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January 28- A Day I will Never Forget
January 28 is a day I will never forget! That's the date when my first horse, "Acey" was delivered and from my viewpoint at that time--my life began!
As the farmer's daughter, I grew up around and loving animals for as long as can be remembered. Cats and dogs were my first love. A Border Collie puppy named Cookie captivated my first interest in training animals when I was only 7. Yet, through my parents, I learned volumes about the other animals around the farm. Bottle calves, hand-milking Jersey cows, the chickens, goats, and even a donkey named Jethro all left a hoof/foot print in my life’s animal experiences. Yet, to own my own horse seemed the optimum. It wasn’t just a matter of having a horse. Sure, we had borrowed horses. But to own one’s own horse was a mark of achievement—at least in the thoughts of a wide eyed dreamer.
Around the age of 9, I had it all worked out. I first wanted a mule. Then I wanted to raise a mule as a baby. But then, that didn’t work out (despite my parents making arrangements to accommodate that desire—a friend’s mare wouldn’t come into season, our county ended up with a quarantine that restricted our transporting the mare to the jack, etc., etc., etc.). Weary of waiting and praying for this desire, at the end of 1995, I then my sights on owning my own horse. Even at that tender age, I had a criteria: 1) Sorrel with blazed face and stockings, 2) young so I could train her myself, 3) a filly because I wanted to raise foals out of her. In my times of waiting, I had been studying the stallions I planned to take my filly to. One was Shining Spark—who at the time was a budding “unknown” champion. Even as a young girl, it seemed I had good taste in horse flesh, for Shining Spark became a multi-million dollar stallion/performer/producer and the last time he was offered at stud—the fee was $10,000.00! Incidentally, years later, on my 25th birthday, I traveled to “meet” Shining Spark (see pic with Palomino below).
Buying Acey was a storybook horse tale. In small town Overton, Texas—Dad talked with some of his friends, who told us to go see Jack Evans. Before Dad and I even walked into Mr. Evans downtown insurance office, word had come that Ed Holt’s little girl was ready to buy a horse of her own.
Mr. Evans fascinated me. He was an older gentleman that time and toil had only tenderized. He owned the largest herd of registered Quarter Horses in the area and that in itself was enough to win my favor. I was very determined that he would not think of me as a little girl nearly 11—but the serious, studious horse buyer I was with my own money sitting in the small town bank across the road. As I sat in his dingy insurance office, with the dated dark wood paneling, I admired his horse portraits on the wall. He had a remarkably kind manner that set my shyness at ease. And he had an old-timey typewriter that I had always wanted for writing stories on. After our horse deal, Mr. Evans and I became good friends. For a few years until his death, I would occasionally go visit him, riding my bike to his office and read through his horse magazines, absorbing all I could.
My parents and I traveled out to look at two prospects that Mr. Evans had recommended for me. He expressed there was a yearling filly with a “baby doll head” and a “flaxen mane and tail”. She was out of one of his best studs who had been struck by lightning. We arrived to the muddy pen and spotted the gelding and filly. The gelding had the blaze, but with a filly, I could raise a foal!
On January 26, 1996, my Dad and I walked into the bank, withdrew $450.00 dollars from my tidy savings and walked across the asphalt to pay Mr. Evans for a little mud splashed American Quarter Horse filly named Aces Jilly. Though a granddaughter of Doc Wilson by Doc Bar, I had little understanding that this was well-bred filly from a cutting horse bloodline.
I hated her registered name and thankfully Dad came up with the nickname “Acey” that just fit. Looking back, the two days waiting for Acey’s delivery seemed about 2 weeks long. I spent that time grooming her pen—to the point all the dirt was raked with even little grooves! And I even etched her name in the wooden gate.
January 28th Acey arrived and really, in a way, my world did begin. We learned together—two youngsters that became a team. Up to my time of riding Acey, I had been a fearful, unbalanced rider—the most unlikely candidate for being a horse enthusiast or riding instructor. With my Dad’s help, I trained Acey to ride and my confidence grew. I finally learned how to ride a lope and gallop without flopping. To my loyal infatuation, Acey was the best, most beautiful, the most correctly made horse ever formed. Then I grew up and began to see Acey was base narrow, refined boned and flat footed, conformational flaws that contributed to her demise. Yet, for years Acey served me well as companion, teacher, pet and comrade for teaching other young riders about horses. When I began teaching riding lessons—Acey was the main lesson horse—everybody’s favorite. She could sense the needs of the rider and was a pleasure to ride.
Acey’s faulty conformation did lead to her injury and chronic lameness in 2007 and finally the heart ache of having to humanely euthanize her in 2008. With Acey’s burial—part of my life seemed to go with her. Yet, looking back, I thank the Lord for giving mankind such gifts in the animal kingdom to enhance our lives. Memories remain: Climbing from her back into a Mimosa tree on a warm Summer day, breezing across a pasture with the wind, galloping down a highway in quest of a runaway horse and giving instructions to my first riding students as Acey gently carried them on her back. These are all priceless tributes to an awkward, clumsy, shy girl’s dream that was fulfilled and that some horses really do contribute to benefitting people.
I did get to raise one foal by Acey. No, he wasn’t sired by Shining Spark, but a handsome homozygous Tobiano American Paint Horse named DJS Caus Ima Rebel. I even witnessed that foaling and was thrilled to find I finally got my first horse with a blaze! And then I sold him as a yearling due to just being swamped with ponies to train and not enough time to focus on Victory’s training—some sentiment, huh?! After not having seen Victory since a yearling—in 2013, I received a picture from his owners. Now a 13 year old, Victory has surpassed both his sire’s height (15.2 h.h.) and dam’s height (14.1 h.h.) by growing to 16.2 h.h.
To this day, January 28th remains a day to remember when the Lord truly did grant a personal, "specific-to-Rebekah" desire of the heart according to Ps. 37:4-5 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.