Hannah Hooton’s Latest Novel – Share and Share Alike

share and share alikeIn late June I received an email from Hannah Hooton requesting a review for her latest novel ‘Share and Share Alike’. I am not a professional critic although an avid reader. My list of reading material was short on romance novels but that didn’t stop me from giving it a shot. So of course, I agreed to critic the novel.

The setting for the novel is Aspen Valley and Aspen Court a fictional English manor. The premise for the book is a group of people who buy a share in a racehorse named Ta’Qali. The Ta’Qali Syndicate is made up of a circle of interesting characters; some with other motives than profits derived from owning a racehorse. The heroine, Tessa, finds more than romance when Ta’Qali winds up mysteriously injured. Tessa not only needs to come to terms with her feelings about men and passion, but also, her repressed feelings about family responsibility. If that wasn’t enough Tessa must solve the mystery of Ta’Qali’s injury to save her ancestral home and the brother she loves.

Hooton manages to write a “can’t put it down” romance novel perfect for light summer reading. The characters are well developed and the racing scenes written with the understanding of the events. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and engaged. All in all, ‘Share and Share Alike’ is a fun read. I recommend the book to those who love horses, romance and a good mystery.

Share and Share Alike is a digital book and can be found at the following links:


In the coming weeks I plan to write a short biography about Hannah and her experiences with horses. So until then Happy Trails to all my readers.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Black Jack the Army Caparisoned Horse

Confusion, turmoil, intense news coverage, huge crowds and deep sorrow ordered the day. President Kennedy’s funeral and burial in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, was the first televised State Funeral. Dignitaries came from around the world to pay homage to the fallen President as the American people watched at home on their television sets. A nation shocked and mourning watched as a young widow, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and her small children attended the service. Perhaps the confusion between Black Jack, also known as Sardar, a gift to the Kennedys from President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Black Jack, the Army caparisoned horse, was a natural mistake; after all both horses had the same name, white stars, were bays, the same size and highly excitable. It would be natural for a case of mistaken identity to occur; the irony is so great it is almost unbelievable.

Pierre Salinger, White House Press Secretary, cleared up the confusion by telling the press that the horse, Black Jack, belonged to the Army and not Jackie Kennedy. Then it fell on the Army to tell its story of Black Jack the caparisoned horse.

blackjack1 (1)Black Jack, born on January 19, 1947, was named in honor of General John J.“Black Jack” Pershing. The Quarter horse received his training at Fort Reno in Oklahoma. Fort Reno, an Army Quartermaster Remount Depot, procured, breed, trained, stabled and sold horses. When the Army needed horses and mules the Remount Depot supplied them; when horses and mules were not needed they were returned to the depot. Fort Reno on average quartered approximately 14,000 horses; however, during World War II the Army became mechanized and the need for horses decreased. Finally on July 1, 1948 Fort Reno was turned over to the US Department of Agriculture. The horses and mules were sold or given as aid to foreign countries. Black Jack was one of the last Quartermaster issued horses. He carried a US brand on his left shoulder and the serial number 2V56 tattooed on his neck.

Black Jack arrived at Fort Myer on Nov 22, 1952 and became part of the Caisson Platoon of the 34d US Infantry Regiment (Old Guard). The horse did not do well under saddle; as an alternative, he became the riderless horse for military funerals at the Arlington National Cemetery. Even here Black Jack performed poorly; he was high strung and nervous, never getting used to the cannon fire which was a part of every funeral. Black Jack’s handlers changed every 18 months until Pete Duda became a suitable partner for the gelding. Together they walked in more than 200 funerals.

Black Jack Kennedy FuneralDuring the Kennedy Funeral thousands of people around the globe watched the caparisoned horse dance and paw the pavement behind the caisson. Black Jack captured the hearts of viewers. His high spirit and beauty caught the public’s attention and created interest in the horse.

However, nineteen year old Pfc. Arthur Carlson, Black Jack’s new handler, had his hands full; more than once the horse stepped on his foot. The young man feared his toes were broken. The pair made it to Arlington National Cemetery and waited as the President was lowered into an open grave and buried.

Black Jack birthday Black Jack became an overnight sensation. School children came to Arlington National Cemetery on fieldtrips to visit the horse. Nancy Schado, president of the Army Arlington Ladies, became Black Jack’s honorary “mother” bringing the horse pecan cake on a regular basis; especially for his birthday. President Richard Nixon sent the horse a birthday card which still hangs in the stables at Fort Myer. Black Jack received the attention and care of a national treasure.

Black Jack grew old and semi-retired in 1973. He died at the age of 29 on February 6, 1976. Black Jack participated in the state funerals of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, CIA director Herbert Hoover and General of the Army Douglas MacArther. The horse was cremated, his ashes placed in an urn and carried by a funeral procession with full military honors. He was the second horse in US military history to receive full military honors and burial. The first horse to receive such honors was Comanche; survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Black Jack’s ashes lay in Summerall Field. His grave, marked by a monument with an attractive metal plaque, commemorates the horse.

Sources: http://blog.al.com/live/2013/11/arthur_black_jack_and_kennedy.html, http://books.google.com/books?id=jiQwfCOryiMC&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=black+jack+army+caparison+horse&source=bl&ots=VclCMme19h&sig=WzwW4WM1qreeK5hpWdvi1DfPd44&hl=en&sa=X&ei=EYPNU_WXHo-vyASo84LgAw, http://www.fortreno.org/history.html, http://www.history.army.mil/books/Last_Salute/ch23.htm, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3776, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jackie-kennedy-receives-horse-from-governor-of-pakistan, http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/remembering-black-jack, http://blog.classic-equine.com/2014/03/horse-history-jackie-kennedy-given-horse-from-pakistans-governor/, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1915&dat=19631125&id=sCAiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vnEFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6125,3764094, http://www.horsecarecourses.com/horse_of_the_week/2012/02/black-jack-the-caparisoned-horse-at-jfk-kennedy-s-funeral.html, http://blog.al.com/live/2013/11/arthur_black_jack_and_kennedy.html, http://lindavistaarabiansllc.com/newsletters/december-2013-the-riderless-horses-black-jack-and-sergeant-york/, http://www.businessinsider.com/jfk-funeral-arrangement-2013-11, http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/remembering-black-jack, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/anc-lady.html, HTTP://WWW.APNEWSARCHIVE.COM/1995/VOLUNTEERS-ENSURE-NO-SOLDIER-IS-BURIED-ALONE-AT-ARLINGTON/ID-6ED92D1046261804D8C8A124D25C3AF9, http://books.google.com/books?id=jiQwfCOryiMC&pg=PA108&lpg=PA108&dq=nancy+schado+arlington+virginia&source=bl&ots=VclALhf5ck&sig=zZi2aYiHGPq-mJMol0wa5-wVL6s&hl=en&sa=X&ei=O7qsU8_oCsKLqgbi5IGoCw&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAQ,

Photographs in the Public Domain

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jackie Kennedy and Sardar “Black Jack”

The world in 1962 proved turbulent, dangerous, filled with espionage, closed door politics and intrigue. The Cold War fought between the principle players the US and USSR; raged across the globe pulling smaller nations into their sphere of influence. The volatile year hosted an Atomic Bomb tested in outer space in July, the Cuban Missile crisis in October, John Glen orbited the Earth in February. Pilot Gary Powers, who secretly left a Pakistan air field and was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, was exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel in February. In March, Jacqueline Kennedy and her sister visited Pakistan. They attended the Ninth Annual Pakistani Horse and Cattle Show at Fortress Stadium in Lahore, Punjab. During her visit, Mrs. Kennedy was given a horse named Sardar. The horse, the descendent of champions, was breed in the famed Aga Khan stables. Jackie renamed the horse Black Jack after her father “Black” Jack Bouvier.

glenorakhan jackie riding with pakistani presidentA military transport brought Black Jack to his new home; a stable at Glen Ora an estate in Middleburg Virginia about an hour’s drive from the White House. Jackie, an equestrian since childhood, treasured riding her new horse in the quiet countryside. President Ayub Khan on a diplomatic visit to the US stayed at the estate with the Kennedys and was photographed riding with Jackie.Jackiesardar

By law, gifts from a foreign country to the President or a member of his family are accepted on behalf of the United States. Such a gift becomes the property of the nation and may not be kept as a personal gift.

Jackie Kennedy received many gifts during her trip to Pakistan, gold necklaces, two tiger cubs and a horse. According to White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger all the gifts were handed over to the State Department except one; Black Jack. Supposedly, an arrangement was made to allow the First Lady to keep the horse with the stipulation that she pay 7 ½ % of the horse’s value; a type of tax.

ST-498-1-62Events on November 22, 1963 turned Jackie’s world upside down. That Friday her husband, President Kennedy, died; brutally assassinated by a sniper in Dallas, Texas. The President’s body was placed in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours. Sunday his flag-draped coffin, carried by a horse-drawn caisson, traveled to the Rotunda of the US Capitol. More than a quarter of a million mourners paid their respects to the fallen President. On Monday, November 25th after Requiem Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the body was taken to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.

Jackie on Sardar The military officials in charge of the funeral followed strict protocol; however, Jackie, if a precedent could be found for her request, was allowed to orchestrate the funeral by adding her own personal touch. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln had a caparisoned horse at his funeral. His horse, Old Bob, rider-less with riding boots lodged backwards in the stirrups, draped in black, was led behind the procession. In the same manner, Jackie may have requested her horse Black Jack be used as the caparisoned horse. After all the horse, a gift from Pakistan to the US, had become part of the Kennedy family.

Here is where my research into this story goes wonky. On Sunday, November 24 a member of the Associated Press called Jackie’s press secretary, Pamela Turnure, to confirm that the horse in the procession to the Capital was Jackie’s horse. Turnure replied yes, the horse was Mrs. Kennedy’s Black Jack. However, the next day, the day of the burial, Ms. Turnure recanted and said “I was wrong.” Pierre Salinger also stated to the press that the horse, Black Jack, belonged to the Army.
Newspaper Clipping Now here is where everything gets very odd. On November 27, Jackie contacted the Secretary of the Army, Cyrus Vance, and stated that she wanted to buy Black Jack the caparisoned horse. It’s unclear what she was told but obviously the answer was no. Shortly after her request, Black Jack’s caparison, which included his saddle, bridle, saddle blanket, sword, boots and spurs were delivered to Jackie at the White House. All of this happened two days after her husband’s funeral in the midst of packing, taking care of her children and organizing her possessions in order to leave the White House within two weeks. If the horse wasn’t Jackie’s Black Jack why did she want to purchase the animal? A horse she had only seen for a few hours during the funeral procession.

So now I’m left with more questions than answers. Was there a legal issue to ownership or a question of national security? In any case here is where the “Sardar – Black Jack” story ends. I couldn’t find any other reference to the horse or what happened to the beautiful creature. It is as if the animal just disappeared into thin air.

My father always said, “There are two sides to every story.” The other side of this story is the tale of “Black Jack the Army Caparisoned Horse” which will be my next blog. Until then, Happy trails to all of my readers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_funeral_of_John_F._Kennedy; http://www.beartoothnbc.com/features/a-look-back/19233-a-look-back-march.html?p=2; http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jackie-kennedy-receives-horse-from-governor-of-pakistan; http://carlanthonyonline.com/2013/12/06/jackie-kennedys-last-white-house-days-what-she-found-in-jfks-desk/; http://www.businessinsider.com/jfk-funeral-arrangement-2013-11
http://www.businessinsider.com/jfk-funeral-arrangement-2013-11#ixzz363GhzbZ2; http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0194033.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riderless_horse; http://www.businessinsider.com/jfk-funeral-arrangement-2013-11#ixzz363GBXQUj; http://www.businessinsider.com/jfk-funeral-arrangement-2013-11#ixzz363EhAi3L; http://news.google.com/newspapers; nid=1915&dat=19631125&id=sCAiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vnEFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6125,3764094; http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024083192; http://news.google.com/newspapers nid=860&dat=19620327&id=d39OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VEsDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4592,3216072; http://www.history.army.mil/books/Last_Salute/ch23.htm

Photographs in the Public Domain

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Farrier Kenny Bellis Visits Ballentine’s Horse Heaven

Kenny Bellis and CJ
A gray haze clouded the sky restraining the early April morning. A slight chill clung to the shadows but spring definitely hung in the air. When I pulled in front of the stables Kenny’s truck was already there. I walked through the barn and found Johnn and Kenny in Myrtle’s stall. The draft horse had one leg lifted as Kenny finished off filing the hoof.

Kenny in some ways was new to being a farrier having just graduated from Oklahoma State Farrier School in September. In other ways, being a farrier seemed only natural since he was the son of a farrier. At Oklahoma State, Kenny completed the 6 week course; a hands on experience with some lecture/class time. The class was small, only 12 students. Every day he worked with different horses, solved different problems.

“Why did you decide to become a farrier,” I asked Kenny. Johnn Ballintine

“I always wanted to be a farrier, but I didn’t want to compete or interfere with my father’s business. When he passed away I decided to go to school.”

“So you’ve been around horses all of your life?”

“I grew up with horses, did all the kid stuff, shows, roping competitions, trail riding, team penning. I still do local rodeos. My wife, Dawn, does barrel racing. We run a family stables with 18 boarders.”

“That must keep you busy.”

“It does. We also have a 2 year old son. He has a mini-horse which he loves to brush, but as soon as we put him on the horse he cries. If we put him on a bigger horse he’s fine. So when we go to shows, our son rides the big horse in lead line classes.”

Kenny Bellis He finished trimming Sam and Myrtle; although draft horses, the two are trimmed without use of a stock. Stocks aren’t’ always fail-proof. After Kenny graduated from farrier school, he was hired by a farrier who had been injured by a Clydesdale. The horse was in a stock when the animal panicked, broke the stock and the farrier’s leg. Kenny was hired by the farrier, and for several weeks, Kenny rode around with the injuried man. He picked up some useful pointers as he trimmed and shoed horses for the other farrier.

“I’m careful when I go out to the pasture to get CJ or Pepper. I’m always aware of the draft horses, especial Myrtle, since she’s very attached to Pepper. Myrtle’s a big horse and sometimes runs after us and likes to kick up her heels.”

“It’s good to be careful. A draft horse is like a mule. A riding horse usually won’t run you over, but they will. Mules and draft horses aren’t animals to mess with or take lightly,” replied Kenny.

Kenny moved on to the riding horses, Jupiter, CJ and Pepper. Each horse in turn received a trim; no shoes today. Kenny lifted CJ’s hoof, did his job, everything went like clockwork.

“What are some of the challenges you find being a farrier?”

“I love what I do and I am lucky to be able to work with horses every day. It is hard to work for people who don’t understand horses. Some people buy a horse for their kid and know nothing about the horse. It’s easier to work for people who know their animals and work with them daily,” replied Kenny putting CJ’s hoof back on the ground.

Before long the horses had all received their trims and waited to be returned to the pasture. I turned my car towards home as Kenny gathered his tools, climbed in his truck and headed for another job.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Polar Vortex and Winter Riding

Winter has been weird. So many days in January, February and March dipped into the teens with negative numbers at night. Why so much strange weather? Was it Global Warming or just bizarre weather? Weathermen started throwing around the term “Polar Vortex” to add to the abnormality created by the extremely cold temperatures. What exactly was the Polar Vortex and why did it keep happening?


Wavey Polar Vortex on January 5, 2014 — Typical Polar Vortex November 2013

The Northern and Southern hemispheres have huge cyclones which swirl in a circular pattern around the poles. These cyclones are permanently a part of the poles and are called the Polar Vortex. The Polar Jet Stream forms a border around each vortex. If the jet stream weakens frigid Arctic air flows south allowing a southern excursion of the vortex. This was what kept happening in the winter of 2014; over and over again.


Although I enjoy riding in winter, the temperature and wind-chill made it impossible. It wasn’t until early March that I finally got back to the stables. Everything was as I last saw it. Johnn was busy cleaning stalls and the horses were in the pasture.

It seemed like a heat wave, the temperature actually hit 40 degrees. I expected to see people out and about, but Johnn said the overcast skies probably kept people inside. I saddled CJ and headed up Oakfield road. I expected to hear animals moving through the woods but it was stone silent. Snow still blanketed the fields and the ground was frozen solid.

Woods near Murray Creek Drive

CJ and I circled back toward the barn picking up Murry Creek Road. The trees showed no signs of an early spring, and Murray creek was frozen solid. Within a few days, the frigid weather was back again.

Now it is the first week in April and it feels like spring, even though a couple of days ago winter still clung to the thermometer. Everyone is hoping that winter is over, but it’s not unusual to get an April snowstorm; only time will tell.

murry creek


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Safety of Riding with Tapaderos

Tapadaros A few years ago I purchased a used saddle with tapaderos or ‘hooded stirrups’. I had never used stirrups with tapadero coverings and was surprised how comfortable not to mention how stylish they were. The saddle was a little small for me so I covered it and used another. Recently, I moved on to an endurance saddle and decided to transfer the tapaderos from the old saddle.

A woman once told me a trail ride horror story of a girl whose stirrup became tangled and caught in brush. The horse felt trapped and started bucking to get free sending the rider to a hard landing on the ground which broke a few of the girl’s ribs. One reason tapaderos were invented was to prevent this type of accident from happening.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the tapaderos gave me a little more safety. I often rode down wooded trails with overgrown branches. When the trail narrowed and branches brushed past my leg the tapaderos prevented the underbrush from becoming intertwined in my stirrup.

Tapadaros and CJ

The tapaderos also prevented my foot from going completely through the stirrup. The rider’s universal fear of having a foot hung up in the stirrup when falling off their horse prompts many parents of young riders to insist on tapaderos. Personally, the mental image of being dragged, head bouncing along the ground was enough to keep my feet placed on the edge of the stirrups; tapaderos made it a no-brainer.

Another advantage was extra warmth. The hooded stirrups gave my feet that extra warmth riders crave on winter outings. Working cowboys often lined the inside of their tapaderos with fleece for added protection against the cold. The idea made sense and someday soon I plan to make a lining for my hooded stirrups.

Given the advantages tapaderos provide riders, you would think that more people would use them. Perhaps the reason for this is tapaderos are not allowed in most horse show classes and usually only seen on parade saddles. However for riding back roads and trails they certainly provide extra safety and comfort.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/, http://www.saddlezone.com/help_answer.asp?ID=17,www.unm.edu/~gabbriel/index.html,

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Learning to Drive a Cart with Barb Barnes

Barb A few months ago in September, when the weather was warmer, the leaves a golden yellow and the grass still green, I found myself back at Windy Ridge Stables. Barb Barnes was expecting me. She stood in the indoor arena instructing a woman on the art of Western equitation. As I walked into the waiting area just outside the arena, I anticipated my first lesson on how to drive a cart.Barb and cart 003

“Fiona’s in her stall. Grab a brush and cleaner her up. I’ll be with you soon,” Barb said turning back to her student.

Fiona, a white Percheron, stood 17 hands at the withers. I slide the stall door open as the horse turned her head and gave me an inquisitive look. Conveniently, a brush box doubled as a stepstool which I climbed onto giving me the height I needed to brush dirt off Fiona’s back and neck. Before long, Barb showed me how to put the draft harness on Fiona. We took the horse outside for some ground work. I walked behind Fiona and with Barb’s help drove the horse up and down the gravel road next to the barn.

Barb loaned me a couple of books on driving a cart: “Work Horse Handbook” by Lynn R. Miller and “Breaking & Training the Driving Horse” by Doris Ganton. I took the books home and flipped through the pages until I came to a section in Doris Ganton’s book explaining an accident she had when driving her cart. It seems she was out late one night and lost sight of the edge of the road. Her cart’s wheel slipped into a ditch ending up with her cart flipping over. Luckily, she managed to save herself and her horse, but as I read I suddenly realized that there was a downside to carts and carriages.

On the Road After a few lessons, I gained some experience on driving the cart and harnessing Fiona, not an easy task given the size differential between me and the horse. One brisk November morning, Barb and I climbed into the cart. I drove Fiona away from the barn and out onto the open road. The wheels clicked as the horse’s hooves tapped out a rhythm on the asphalt. I tried to remember to keep track of the cart’s front wheel and the side of the road.

The countryside opened up before us as we traveled along the road occasionally increasing speed to a trot. After a few miles, Barb told me to turn around. I turned the horse back towards the barn, and immediately, like many horses, Fiona picked up the pace and trotted up the hill.

“Just don’t let her break into a canter,” warned Barb.

me and Fiona

At the top of the hill we saw a pothole repair truck coming towards us. The huge truck had a large hose attached just above the front bumper; coiled like some strange gigantic serpent. The driver saw us and slowed down but didn’t stop; not a good sign.

“Is Fiona OK with big trucks?” I asked.

“I guess we’re going to find out,” answered Barb.

Fiona’s pace slowed as the horse stopped, lifted her head and looked at the truck slowly approaching us. Before the vehicle could pass by, Fiona decided she didn’t want to have anything to do with the truck. Quickly, the horse spun around, turned the cart in the opposite direction and made a hasty retreat. At that point the driver stopped the truck and Barb took the reins. She skillfully maneuvered Fiona down a steep driveway away from the road and the odd vehicle. Before long we heard the truck rumble past us, then Barb turned the horse around and we headed back onto the road.

“That was exciting,” I said.

“A little too exciting,” replied Barb handing me the reins. She pointed to a steep drop-off and continued, “I just don’t want us to end-up down there.”

“That would have been bad.”

“With horses things can go bad real fast.”

Time passed and the weather changed. Winter brought snow storms which blanketed the countryside and made travel difficult. Then a polar vortex streamed across the Northeast plummeting temperatures into the minus digits. My lessons on driving the cart were cancelled until better weather and I found myself inside keeping warm. Even riding CJ or Pepper proved difficult, except for trips to the barn at Horse Heaven to brush down the pair. Currently, the weather report is not encouraging; another polar vortex for next week. This weather can’t last forever, and when things thaw out, I’ll be back to Windy Ridge for another lesson on driving a cart. Until then, stay warm.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tinsel-n-Lights Celebration 2013 – Waverly, NY

It was dark, cold and anything but lonely. Hundreds of people filled the winter night on their way to or from the holiday celebration underway in Muldoon Park. Quickly, I passed the fire engine parked to serve as an emergency vehicle at the corner of Lincoln and Chemung streets. The crossing guard signaled for me to walk and I headed towards the park.

The small village park stood transformed. Max Weed and his Halflingers waited by the curb while people climbed into the back of the wagon for a ride. The bandstand decorated with lights glowed as a hum from the crowd filled in the spaces between musical performances.

At the corner of Park Avenue and Park Place near the Vietnam War Memorial, Mike Cary and his reindeer stood behind a chain link enclosure. I passed by the reindeer in search of my friend Anne Shaffer. Near the booth that housed Santa, I found her.

“Anyone else here?”
“No, not yet.”

Santa John Hansen

It wasn’t long before we were joined by the other members of our Zumba group; Fitness with Serena from Athens, PA . Zumba helped me stay in shape, keep extra pounds off and generally have fun.

Once the sound equipment was connected, the music motivated my feet and the exercise kept me warm from the biting cold. After we completed our routine, I left the group and met up with my husband, Moe.
“Let’s take a look at the ice sculptures,” I said.

Four sculptors from Sculpted Ice Works carve out their creations in ice at different locations in the park. By walking in a circle through the park, you were able to view each one. Since it was late, the artists were putting the finishing touches on their ice sculptures.

The first ice sculptor we met was John Hanson. He remembered me from last year. We chatted as he finished up his sculpture of Rudolf by giving him a red nose.

“That’s really impressive,” I said.

“Thanks, a woman stopped to watch and gave me a tube of lipstick for the nose. It works,” he replied.

Neil Tripper
neilNeil tallking to kids

Lora Borer carved her sculpture with a chainsaw carefully cutting out snowflakes and trimming off edges. The words Tinsel-n-lights swirled in gentle curves and clear-cut penmanship in a block of ice balanced on top of the sculpture. She too remembered me from last year and took time to talk with me and others in the crowd.

Not far away the buzz of a chainsaw hit the cold air as Neil Trimper neatened and refined his ice-sculpture of a kneeling angel. A crowd gathered to watch and he stopped periodically to answer questions from people observing his work.

I remembered Neil from my first Tinsel-n-Lights 2011.

“So where do you go after your done here?” I asked.

“We have two winter festivals tomorrow in New Jersey. The first is in the morning and another at night.”

“You know the weather report calls for a huge snowstorm tonight and tomorrow.”

“I heard. It makes it hard since we have a big truck to haul our equipment, but we’ll make it.”


Moe and I stopped to view Walter Gasiorek’s sculpture of an elf. This was Walter’s first year at Tinsel-n-lights. Before long, we said our farewells to Walter and called it a night. The temperature proved bitter cold and most of the crowd had left. Lucky for us it was a short walk up Lincoln Street and home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Trail Ride for Kenneth W. Bellis, Jr.

Farrier Kenny BellisKenneth W. Bellis, Jr. held several different jobs during his lifetime, but for those who own horses he’ll always be remember as a farrier and a horseman. Born December 30, 1954 in Sayre, PA, he graduated from Tioga Central School in Nichols, NY. He was a member of the Twin Tiers Riding Club and the Tioga County Saddle Club. For a time, he worked in Rodeos as a pick-up man and enjoyed team penning. He worked as a farrier for 20 years and traveled as far as Tennessee to shoe horses. He enjoyed attending the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio.

Memorial Trail Ride 10/27/13 Kenny passed away suddenly, without warning on July 16, 2013. Funeral services were held July 22, 2013 at Buckheit Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Mansfield, PA. After Kenny’s death, his son, Kenny “Buddy” Bellis, and daughter-in-law, Dawn, planned and organized a memorial trail ride in honor of they’re father. The ride took place on a hazy morning; October 27, 2013. Twenty-three riders gathered with their horses at Rising Hope Farm, had breakfast and then headed out on the trail for a couple of hours in honor of Kenneth W. Bellis, Jr. The riders followed a wooded trail under a sky that looked like rain but only a few drops fell. Kenny will be missed and always remembered by friends and family.
Kenny Bellis 002

The Cowboy Prayer (unknown author)

Let me tell you folks
Who have gathered here today
That I’m a proud and thankful cowboy
Who has just passed away,
I know it’s hard,
But please don’t cry,
For I’m now riding God’s trails
High up in the sky.
The horse I’m riding now
Doesn’t spook, buck or kick
For God stables perfect horses
And now I have my pick.
Lord, please forgive me all of my sins
For I haven’t been perfect
But I know that he that believes in You
Forever wins!
I have lived a good life
A cowboy’s dream come true!
Thank you, Lord.
For now I’m ready to ride into eternity
Me, my horse, and You.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Horses in the Valley Halloween Parade

Waverly Senior Band Athens History Club Float Ghouls on Horseback Lou Anne Miller on Wildfire Melissa Lantz Ghoul on Skeleton Horse Sam Lantz and Lou Anne Miller Melissa and Arwen Another Ghoul on Horseback End of Parade Bill Every year one of the three Valley municipalities, Athens, Sayre or Waverly, host a Halloween Parade. This year it was Waverly’s turn to have the parade. Friends and neighbors left the warmth of their homes to stand out in the cold for about an hour on Saturday morning. They watched marching bands, floats filled with people dressed in ghoulish costumes, local fire and rescue vehicles, and last but not least costumed horses and riders.

A morning haze hid the sun and created a chill which required a jacket. There was excitement in the air which can only be created by a large crowd. I hurried towards Broad Street and knew I was late. The sound of the trumpets, French horns and drums of several marching bands floated on the wind towards me. When I reached Muldoon Park, to my surprise, I saw the parade. The Waverly Senior Band turned the corner at Park and Pennsylvania Avenue and headed straight towards me. What luck! I walked across the park and watched the parade slowly unfold before my eyes, but there wasn’t a horse in sight.

I came to see the horses and knew from my own days of riding in parades that the horses would be at the end. After all, nobody wants to step in horse poop or risk getting kicked. I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, turned the corner at Broad Street and headed towards Ted Clarks Busy Market. Parents and kids hugged the curb as they watched the parade flow by. The people on floats and in fire engines threw wrapped candy to the crowd lining the street. Kids scurried to pick up the tossed candy and stuffed the treats into their bags.

As I drew near the center of town, the end of the parade came into view and a group of horseback riders. I walked closer, took a few pictures and realized the riders were from Rising Hope Farm. I heard a friendly voice say “Pat”. I looked up and saw Lou Anne Miller on her horse Wildfire, old friends, from my days at Windy Ridge Stables.

I followed the riders back towards Muldoon Park where I had started. On my way, I bumped into my neighbor, Bill, who was enjoying a coffee and the parade. Perhaps, that is what parades in small towns are all about. They give people a chance to come together, chat; enjoy a common event while reconnecting with community. I hurried on to catch up with the riders and by the time the horses reached Muldoon Park, I had come full circle.

Lou Anne and the other riders headed for their horse trailers and the drive back home. Various elements of the parade diverged as the on-lookers went their separate ways. The electric sensation the crowd created, faded as if instantly evaporated by some unknown force. Although the parade was over, the stage was set for this coming Thursday, October 31st. Halloween night, when ghoulish pleasure will ignite the darkness with excitement and of course candy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment