Horses, Horses, Horses!

Posted October 19 2016 in Horses



Isn’t that the cutest little nipper you have ever seen? And that pony, Wow!

Well guess what, one of them is me, the other is ‘Talk of the Town,’ an international champion in several different classes.

I can’t say the same about myself, but ‘Talkie,’ as he was affectionately named, won enough ribbons for the both of us.

I think there must be a ‘horsey’ gene in humans. Some people have it, some don’t. It can be latent for several years, then pop up one day, and then you just have to buy a horse, or at least ride one.

For me, I had no choice.

My grandfather, James Franceschini, was one of the premier horse breeders around until he left us in 1960.

His job when he was young was to look after his father’s horses over in Italy, so that’s where he got his horsey gene.

Me? I was just plunked on Talkie’s back and taught how to say “giddyup.”

One go my daughters had the latent horsey gene that came out when she was about seven. It lasted a couple of years then went away. Same for one of my granddaughters.

But if the horsey gene sticks around, OMG, you are in for a big ride.

My horsey gene lasted into my teens, with the help of Walt Disney.

See, Walt had this show on TV in the 1950’s called Spin and Marty who were two young teenaged cowboys, and boy, did I ever want to be like them.

So my dad found a summer ranch/camp a couple of hours from our home and I went there every summer from ages ten to seventeen.

It was co-ed, that’s why I lasted so long.

Rolling Acres Ranch was the name of the place and that’s where I became a true western cowpoke, not to be confused with the other style, no horn on the saddle, two hands on the reins stiff upper lip English kind of riders.

Sad to say I eventually discovered other teenage activities and the horsey gene became dormant.

I still cherish my horsey ancestry and one of my other granddaughters has her horsey gene in full bloom now. So you never know when it will pop up again.

I was told that when I do ride, I still have a fine seat, which has nothing to do with one’s derrière.

A have many pictures of the horses that were in our family over the years. A few of the are shown below.


000017 (2)This is the easiest horse I ever had to deal with. Always did what it was told and no mess to shovel up.


000021Here’s Talkie and me a few years after the mag cover shot. He was a handsome, good natured pony and I always felt comfortable around him.


This is my granddad driving his palomino four in hand. My brothers and I used to play wild west stage coach in his English carriages.


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

cowboys-001This is our Mum with brother Martin and me. It must be staged because she was terrified of horses. Once again Talk of the Town is the pony.


OK, so did you ever ask Santa for a pony for Christmas?

I don’t think I did, but I got one anyway. So did my best pal Dave. Tied up to trees in our front yards, Christmas morning 1958. I was ten years old, Dave was twelve.

This shot is taken from Dave’s front lawn. The big house in the background was owned by the Boylen family, and every year they would go crazy with Xmas decorations on their property.

People would come from all over the city to see them and cause a huge traffic jam on our little street.

Anyway, back to the horses.

Where we lived in the west end of the city had a lot of unbuilt land, forests and fields close by at that time. There was a full equestrian centre about ten minutes from our homes, so it was pretty easy to ride any time we wanted if we could get a ride over.

Dave’s horse was called Patches and he was what they called a ‘Pinto,’ which is a horse of mixed colours.

Patches was Dave’s first horse and he really got into the rodeo mode and won a lot of prizes and trophies over the years.

Me, not so much.

I think that I was horsed out by that time, and that big black beast I am sitting on didn’t help any.

His name was Midnight and he had a personality to match…dark!

He was seventeen hands high, and I forget how much a hand is when but I was standing beside him he blocked out the sun.

Now a horse can tell the minute someone sits on its back if they know their horsey stuff. Well old Midnight knew I wasn’t thrilled to be up there right from the get go, so he was the boss.

His favourite trick was to stop and roll over on me, saddle, bridle and all, whenever he felt like it, in mud, snow, or ponds. There is nothing like leaping away from several hundred pounds of black flesh trying not to be crushed.

He also like to head back to the barn whenever he felt like it, and he wanted to get there fast.

Thank heavens for the horn on the western style saddles, something to hold on to.

He was one mean Dude,but  it turned out that when we moved across the city to a new home the next year, there wasn’t room for him in the moving van.

I sometimes wonder though,  if I could have handled him better after a couple summers of training at Rolling Acres Ranch? I will never know.

My last horse was a mare named Princess, and she only steered in the English way, two hands on the reins, no horn on the saddle.

She was a nice lady, treated me fine, but it was time to move on.

Besides, if some of my old cowpoke friends from the camp saw me riding English on a mare named Princess, they would have told me that I should be riding ” side-saddle.”

I don’t mean to be frivolous about horses because they are part of my heritage and I have several friends who are extremely engaged in the business with horses.

It was a move out of the city to a farm with horses that saved one of my friend’s life. Horses are known to have medicinal qualities, and they can become a large part of a person’s life very easily.

So I salute all the horses and horse people I have know over the years.

Maybe my horsey gene will reactivate one day.