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Will Marry for Horses

We’ve got some exciting changes going on at EverybodyNeedsALittleRomance. Welcome our newest member…Kari Lynn Dell! (and sorry this is late, that’s totally my fault–Keri’s–for not looking at the calendar.)

I am a born and raised ranch girl from Montana. My parents dragged me along to my first rodeo when I was two weeks old. I started competing at age eight. Point being, I’ve spent some time around cowboys and horses. One day, after watching what may have been the cheesiest cowboy romance movie ever to be shown on television, I thought, “Geez, even I could do better than that.” So I wrote a book. It wasn’t a very good book, but I had discovered a new passion.

It’s hard to write about a lifestyle you haven’t experienced. I tried writing a detective novel. My agent read it and said, “I really like this character, but the plot seems a little thin.” Which was a polite way of saying I had no idea how to write a detective story. Shortly thereafter, it disappeared into my bottom desk drawer to be perused only by immediate family members willing to take a blood vow of silence. So I definitely understand how writers with the best intentions can get something not quite right. Case in point…

I can’t say how many books or movies I’ve seen where the hero has a renegade stallion only he can ride. This is presented as a sign of his virility, and only adds to the heroine’s mad passion for him.

My apologies to the writers but…are you kidding me?

That’s the equivalent of a man who owns a single-seater Ferrari that will only start if he’s behind the wheel. Big whoop-de-do! If I can’t drive it, what’s the point? Forget renegade stallions—as a mate-magnet, nothing is better than a good rope horse.

This assumes, of course, that your heart’s desire is to spend the rest of your life in a state of rodeo-induced poverty. If your ideal summer vacation involves beaches and candlelight dinners versus dust and hotdogs, you might as well stop reading now.

Family history bears out my theory. My mother headed off to Montana State College with a great deal of trepidation and a dandy buckskin gelding she called Yo-Yo. She came home with a calf roper. She seems to feel that this is not a coincidence. My dad might stand a better chance of changing her mind if he remembered more about their first date and less about the first time he roped on Yo-Yo.

When I first arrived at what had by then become Montana State University, I only hauled a barrel horse. I dated a couple of bullriders and tried tying goats with no appreciable success, but a great deal of entertainment for the college rodeo fans. I didn’t get serious about roping until my junior year. Thrilled that one of us had finally shown an interest in his favorite pastime, my dad sent along his number one calf horse, a roan gelding named Feather. Suddenly I had a whole new circle of male friends, all of whom packed a rope.

My future husband had a horse of his own when we met. Ol’ Brown was remarkable in many ways, not least that he wasn’t brown, but sorrel. Still, I made sure I got Greg home to meet the folks as soon as possible. While there, I encouraged him to test drive my dad’s horses. I had full confidence in my irresistible charm, but two or three well-started prospects can’t hurt when wooing a man whose mount is getting a little long in the tooth.

A pasture full of young horses isn’t always a plus in the matrimonial market. My older sister once dated a guy who was in the colt breaking business. My dad, always struggling to keep up with his herd, took full advantage. Unfortunately, our colts tend to be a bit…aggressive. We were all pretty amazed when Richard married her anyway. He did, however, retire from horse training. Apparently he thinks he’s safer setting off avalanche charges for the ski patrol.

So you see, I do appreciate the skill and persistence involved in conquering an especially difficult horse. Lord knows we’ve owned enough of them

But I married the guy with the good rope horse.

For more about life and love on the modern frontier, visit KariLynn Dell at Montana for Real.

14 Responses

  1. Hi, Kari! We’re glad to have you on the blog. It sounds like you’ve had an exciting life!

    Are you still roping? My cousin was pretty active in that, but we never did. I always wanted a jumper, but my parents never went for it.

  2. I haven’t been roping as much this past year for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest being that my best horse went lame and the mare that was supposed to be my next favorite horse decided she hates roping. Now I’m trying to work up the ambition to start from scratch with another one.

  3. Love reading about your life in MO, Karilynn. Good point about stallion vs good rope horse.

  4. Loved it! Dumb question alert…what is “Sorrel” colored?

    Your college years were SO DIFFERENT than mine. I can’t imagine going to college hauling a horse! And bribing your dates with your father’s horses…HAHAHA

    Welcome to ENALR. It’ll be great having you here! A whole new crowd for your stories. 🙂

  5. Sorrel is red, ranging from light golden red to auburn. Darker than auburn and they become a chestnut. None of which is brown. Have I mentioned that my husband is color blind?

  6. Loved your post, Kari! So glad to have you with us! I’ve always been fasinated with horses, but never been lucky enough to own one. Maybe someday. 🙂

  7. Welcome, KariLynn. Nice to meet you.

  8. What a great post Kari! I myself tried to stay away from men with horses- so much so that it got me married and divorced. Twice.

    Gave in and finally have a man who loves horses as much as me. If I’d have known him from the get-go I could have saved myself a lot of strife!

  9. Oh, Kari, are you a good one to know! My daughter is horse crazy, always has been — had a horse for several years, but as she’s a lawyer in Boston, the horse was a horse kept in a Boston suburban stable, and by the time the unfortunate animal died of colic he should have started turning solid gold from the back forward. Martha, my daughter, now faithfully rides each week, but on one of the stable horses. She would probably give one arm and elbow down of the other to live in Montana and ride whenever it takes her fancy.

    Anyhow, bless your heart for joining us. I’m busy writing a NaNo novel about a girl whose father owns a tremendous ranch in eastern Nevada — a place I got to know well once upon a time. I may be asking you a question now and then —

  10. Hi Kari! Welcome to the blog! I have always wanted to visit Montana. I have heard it is beautiful up there!

  11. I can’t believe I am so late with this. Ugh. Things have been crazy lately and I feel so rude for having not welcomed you.

    And what a great post.

    I bribed my husband with beer.

    I’ve ridden a horse once. Yep, once. Not counting the ponies at the fair, of course. But they just went round and round very s-l-o-w-l-y. So having you around is going to be a real treat for me. Montana. Wow. So very different than Louisiana.

  12. Thanks everybody for making me feel so welcome. I’m more than happy to answer any horse and ranch questions you have, assuming I know the answers. Some things are different in different parts of the country, but a cowgirl is pretty much a cowgirl no matter where you plunk her down.

  13. Oh boy, another blog I have to now add to my google reader.

    *drive by wave to kari*

  14. […] an earlier post, I may have implied that I married my husband for his rope horse. This was not entirely accurate. […]

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