Platinum Decision

 

                                 

 

Platinum Decision

     My name is Platinum Decision and I’m a thoroughbred; the fourth horse to join the herd. Platinum is a valuable metal so I guess Platinum Decisionmeans it was a great decision to buy me – and I agree. Even people who don’t know much about horses have heard of thoroughbreds, because many of us are famous racehorses. We start our training at the track when we’re two, but we only stay there if we’re very fast. Most of us are sent off to new homes and new jobs. I was pretty fast, winning seven races before I left.

     All thoroughbreds are registered with an organization called, The Jockey Club. We’re given a name and a number which is tattooed inside our upper lip. You can find out our birth date and racing record by researching this number. My Jockey Club name was Sicilian Lover, which I think sounds like a pirate’s name. I prefer Platinum Decision. I’m too fancy to be a pirate.

   After I left the racetrack, I learned how to be a “hunter”, which is not the same thing as a person who tracks down animals. A “hunter” is a horse who is taught to move in an elegant style called, English riding- but you don’t have to be from England to do this! Even a Martian could be an English rider with the proper training. Hunters also jump, which is a job I really like. I feel like I’m flying as free as the birds I see high up in the sky when I soar over a fence. Mom only rides me over little jumps because she’s a chicken – like Sonny. I’ve tried to convince her to go over something higher but she says, “No thank you Platinum. I’m afraid I’ll fall off.” Since I have good manners and don’t want her to get hurt, I resist the urge to go too fast or jump too high. I save that for bolder riders.

NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME

   I am the second biggest horse in my barn. At 17 hands, Beau is the tallest. I have great “conformation” which describes how I’m built. All my parts, like my neck, shoulders, back and haunches – or what you might call my hips – are the perfect size and shape, which makes me strong and fast. I have a white mane and tail and hundreds of rust and gray freckles sprinkled all over my white fur. I really stand out in a crowd since most horses are chestnuts or bays. A horse with my coloring is called, “a flea-bitten gray”. Even though it’s not a pretty name, it’s still a pretty color. Remember, it doesn’t matter what someone calls you. It doesn’t change who you are.

MY MINI-ADVENTURE

     Even though it was winter, with snow covering the ground, it had been pouring rain for two days. Mom kept us in the barn so that we wouldn’t catch a chill. We may be big and strong, but we get sick easily.

       I had plenty of hay, so I was content. Not Trinity. Mom says he has “ants in his pants”. There’s bound to be trouble if he gets bored. When he reached over and opened my door latch with his teeth, I couldn’t resist the temptation to leave the barn. Uh, oh. I felt guilty because I knew I was being naughty.

     I must admit it felt pretty good to be free to go wherever I wanted to, but I wasn’t dumb enough to go near the road. That would be dangerous. I took my time exploring our property until Mom spotted me standing near the barn. I pretended I’d been standing there the whole time, but the hoof prints in the snow told the real story.

   She frowned and asked, “How did you get out Plats?” I didn’t tattle on Trinity, but she figured it out pretty quickly. Since I wasn’t wearing a halter, I knew she couldn’t force me to go back into my stall and I was tempted to ignore her. Then I thought, “That’s silly. Where would I go? Who would feed me? Who would love me?” Cherokee has told us scary stories about owners who didn’t take care of their animals. Frightened that Mom might sell me to someone like that, I walked quietly back into my stall.

    

                                                            

 

 

                          

Mother or Monster of the Bride

MOTHER or MONSTER of the Bride?

Planning a wedding is the ultimate mother/daughter bonding experience, especially when it comes to finding The Dress. As the designer and creator of hundreds of wedding gowns, I’ve had the opportunity to witness this rite of passage up close and personal. Often, a bride and her mother were so close it redeemed my faith in humanity. And then of course there were those relationships that were so toxic I was tempted to call in a spiritualist to diffuse the negative vibes pulsing through my salon.

Prior to the 1960s, weddings followed fairly standard traditions: a virginal-looking bride dressed in a modest white gown enjoying an equally modest ceremony and reception. “Sexy” and “bride” were never uttered in the same breath, and divorced women or those who had already embraced motherhood were expected to marry quietly wearing something a bit more “suitable” than full bridal regalia. Brides weren’t skipping barefoot through a forest glen to meet a groom decked out like a medieval knight, couples didn’t exchange vows while dangling from a bungie cord or swimming through a coral reef and no one went into hock for decades to host a reception fit for Donald Trump and his latest wife.

Today, no one bats an eye if a single woman opts for motherhood prior to wedded bliss or a couple lives together “without benefit of marriage” – to cite an archaic term. In fact, many of today’s stars flaunt this lifestyle encouraging many to follow their example. Much to the chagrin of some, bridal fashions have kept pace with these new customs. Pity the poor MOB who’s stuck in the way-back machine.

I’ve had my share of traditional brides, but their conventional tastes did nothing to eliminate conflict between the two key figures. Often the bride envisioned something modern and understated, while the mother craved lace, beads and yards of tulle. “No VEIL!? Oh say it isn’t so,” moaned the distraught MOB, forcing me to switch from coutouriere to counselor. I’d remind the sad MOB that imposing her will for a one-day event might result in an eternal rift between her and her daughter. Were a few yards of lace and tulle really worth the risk? Besides, if she truly loved her daughter, wouldn’t she want her dreams to come true?

Having witnessed so much mother/daughter wedding drama, I vowed to be selfless and saintly when my own daughter got engaged. I’d blithely – and repeatedly proclaim: “I’ll never …. when Sara gets married!”

Ha! Easier said than done; because now she is engaged. The engagement didn’t come as a shock; they’ve been together for years. I like her fiancé and believe they’re a great match. They are both gainfully-employed, mature adults living in their own home. Based on those happy facts and factoring in my 30 years of total wedding immersion, I should be pretty blasé about the whole event, shouldn’t I? Possibly; but apparently my wedding lust hasn’t been satiated, and I have embraced wedding planning with wide, wide, WIDE open arms.

Luckily or unluckily for both of us, my daughter and I have similar tastes and personalities. Luckily, because we share the same vision, i.e. castle, princess, and tasteful drop-dead glamour. Unluckily, because neither of us is shy about speaking our minds. Even now, I can hear the phantom bickering.

We’ve set the date and booked the venue: October 2011 at The Castle on the Hudson. Check off “castle”. We’re in agreement about the general style of the gown –which of course I’ll be designing and creating despite arthritis, tendonitis and carpal tunnel. (Hey, it’s only pain; this is my daughter’s wedding!) The style? A replica of an 1880’s ball gown, one sure to rival any Worth creation. Check off “princess”.

We still have to choose the flowers, the invitations, the musicians, the favors, plan the ceremony, the shower and create her gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses – (did I mention I’ll be doing those as well? – And yes, I’m not only a compulsive over-achiever, I’m also a serious masochist – with a sense of humor.) I’m getting queasy thinking about how much still needs to be accomplished.

I’ll be sharing my highs and lows with you as we prepare for this event. Hopefully you’ll gain some useful tips if you’re planning a wedding or at least be entertained and relieved you’re not treading the same dangerous waters.

 

Trinity aka The Meenster

 

 Mom named me Trinity because I am her third horse, but most of the time she calls me by my nickname, The Meenster – as in Mini-Monster. She doesn’t think I’m a bad monster; but when I’m bored, I get into trouble. Like the time we had to stay in our stalls for two whole days because it wouldn’t stop raining. Booorrrring! When I discovered that I could reach the latch on Platinum’s door, I unhooked it with my teeth. I knew I was in trouble when he slid his door open and left the barn. Uh, oh. 

I belong to the breed of horses called Morgans. All of us can trace our ancestry back to one very special horse named, Figure, who was born in Vermont in 1789. He was owned by a schoolteacher named, Justin Morgan, which is how we got our name. My great-great-great-great, well, I don’t really know how many “greats”, grandfather was the fastest, strongest and bravest horse around. He excelled at everything he tried to do: pulling a wagon, dragging a tree stump out of a field – even winning races. He loved having a job and always tried to do his best. He had amazing genes, because even though he lived over 200 years ago, all of his descendants resemble him and we’re just as talented. We have strong, thick necks and hold our heads up high. You can tell we’re proud of ourselves.

 Because of our bravery, good health and tough hooves, we were used by the cavalry during the Civil War. In fact, two famous generals rode Morgan horses. Rienzi was owned by Philip Sheridan who was a union general and the Confederate general, “Stonewall” Jackson, owned a Morgan named, Little Sorrel.

 You might think a horse this special must have been really big. Surprise! He wasn’t. Most Morgans are small compared to other horses. (Technically, I’m a pony, but don’t tell anyone. They think I’m a horse.) Remember: you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best! You can be smart, athletic or artistic no matter what size you are and you’ll always be a winner as long as you try your hardest to succeed. 

I’m very handsome – I’m not bragging; I’m just repeating what I hear. I have shiny black fur, with just a hint of dark gold on my sides. My mane is black and so is my tail, which is thick and so long it touches the ground. I have dark brown eyes, like most horses, and long black lashes. A horse with my coloring is called a bay.

A Halloween Horse Show

Lots of horse owners compete in shows to test their riding skills and their horse’s abilities. My brothers are afraid to go to shows or ride in the trailer. Not me. It’s exciting to see new places, new people and new horses. It’s better than staying home and being bored!

One day Mom took me to a Halloween horse show. Just for fun, the riders and their horses were supposed to wear costumes. It’s a little tricky finding a costume that will fit a horse and still allow him to do his job. How could I trot and canter if I was dressed up like a mummy?

Mom decided to make a devil costume for me – probably because she didn’t think I’d make a very believable angel. She attached sparkly red horns to my bridle and clipped a red devil tail on top of my own. She put gold glitter on my hooves and painted flames on my saddle pad. At least my costume didn’t make me look dumb. One horse was forced to wear a silly hat and a giant polka dot bow tie around his neck. I could tell he was embarrassed. I didn’t make fun of him, because I knew he already felt bad enough.

You might be wondering what a “bridle” is. It’s made of leather and fits around my head and face and holds the “bit” in my mouth. A “bit” is made of metal or hard rubber. It doesn’t hurt. In fact, I kind of like to chew on it. When my rider moves the reins, it moves the bit, which tells me what she wants me to do: like stop or turn or tuck my chin and arch my neck, which makes me look pretty fancy.

I’ve been to other shows too. I didn’t have to wear a costume, but I did get the full beauty treatment. Many English show horses have very short manes which are braided and then twisted into tiny knots. Since I’m a Morgan, I’m allowed to keep my long luxurious locks, but I still have to look neat. Mom braids the end of my mane into a French braid. I must admit I look pretty snappy. Even Mom has to dress up in breeches, boots, a show shirt and a jacket. I thought she looked nice until she put on a hairnet! I didn’t want to tell her that it wasn’t her best look, because I love her and didn’t want her to feel bad. Luckily after she put her helmet on, nobody could see it. 

Cherokee was the next horse to move into the NEIGH-borhood. He’ll tell you a story about himself soon. I think you’ll like him. He’s old and very tired, but he doesn’t have a mean bone in his little shaggy old body.

My name is Generally Sonny

I’m a 26 year-old, registered Quarter horse. I live with four other horses, Cherokee, Trinity, Platinum Decision and Beau Geste, who are like brothers to me.  I guess you could call us step-brothers. Each week, one of us will teach you something about horses.

What’s a Quarter horse? Horses, like dogs, come in many breeds. Collies, German Shepherds and Dachshunds are three dog breeds. Quarter horses, thoroughbreds and Arabians are only a few of the many breeds of horses. I am a “registered” Quarter horse because all of my ancestors were also Quarter horses.

We are the most popular American breed. When the colonists came to this country and settled in Virginia, they brought thoroughbred horses with them. Virginia was inhabited by Chickasaw Indians who had tough little ponies. When the thoroughbreds had babies with these Indian ponies, a new kind of horse was created – us! Although the thoroughbreds were very fast, they discovered that this new breed was even faster in a short race.

Do you know how long these races were? One quarter of a mile – and that’s how we got our name. Although a thoroughbred will probably beat us in a longer race, we can instantly burst into full speed and beat him in the first quarter mile. A Quarter horse holds the record for a short sprint; 55 miles an hour – the speed limit on many of our highways.

Saddle Up!

Along with her passion for everything bridal, Nancy has loved horses since she was a child – and she’s not alone. Unfortunately for many horse-enthusiasts, this hobby requires knowledge, bravery, time, determination and plenty of cash. She had just about given up hope of ever satisfying her equine dreams when fate took pity on her in the form of her daughter. Happily, Sara had developed her own adolescent obsession for this beautiful animal.

Since riding lessons were no more expensive than ballet or gymnastic classes, Nancy and her husband were able to indulge their daughter’s yearnings. The moment she stepped into her first riding stable, sniffed the air, touched a velvety nose, Nancy was instantly and irrevocably hooked. Determination and an overwhelming love for horses helped her conquer her cowardice and lack of coordination. Over the years, she went from rank beginner to accomplished professional and owner of her own personal herd of five.

Having found such joy in this venture, Nancy has written Saddle Up! to enable the newest generation of horse-lovers to embrace their passion. Publishing Works, Inc. will be releasing this book as well. Nancy’s herd members help illustrate the techniques needed to safely pursue this hobby and educate the reader about choosing his or her own perfect horse. A great partnership comes from matching the size, talents and temperament of both horse and rider.

Nancy’s unquenchable sense of humor has helped her survive horse and bridal traumas as well as all those motherhood highs and lows. Saddle Up! will inspire, educate and leave the reader laughing!

I first became a bride

On October 31, 19— I first became a bride. Of course it was Halloween and I was only 7 years old, but I couldn’t have felt more regal if I’d actually been getting married. (Forgive me, but I’m not quite bold enough to fill in the remaining two numbers of the year.)  At the age of 23, I fulfilled my bridal fantasies by walking down the aisle decked out in a fabulous gown – my first venture into bridal sewing. Unfortunately, I soon realized that particular walk was inspired more by my need to play bride than to become a wife. Several years later I found true love and reprised my favorite role for the third and final time. I made that dress as well, although in keeping with my status of “recycled” bride, I created something a bit less grand.

Even after two trips down the aisle, I still had an unquenchable lust for wedding gowns. (I was also equally infatuated with horses and eventually managed to satisfy that obsession as well – but that’s another story.) When my friend got married, she was thrilled to have me make her gown, and then came another friend, a sister-in-law and soon a new career was born.