I’ve been lucky to ride several amazing horses over the years. In fact, the first horse I showed was the great Expensive Hobby. He had been retired for many years when I started riding him, and showed him at a local weekend cutting when I was 11 years old. I then was fortunate to show More Oats Please, my mom’s gelding who just happened to be an NCHA and AQHA World Champion. He carried me through most of my youth years until my dad bought me the first horse that was officially mine, Little Orphan Lena.
Little Orphan Lena and I had several great years together. We sold “Lolli” at the NCHA Futurity in 2000. I was so sad; I cried and cried. I obviously pulled at the heartstrings of my softie father, because he led me across the street to the “Seasoned Show Horse” sale, and before I knew it, LB Texas Twist was mine. Now Texas had a lot to live up to-the string that had started my young cutting career was pretty impressive. To this day I can look back and shake my head that I got ride that group of horses.
I remember the first time I rode Texas. Everyone was out of town, the ranch was quiet, so I decided to saddle up and lope around. I soon realized I was dealing with a lot more “spirit” than I was used to. He spooked at every blowing leaf, he jumped at random nothings on the fence, and he had a special way of loping with his head up, periscope style. I admit, I was a little skeptical about what my dad had gotten me into.
All my worries were soon in the past, however, as Texas and I clicked in the show pen and never looked back. He was the horse that taught me how to show. We spent several years hauling on the west coast, and were the 2002 NCHA Reserve World Champions in the $20,000 Non Pro. We followed that up with a 2003 AQHA World Championship in the Amateur Cutting. I sometimes wonder how many times that horse walked past the timeline at weekend shows, with lifetime earnings over $170,000, it had to be a lot.
What’s really cool though, is how many people are represented in that number. Of course, his original owner and rider, Mark “Blue” Lavender, had a lot of success with him in aged events before we bought him. My dad showed him in the open division during our hauling years, as did Phil Benadum, Mike Wood, and David Costello. And since his show career has slowed down, most of my dad’s assistants have begun their own show careers by showing Texas in the 2000 Rider class. Now he is our special lesson horse here at the ranch and gets to continue doing what he loves most.
What makes Texas so special to me, though, is not the titles he has won, or the people he has taught, but his personality. He’s my once in a lifetime horse, even though, honestly, he’s probably not the best I’ve ever ridden. He’s my quirky brat. The boss of the pasture. We traveled a lot of miles together, and he was my partner.
He taught me so much, mostly because he was not easy to show. I lost stirrups a lot, had more “air butts” then I could keep track of, and often had my turn back help laughing because I was hanging on for dear life. And he was the only horse I’ve ever fallen off while cutting. (Knock on some wood, please) Sometimes the ones that make you work the hardest for it are the ones you appreciate the most. That’s my Texas. May he have many more happy days. He deserves it for the many happy days he has given to me.
A recent photo-20 years young!
Photo by Charles Brooks
Bear “McKenzie P.”