In which Texas is home to a bunch of very friendly equine folks!

I managed to find horses in the middle of downtown Ft. Worth (okay, it was actually in the historical "Stockyards" district, but still well-within city limits) which was good.

You gotta cookie in that hat, lady?  I like cookies!

The livery in the Stockyards houses all the animals used in various parades and other tourist-y activities.  We even met the bulls that get saddled up so folks can have their photos taken while sitting on a realio trulio bull, while assisted by a wrangler (high school kid) and surrounded by dance hall girls (colllege kids).  These bulls are born and raised in the Stockyards, and are exceedingly tame.  They live mostly indoors, which is kind of sad...on the other hand, one of the  bulls we met is 17+ years old and still "working" (i.e. standing around smiling for the camera) one day each week.  So it's not a terrible life.

We also saw the traditional Way-Out-West pack animal

You no gotta cookie, I gives you a kiss anyhow!

Wait.  A camel?

Apparently, "Truffles" is part of the petting zoo, as is the camera-shy "reindeer" (on this continent, they are technically called caribou, just so you know).

Yes, Fort Worth had a bunch of old secrets, some of them out-in-the-open for the average tourist, and some of the quite well hidden.

Our tour leader is a librarian from Fort Worth Public Library.
He showed the group how to find a geocache.
I took the early-morning historical walking tour, and not only located several geocaches in the blocks surrounding the Ft Worth Convention Center, I also learned a lot about the area.  Coolio.

But, readers of this blog aren't necessarily here for the historical or literary content.  You're really here for the horse stuff, right?

Well, I gotta tell ya that the best horsey part of the trip came about because of this nice lady:

Michelle and Encore

Michelle Morgan is the heart and soul of Mandolynn Hill Farm, outside of Aubrey, Texas.  When I wrote in a horse-spit-deficit panic to my friend Merri Melde, pleading for the contact info for anyone, anyone at all  in the area who could provide my missing element, she suggested that I contact Michelle.

One of the stallions.  This guy is a flirt with everyone, even the guinea hens and me.

Merri stayed at Mandolynn in 2012, and took some amazing photos while she was there.  The pictures are linked from her blog post HERE.  Have a drool rag ready.  These are "eye-candy horses" like you can't believe.

The babies were happy to provide horse spit.

"Come on out," Michelle wrote to me.  "I'm leaving for the Bluebonnet ride on Saturday morning, but you can stay in the guest house and hang out with the horses as much as you like!"

So I did!

I'm sure Merri or Monica  could have taken thousands of gorgeous photos,
given the quality of the models just standing around waiting for their turn
in front of the lens.  I lack the talent and the hardware to do them justice...
all that "pretty" barely fits in my little camera!

Michelle breeds Arabs for flat-track racing, but not every horse on the place has a spot reserved in the flat-track winner's circles.  The culls from her racing program often end up doing endurance...and doing it very well, too!

For Sale, just in case you know somebody who needs an awesome horse?

Michelle doesn't compete in long-distance rides.  She does the occasional limited distance endurance event so she can spend the weekend with friends and her horse.

However, I did leave a copy of Endurance 101 with her.  Perhaps we'll see her out on the 50 mile trails in future years?

This mama ended up with three "duckling" foals
while the other mamas hung out in the shade and napped.

She certainly breeds the right kind of horse for the sport!

Born prematurely, this little one is still trying to figure out how knees work

Y'all know that I'm more of a Team Sensible gal, and not-so-enamored of Arabians.  But I won't deny that the Arabs totally corner the market on good looks...and charm.

And, let's just say that if any of these fellows accidentally showed up at my barn, I wouldn't throw them out again!

We would fit in the overhead compartment, right?  Take us home, lady!

I admit that I am easily charmed, but these Texan people and critters went out of their way to be kind to this visiting Swamplander.  Why, I even made friends with the funny, bratty bird!

"Hi, Honey!"

...and then, I retired to the comfortable porch of the guest house to write for a few hours.

I wrote a bunch of chapters on the new book while relaxing and watching horses.
Happy sigh.

As for life?  Well.  It's good.

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