Jus' Plain Charlie

Page 3

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Speaking of babies, Charlie got along well with all horses, but he especially loved those babies.  He was an
awesome uncle, helping out with the weaning and halter breaking.He never hurt the pesky little critters,
 but he did not let them become nuisances or disobedient either.

None of us knew anything about sidesaddle, but the owner of a local tack shop had a sidesaddle that was
just hanging out in his tackroom.  He asked us if we would like to borrow it.  Always up for something fun,
we said sure.  We consulted a friend, read up about sidesaddle, and saddled up Charlie.  That antique
western saddle had no leaping horn, no cantle, and was slicker than slugslime, but we were all game and,
of course, chose Charlie to try it out.  He was once again Mr. Perfect, and everyone in the barn had to
take a ride.  Crystal not only decided to show him sidesaddle, she showed off sidesaddle and rode him
in trail, winning the class.  I don’t remember that she ever won a sidesaddle class on Charlie.  There was
always some horse that was prettier, had purer gaits or more presence, but there was no one in the classes
who was having more fun or rode more beautifully, so they always did well.  One time his bridle came undone,
and he finished the class holding the bit in his lips and continuing to do exactly as he was
 supposed to do, even backing up in the line up when asked.  (No, he didn’t win, 
but he got 2nd.)

Marian Melim Sculpture "Charlie"

Charlie & Lynne First Sidesaddle 1984
Crystal & Charlie 1985 Kitsap
Diane & Charlie 1986 TU Crystal & Charlie 1985

My husband, who was an occasional rider, was invited to go on a poker ride.
Fortunately for him, the ride was on a horse show free week end.
My hubby spent most of his time with the reins on the saddle horn, so he could take pictures.
He told me this story with a big grin.
Charlie was ambling down the trail, head down, just enjoying the time in the woods and not paying any
particular attention.  (This is the horse that calmed everyone else when pheasants burst into the air or
deer ran across our path.)  A tiny green hoppy frog jumped up right into his face, startling him awake, and he
actually jumped sideways a foot or so.  My husband was laughing so hard that Charlie turned his head and
looked right at him as if to say, “You didn’t see that, did you?”  As far as I know, that is the only time
in our years together that he was truly startled by something.

One day a neighbor’s wild mustang escaped and came into our driveway.
We closed the gate but absolutely could not get near enough to catch it.
My son called one of his friends who was a rodeo roper.  He didn’t have his horse, but we figured Charlie
could handle it.  Well, no one had ever roped from Charlie before, so each time the rope whirled out,
he sensibly ducked, throwing the young cowboy’s aim off just enough to miss.  It was quite a sight,
the ponderous old Appaloosa chasing that pony-sized mustang that literally ran circles around him.
That was Charlie’s only job failure.
(We eventually herded the mustang past the roper on foot, and he caught that little bit of lightning
and snubbed the rope around a fence post.)

Dick & Charlie Trail Ride 1982

Terra & Charlie Tahuya 1988
Cristy & Charlie Tahuya 1988 Jim & Charlie Tahuya 1988
Brieta & Charlie 1989

Charlie gave lessons and went to horse shows with us for almost 10 years
when we noticed that he was quitting exactly when the hour lesson was up
and would insist on walking over to the rail to be unsaddled.
Then he started decreasing the time he was a willing teacher.
In dark arenas he had trouble navigating obstacles, and it bothered him.
Once when the power went out, he walked right into the arena wall.
We decided it was time for Charlie to retire, but he needed just the right home.
One of my kindest and most reliable students had moved to Gig Harbor and
had a barn and pastures for her horse, but he was lonely.
She wanted a pasture buddy who could also be used for light trail riding.
This was a perfect retirement home for an old horse who had given his
whole life in service.  We held a retirement party for him at the last
horse show of the year.  His young rider won first place in her hunt seat
 equitation class:  a storybook end to a long career of giving.

Thank you, Charlie!

Beth & Charlie Bridle Path Hack 1986
Beth & Charlie Bridle Path Hack 1986

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