Inspiration is Everywhere
Hero BF is Sharon’s current gray horse, and he’s a big, lovable beastie boy but once upon a time Sharon had another great gray gymkhana pony—a spicy little gray mare named Gray Dawn. Dawn wasn’t a gymkhana horse when we got her and that’s probably a good thing. Dawn and Sharon learned patterns together—barrels, poles, key-hole, 75 up & back. It was fun to go for high-point awards and the circuit that was hot in Colorado Springs at the time the Central Colorado Horseman’s Association and they offered some great year-end awards. The the local riding clubs would all include a CCHA show to their schedule. To get the big prizes—trophy saddles—you needed to get points in both the judged and speed events. So every Sunday was devoted to an all day horse show with judged events in the morning and speed events in the afternoon. This was in addition to the summer night-time affairs, where for 75 cents a class you could ride two judged events and four speed events. These evening gymkhanas were offered by clubs like Sand Drifters, Prairie Ramblers, Fountain Valley, Wildfield Riders, Black Forest and Kit Carson to name just a few. They started at 7pm and many times went to 1am and it was a wonderful way to spend a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday night. Sitting on the hood of the truck under the flood lights watching the “older kids and grown-ups” in between our turns.
Dawn and Sharon developed into a top contender in the speed events. There was no “run in” to those arenas and Dawn was one of those horses so eager to run that Dad had to “head her” for Sha to get her into the ring. He’d have her snubbed real short, facing away from the pattern, ask Sha if she was ready and at her nod, he’d turn her loose—and she was an absolute bullet and because she was small, could literally run through the poles. And because they had learned their skills together, you can see how very much in tune these two are.
Racking up points in the speed classes wasn’t an issue at all for this duo. Unlike some, our parents couldn’t afford for us to have specialty horses—one for speed events and one for pleasure classes. However, we taught this same little speed demon to hold her own in the pleasure and equitation classes by simply having one set of tack for pleasure (a simple curb) and a different set-up for speed events (a mechanical hackamore). This worked like a dream. Dawn knew exactly when she was supposed to “pleasure” and when it was okay to “make like a rocket”.
At some point I must have felt inspired to make Sharon a Gray Dawn T-Shirt. This would have been a free-hand affair with Artex Embroidery Paint. The reason I had access to the paint was because our Mom had used it to do everything from aprons to entire sets of curtains for our rooms! Guess we know where this crafting DNA is coming from. And if you look REALLY closely you can see that Sharon is wearing that shirt I made for her.
It was great source of pride to our entire family that in 1976 Sharon and her little Gray Dawn won the 10 & Under CCHA year end High Point saddle. Sharon still has the saddle and she still even has the shirt. But even better, because of our folks devoting an unbelievable amount of time to helping us pursue our love horses, Sharon (and I) both have a lifetime of this kind of riding experience behind us!