Monday, January 25, 2010


Michelle has been riding and training horses since she was a little lass. It is her passion.  

Back in her native Pittsburgh, Michelle rode in parades, competed in equestrian events in full habit, and today in Florida she rides for the pure joy of it. As with most horse lovers, Michelle has an affinity for these animals; has a sixth sense for what a horse wants, needs and even what they are thinking. Saddle or bareback, Michelle is at home up there, and it shows.

"Michael" (as he's known in Florida) is just the opposite. Michael's first encounter with a horse was at age six or so in Chicago's Lincoln Park. When Michael was put upon that "pony ride" pony that day, he was uneasy. When Michael noted that the horse was big and stinking Michael wanted off the moment he got on. When Michael saw what big teeth the horse had, Michael knew this was definitely not for him. When Michael suddenly realized that the horse had turned its head around to bite him on the leg with those big teeth (or so his terror-stoked mind thought), Michael allowed no grass to grow under his fanny while flying off. It was another ten years before Michael had the guts to get back up on another horse.

Michael has studied horses and written about them countless times in his books. Much of American history is horse history. To a degree, he admires horses. But Michael has never been able to shake off his first encounter with that horse in Chicago. Horses are big, strong and if they set their mind on something there ain't a whole lot one can do to stop them. Michael knows this. There is an account in Michael's Indian War book of spooked cavalry horses carrying their helpless riders straight toward the Indian line of battle . . . and instant death.

All the horses here where we live are fenced in, of course. But sometimes Michael still feels like a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory.