I learned more while that horse was cooling out... Ganey and I were a good team. I did the high stuff, and he did the low stuff. We hauled trunks full of ancient tack out to clean. I learned how to tell the difference between "Shit and Shinola". I saw wonderful old fashioned equipment like wooden sweat scrapers and handmade bits... and a blonde, wooden "walk-trot stick". I learned how to take care of a set tail. I learned never to trust a measuring stick, and to bring my own when horse shopping. I learned that not all L.S. Dickey's horses were really by Des-de-mon-ee-a Denmark, and that (unofficially of course) Guided by Love was named that because that's the only way anyone could steer him. Ganey was a wealth of knowledge, and of entertainment. He had a hundred stories, and they were all entertaining. My Grandmother said at first she thought he was lying, but over the years the facts never changed with the telling, and she said that was how you could tell a story was true.
More horses started to show up in the barn. There was the black three gaited mare with nerve damage in her mouth who had developed the nasty habit of trying to knock her rider off with her head, and at least three Tattersalls specials including a "Nine Year Old" gelding who turned out to be 17 when his papers were finally found. During the week, I would work these renegades trying to figure out their quirks well enough to get them to go nicely for their owners and not get anyone hurt. Ganey had never been much of a rider (but was a darn good minor league baseball player), and he would be the first person to admit this. He was short legged, and ham fisted, but his wife told me "he was the best damned ground man I ever had". He would hold my finger tips and show me how he wanted me to feel the reins. He taught me to "con" a horse, to get him to do what you wanted. We also rode everything in the same snaffle bit. The day he told me to "put the work bridle on the black mare and ride her around the farm" I objected. Strenuously. He told me if I couldn't ride her in a snaffle, I might as well not ride at all. It was true, she couldn't feel any bit, so which one we used wouldn't matter much. Ganey taught me that bits don't control horses, your mind does. If you can't learn to get along with a horse, and reach some sort of amicable arrangement, no fancy equipment was going to solve your problem. The mare and I had a nice little walk around the farm, and thankfully I managed not to piss her off before I got her back to the barn.
We did make it to some shows over the next two years. The second year was the summer I met my good friend Adolph, who was the son of Al Morando who had been a horse trainer back in the day. His wife had started to trail ride for fun, and as was Adolph's nature, he took over the hobby and went whole hog. He had tackroom curtains made with his farm name, and Ganey's old colors. We found his wife a fancier horse, polished up the old black mare, borrowed Ganey's wife Theo's outdated riding clothes (which didn't fit me), and headed to the Erie racetrack for a show. The racetrack was a pretty appropriate place to show that black mare. She did a bank turn off the announcer's booth, lengthened the ring with my knee on the other end, and lined up on top of the ring master. But, we had a blast anyway.
Adolph had bought an old schoolmaster of a gaited horse by the name of Sparkling Five Speed. He was a pretty good old horse for our area, and I was happy to go the shows and groom while watching that golden horse burn up the tanbark. Ganey was feeling pretty young again. He had gone from doing absolutely nothing to do to having a barn full of horses and being the hub of the horse activity in our area.
Besides working the renegades, we were trying to gait the 3 yr old colt, but things were not going well. We started by just raising his head, progressed to shaking him, and finally out of desperation, nearly knocked him over! Still nothing. A few people sent mares to be bred to him (we rode those too, just in case there was something good in the lot) and he was developing a stallion's attitude. He was never mean, but if things got complicated, he would simply tune you out. Ganey finally gave up, and the lady sent him to Lavery's. They also found that the horse didn't want to rack, and he was later sold. Since the ASHA website has become so well developed, I've looked the horse up and see that much later in life he actually placed 6th out of 10 in a jr. exibitor five gaited class... Lonnie and I remain skeptical about this fact. The problem this all posed for Ganey, is that he now no longer had a decent horse to get ready to show. We were busy working about 5 horses, but it was becoming more and more obvious that none of them were any good. There is a lot to be learned working renegades, but if you want to learn how to improve a nice horse, you need some nice horses to work with. He decided that my education had progressed to the point where I had better have my own show horse, and so he went to work on my Grandmother.