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Tezza Joins the Pony Express

Posted by greygelding , 03 August 2017 · 360 views

Pony express

One of our equestrian friends was active in the community and came up with the idea to reenact the Pony Express to commemorate it's anniversary. This quickly grew from one route into four going to six cities. Pam designed the logo which was silk screened on the shirt backs. Linda, the main organizer, started the planning of two of the routes. I was quickly drafted to plan and organize the other two routes. They all started in downtown Barstow with one heading to the Lenwood post office and the other to the Yermo Post office by way of Calico Ghost Town. One of my two routes would go to Fort Irwin army base while the other would go to the Daggett post office and continue on to the New Berry Springs post office. One complication was the Daggett route needed to go through the Marine Corp Logistics Base and that required permission that probably couldn't be obtained. Fortunately the Marine Corp Mounted unit was stationed there so they became part of the ride. At Fort Irwin one of the people stationed there owned horses so that part was handled as well. Official proclamations were printed up to be carried to each post office, and special envelopes were made to be canceled and mailed at each stop so real mail was actually being delivered. We had quite a number of horse owners signed up so each one was assigned a 2 mile stretch to ride with the mail. As things started to come together a few riders dropped out and were replaced with others. Some of them thought that a 2 mile stretch was too short to bother with while others found it to be too long a ride. Knowing that people can be a bit undependable and sometimes life gets in the way there was a possibility that I might find myself in the position of not having enough riders on the day of the event. This had occurred to me early on so while in the planning stage I started to see to it that Bo and Tezza were in condition to due extra legs if necessary. I started a light endurance type training routine. Taking Bo out for the first ride I headed down the long "driveway" turned right on a trail to the Mojave river, turned right on a trail parallel to it, turned right on a single track trail up a canyon and circled back to the ranch. It was a fairly easy ride and I took note of the time it took to complete. I decided that it might be fun to take Shady out for the same loop. Bo had been in a long distance ride and knew his stuff when trotting down the trail. I timed his ride so I naturally timed Shady's ride as well. Even out of shape she beat Bo's time comfortably. The next day I started to train Tezza and we took the same route. When I looked at the time I was sure I made a mistake as she was a lot faster than even Shady's time. The following day was the second workout and I made sure to take the proper time and she was faster yet! She was also had her mother's smooth gate that made the workouts fun. Bo on the other hand was a bit rough so Pam wasn't enjoying herself as much as I was but she wasn't expected to cover too many legs of the upcoming relay. I was preparing Tezza to be able to ride several legs if necessary.
As much fun as I was having, Tezza seemed to be having more but as usual for the really smart horses she became bored easily. At that time I was riding in a mechanical hackamore which I still have. I no longer use it as it's not really for training but I keep it for sentimental reasons. I became aware that she was becoming bored when as we were trotting she would extend her nose out and with a flip of the head she would grab the shank of the hackamore in her mouth and happily go down the trail holding it in her teeth. The next thing she started doing was to pick something and shy from it. It didn't matter if she had been by it every day for weeks, she would do it for fun. These things always started with the flick of the left ear back. On one workout with Pam I were trotting down the trail when I saw the ear flick.
"She's getting ready to mess with me" I stated.
"How can you tell?"
"Watch her ears. When she flicks one back, usually the left one, she's bored and ready to amuse herself. Usually at my expense" I replied with a laugh.
As if on cue here came the ear flick again.
"You mean like that?"
Just then she grabbed the shank of the hackamore.
"Oh that's a riot! What else does she do?"
"Shying will be next."
"Her? She never shies at anything."
Almost immediately she gave a small shy to the left, without breaking stride, apparently just checking to see if I was awake in the saddle. It was never a big shy, just enough amuse her and to let me know who's really the boss.
As the time approached for the relay Pam and I went out with some of the riders to ride their sections with them. One of the Fort Irwin sections was to be ridden by a lady on a pacer who was an endurance horse with a few rides under its belt. I knew that Tezza was a bit competitive but I hadn't realized how much. As we rode along beside the pacer Tezza kept slowly increasing her speed in an effort to keep a nose ahead. Pretty soon Bo was behind us and starting to canter to keep up. As the other horse started to pace and pull ahead Tezza broke into a canter as well. I reined her back into a trot as that was my preferred ground covering trail gear. Suddenly I felt a change in her and Pam saw it visually as well. She stretched out and dropped in height, her trotting became a little bit rougher and faster, and we were now right beside the pacer holding our own. The rider looked over at me, pointed at my girl, and asked "What is that thing?" All I could say was "That's my girl!" We completed a few sections with different riders, both horses were happy and still raring to go, so we were ready to ride!
On the event morning all horses were trailered into a large parking lot serving as a staging area. As Bo unloaded from the trailer he was so excited that he slipped coming out of the trailer. When he lost and regained his footing he flung his head to the side just as Pam reached for his rope striking her on the fingers of one hand jamming them painfully and breaking one. Bo was fine but Pam had lost almost all the use of her right hand. My lady pulled a cowgirl up moment, gritted her teeth, twisted the finger back into position, and said she was good to go. No way she was going to miss this. Everyone was saddled up and from there we all rode to the front parking area of city hall. While everyone was lining up side by side I saw Linda riding toward me carrying a large U.S. flag with the shaft resting on one boot. What would Tezza think of this, I wondered as I braced for the worst. Next to her was someone walking and carrying an equal size California flag. With just a bit of apprehension I knew what was coming.
"Would you like to carry the California flag?"
With what I hoped sounded like confidence I replied "Sure, I'd love to."
Tezza was alert now and took one look at the approaching horse with the flag and seemed to understand the situation immediately. My girl had never seen a large flag let alone carried one but she acted like this was the normal way she started every morning. As we took our places in front of the lineup of riders spread out behind us, the other flag was blowing lightly in the morning breeze and landing on her face. All she did was express her discomfort with the situation so I side passed her a couple of steps out of the reach of the flag. The only problem that almost occurred had nothing to do with the flags. As the speeches commenced a lady in full western get up walked up and stood directly in front of us. She was wearing a full flowing dress and a tasty looking hat with flowers decorating it. At least to Tezza it looked very edible. She perked right up, zeroed right in on it, and gave it her full attention. I could feel her gently pulling on the bridle and her weight start to shift forward in her desire to grab a mouthful of hat.
I quietly whispered "Excuse me but could you move forward a couple of steps? My horse wants to eat your hat".
Quickly she turned around with a stunned look on her face and with one hand holding her hat on her head she pointed to her and asked "This horse?"
"Yes, if she can reach it she's sure to take a bite".
The hat must have been her pride and joy as she not only moved forward but a little bit to the side.

After the ceremony was completed, I loaded Tezza and Pam loaded Bo into the trailer and we drove to the first handoff point. They turned the saddlebags over to Pam who was ready to go. As she took off for her rendezvous with one of the beautiful Palominos at the base, I loaded Tezza into the trailer and Drove to my appointed location. Pam delivered the mail at the Marine Corp Base and she and Bo were given a ride to her relay point at Calico Ghost Town on the Calico/Yermo run.

Meanwhile I took Tezza to our first leg of the day. After the exchange I put my girl into a canter and we quickly covered my 2 mile leg to the Daggett Post Office where I found the next rider waiting for me and after her departure I took the Daggett mail and entered the post office. I read aloud the proclamation and turned the mail over to the postmaster. We got a trailer ride back to my rig so I could check on the Fort Irwin route.

I drove out to check on the Fort Irwin route which was going smoothly thanks to one rider, who knew I would be stretched thin, was watching over. There was one empty slot but I happily filled it as Tezza was well prepared. We made good time and finished this leg wishing it was a bit longer, but I needed to get back to the other route. Returning to my original route I found it was behind schedule due to a decision by one rider. She had decided to substitute a green horse for her regular mount. This horse fussed, danced, pranced, and did a half pass most of the way taking a lot longer to reach the next rider. The rest of the route to Newberry Springs was completed in short order by riders in the spirit of the pony express.
The Calico/Yermo route had a planned hold to coordinate with events taking place at the ghost town. The mail was delivered with fan fare as the rider made her way through the crowd of spectators. Pam tied the saddle bags on and with Bo puffed up like the proud horse he was, they made their way out of town. Once they worked their way out of town and onto the flat trail they took off heading for the next rider in the relay. I was waiting for her and our jobs were over but decided to wait at a couple of the relay points to make sure all was going as planned. The rider who took the mail from Pam had been keenly disappointed that the relay leg was so short. A two mile ride may sound short but doing it can be a totally different thing if you haven't been doing much riding. He came to the next handoff point, dismounted, then staggered around commenting that that was a long ride. All in all the event was a huge success and the farrier and veterinarian were just spectators. We personally had mail sent to us by pony express and it arrived a few days later.

July 2018

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