Trial Balloon

A Horse Is A Horse of Course

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 15, 2010 by Dale Connelly (39 Comments)

Radio Heartland has tickets to a concert by Martin Sexton at the Fitzgerald Theater on Sunday, April 25th at 7:30 pm.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck.

A racehorse named Zenyatta won the Apple Blossom Invitational in Arkansas last Friday and tied a mark set in 1948 by the Triple Crown winner Citation at 16 wins in a row. The six year old won this race as she usually does, charging past the competition down the stretch, taking the lead just before the finish line.

I don't follow horse racing and I really don't like to bet money on anything, but there is something irresistible about a come-from-behind victory. When I was a mediocre half-miler on my high school track tream, we had a runner nicknamed Goo-Goo who would wait for the last 50 yards and then sprint like crazy, often bringing in a dramatic victory at the tape. People like to say that exceptional athletes "make it look easy." Goo-Goo was talented but contrary - he liked to make it look hard.

Zenyatta is Goo-Goo's equine equivalent, although she's a lot better than ... well, any other creature on legs, it seems. Here she is winning the Breeder's Cup last fall.

A profile of Zenyatta in last week's New York Times revealed that she also dances, eats cake and drinks Guinness. Add all those quirks to the come-from-behind theatrics, and obviously this is America's reigning equine superstar.

There was a time in our history when the human-horse relationship was central to everyday life. Not so much anymore.

What's your history with horses?

Comments (39)

thrown off, scraped off under a tree branch, toes stepped on. hmmm.
i'm trying not to say anything disparaging about them. i like draft horses and i'd like to learn how to use them. horses may be prettier than goats. but my toes don't break when a goat steps on them.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 15, 2010 6:11 AM

Greetings! My favorite horse was the white stallion on the Carousel, or was it that racy horse on the pony rides? Ah well, no horse experience here. Although I loved the Black Stallion books.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 15, 2010 6:20 AM

I don't even have as much experience with horses as Joanne... as I've never even read the Black Stallion series!

Posted by sherrilee | April 15, 2010 6:26 AM

Good Morning All Including Horse Lovers,

I have limited personal experiences with horses, but they were an important part of my mothers life. I did go for a ride on a horse once and the horse decided to lay down while I was riding leaving me standing along side it.

When my mother was young my grandfather ran a livery stable which served as a sort of taxi service for visiting salesmen and others before cars became the main source of transportation. Later my grandfather used horses for farming.

Posted by Jim | April 15, 2010 6:27 AM

I photographed the Cafesjian carousel for the National Carousel Association, Joanne, and I think you'll find that every horse on it is a dappled gray. Most unusual. I adore that old carousel.

My dad was an artist in Iowa at a time when people assumed most artists were gay. As a teen, that shamed him, so he set about proving his masculinity by siging up for a National Guard unit of the US Cavalry. He was issued a sword and pistol.

I grew up hearing stories of his cavalry adventures. A handsome young radioman in the unit drank and had troulbe getting on his mount. His name was Ronald Reagan. Dad had some terribly funny horse stories and a few that were thrilling.

Much later, when I was growing up in Ames, our dentist had a fat colt he wanted trained so it could be ridden. Dad took on the job in exchange for a lot of dental work on the family. I had mixed emotions about that. When my sister tried to ride the mare, the horse ran right at the only tree in the corral area and scraped off Nancy on a low branch, strange fruit bobbing in that tree.

My daughter grew up riding horses in camp, which is one reason she went to watch a rodeo in Oregon when she was in college out there. Molly ended up being talked into entering the calf roping contest, and the results were spectacular, but the story is too long and involves more horse poop than is acceptable on public radio. She is a better mother, I can aver, than calf roper, and she smells better.

Posted by Steve temporarily in Porland | April 15, 2010 6:37 AM

Sadly, not nearly as much experience of horses as I ever wanted. Took the trail rides in Colorado when we were on vacation there, but that was always too tame for me.

Laura Ingall's description of riding bareback for the first time in On the Shores of Silver Lake was my ideal.

Dream of owning a Friesian someday. (Wonder how she will get along with the goats and if I will be able to share a Guiness with her).

We've loved the carousal at Como since it opened (didn't get to the State Fair until it had moved from there). I think my son was not yet 2 the first time he rode it (and loved it). Also took my 80-something aunt one time (she remembers it well from the fair). Wonderful piece of Minnesota history and it actually goes fast enough, but unlike every other carnival ride there seems to be, doesn't make me sick.

Posted by catherine | April 15, 2010 6:55 AM

i have no horse stories other than a sister who at age 5 or 6 got a pinto pony who became her best firend. every day she would go and go and look after pepo. she had sever dislexia and life was difficult at school and felt stupid about herself and the horse was a good outlet. today she is 50 she still has a horse as the constant in her life. she has had big challanges in her personal life an i think the horse is her anchor.
dale i think if you had started pushing a little harder on the last half of the race you could have beat goo goo.
looking forward to the TMORA trip on saturday

Posted by tim | April 15, 2010 6:59 AM

Dale - do you by chance have the PDQ Bach version of The William Tell Overture (I think that's what it is)? That's a very funny "race" to classical music.

Now I do remember another horse ride I took at a Pillsbury outing I organized. We rode a horse by ourselves (not attached to a metal ring) through a lovely wooded trail. That was fun. I remember laughing most of the time because I was just bouncing around as the horse trotted along.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 15, 2010 7:11 AM

Oh dear, wherer do I begin? A grandfather and an uncle who always had horses...summers spent with grandparents on farms in sw MN...then school years in northern MN I became well known as the only kid in the neighborhood who could actually neigh like a horse...remembered for galloping like a horse rather than running like a kid.
Read every horse book I could find EXCEPT the Black Stallion series.

I was 36 before I had a horse of my own. Dressage and jumping lessons, shows and club ensued....have since had mares, foals, geldings, even a stallion for a short while...Arabs, quarter horse, appaloosa, thoroughbred, percheran-thoroughbred cross,..left in the pasture now is an elderly Trakehner gelding, an Icelandic and Tennessee Walker..."pasture art"

Oh, thank you for Jennifer Warnes' version of Leonard's Ballad of the Runaway Mare. Love it! -- better than Leonard's own version.

ps. movie with the best filming of a horse race is The Reivers (based on a Faulkner novel)

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 15, 2010 7:20 AM

I fall into the "mostly on carousels" group for horse experience.

My one ride on a real horse was back when I was in Girl Scouts. We went on a trail ride where mostly all you had to do was keep yourself on the horse, the animal knew where to go, where it could trot, etc. I got a huge horse (bigger than the one my troupe leader rode) that bit the other horses. And he (she?) knew when it could run - and he did, whether I wanted it to or not. Haven't been on a horse since. I really should try again, I suppose, but only if I can convince the critter not to run.

Posted by Anna | April 15, 2010 7:37 AM

Catherine - the horse may share a Guinness but the goats will want it all to themselves.
Cynthia's Icelandic is the most beautiful horse i have ever seen.
we got 0.025 inch of rain yesterday, Clyde - keep trying.
Steve tiP - how's Liam?
All - great day

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 15, 2010 7:37 AM

When our daughter and her best friend, both golden-haired, were much younger,my husband took them to the NDSU Extension near our town to see the black percherons they have there. The horses love attention and carrots the girls brought, and tried to eat their hair as they thought it was hay. My daughter's friend comes from a long line of rodeo people. Her grandfather and uncle rode broncs in Madison Square Garden in their younger days, and her dad has a team roping arena on their ranch. We have lots of rodeo out here, and lots of great horses. We have a nice place to do trail rides near the Little Missouri River north of our town. We don't won horses but we love them.

Posted by Renee | April 15, 2010 7:43 AM

Tim, Sherrilee, et al - Who is all going to TMORA on Sat? I'm seriously considering it. I saw on web site there is an hour-long docent led tour that starts at 1:00pm. Is that something we want to do? I am clueless about Russian Art, so I appreciate what I can glean from a docent. Or not, if folks just want to chat and wander around. What do you think?

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 15, 2010 7:52 AM

tim-wlecome back. Glad to again have someone keyboarding worse than me, although with you it's an art from. I did raise the topic of Russian art on this blog and am then not going. Horse stuff!!

With apologies to cynthia, I have many many horse stories, none of which I think I am likely to tell. Grew uo farming with the dern things. The draft variety, while often simply beautiful, are lazy, stupid (except for getting out of work), beer-swilling, ornery bar flies. A pox upon them all I say. Except my daughter has a man in one of her churches who has teams for fun and lets me drive them. Ah, the memories. They say the sense of smell evokes the most memories. And yes, Steve, it is that smell that evokes those memories. Remember that the driver of the team hath not the the best view. Despite that my father doted on them, somaybe ourse were just spoiled brats.

Posted by Cly de equine de distaste | April 15, 2010 8:04 AM

Good morning, all.

I grew up occasionally riding horses... not much though. I didn't have any horses, but my grandmother used to tell me about her horses, Blue and Dapple, which I always thought together were poetic names. There was a farmhand on her ranch whom she didn't like, and once, when he was riding one of the horses, she popped out of a ditch, waving her yellow slicker to frighten the horse. She wasn't ordinarily a mischievous child, so this story spoke volumes on how she felt about this man.


Posted by elinor | April 15, 2010 8:06 AM

Joanne--I might recommend the tour, not because I have taken it. But when I was first there I did not realize the stature of some of the artists in there. Who can remember the names, much less pronouce them. My wife was fortunate to have as a last name Slimak. Also, the gift store is very fun and very expensive (my wife fell in love with a $750 linen) but they have one book at a decent price which has an over view of 20th Century Russian art. at a decent price. Many of the paintings in the museum are in the book.

Posted by Clyde with Russian wife | April 15, 2010 8:10 AM

I've always loved horses, but never had the chance to learn how to ride. I tried when I was younger, but there wasn't anywhere that would give lessons.

I do remember visiting my grandparents in Arkansas when I was around 12 or 13. There were trail rides around the hollers (or hollows for us northern folk) down there. I begged and begged my parents to go on a trail ride, to which they finally agreed...if only to get me to stop begging, haha. No, my mom knew how much I wanted to learn to ride. She looked for riding lessons in our area, but there's only one stable, and you have to have your own horse. That trail ride was so much fun! The horses only went at a walk, but I was fine with that. It was nice just to be there, riding this gorgeous animal :) My friend had horses, but they required a more experienced rider to handle them. At the county fair, we would all hang out in the horse barn. Ah, the memories...

I would still like to learn to ride. There is a place not far from where I live now, but I'm not sure if they give lessons...or how much they are.

I've read many, many books on horses: riding them, taking care of them, racing them, you name it, I've read it. I also read the Black Stallion books, though I preferred Black Beauty.

Good topic!

Posted by Alanna in MI | April 15, 2010 8:10 AM

Like Joanne and Sherilee, I have only a literary relationship with horses. Only times I remember riding were at a high school friend's out on her farm, and then a Colorado vacation.

I've enjoyed a couple of Sara Gruen's (Water for Elephants) earlier books, some good stuff involving horses by Anne R. Siddons, and does anyone remember reading Brighty of Grand Canyon? (Read that to 5th graders when student teaching.) I wish I could be a horse person, but am just scared silly.

I love reading accounts of a relationship with horses helping kids with autism, etc.

Posted by Abby in Robbinsdale | April 15, 2010 8:13 AM

In Garrisons New Gospel Quartet (is that the right name?) album, he has a song called "Brownie and Pete," which is just perfect as a song about a team and is perfect as a hymn. If Dale were here, I would request it. The rhythm is exactly right.

Posted by Clyde | April 15, 2010 8:13 AM

If I keep posting, I will not have to start work, which is course, is what I accused horses of.
Weather report up north-- Be safe in the fog cynthia (and barb if you are going out). Or cynthia, are you in at work yet?
Weather report here--raining nicely and I beat it in and still did my 10 miles despite a terrible cold on top of spring fm flair-up. Saw my first flowering bush and tree.
Another "Empire Falls moment" at MSU this morning. Stopped to use a bathroom in a classroom, as old men must. Saw a sign on a classroom door that said something like this. "Health Sciences 2222 'Wellness and Preventative Care' is cancelled. Instructor is ill."

Posted by Cly de equine-ish | April 15, 2010 8:19 AM

Clyde, I have talked to old farmers who were glad when they no longer needed to farm with horses and other farmers who really enjoyed farming with horses I guess you and your father are examples of these two apposing opinions about farming with horses.

An amish farmer told me that we should remember that you can get new horses by breeding them, but that isn't true for tractors.

Posted by Jim | April 15, 2010 8:22 AM

Abby (and yes i remember who you are, barbara!!)--I believe "Brighty of Grand Canyon" is a Disney movie from the old Sunday evening show. Some movie about a mule getting revenge on his owner's killers is a Disney movie. Is that it? My kids loved itr as children. For me the bestg book about Horses is Flicka because it is really more about a son and a father, in some ways like my father and I.

Posted by Cly de mule de canyon grande | April 15, 2010 8:26 AM

Barb You apparently missed an earlier post of mine. Liam is perfect. He is the best baby that ever was, if not a bit better than that. Yesterday he was able to use one arm to grab a toy without flailing pointlessly with the other hand, and yes, I was there to witness that. He is too polite to cry but makes a sort of "Uh, uh, uh!" noise that indicates he is empty. His usual vocalization is a three-note cry that sounds like "Ah, LEE uh!"" and which is as pretty as a songbird's salute to the dawn. He is better looking than any baby anyone can remember seeing. My observations convince me he is artistic, good humored, Democratic and possibly left-handed. He smells good.

Thanks for asking.

Posted by Liam's Smitten Grandpa | April 15, 2010 8:28 AM

Joanne...TMoRA has the following positive responses: Sherrilee, Anna, Abby (nee Barbara) in Robbinsdale and Tim. A.Lurker.. are you out there? Are you coming? Anybody else?

I'd love to have the docent tour at 1 p.m. - it's amazing the kind of insider knowledge docents can have.

I wonder if we should let them know there might be 5 or 6 of us for the tour??

Don't forget to check on getting a free pass from the library if you're a Hennepin County card holder!

Posted by sherrilee | April 15, 2010 8:29 AM

I am trying to set the record for mosts posts in the shortest amount of time.
Jim--yes, horses are cheaper and self-replicating, although we did not breed them. In the rough times of the late 60's we used horses as much as possible to save buying gas and such for the tractor.

Posted by clyde poste de ouvre | April 15, 2010 8:30 AM

Steve--left-handed would make him as close to perfect as your decription of him.

Posted by Cly de sinister et gauche | April 15, 2010 8:36 AM

Wow, Steve --that's one amazing grandbaby! Such an adoring Grandpa. I have 3 handsome boys and they all came out looking perfect, too. All natural childbirth, perfect round heads, beautiful faces -- no coneheaded, squinchy alien faces for me! Everybody else's babies look like that, though ;~) teehee

I feel stupid -- I made a request to Dale, and he's not here. Totally forgot ... It just seems like he's here.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 15, 2010 8:44 AM

cmon in joanne, take the train and i will pick you up and drop you off if youd like. (i just think the train sounds fun. 1 oclock so i will pick you up at 1230 if you are interested. docents may or may not be there but we can look at great art with or without commentary
clyde, maybe thats the story of life after all. get others on a cool line of direction then let them go. huh dale?
horses are kind of like dogs it sounds like. you put up with them because they become family after a while, another dysfunctional aspect of life to deal with. slow lazy smart when it figures how to get out of work (sounds like my basset) but my wolf dog is a stellar beast who is polite patient intuitive and dedicated.
people need critters and now that they are not primary parts of our lives like they were 100 years ago, we get dogs instead of horses. if i had to deal with my car on the same basis as i would if it was a horse i would treat it differently. when it becomes simply a matter of function its a different story. my wife will tell me i'd better watch out.

Posted by tim | April 15, 2010 8:45 AM


Not much horse experience for me either... as has been stated before; my Dad farmed with horses as he grew up and as soon as he got a tractor the horses were gone.

My wife had several horses before we got married-- all back at her parents farm several hours from here and the last horse died many years ago. I rode one. Once. There's a picture to prove it.

A cousin is now running miniature horses in my pastures... they are cute and fun! No riding though...

I think we got .3" rain last night... plus some quick T-Storms.

Posted by Ben | April 15, 2010 9:08 AM

OMG Tim, you are so awesome! Why the heck didn't I think of that?! Just checked the schedule -- train arrives at Target Field at 11:15am, so I could hang out for a while. Trains returning to Big Lake are at 4pm or 7pm. Well, that just nails it.

We're down to one car, so I can still go and Jim can still get the kids to karate, and I wouldn't have to drive -- great combination.

Tim, if you're really serious about picking me up, email me at to get details ironed out. WooHoo!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 15, 2010 9:12 AM

Joanne... you're added to the list. I'm making goat pins tomorrow night!

Posted by sherrilee | April 15, 2010 9:28 AM

Joanne.. you're on the list.

Who else? Making goat pins tomorrow night!

Posted by sherrilee | April 15, 2010 9:30 AM

sorry... again. Got an error message that said first posting hadn't gone through.

and... HAPPY SPRING Heartlanders. The first really sure signs of spring - the worms have come up with the rain. Saw several this morning on the sidewalks and parking lot.

Posted by sherrilee | April 15, 2010 9:48 AM

sherrilee, I wish I could come. I'm using this free weekend to get my house organized. I moved almost 4 weeks ago now, and I'm just starting to get my house unpacked. I can't wait to get all the boxes put away :)

Posted by Alanna in MI | April 15, 2010 10:35 AM

FYI you merry-go-round fans: the mall here in Mankato has a very nice functioning round in the food court, up and down horses (plastic) and the whole bit. My grandchildren love it. I think it's a dollar to ride, chaperones with smaller children free.

Posted by Cly de carousale de equine | April 15, 2010 3:19 PM

Alanna - you moved where?

I just remembered my friend Broxann who ALWAYS wanted a horse when we were growing up. She never got one, but now has 3 great danes... :)

Should we arrive a bit before 1 on Saturday if we're doing the docent tour?

Maybe I'll sign like this during this transition phase; it's what several people call me anyway at this point.

Posted by Abby/Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 15, 2010 3:26 PM

clyde. i hate that i am busy in the mornings this time of year and miss the posts as they occur. you are setting the record for the most posts in a morning and with a cold and spring flair up too. i thought until you mentionesd it that you must be feeling better. if you didn't say you felt less than perfect one would never guess. maybe you wright better under duress huh? you can embrace your feeling awful as a vehicle for marvelous blogging. theres lemonade for you. thanks for the TMORA idea. its going to be great. come up with something that will work for you one of these days weeks whatever works. almost certainly you will come up with a time i won't be able to make it but give it a shot sometime.

abby 1245 sounds perfect. i will grab joanne and be there to join the fun.

renee, i can see the trails by the river. how wonderful i love those gentle rolling hills north of town

steve. thanks for the reminder about the smell. i love the smell. left handed is so valued in china when i go to visit they alweays comment on how left handed people have superior brains. it is common knowledge over there. my favorite thing at that age is hanging a black and white mobile over the bed. they have them in those upscale baby stores or make on with you own design or simply do flash cards. black and white (they don't see color yet) with real sharp contrasts like lightning bolts with sharp pattterns or sharp designs like the labyrinth with a pattern that his eye can follow. watch the brain get a jolt and watch him get a kick out of it.
allana, put on dales harry bellafonte album for saturday work music, i use that, sam and dave and james brown with a double batch of bach cello concertos for a well rounded day of housekeeping perfection. enjoy.
sherrilee. thanks for heading up the weekend.
see you in the morning rhers

Posted by tim | April 15, 2010 9:36 PM

Abby - I moved from Ishpeming, MI to Owatonna, MN, then up to Gwinn, MI when I got a job. I've been living out of boxes for over 2 months now. I'll be VERY happy to get everything unpacked :)

Posted by Alanna in MI | April 16, 2010 6:23 AM

Oh, and Tim - Thanks for the music suggestions! I'll definitely try them :)

Posted by Alanna in MI | April 16, 2010 6:23 AM

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