2009 Literary Contest – Reader’s Choice GRAND PRIZE!

Thank you everyone who entered Tack n' Talk Blog's Literary Contest for November 2009! Readers were asked to submit a literary work, in the form of essay, short story, or poem of  why they love horses. Below please find your category winners along with their submission!  All first place winners will be receiving fabulous prizes from our sponsor Jillaroo Australia!

Now it's time for Tack n' Talk reader's to choose their favorite literary work! Below are our top placings in each category.  Please read all submissions, and in the comments section add your vote for the grand prize winner out of the eight listed below! Be sure to include both the name of the author and the title of the submission.  Each individual reader's vote will be counted only one time.   Therefore, please do not vote for multiple submissions. Please note, the grand prize winner is strictly chosen based on votes from readers.  Category placings will not weigh the final vote.  Therefore, any of the eight submissions listed below have equal chance of winning the reader's choice grand prize.

Tack n' Talk's Literary Contest GRAND PRIZE winner will be announced December 20th! Winner will receive a fabulous prize from Jillaroo Australia!

Congratulations to all our category winners, and good luck to contestants in the running for our Grand Prize!

To all our readers: Have fun and happy voting! 😀

11 and Under

1st place "Why I Love Horses" by Shayne Butler

I’ve loved horses since I was about six years old. People said, “Oh, its just a phase, she’ll get over it.” But the truth is, I didn’t. I am eleven years old now and I am still in love with horses. My obsession began when I met my first horse. Let me tell you our story.

I was so excited! It was the day that I had been waiting for a long time to come. Today was the day of my first horseback riding lesson. I was seven years old and deeply in love with horses. I had horse posters all over my room! I practically fainted when my parents told me that I would be starting horseback riding lessons at Treeline Stables. It seemed like it took years for my first lesson to role around! But I didn’t have to wait any longer! Today was the day! When we finally got there I nearly flew out of the car. We walked into a barn filled with ponies. I heard a whinny from somewhere far away. I knew that would be my horse. He would be a tall black horse with a powerful jump and a beautiful stride. His name would be something like Storm or Lightning. I could just see us flying over logs in no time at all. My thoughts were interrupted by a friendly greeting. It was my trainer. She introduced herself as Amy Greene and showed us to another barn and told me that the horse that I would be riding is inside. I was so excited; I thought I was going to explode! We walked in and turned a corner. “Here’s George!” Amy said. In front of me was a short chubby pony that was white with tiny black dots on him. I didn’t know what to think. I wanted to ride a horse but not a short, chubby, pony. I smiled weakly and said thank you like I was taught to do. When I got on and started trotting, I realized something very important about George. He was stubborn and annoying. No matter how hard I kicked he wouldn’t move. I knew this was going to be a nightmare from the moment I saw him. When Amy saw me struggling she told me that if I put my heels down and looked up then I would have an easier time trying to get George to go. After I tried that I realized George was actually a good horse. After the lesson was over I was smiling ear to ear. When it was time to go I gave him a hug and said goodbye.

I rode him once a week for almost a year. He did everything for me. If I fell off then you could tell he felt bad. If you had to be firm with him he would forgive you. I loved George more than anything in the world and I would have done anything for him, but the one time I couldn’t, was the one time he needed me the most. One lesson I came in the pony barn and I glanced at the board that had all the riders and their horses’ names that they would be riding for their lesson. When I found my name next to it was not George but Candy Bar. The board never lies, so Amy has said, so I got Candy Bar out. As I walked by George’s stall I saw him laying down with his leg wrapped. I started to get worried. When Amy arrived I asked her what was wrong with him. She said that he was being ridden by someone else and he tripped, fell and sprained his leg. I was worried for him but I knew he would be okay. I rode Candy for a while and he was good but I still missed George. One time after lessons my mom told me something that I wish I never had to hear. She said George was going to leave Treeline and go to another barn because they couldn’t use him as a school horse anymore. I knew he wasn’t going to die but this felt the same. He was leaving. I would never see him again. I sat there for what seemed like forever crying and telling him how much I love him. He was so special to me, he couldn’t just leave me. He was my whole world. He was my best friend. Finally, it was time to go and I gave him a kiss, the last kiss I would ever give him and said goodbye. When I came to the barn the next week he was gone. I knew he was happier just being able to relax and have fun. I knew nothing would ever break that bond that he and I had together. I hope that he will live the rest of his life happy and free.

Horses are animals that leave hoof prints on our hearts. They are beautiful graceful animals that I love and will always love. So that’s why I love horses.

2nd placeWhy I Love My Horses" by Madison Dronfield

Hello my name is Madison and I am writing about why I love my horse. Sadly I do not own a horse, yet, but I love (or loved) all of my lesson horses.

The horses I ride (or rode) were (or are) named Sneaky Pete, Kirby, Sisco, and my favorite, Ace. Here is why I love (or loved) these wonderful horses.

Sneaky Pete was the first horse I ever experienced riding on. I rode him at my Aunt’s summer horse camp for two years. He was very stubborn my first since I was very inexperienced, since he was stubborn I believe it makes him a great lesson horse. He was also sweet, and sneaky. He is a small Pinto horse and those are the reasons why I loved him.

Kirby was the second horse I ever rode, whom, I met the spring after camp at a riding barn near me, he too was fairly stubborn. He is a 16hh, Bay, Quarter Horse. He was the first horse I have ever experienced cantering on. Of course those are the reasons I loved him.

Sisco is a small chestnut, Quarter horse I rode in the 2009 summer camp at my Aunt’s. He was fairly stubborn, until he was warmed up. I don’t only love him because he taught me a lot, but because he is a very sweet horse.

Ace is my favorite. He is my Aunt’s flea-bitten gray , that she rides in shows. I love him a lot because he is very kind, mellow, and easy to get attached to. I also rode him at my Aunt’s 2009 camp. He may be small (15hh or so), but he is a big mover! His trots are large, and his canter strides are huge! He is very sweet, a gentleman I may say, and that is why he is my favorite and why I love him!

In the end, I don’t have a horse, yet, but I treat (or treated) all of the horses I ride (or rode) as if they were my very own horse!

12 -17
1st place"Why I love Sisco" by Felicia Laidlow

There are so many reasons why I could love any horse, but only one stands out to me. Sisco has an amazing personality. He instantly knows what kind of mood you're in and how to make you feel better. I do not own him but boy I wish I did ! If I show up to my riding lesson in a bad mood he knows it and some how makes my problems disappear; it's truly amazing. Sisco is a very interesting horse with a bad background, a bright future and a big heart.

Sisco stands at 14.3 hands high (hh), and is a fourteen year old pure Quarter Horse. As I said earlier, his personality is outstanding, a lot of people don't get or understand why he misbehaves sometimes. My riding instructor Libby, has had many other students on Sisco and no one clicks like him and I. Libby says it's because him and I have similar personalities. If I want him to trot or work a little he might give me a dirty look or kick the wall but then he gives up because he knows I mean business. He respects me and in the end doesn't mind the work. I have been riding for around four years; I have not been riding Sisco thats long though. Finally after two shows on a different horse, my riding teacher put me on her horse, then to Sisco because she knew I was ready to help support Sisco and I do.

All the things I have mentioned so far are all connected in a certain way. When I mentioned "Bad background" and "She knew I was ready to help support Sisco and I do" there is a story behind it all. When Sisco was at another he was abused and whipped when he did something wrong. This caused him to be really cautious around people and not trust them. It took a while to build up the trust I have with him; if I respect him he respects me. The reason why Sisco needs help from the rider is because he has a balance problem which causes him to rush whenever he gets off a beat to get it back. That's where i come in. I help him with his balance by having a firm seat, a good connection with the mouth, lots of half halts, prasing and building his trust in me and his self esteem. Students who have ridden him don't ride him because they think it's his fault he gets off balance. It may be that his balance gets off a lot but if you have a connection with a horse like I do with Sisco, you know how to help him. The rider controls the horse, the horse does what you ask.

Recently, I have started to canter on Sisco. He needs a lot of help and balance in the canter. Sisco's canter makes me feel free. Any rider who had ever cantered knows what I'm talking about. At the beginning You're all tensed up and then after five strides you instantly relax, find a sense of happiness and freedom. I have competted in three Dressage shows, one of them on Sisco, and i feel we did really well. It was at Sunhall Harvest Fest; it was my first show on him and we were up against really good horses; we were lucky to place second, theird, forth and reserve champion. Libby and I were really pleased with my test results, and I was really proud of Sisco. I see a bright future and good tests next time we show.

After years of building up trust I finally have it and that's all I have wanted out of Sisco. Whenever I get on I know he might be a little cranky but i trust he isn't going to give me a problem when I ask for a decent workout out of him. There is something bout that horse that makes me smile. Whenever I go to ride after grooming and before tacking up, I give him a little back rub and I think he enjoys it because everytime I do it he opens his mouth as if he is yawning. Sisco's owner rides whenever she is free but isn't interested in showing so she doesn't mind me showing him, which I am really greatful for. Next season I plan on showing him a lot and we're going to try our best; I believe in him! As i said, Sisco is an amazing little horse with a bad background, bright future and a big heart. With only a saddle between us I feel as if I am on top of a mountain, over-looking the world, watching the minutes pass, the sun fade, and for a brief moment i have found peace, love and sense of belonging. That's why I love Sisco!

2nd place"Untitled Poem" by Amanda Diggens

Raindrops had fallen on your nose,
leaving spots for me to see.

A treat, as chocolate and vanilla were swirled for us to share.

Eyes like my own, we saw each other's,
a door to your soul.

Your ears pointed forward,
music to mine.

Wind swept by you,
making streaks of the color on your neck,
through your long mane.

Mountains to climb on your shoulder,
yet gently kept, so I can feel it with one touch.

Your dainty front legs are those of a deer,
but they hold up both you and I together with ease.

I can feel the fur along your barrel,
and get lost in a soft, white forest with you.

Your hindquarters have harnessed the power of the world,
and that power is shared with me,
when I climb upon your back,
or simply listen to your soft nicker.

Your back legs hold up the world,
effortlessly, through the stars we are carried.

Rivers flowed through your hooves, leaving their mark,
and with every step, you make a new ocean,
waves, the sound of my heartbeat.

A sound I will always hear,
wherever I go,
and I can't live without it.
3rd place★  "Prince" by Sarah Crooks

If someone told me that I was getting a horse, I would have freaked out. However, I didn’t have time to. Prince was a complete surprise to me, and in the few months I’ve had him he’s already taught me so much.

He came to me with another horse. A girl at our barn had bought a new pony and while my riding instructor and the barn owner were talking, the prince was thrown into the mix, some decisions were made, and home came prince. He hadn’t been worked with in over 2 years at least, and it showed in his coat. At first, we butted heads. He said left I said right, I said bend he said canter. In the first two months if we had had to leave, I would not have looked back or regretted leaving him. But once forced to shorten his mane, trim him up, and give him a bath, I found a nice looking qh/arab cross instead of a silly looking horse. With all that frustration at him gone, a partnership began to grow. Now when someone says, “do you like him” my answer has changed from a forced smile and yes to a “yes! I love the prince”

In the little time I’ve had the prince, we’ve learned so much about each other and little life lessons. He’s taught me that you can mind friendship in some unexpected places at unexpected times, to always stay on you toes, and at the end of a ride, your horse needs to be taken care of NOW before he pulls the post out of the ground to come get a treat. Our experiences together have made me realize that that sometimes the fanciest dressage horse cant replace a beloved companion, a true friend stays by your side(thought they may annoy you a little with their antics)and that there’s a horse-a-saurs in the woods and we need to leave NOW. He has taught me that not having fear doesn’t make you strong, it’s getting over that fear (with a little help from a friend of course) that’s counts and that prince doesn’t work for free, he needs food NOW. This 18 year old arthritic horse taught that he can out jump his shadow when he feels like it, that he can make me feel and look like I’m riding a million dollar horse, and after the jump you need to sit up NOW because all the looking good means I get to have fun afterwards (even if it means you come off). I could go on and on, but the most important things prince had made me realize is that when you love someone enough, then goodbyes aren’t forever and that no matter how far apart you are, their always right there with you, but its best if you see them face-to-face. NOW.

So there you have it. I love that silly horse of mine because of what we’ve been through and what lessons I’ve learned from him. Of course, I could think of plenty of more reasons but that’s one of the prince’s main rules. Keep it simple. And maybe the prince will slow down someday and become a beginner horse and maybe a new person to this wonderful sport will get to learn as much as I do from him. But those are big maybes. I doubt the prince will ever slow down or stop loving jumping or not get into trouble and “mellow down”. Because that is what makes the prince so lovable. No, I think he’ll keep going for a while now.

Over 18
1st place "The Whiskey Project" by Cindy B.Gray

One fine Friday evening in mid-July my buddy Renae said lets take a trail ride, I said sounds great, meet ya’ll at the barn at 6:00. As we rode I told Renae about the stress and drama at my office job, I told her about how I miss my mom who’d recently left for a trip around the world, and that she won’t be home until November. We chatted like we always do on our trail rides. Then Renae told me that one of the nice gals from the VEA, who we’d met at East Fork back in May, had called her and asked for help w/ a rescue. Renae told me about going to McMinnville the previous weekend and loading up a stock trailer w/ sick, starving, and abused horses. As I’ve always said, I’m so glad there are “those people” that do that, but I’d never been involved in such and honestly have led the privileged horse life thanks to my parents (I lost my dad 4 years ago, the horses are like a piece of him for me). With mom out of town, all the responsibilities of the barn and horse care now mine and I had buried myself in the duties tending to our four well cared for horses. I love them so.

That Saturday morning I could not quit thinking about the rescue that my friend told me about. I went to TSC and bought some things to donate to this VEA Rescue Barn. Then Renae called (as if she was reading my thoughts); she, her mom and daughter were going to visit the rescue horses on Sunday, would I like to join them. Perfect I thought, I can deliver these things and see for myself what she’d told me about. Why did I have this feeling inside that I needed to help? It was all new to me, but it was powerful. I remember the girls saying “there’s a really pretty palomino there”. Off we went to see the horses at Greg’s rescue farm, then onto the vet’s office where the very sick, quarantined rescues where. The experience left me almost speechless (this rarely happens). In the pasture at the vet’s office I saw Whiskey (who I named that day). He was in the back of the lot, away from the pack. His field buddy wore a face mask, I learned she had a bad eye and would be put down that next week as her eye was beyond help. Poor Whiskey, he’d loose his buddy. He let me approach him, rub him down w/ my hands, and he ate a treat from my hand. We asked Greg about his details, 8-year old gelding, he was “#2” which indicated he was one of the first horses to be caught at the rescue site. When we got in the car to leave, I had decided I needed to take him as a foster. I really had no idea what I may be getting into. Whiskey was my choice of horses to help.

In the next couple weeks, Whiskey did not get better, he got worse. I had to have knee surgery, work was a living hell, endless chores at the barn...then I called to check in w/ Greg and let him know I had a delay due to my knee. Things were not looking good for Whiskey at all, and I told Greg if he didn’t make it, I’d choose another horse to help. I hung up and cried, for 2 days. Much to my surprise, the next week or so Renae calls and has learned that Whiskey is at Jamie’s place and he’s improving and he’s well enough to go home w/ me when I’m ready! On August 29, 2009 we went to Jamie’s farm and picked him up. I could tell he’d gained some weight in the weeks since rescue day, but he still looked pitiful. This is when my son and boyfriend saw Whiskey for the first time. Our first challenge, the trailer ride home. . .

He walked right into the two horse trailer behind me like he knew he was starting a new chapter of his life. As I drove us home that day, the realization of what I was doing really hit me. I was frightened, and I was nervous about how our herd would react to him, I was nervous to take this on w/out the guidance of my natural horsewoman mother, not to mention what she’d say when she returns in November. My mind raced about everything. Time to unload, I was tense about this, I’ve seen horses come out of trailers and hurt themselves. With the help of PT (afore mentioned boyfriend, who is not a horseman but a real sweetie), I enter the trailer and attempt to back Whiskey out. He can not do it. He’d get one leg down, slowly then the other back leg. I saw his hindquarters tremble, and up he’d come again to stand in the hot trailer. He laid his sweet face against my chest and what I heard him say is “I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to do what you’re asking me to do”, or maybe it was “I just don’t have the strength”. This process went on for nearly an hour. We decided we needed to make it as easy as possible for him, the center partition had to go. He stood quietly w/ me in that small two horse trailer while PT took out the partition. Then Whiskey gently turned around and stepped out to his new home. It was near dark, we groomed Whiskey, we let him graze and I looked at every part of him like he was my child who I’d just brought home from the hospital. We turned him out to the pasture I’d prepared for him, and PT drug me away from the gate. I could have sat in his field all night just looking at him. I was back over at the barn at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2009, was Whiskey’s welcome home party. After a trail ride w/ the girls, the welcome Whiskey festivities began. We gave him a bath, he did amazing. Ms. Margaret held him, Samantha and I scrubbed him w/ soap, Renae hosed and photographed, the 2 dogs bounced around him, Calvin (my son) and PT watched and helped. Whiskey let us all know he was happy; and quite tolerant, considering all the activity. We put salve on his scars, we used fly spray and coat conditioners. The other horses talked to him from their pastures and it seems they knew he was frail and weak. Its like a family affair, we were all so excited to be helping this guy!

Everyday after work, to the barn I’d go. Simply to handle him, feed him, let him know that I’m his new person. I think my family felt mildly neglected! Oh well—they understand. One Friday night, after having Whiskey 2 weeks, I went to feed. It was dark, but no worries as the horses always come running when they see me arrive to feed. Whiskey wasn’t at the gate waiting for me. He was no where in sight. I got the feed bucket out. He still did not appear. I don’t even remember feeding the others, but I was in a sheer state of panic. I was there alone, no flashlight, and no idea where this horse was, or if he was okay. I could hardly make one foot step in front of the other, I could hardly open the gate, and tears gushed down my face. I remember thinking, I have to find him out here, he’s down, he’s hurt, and I have to call the VEA folks and tell them what I’ve let happen to him. I was fumbling for my cell to call PT and ask him to get there asap w/ a flashlight, when I heard the thunder of Whiskey’s gallop from the back corner of the pasture. He ran RIGHT up to me and nuzzled me, and I think I heard him say “hey I didn’t know you’d come out and feed me after dark!”. At that moment, I knew he meant more than I even realized to me. And I think he knew it too. So I laid there over his bony back and cried all over him.

The month of September has to be the most rewarding time I’ve ever spent w/ a horse. To see Whiskey gain weight, have life in his eyes, and see him grow to trust me is amazing. We’ve raised our other horses mostly, and I love them all dearly and they know it. However, I do believe that the bond formed w/ a rescue is different. Every moment I spend w/ Whiskey is like a learning experience for both of us. He holds his head high now, he knows his coat is shiny and his hoofs feel good under him. He has funny little quirks and does things that remind me how far we still have to go, but I appreciate the chance to take him as my own and help a horse in such need. I can not thank the VEA enough for this experience. I guess being one of “those people” is something that I’d been missing out on for a lot of years. I’m honored to be a foster, I hope to adopt Whiskey and someday see y’all on a trail ride and say, “this is my first rescue”. The world of horses is powerful on so many levels, I thought I knew a lot about that, but it seems I’m just beginning to learn. Thank you Volunteer Equine Advocates.

2nd place "My Heart my Horse (My Heart Broke Today)"  by Shelley Sime Fossen

I called the herd for their morning meal.
He didn't come and the fear in my heart was immediately real.

He was always there, the head of the herd.
The other horses didn't come for the grain that was offered.
Those equines had a look in their eyes that something was wrong.
I knew in a moment that my pride and joy might be gone.

My heart broke that day.
As I saw Zip in the spot where he lay.

Zippos High Caliber was still beautiful, shiny, and warm.
I'd spent the night before washing and trimming in the barn.
He was silky and clean and ready to show.
All I could do was hug and hold him crying out “no!”

August 1st is a day I will never forget.
Blast the drought, the dust and the humidity that let
my best buddy fall to asthma, that dreadful disease.
I knew in my heart that I couldn't ask “God, please!”

He was gone in his prime and loved by all.
No more trophies or championships or figuring his way out of a stall.
Zip gave his heart in whatever he did.
Be it reining, halter, trail, games, or teaching a kid.

He had almost human-like qualities like no other.
We sadly buried him right beside his dear mother.
Two beloved horses laying side by side.
Thank you to all who rode them, loved them, and cried.

The healing process has barely begun.
I'll never forget the reining patterns that he run.
His speed and his quickness, the collection, the spins.
It was his pride, his heart, his versatility that helped him win.

Now as I stare at his retired bridle and special bit,
those horseshoes, the blankets each with a championship year on it,
I find my heart heavy and sometimes so sad.
I do have Zip's black sister and know that I should be glad.

There forever will be a fondness in my heart
and know that our souls will never be far apart.
I'll look up to heaven and listen for hoofbeats so fast
and know Zip and Blackie are galloping through the grass.

Rest in peace my beautiful red bay.
A piece of my heart went with you that day.

3rd place "Love of Horse and Goddess Force" by Eleanor D. Van Natta

When i came by this world

my goddess danced and swirled

cried, screamed like a banshee

but quiet, hush, or stern plea

would echo black

smacking her back

once, even clouds she could pass

then shriveled she, an amoeba on glass

though she would not die

alas, only a microscope’s eye

could find her within

drowned amidst the din;

ah, but she would rise

called by my sighs

golden phoenix from simmering flames

this goddess no one tames

one day I would scream

ride in from my dream

I know you well, horse

for you are goddess force

grace and power abide in you

from me, like a bird they flew

but upon your mighty back

goddess breathes my reins slack

you, a mere appendage, now a mirror

my goddess, no more shall I fear her;

Epona, we will make you proud

as we unveil from our heart’s shroud

and claim this world

with manes and desire unfurled.

26 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Larissa Cox Training, Eleanor Van Natta. Eleanor Van Natta said: RT @ridingcoach: Winners of November Literary Contest posted on TacknTalk! VOTE NOW for Grand Prize winner!! http://ow.ly/KWry […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ridingcoach: Winners of November Literary Contest posted on TacknTalk! VOTE NOW for Grand Prize winner!! http://ow.ly/KWry

  3. “The Whiskey Project” by Cindy B.Gray

  4. Tamara

    Why I Love My Horses” by Madison Dronfield

  5. isabelita

    “Prince” by Sarah Crooks

  6. darlene

    Felicia Laidlow Why I love Sisco

  7. Jesse

    Felicia Laidlow Why I love Sisco

  8. Kenny

    Felicia Laidlow – why i love sisco

  9. mary

    “The Whiskey Project” by Cindy B.Gray

  10. Helen

    My Heart my Horse (My Heart Broke Today) by Shelley Sime Fossen – TOUCHING

  11. kayla

    felicia laidlow-why i love sisco

  12. leah

    prince by sarah crooks

  13. Mrs. Gibbons

    Felicia Laidlow – Why I Love Sisco
    Absolutely love this litery work by Felicia …she shows the depth of her feeling for her horse and her sport and you can tell it comes straight from her heart!

  14. Kirsten Newton

    “Love of Horse and Goddess Force” by Eleanor D. Van Natta

  15. Judy

    “My Heart my Horse ” by Shelley Sime Fossen

  16. Peter

    Shelley Sime Fossen’s poem – MY HEART MY HORSE (MY HEART BROKE TODAY)

  17. Tina

    My Heart My Horse (My Heart Broke Today) by Shelley Sime Fossen

  18. Leesha

    Felicia Laildow _
    Why I love Sisco

  19. Helen

    Shelly Sime Fossen wrote a heart breaking poem: My Heart My Horse (My Heart Broke Today). I can really relate to her story.

  20. M. Wong

    My Heart My Horse: Written by Shelly Sime Fossen

  21. Victoria

    My Heart My Horse: Submitted by Shelly Sime Fossen

  22. Theresa

    All of the entries were super, but the one tha touched my heart was My Heart My Horse composed by Shelly Sime Fossen.

  23. Mark

    The Whiskey Project by Cindy B. Gray

    I was touched by this story of helping our four-legged friends in need.

  24. Jimmy

    The Whiskey Project by Cindy B. Gray
    was an inspiration to me. I hope it gives more people the rescue bug.

  25. I cannot believe this is true!

  26. Great idea, thanks for this tip!

  27. felicia

    id like to mention me and sisco are still at it .our first year of showing consited of a lot of red ribbons, now we are just finishing up our training lvl season and went out with a bang ! I now part lease sisco we are still training hard and loving every moment of it 🙂 i still feel and believe all the things ive said in my essay above 🙂 i love sisco 🙂 !

  28. tackandtalk


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