort of a walking horse appearance. Clarence saddled her and started off - that is when she changed into the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. That was also when I fell in love. The mare had a graceful carriage, carried her head high, her tail was up and she looked like a show horse. She walked, she trotted with rhythm, and she was set solid and consistent. After a few minutes, Clarence pulled up in front of me and said, "Do you want to ride her?" I was just waiting for him to ask! I rode her and was not disappointed. I knew I probably couldn't afford her but I also knew I just had to have her. I asked, "How much?" First Clarence laughed - remember I didn't come to his barn to buy a horse. I came to have a horse trained. Finally he told me what it would take to buy the mare and my heart sunk to my stomach. I couldn't come up with that kind of money.

When I got back home, I couldn't get that little black mare out of my head. I thought about her all the time. I was anxious to hear how my gelding was doing but had promised myself I wouldn't bother Clarence about him for at least two weeks. Finally two weeks had passed and I called and made arrangements to visit the barn again and see what progress had been made on my horse. When I got there Clarence rode my gelding and I was surprised to find him foxtrotting. I distinctly remembered Clarence telling me that he probably would not start his trot right away but would work the first several days on his walk. After a few minutes Clarence let me ride him and I was very pleased that he broke over and trotted for me immediately. Then I asked him to walk and that is when the trouble began - all he could do is pace. I pulled up in front of Clarence and said, "Make him walk". He just laughed and said, "I don't know if I can". Then he explained that the horse was set in his pace so deep, he had decided to try hardtrotting to break up that pace. Clarence still kids me about that gelding I broke myself. He tells me that was the roughest riding horse he ever rode. He said even his hard trot was better than that pace. I think that might be a slight exaggeration since after all, I had trail rode him. In the end, my gelding turned out to be smooth riding but was not a show horse and I sold him to someone to use on the farm.

Before leaving to go back home that day, I rode the black mare again. That just reinforced my desire to have her for my very own. Clarence wouldn't budge on price - he said he didn't care if he sold her or not. I went home, thought about it, and wrote Clarence a letter. I will never forget how it began. How could I? I rehearsed it over and over again in my head. I began by saying, "I can not and will not give $__________for your good black mare BUT I will give $__________, PROVIDED…….". Then I listed my terms and conditions. Next came the hard part - waiting to hear if he would accept my offer and my terms. (My terms were things like getting her vet checked for insurance, and keeping her and riding her for me, etc.) I didn't know at the time but Clarence didn't go to the post office every day and I became increasingly more nervous as the days passed and I didn't hear from him. Finally, the phone rang and when I answered it Clarence was laughing so hard, he could hardly talk. The bottom line, though, is he was willing to accept my offer and my terms. I was so excited I couldn't sleep that night. Funny thing is, the mare never left Clarence's barn. Clarence got my money, kept my mare, and got me in the bargain. We still argue about which of us got the better deal and to this day, Clarence laughs about that letter. This was the beginning, as this article is entitled, of the "Match Made In Heaven".

That spring we took my black mare to Bentonville, Arkansas. It was our first show and I was entered in the Ladies class. The class was large and I recognized people's faces and horse's names from studying the Celebration books. I was very much aware the competition was keen and I might not place. Clarence and his son, Frank, coached me throughout the class and my mare worked perfect. They called our number for sixth place and I remember thinking there was an awful lot of applause when they called our number - more so than for the first through fifth place horses. I was thrilled! Our first class and we didn't leave the ring empty handed - a class with many good horses and lady riders who had been showing for years. . When I got back to the barn and started to unsaddle my mare, Lee Hackler walked down and introduced himself to me and said, "I told the man sitting next to me I don't know who that lady in the red jacket is but she won the class and I 'm going to walk down to the barn and shake her hand". I like telling this story - it meant so much to me for Lee to take time to congratulate me, a newcomer, and welcome me to the world of horse showing.

I only showed my black mare that one year and then we bred her. She has had ten babies in the last ten years. Beauty is out of MO Raven and a Zane's King mare, and by the way, she is the mother of Lad's Cruisin Susan Z.

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