Cinfulcinnamon's Blog

~~~If The Boot Fits~~~

Posted on: February 23, 2010

     It’s time boys and girls for another lesson.  Brought to you by the folks that are from “down on the farm”. The ones without much money, but with a WHOLE lot of common sense.

     I love horses.  Have all my life.  The fact that I live in the middle of “horse country” down here in Florida of all places has brought back many fond memories of my days of riding and training and showing my horses.  I naturally assumed, like most northerners that Kentucky was the center of the horse universe.  And it is.  But this area isn’t far behind.  And I love it.  The smells, and everything “horsey” has taken me back to one particular summer. And of course another life lesson that I’m thrilled to pass on.

     We were poor. Not dirt poor mind you.  Working class poor. Before my Dad retired from truck driving we lived on three different farms. The first one was where my Dad bought my first pony Cinnamon.  When I got too tall for her, he bought me a horse.  He bought a couple of horses, but none seemed to work out for us until he got the one that I would later show in 4-H. Her name was Lady.  She belonged to a friend of the family who could no longer keep as many horses as they had.  She was just as perfect for me as Cinnamon had been. Sweet, and yet spirited.  And when she galloped she held her tail out like a flag.  She was half saddlebred and half Palomino quarter horse.  So she was tall and stocky.  Her coloring was on the pale side of the color spectrum with a white mane and tail. But for some reason, the year that I had her in 4-H her coat got the beautiful golden color with the white mane and tail…like Trigger, Roy Rogers’ horse.  I went to the 4-H meetings, and learned how to groom and train myself and Lady so that we could compete in the county fair in the fall. Day after day I worked on the proper way to ride and show Lady. There was as much to teach myself as there was to train the horse.  But I loved every minute of it.  There were a few things that I was going to need in order to be competitive in the ring.  And they were going to cost money.  I was going to have to work my tail off with some extra chores if I expected my folks to buy me the things I would need.  I wanted a new halter and lead for Lady. I had a decent saddle that I could work on and clean up to make it nicer.  But I needed a cowboy hat and boots.  I told my Dad about all this stuff and he said there was plenty of time to  get all that I needed.

     In my 4-H club I met and became friends with a girl named Denise.  She didn’t live very far and her family owned a camping resort on the river.  So, sometimes, when Mom and Dad wanted to go camping with all of us kids, we would load up the car, and Dad would take Lady in our truck and we would spend the weekend at my friends place.  She and I would work our horses together, talk about boys (well, she would talk about boys) I just wanted to talk horses.  She also had a Palomino horse named Queenie.  She was a very flashy horse, but I thought Lady was better.  Denise and I were always competing with each other.  We were good friends, but we both also wanted to win those ribbons and trophies at the fair.

     Weeks went by.  Every Saturday when my Dad got back from driving all week, I would ask him about my hat and boots.  Time was getting close and I couldn’t show up to the fair without them.  I was working hard to make Lady and I the very best I could.  I would even construct makeshift obstacles and have my brother and two sisters yell and scream while I was working Lady so that she would get used to the sounds of distractions. I washed her, and groomed her daily.  I read about homemade concoctions to make her mane and tail even whiter than they were.  All the money that I made selling and delivering eggs went into special feed and leather cleaning products.  I had my eye on the prize and it was all I ate, breathed and thought about from morning till night. 

     My birthday is toward the end of August.  And the fair was in September.  I just knew that Mom and Dad were gonna come through and I would have all the things I needed to compete.  My aunt and uncle were visiting at the time and when my uncle heard that I needed a cowboy hat he gave me one that he had with him.  A very nice black felt hat.  I had been hoping for a white one like Denise had, but I wasn’t going to be picky this close to the fair.  Still no boots though and I was getting worried.  The Saturday morning before the start of fair week came and Dad came home with a paper bag under his arm.  He had a rather mischievous look on his face when he said, “I’ve got your boots today”.  I was thrilled.  Until I opened the bag.  There were a pair of beat up black cowboy boots….clearly a mans pair and much too big for me.  What was worse, was that Dad had gotten them out of a dumpster behind the truck terminal where he worked.  They were something that no one wanted anymore.  I just held them and started to cry.  Mom stepped in and said that we could fix them.  With some black polish and some newspaper in the toes they would be just fine.  Besides, it wasn’t like I’d be walking around in them.  I just needed to have something on my feet while riding.  They were right of course, but I was still hurt and disappointed.  But we were loading up for the fair in a couple of days.  Mom had said that since I had worked so hard getting ready for the fair, that I could stay all week at the fairgrounds.  That meant overnight too.  Now that was a big deal to a 14 year old kid. There is nothing better than the prospect of eating fair food and sleeping in the horse barn surrounded by other kids, talking about horses and “livin the dream”.  Later that day, Dad took me to the local hardware store and he bought me the most beautiful red halter and lead for Lady.  All in all, aside from the boots I was a happy kid.

     We stopped at Denise’s house on the way to the fair.  My Dad had worked it out with Denise’s Dad so that we would haul the horses to the fair.  When we showed up, Denise came running out of the house waving the brand new shiny boots her folks had gotten her.  I admit, they were gorgeous.  I was jealous as hell.  Especially when I remembered the crappy black boots that I had packed away. They had shined up pretty well, but they were still about 3 sizes to big if not more and the newspaper in the toes could barely keep the toes from curling up.  Oh well. We were on the way to the fair and I was so excited I could barely sit still in the truck.

     Fair Week was everything that I could hope for.  The sights and sounds.  The food, sleeping in the horse barn and showing our horses was great.  Denise and I were doing well in our classes and the horses were performing well.  I spent most of the nights alone in the barn though.  Denise was into boys and there was some teenage partying going on after the lights went out on the show ring.  I wasn’t into that. All I cared about was the horses.  It would still be a few years before I even knew boys existed. 

     The last day of competition came.  Denise looking great in her white hat and shiny new boots.  Me in my black hat and big ol’ boots.  The horses,  Lady and Queenie looked almost like a matched set.  Only the riders were different. Me the tall thinner  one, Denise shorter and a little heavier.  The grading was all done for the 4-H competition and all that was left were some fun contests.  My folks hadn’t been able to see me compete much, and I was a little bummed about that, but they were there for this last day.  And the final competition of the day was called the Boot Race.  The riders would take their boots off, throw them in a pile, the judges mixed them all up and the riders would start at the other side of the ring.  When the whistle was blown, you raced your horse to the pile of boots, had to hold your horse while you found your boots, put them on, get back on the horse and race to the finish line.  I was torn about this.  My horse was fast, but my boots sucked.  I didn’t want  anyone to see them.  Suppose the newspaper came out of the toes.  Denise had already been razzing me about them all week.  How hers were nicer, what would I do if the old owner wanted mine back all that stuff.  I went to my Dad and asked him what he would do.  He always had all the answers.  And the one that he whispered in my ear made me squeal with joy.  I ran to sign up for the race.

     I secretly took the newspaper out of my boots and shuffled along for a bit until it was time to turn them over to the judges to be put in the pile. When Denise had thrown her boots in the pile, we rode back to the starting line together.  I couldn’t stop grinning but wouldn’t tell her why.  All of us were there waiting for that whistle.  When it blew, we all took off for the pile.  I jumped off Lady with Denise right on my butt.  My boots were easy to find, mostly because they were the biggest ones there. I slapped them on and jumped back in the saddle and away I flew to the finish line.  As I crossed it….in first place I might add….I wheeled Lady around to look for Denise.  She was still back at the pile…..trying to get those BRAND NEW BOOTS  on.  They were new, and tight because they fit her.  She came in dead last.  Do I have to say how much I laughed at her?  How embarrassed she was when I reminded her that my old beat up boots beat her new boots.  It was wonderful. We laughed about that race for years after that.  I still have the blue ribbon (somewhere) from that race.

    Again, Dad had come through for me.  He was the one that said to take the paper out of the toes and that those old, loose boots would come in handy.  I was so worried about looking good and having something new that I forgot about the other things that I had going for me.  A fast horse, my skill as a rider, and those old loose boots…LOL  We couldn’t have afforded new boots for just a week of wear.  It was selfish of me to want them.  Only natural I suppose, but the lesson that I got from it was learning how to improvise.  Making do with what I had.  If I’d let my pride get in the way, I would have missed an opportunity to compete and win.

     No big moral lesson today.  Except to say this.  Do the best that you  can.  Bigger and newer isn’t always better.  Flashy sometimes isn’t as good as practical.  And true talent beats hype everytime.




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Goofy Me

I am: an Air Force vet, Mom, sister, friend, Lifestyler, and all-around smartass with a heart of gold. I have lived all over the far East and learned many things about people and cooking, art and true value. I like to share my experience with the rest of the world. I will be the most loyal friend or most annoying enemy you've ever known. Honest to a fault. My life has not always been easy, but it has never ever been boring.

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