Pretty Straw Light Skipper
Written 2/21/2012 By Monique Smith
I remember my first ride on Straw well. Bonnie dropped Straw off for me to try for 30 days to see if she would be suitable for my Lesson Program. I remember Bonnie telling me, “Now, Straw doesn’t know anything. I just get on her and we go.” Bonnie gave me what she knew of Straw’s history. She bought Straw 5 years prior at an auction with plans to breed her to her Arabian Stallion and planned to use the foals for endurance riding which is what Bonnie did. Straw had 2 nice foals. The third foal was born with a joint disease and could not straighten his legs. Bonnie chose to euthanize the foal and would never breed Straw again. A young girl owned Straw for eight years before Bonnie owned her and showed Straw western pleasure and horsemanship.
So, I tacked Straw western and mounted her quietly. I asked her to walk, collected her and framed her up. Straw set her head immediately. I thought to myself, wow! So far, so good, and did some lateral flexion with her, extended her and collected her again. She backed lightly, so I went ahead and switched to one hand. She neck reined like a dream and stayed in frame. I then asked her up to an extended walk and lightly pushed her into a jog. Straw was very smooth, slow and collected. We jogged some spiral circles and once back on the rail I wanted to see what a bigger gait would bring me. I asked Straw to lope and without finishing the cue this gorgeous 19 year old mare was in a superior slow lope. It was at that point that I realized I was on what I like to call a Cadillac! Doesn’t know anything my fanny! I knew that very minute that Straw would be a crucial addition to my lesson program as she is the type of horse I would in the future put countless 7 year old beginners on and she would take great care of them. I taught an elderly lady on Straw who was 70 when she started her riding lessons and had a nervous tick in her neck. To this day that lady contacts me to check on Straw. Every time she rode she offered to buy Straw. Of course I had to turn her down every time.
Today I look out into the pasture and admire Straw while she sleeps and grazes and enjoys her free time and I think about the hundreds of students who she has taught. Yes, Straw is the teacher and I am so grateful to her for that. I think back on how many students have acquired their first blue ribbon atop of Straw.
I made a promise to Bonnie who sold Straw to me right before Bonnie passed away from cancer almost 9 years ago. I would take care of Straw until the very end and that is what I intend to do. The reality is that Straw takes care of me. We joke around and say that Straw has an internal clock. If we go out to feed one minute after three o’clock which is feeding time she lets us know we are late. If I go over by one minute in a lesson Straw reminds me what time it is. “She is all business,” I always say.
So, to you Straw or as we all affectionately call you Pretty Straw I say, “thank you.” You are now 27 years old and still teach people of all ages how to ride and win ribbons for excited little girls who “love” horses. You give us something new every day you are a part of our lives. I adore you, respect you, and thank you for who you are and for teaching all of us about love, respect responsibility and relationships. God bless you Straw Light Skipper, one of the few remaining Double L Straw/Skipper W bred greats. I love you!
RIP my beautiful girl. Straw Light Skipper 2/19/1985 – 7/30/2015