University of Vermont AAHS

Ask Lerlene


Lerlene Puckermucker is a truck stop waitress and part-time horse trainer. But, more importantly, she is one of the last genuine philosophers produced by the Interstate Highway System.

lerleneFor several years, Lerlene has shared her wit and wisdom through newspaper question and answer columns and personal appearances throughout Texas. Now, AAHS is proud to announce that Lerlene has generously agreed to do a wired version of her famous printed question and answer column, "Ask Lerlene."

Your questions about life, love and horses can be sent to Lerlene directly by email to Ask Lerlene. You may also contact Lerlene by snail mail at Lerlene, c/o AAHS, P.O. Drawer 39, Fentress, TX 78622.

 Many of these questions and answers have previously appeared in the AAHS quarterly newsletter, Caution:Horses, and are posted here with the permission of Lerlene and AAHS.

Check this feature regularly. You don't want to face the week without Lerlene on your side.



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Dear Readers,

 I am getting many inquiries about appropriate hot weather riding attire.

For you hunter and dressage riders, a nice, dressy halter top with black spandex stirrup pants and riding tennies are good for casual wear but at the shows I like a choker and gold pin, no shirt and a summer weight coat.

For the western rider, I like pearlized boots and a crop-top T-shirt with a western yoke.

The jog-bra is out unless it is shiny and worn with a matching air-flow mesh shirt or muscle shirt.

Leave the feathers and leather at home in the summer because fringe and feathers will stick to your sweaty bodies and look tacky. They are great in the winter, but not in a Texas summer.

Sequined jog-bras are great but only if they go with your boots.

Happy trails and tropical riding.


Dear Lerlene,

I want to buy a horse in Germany to bring back and show here. I am told I need to run an ad in a German horse magazine. What should the ad say?

Puzzled in Prairie Lea

Dear Puzzled,

After extensive research into the subject, some of my dressage and eventing friends suggested the following: "Rich American lady seeks expensive German horse. Must be pretty, need not be good mover. (your name here)."


Dear Lerlene,

Is it true that winning improves sex and makes beer taste better?


Dear Donna,

Well, yes but what most people need to know is that beer can improve sex and then you don't need to win!


Dear Lerlene,

My reining horse stops so hard I nearly choke on my cigarette and always spill my beer. What can I do to soften my stop?


Dear Debbie,

You're asking the wrong person because I haven't smoked on a horse since my feather boa caught on fire. I really don't like beer around horses so what I would suggest is switch to diet coke and the stops won't seem so hard.


Dear Lerlene,

It's holiday time and hunting season and my horse-trainer husband won't do diddley-squat to help me. I have the house to decorate, shopping to do, and all he wants to do is sit in a tree or drive around the pasture in his jeep. What am I going to do?

Lola Rose, Lampassas

Dear Lola,

This is the most common Texas lament this time of the year. My cross-country trucker- trainers' wives have solved this problem. They simply apply time-honored horse training techniques to those good-ol-boy husbands. Below is what one of them sent me. She said she was not sure which training book it came from, but it has been adapted for husbands. She just used the word "horse" interchangeably with "man."


Understanding and Training the Man (or Horse)

For thousands of years the man was a wild, free animal who ran in herds. He had to rely on his swiftness and his senses of smell, hearing, and sight to protect him from the dangers of predators.

Men are not aggressive by nature, any action that appears so is purely defensive. Through kindness, it is easy to gain a man's confidence. Once a man learns that he can trust his woman, he will do anything he is asked. If the trust is destroyed, for example, by asking him to jump obstacles that are too big and that frighten him, he will take considerable time to re-establish his confidence.

Despite his looks, a man is not a highly intelligent animal. He does, however, have a great memory that recalls rewards, fear and pain. It is through our knowledge and understanding of the man's memory that we have learned how to train him.

Women often forget that the man has to learn to understand their aids. Although he is capable of being lazy and disobedient, he also learns to respect and obey the woman who firmly insists that he does as he is told and then rewards him. Quick, correct responses from the man must be immediately rewarded with a kind word or a pet. A lack of response from the man must equally be corrected.

The aids are a system of signals used by the woman to communicate with the man and tell him what to do. The aids are mostly silent language of touch and feel. As the man progresses in his training, the signals given by the woman become more complex and subtle. The basic aids should be straightforward and simple.

Dear Lerlene,

My daughter will begin to show in one of the big breed associations this year. The rule book says that she needs clean, serviceable western tack and dress and that chaps are not required. My daughter's trainer, however, says she hasn't a chance without show tack chaps and show clothes. Do we have to go to that expense? All that silver and some of those clothes are so tacky, especially for daytime showing. Won't my daughter look like a hussy?

Horseshow Mom, Shiner, Texas

Dear Mom,

What makes you think looking like a hussy is bad? Lerlene has always believed the more leather, fringe, metallic threads, lerlene3.jpg (138531 bytes)and especially make-up, the better. She really likes feathers and spandex too but suspects there is a limit.

However, there is some truth in what your trainer says. It is very difficult to place a horse in a recognized show if the horse/rider combination doesn't look like they have a professional trainer. It's sad, but true. The track is expensive and I have personally heard some judges say they won't look at a horse not trimmed out in silver. If you sew, the clothes can be made at home and sometimes you can borrow your trainer's saddle. After all, it's the trainer who often wants the recognized shows and it's his or her reputation on the line. Borrow what you don't have and, better still, stick with the open shows while you slowly put your kit together.


Dear Lerlene,

How do I get a mink?

Puzzled in Plainview

Dear Puzzled,

You get a mink the same way a mink gets a mink.


"Ask Lerlene" columns added March 22, 1997

Dear Lerlene,

I am a single, professional woman who has just moved with my two horses to central Texas. I need to find a horse shoer. What qualities should I look for and how should I find one?


Dear DeDe,

The most important quality in a horse shoer is how the guy looks bent over. I like the tall, lanky ones. They are better dancers and look better in their Wranglers. If they carry a change of clothes with them, then you know they are ready to go boot-scootin' after work. It helps if they are single but this may not be readily apparent. Let's face it, you'll have to spend the better part of an afternoon with him so why not make it fun?

Female shoers are fine but then I really want them to be able to shoe a horse.

Finding one is easy. Just place an add in a newspaper as follows:

Female horse owner seeks single, good looking horse shoer. Must be tall, experienced and a good dancer. Needed every 6 weeks. Send recent photo.


Dear Lerlene,

I ride with a group of girls who are all former rodeo queens. We are, shall we say "mature," but still would like to put our rodeo queen talents to use. Is there an organization that could use senior rodeo queens?


Dear Paulene,

I don't know, but try the Old Timers Rodeo Association. You also can try more make-up, more spandex and feathers and keep on truckin'.

Just don't get too close to the judges and stay out of bright lights, and never appear in a daytime show. Just how mature is "mature?" I'm kind of sensitive on that subject myself.


Dear Lerlene,

I like to enter shows and playdays but don't get to go often enough. Is it better to go where there is jackpot money or trophies and buckles?


Dear Jody,

It's better to go where you get money, a buckle, free food and a ticket to the dance. But you just about have to be the judge nowadays to get all that!


Dear Lerlene,

I am going to my first big hunter/jumper show and have been told that I need a saddle made of "bridle leather." How can a saddle be made of "bridle leather?"


Dear Muffy,

Things made of bridal leather are designed especially for your wedding night. They are part of your trousseau or hope chest. This is peculiar to English riding.


Dear Lerlene,

My boyfriend wears Rockies instead of Wranglers. What is wrong with him? I am becoming mannish-depressive.

Worried in Waco

Dear Worried,

Your boyfriend has delusions of gender.


Dear Lerlene,

My kids have picked up "stable language" and their swearing gets worse every day. They are lazy, careless with the vehicles, and now foul-mouthed as well. Oh, what can I do?

Poteet Mom

Dear Mom,

They must be teenagers. Well, you could send them to "Lerlene's Bootcamp for Wayward Kids" or you can start your own. It's really simple.

1. Barn work will stableize lazy teenagers.
2. Swearing is par for the course, don't permit it.
3. But when they want to drive the dually, a wise person won't stand in their way.


Dear Lerlene,

I have read your column and even have your autograph. To what do you owe your success?

Awed in Austin

Dear Awed,

Awed is the way I like my fans. I don't normally discuss my personal life, but since you asked, well, business is business.

I have to say my success is measured in man-hours. they say I'm good-for-nothing. Maybe, but I'm never bad-for-nothing. My schedule is full; I'm never free.

You have to have a body language that speaks volumes even though it's not a first edition. When you really make it, your won'ts will be few.


Dear Lerlene,

I went to try a trail horse for sale. On the second visit, the owner of the horse did not want me to ride the horse alone, even for a short time (to make sure he wasn't barn sour). What should I do?

  Confused in Centerville

Dear Confused,

I would assume the horse is barn sour or worse. If you really care, ask that the owner keep you in sight but that he stays well behind you while you ride the prospect.

 If he is still unwilling, offer to ride in the nude. Works for me!

  Lerlene Added May 22, 1997 

Dear Lerlene:

I have a problem that I hope you can solve. My horse has developed a powerful liking for chicken fried steak (is chicken fried hyphenated—I just don't know). The problem began several months ago when my husband, Joe Bob, tossed his chicken fried out the kitchen window, which brings up another problem I won't go into right now.

lerlene4.jpgAnyhow, Tight End, my horse, happened to be standing right there under the kitchen window where he was munching on my Nasturtiums – a practice I do not condone. The chicken fried steak hit him square on his head. That would have been all right with me but, would you believe it, he never missed a munch! In fact he walked right over to the chicken fried and ate every bit of it. I declare!

I never thought much about it that night, but the next day he was right there at the window at breakfast time looking for more. Well, since I was cooking up another batch right then I flung one at him, and would you believe he ate it right up.

About lunch time he was back for more and my son, Bob Joe and his brother, Willy -- from my first marriage, thought it was funny and flung him another chicken fried—this time with catsup. It seems he really liked it and the boys and their half sister, Foo Lung from my second marriage, kept on feeding him chicken fried that way all week.

My problem is this. The silly horse has now got to have catsup on his chicken fried or he won't eat it. Do you think the catsup is bad for him? I'm going through three bottles a day. I would appreciate your help.

Thank you kindly,

Ellie Mae Suggs

Dear Ellie Mae,

What a compliment!! Out here at the 221 Truckstop, when the cook throws out chicken fried steak left by those Yankee truckers, my horses tied out there to the dumpster won't touch them good ole steaks. My boys will, but not my nags.

As far as the ketchup goes, three bottles does seem excessive and I don't think it counts as a green vegetable. Perhaps it may also have a bit too much sugar. If you are truly concerned, I would begin to water the ketchup or make it thinner. We do it here at the 221 all the time to make it go farther. That way Tight End will become gradually less ketchup-dependent.

If you have noticed an improvement in Tight End's performance let me know. It may turn out to be the feed supplement of the century. I can see the headlines now: Ketchup-Fed Cutters Corner Cows Quicker. or Ketchup-eatin" Horses Pour Around the Barrels in Record Time. If the performance improvement is good enough there will be time for product endorsements. On the other hand, if there has been no performance improvement well.--.Ketchup in Tight End also Ran


Added October 9, 1997 

Dear Lerlene:

I am wondering what type of fire precautions can be taken in a barn or stable. I have visited various sites and not found any that focused on this specific problem. Please e-mail me with this information!

Barn Fire

Dear Barn Fire,

When Lerlene considers "barn fires" she assumes that someone has taken their boyfriend or some one else's husband into the tack room for some "flagante delicto" but the other kind of barn fire is also serious.

There is an organization in California that has dealt with it but we cannot recall the name. Most organizations stress smoke alarms and fire extinguishers with the caveat that smoke alarms must be heard by someone and that the barn can burn down while some one is trying to use the fire extinguisher before calling 911.

Everyone advises against more than the most minimal storage of hay close to a barn. Flame-retardant wood should be used where possible. Almost no one builds all-wood barns any more. What is pretty burns really well.

In the meantime, watch the incendiary activity in the tack room.


Added November 9, 1997

Dear Lerlene-

I'm a beginning adult rider. I take lessons at a stable near my home in Brooklyn, NY once a week. My goal is to acquire good basic horsemanship skills, develop a good relationship with my horse (I usually ride the same school horse each time), and just enjoy riding. So far things are going well, even though I took a nasty fall last week when my horse spooked. I learned that falling off a horse at the age of 42 is a little harder than falling when you're 12! I wasn't able to get back on right then since I had the wind knocked out of me. But I'll be back this week for another lesson.

I'd appreciate any advice you could give me?

Thanks, Lerlene

Dumped in Brooklyn  

Dear Dumped:

Lerlene seldom gets serious inquiries but I figure that I know ten times more than all them full-time professionals. I often have horses spook because of my feather boa but I refuse to give up that all-so-important touch of femininity.

lerlene5.jpg (215876 bytes)You did not state what style of riding you were doing. I am going to guess that from the location it is some form of English riding. My immediate suggestion would be to borrow or buy a book called "Teaching Safe Horsemanship" and see if the seat discussed in that book in any way relates to the one you are being taught.

With most older riders who only ride a couple of times week, the most common problem is a shallow seat. This is usually caused by a stiff lower back combined with knee or thigh pinching. Often there is also too much weight on the ball of the foot. I have to say, without seeing you ride, that most tumbles from a spooking horse are due to an inadequate seat, one with too high a center of gravity. The problem is not as common with dressage riders or eventers but it is, unfortunately, more common with older riders who have begun or gone back to riding late in life (over thirty) and started back with hunt seat. The aforementioned book will help you isolate the difficulty and should help you improve the depth of your seat.

Let me know if this helps.

And remember, Lerlene always recommends more make-up, feathers, and spangles in the face of difficulty.




Thanks so much for your advice! You rock!

Dumped in Brooklyn

Added December 18, 1997

Dear Friends,

I feel I must explain my absence of many months.  I have been in Washington, D.C. applying for a job as a White House intern.

Well, I didn't get it.  I thought I had all the qualifications.  I guess they didn't need a horsetrainer.  I put down on the application that I also train cattle dogs, for sure they need one of those.  So, it's back to the old truck stop and the sand arena.

So, send in your questions.  Lerlene is back from her brief stint in politics.


Added September 26, 1998

Dear Lerlene,

My daughter is 14 and wants a horse so she can run barrels.  She is trying to convince me by talking up how participation in 4-H and high school rodeo will help her mature.  She is very pretty and "mature" looking, if you know what I mean.  What will this horse involve and what should I do?

Fretting in Flatonia

Dear Fretting,

That horse may help your daughter mature in ways that will curl your soon to be gray hair, especially if she has discovered bull riders.

After the horse comes the place to keep it, the trailer it rides in, the truck to pull the trailer, plus saddle, bridle, blankets, etc.

That is just the beginning.  At her age, the competition will also require a better hat, lots more make-up, and new clothes.  There are the queen contests and horse shows and rodeos.

Your daughter will develop responsibility, presence, poise, and self-confidence.  She will discover bull riders in tight wranglers.

Yes, she will mature but you will age 20 years.

So get a good supply of Prozac and get the girl a horse.


Added September 26, 1998

Dear Lerlene,

My boyfriend used to dip snuff all the time.  I mean all the time.  On New Year's Eve, he promised he would give up dipping as long as I would give up wearing underwear.  I never thought he would stick to it.  He did and here I am stuck uncomfortably in my skin tight rockies sans drawers.

Here is my problem:  although I find jeans uncomfortable and riding difficult, I have saved a bunch of money that I would have spent on fancy lingerie.  There is a new guy interested in me--he was attracted by the absence of a panty-line.  Am I stuck with my now non-dipper or can I toss him in favor of the new one?

If the old one goes into depression, begins to dip once more, and gets cancer of his lips--is it my fault?

Please help with my secret.



Dear Victoria,

Unless you are really a bleeding heart, what's the problem?  Underwear has always been overrated--unless it's edible.


Added September 26, 1998

Dear Lerlene,

I recently overheard the following conversation between two men at a rodeo. It worried me greatly. Can you explain it?

Billy Roy - How can you do this to me, Joe Don?

Joe Don - Man, I can’t help it. I know how much you need me but this time I just can’t.

Billy Roy - But we’ve dreamed and planned. What will I do without you there with me?

Joe Don - Just know that I’ll be there in spirit. My heart is with you all the way.

Rose from Guthrie, Oklahoma

Dear Rose,

I know how shocked you must have been, honey, but you just overheard a couple of team ropers. They raise co-dependency to new heights.


Dear Lerlene,

I have recently taken up dressage riding and am preparing for my first recognized competition. My trainer says it’s incorrect to match the new colored sparkly stuff I normally use on my horses hoofs by sprinkling it on my bun and my derby. What can I tell her?

Urd in New York.

Dear Urd,

Don’t I know how hard it is to express yourself, fashion wise, in the dressage ring. Now we are wearing buff britches and navy coats because it is supposed to be a softer look. What would be really fun would be to sprinkle sparkles on our derbies and buns and ride in the buff!


Added November 5, 2000 



Dear Lerlene:

How do you find names for all your horses? We are having a terrible time.

Nameless in Nebraska

Dear Nameless:

Just name your horses after a series of things such as trees (Mesquite, Pecan, Cherry), trucks (Dually, Ranger, F-150), or countries (Mexico, Canada, Texas). I name mine after my boyfriends (Beer Gut, Lard Butt, Dufus).




Dear Lerlene:

I’ve been dating a cowboy for five years and he finally proposed. Should I marry him?

Harried over Marriage

Dear Harried

Normally I would ask if he has enough money to support horses but you have already said he is a cowboy so we know he’s broke. Therefore I will offer the following list. If you can check three or more items of this list as a "yes" I would look for a better deal.

1. On your first date did he pick you up early so you could help unload the hay?

2. When he calls you from his "mama’s house" can you hear country music and the clicking of billiard balls in the background?

3. Does he brag about having tapped every televised performance of the National Finals Rodeo?

4. When he takes you out for a fancy dinner does each table have individual ketchup packets?

5. Does he call the bail bondsman by his first name?

6. In the event of an emergency would everyone know to call the saloon?

It is your decision. You have to be the judge. If you answer "yes" three times, give him my number.


Added February 2, 2001


Dear Lerlene,

I have a terrible problem and I am too embarrassed to ask my friends. Several years ago I bought a horse because it looked like fun. I rode by myself and really enjoyed it. Then I took some lessons. Then I went to a small show. I did fairly well so I thought time to go to an instructor who does some showing. So I did.

I liked the new instructor but he said I needed a better horse and he had just the one. This one could do trail and reining and would really get me blue ribbons. So I bought the horse but none of my tack would fit it so I had to get a new saddle and bridle. Now the trainer said that it would be better if my horse lived in his barn and I followed them around the shows but I didn’t have a truck or trailer. So I bought them too.

We were doing all right at the shows and I was having a lot of fun but I had to do some part-time work to pay for all the new stuff. Some friends at the shows said they thought I was doing really well but that I would do better with some dressage training.

You know what happened then. I went to a dressage instructor and she said that I needed another horse and really should go to different shows. I had to get the horse in Germany.

So I took my trainer to Germany so we could find the horse, which we did, and shipped him back to the States. Naturally my tack would not fit this one either, so I had to get yet another saddle and bridle but that wasn’t the worst of it. When I finally got this German horse squeezed into my trailer my truck would barely pull it out of the driveway. So now I have to get a new truck and a new bigger trailer and a second job to pay for it.

I don’t have time to ride because I am working all the time to pay for my horse habit. What can I do?

Dressage Queen in Houston


Dear Queen,

Dressage is more addictive than cocaine and far more expensive. However, there is an organization that can help and I have a few misguided friends who belong. It is Dressage Riders Anonymous Brotherhood (DRAB) and it is open to all. The dues are low and they have a three-beat program with extensions. There are some residential facilities but they are mostly in Germany. I have never heard of anyone being cured – in fact some never return from those facilities – but they do learn to gain control of their habit. I think they become instructors and clinicians.


Added May 13, 2001

Dear Lerlene,

My husband is hunting every fall and I don’t really understand it. What I really want to know is at what altitude do deer turn into elk?

Wondering in the wilderness


Dear Wondering,

This is a common question and I have no really good answer. The only thing I am sure of it that it is probably related to the proven principle that there is a definite measurement for when farm animals turn into deer. I think it is a one six-pack.

It is the same principle that results in "Budweiser Beauty" which makes the girls look better at closing time. That and time constraints.


Dear Readers:

I feel the necessity of passing on some safety information to those of you who also enjoy riding in feather boas. As many of you know, I quit smoking several years ago after my boa caught on fire and spooked my horse. It was flaming exciting.

Last week I had another enlightening and electrifying experience. I was riding beside an electric fence, one of those made with wide white tape, and my beautiful boa was hanging down and just happened to touch the tape. It may have been a little damp. Whatever. For a moment I could not figure out what was happening and then I found out how fast my donkey could really go. If that wasn’t bad enough, the boa brushed against the cigar I occasionally now smoke and it caught on fire once again.

So here I am goin’ ninety to nothing down the road as fast as my ass will carry me, wrapped in an 11-foot, flaming, crimson, feather boa. Well, my life passed before my eyes. The boa was wrapped around my neck and I was so busy trying to slow my ass down that I couldn’t take my hands off the reins long enough to unwind it.

Now you are wondering how I got out of this mess and that is where riding a donkey comes in handy. I live on a river and this donkey, sweet as she is, is not much for crossing water so here she goes, surely thinking the Devil himself is on her back and she runs till she gets to the water crossing. For her the choice was easy.

She picked the lesser of two evils. She put on the brakes, full stop and I went sailing into the river, boa, flames, cigar, sequins, (I never rider without sequins or spandex) and all. Through the hiss of flames hitting water I could hear the sound of donkey feet going away and the sizzle of one cigar.

I am really going to miss that boa. It was my favorite. I guess I have to give up cigars too. I think I will start wrapping the boa around a couple more times so that there will be less chance of hitting another fence.

So my safety tip is this: If you wear a feather boa when you ride, don’t smoke anything, don’t ride near an electric fence, and always ride an ass.

Dear Readers:

I feel the necessity of passing on some safety information to those of you who also enjoy riding in feather boas. As many of you know, I quit smoking several years ago after my boa caught on fire and spooked my horse. It was flaming exciting.

Last week I had another enlightening and electrifying experience. I was riding beside an electric fence, one of those made with wide white tape, and my beautiful boa was hanging down and just happened to touch the tape. It may have been a little damp. Whatever. For a moment I could not figure out what was happening and then I found out how fast my donkey could really go. If that wasn’t bad enough, the boa brushed against the cigar I occasionally now smoke and it caught on fire once again.

So here I am goin’ ninety to nothing down the road as fast as my ass will carry me, wrapped in an 11-foot, flaming, crimson, feather boa. Well, my life passed before my eyes. The boa was wrapped around my neck and I was so busy trying to slow my ass down that I couldn’t take my hands off the reins long enough to unwind it.

Now you are wondering how I got out of this mess and that is where riding a donkey comes in handy. I live on a river and this donkey, sweet as she is, is not much for crossing water so here she goes, surely thinking the Devil himself is on her back and she runs till she gets to the water crossing. For her the choice was easy.

She picked the lesser of two evils. She put on the brakes, full stop and I went sailing into the river, boa, flames, cigar, sequins, (I never rider without sequins or spandex) and all. Through the hiss of flames hitting water I could hear the sound of donkey feet going away and the sizzle of one cigar.

I am really going to miss that boa. It was my favorite. I guess I have to give up cigars too. I think I will start wrapping the boa around a couple more times so that there will be less chance of hitting another fence.

So my safety tip is this: If you wear a feather boa when you ride, don’t smoke anything, don’t ride near an electric fence, and always ride an ass.


Added November 22, 2001

Dear Lerlene,

My boyfriend, well my ex-boyfriend, and that’s the problem, gave me this beautiful horse. He is a palomino gelding and he is so sweet. I love riding him. I can ride him everywhere and we have been in several parades. The problem is I live with someone else now and he has a big house with two bedrooms and parking for my truck and trailer. I really think I love him and want to stay with him but if I do, do I have to give back the horse?

I wait tables so you know how hard this decision is for me. I could not have this horse on my tips.

Diana in the Diner

Dear Diana,

I don’t see what the problem is. You were living with the new fiancé (Lerlene in a nice girl so she assumes marriage is in the picture) when the ex gave you the horse. If he claims he gave you the horse as anything other than an honest gift given in friendship, then it wasn’t and he doesn’t deserve to ride with you anyway.

Happy trails,



Dear Lerlene,

I had a really scary experience with my sleigh last winter and I hope to help others with my experience. I was driving my team with a load of people a couple of months after having my 7th baby. It was a cold, blustery night and something startled the team and they took off through the woods. We would have been fine as the sleigh was headed for the woods and the deep snow but it hit a ditch and a submerged log with such force that it broke apart. People went flying everywhere but the worst part was that my new baby also went flying, blankets, bottle, diapers and all.

I went after the team and when I came back I looked everywhere for the baby. I was sure I had seen where he had flown into the snow drift. I figured he would be snug in his snow cave. I kicked the snow everywhere but he was nowhere to be found. Finally a woman came out of a nearby house with my baby. What a meddler. She claims she had seen the whole thing and had collected him from the drift and kept him inside till I got back. She was really mad. Like what else could I have done?

Alone in the snow.

Dear Alone,

I am not too sure what kind of advice to give you but I do think it would be a good idea to put your baby in a warm reflective, padded blanked and maybe leave him with a relative if you do any more winter driving.


Added February 24, 2002

Dear Lerlene,

Can you please tell me what are the 8 rodeos in the “California six-pack”?

Stymied in the Chutes

Dear Stymied,

When I first read your email I thought your were having some real fun with me.  Did you think Lerlene couldn’t count or couldn’t read or possibly both.  Admittedly I am seldom called upon to do either  Thank goodness for male secretaries.

However, here is your answer, Miz Smarty Pants.

The “California Six Pack” originated with six rodeos which were sponsored by the Coors Brewing Company.  They rapidly became seven rodeos.  The original six were Red Bluff, Oakdale, Santa Maria, Livermore, Redding, and Clovis.  When the rodeos themselves began to add money another rodeo was admitted to the circuit.  The final one was Hayward.  So there are seven rodeos in the “California Six-pack.”

It’s not nice to try to fool Lerlene.


Added June 1, 2002

Dear Lerlene,

My young daughter has decided that she wants to get married. She refuses to listen to me even though I have warned her that one half of all marriages end in divorce. What is wrong with her?

Worried in Wyoming.

Dear Worried,

There may not be much you can do. She probably has heard that the other half of the marriages end in death and she figures that divorce is the better deal. Sometimes it is hard to explain the problem with that logic that to a teenager.


Dear Lerlene,

I am very lonely and have tried for years to catch a husband. I am forty-five years old and have three horses. Do I need more make-up, sequins, or what?

Giving up in Great Neck

Dear Giving Up,

The Man currently in my life says the problem is the horses and their up keep but if you have to choose, Honey, take the horses. Seriously, though, I think your focus is wrong. Lerlene has never had any trouble catching husbands, but the single men can be a little slippery.


Dear Lerlene,

Like many others who read your column, I have several horses. Now I am planning to get married but I am afraid that the man who gave me the ring may change his tune about my horses as soon as the ceremony is over. How can I tell if he is sincerely accepting about my horses? Once I truly know the choice will be easy.

Searching for Truth near Toledo

Dear Searching,

You do not want to make that mistake. Here are the Top Ten Ways To Tell if Your Beau Doesn’t Love Your Horses:

1. Has he ever referred to any of your horses as “those walking cans of Alpo?”

2. He comments that marriage or not the horse bills are and always will be yours?

3. He refers to your friendly veterinarian as a quack?

4. He thinks that a farrier that charges more than $35 a set is gouging?

5. He thinks that horse manure stinks?

6. He constantly talk about the trade-in he can get for your new dually and trailer. (That alone should have sent him down the road alone.)

7. He thinks horse show expenses are excessive even though you are within a few points of the championship.

8. He thinks a three-car garage is a necessity but a fully finished tack room is excessive.

9. He talks about saving up for a place on the lake (river, coast, slopes) but thinks a place with additional pasture space is ridiculous.

10. He dreams about a new, state of the art, touring motorcycle but thinks a new, custom saddle is truly out of the question.


Added August 31, 2002

 It’s been a long three months and I have to say I am plum tired of rain. I was on my way to town last week when Bode, the local constable stopped me and asked me what I was doing with my boyfriend’s roping horse in the trailer. I told him about 65 MPH. Jim Bob needed him down at the fair grounds in a hurry but Bode gave me a ticket! I’ve known him since 3rd grade and he knew I had to get that horse down there. He’ll be sorry the next time he comes into the truckstop. His pie just went up. So did his horse training. 

We’ve all been worried about the new four-lane highway that’s going in through our south pasture. The neighbors all think this is great but I just don’t know how we are going to manage to keep an eye on that gate all the time. Maybe we will just have to open and close it for all those cars. 

My sister, Sallye, she’s the blonde, not the sharpest tool in the shed but sweet. She’s always wanting to go do something. She doesn’t understand that being a famous, part-time horse trainer I have obligations. But last Saturday I didn’t have a show and Jim Bob was away at a roping so I asked Sallye what she wanted to do. “I’m not sure. Let’s think.” I wish she would suggest something we could both do. 

I will sure be glad when Jim Bob gets back from this trip. When he first gets in he always takes me to a really nice restaurant. You know, one you get a fork, spoon, and knife instead of that little spoon-fork combination, and the plates don’t have lids. He is so cool he has even memorized the name of his bailbondsman. He used to think that I was going to help with that. Sorry, not my job description. I’ll take care of the horses while you’re gone but that’s it, Buster.  

Sometimes I wonder about Jim Bob. The other night he asked me if he was the first man I had ever kissed…Could be if he was at Mardi Gras in 1986. Geeze Louise, what a question! 

Love, Lerlene

Added January 1, 2003

Another year has come and gone and I am glad to have made it through relatively unscathed. I took up team roping so I could be close to my boyfriend, Billy Ray. I thought I was going to raise the standard of style, as usual, but it is really hard to rope with a boa. It's hard on the boa as well and those feathers are expensive. 

I told my cousin, Bodin, that I was roping with a boa and that tree-huggin' city boy thought I meant a snake. Honey, eating granola with yogurt may make you natural, not to mention regular, but it sure won't make you country. I don't even think we have granola at the truck stop. I can see it now. Billy Ray pulls in with the brand new Peterbilt and I ask him what flavor of yogurt he wants with his granola. Next we'd have to put ferns and Internet hookups where the phones are now. 

Say, Bubba, how about a hazelnut latte for that long ride down the interstate? Maybe I should sell those as a sideline? I can see it now; I would have a booth at each county rodeo selling flavored lattes and yogurt smoothies. Maybe even a portable hot tub. Hey, Sid Steiner has opened doors for all of us when he became world champion steer wrestler at the NFR. If he can wear a shiny shirt, I can rope in a feather boa. I'm probably going to give up roping, though. I think I want to do dressage. It has to be more my style. At least it has dress in the title! 

Marla from the Big Hair Salon told me she is really tired of the new styles. She said the women used to worry that one of these new styles would make them look like old ladies but they don't. They make them look like old men. 

I won't wear any style that doesn't look real good with my cowboy hat. I have started wearing a helmet when I ride because I didn't want to look like a dummy or mostly be a dummy. My friends said I should wear my cowboy hat because the helmet doesn't follow the western tradition. Phooey. Them old cowboys didn't take any chances. If they'd had helmets available back then they would have worn them. It's only the "new" cowboys that want to use their heads as airbags. 

People ask me the strangest questions and I guess it is because being a famous horse trainer they assume that my knowledge carries over into other areas. It does, of course, but not to everything. 

One person wanted to know if she buys the jumbo size eggs to make deviled eggs to take for a horse show picnic does she still have to buy 12 eggs to have a dozen or since the eggs are so large can she buy fewer? 

Then there was the man who wanted to know what was the best trailer to buy to haul his six cutting horses. He said he wanted a nice dressing room and separate tack compartment. He wanted a fully tricked-out rig. So I recommended one with all the bells and whistles. About four months later I get this really angry letter from the same man. Well he should have told me he was going to try to pull it with a Ford F-150! 

I have a hot walker out behind the truck stop where I do my horse training. Most afternoons I have three to four horses hooked up to it going around. I can't tell you how many truckers want to know what I use the power for that these horses are generating. Some of the New Yorkers think I have a mill of some sort. 

Y'all have a great New Year and remember that when you are in a pinch, under stress, worried, overworked, whatever - there is no problem that cannot be resolved by adding more sequins, more make-up, and one more feather boa! Maybe some of you guys better think before you take that piece of advice. 

Added April 6, 2003

My True Confessions

It all began when I decided to take a few riding lessons.  Like I said, I wanted to learn some dressage.  This instructor said dressage would help any horse I had so I took my old horse and began to learn.  Then I went to a little show and we did pretty well but some people there told me that there was a better instructor even closer to me so I thought I would try the new one.  After all, it could only help my horse training business, right?

The new instructor said I was doing fine but that I needed a new horse, one with more impulsion and freedom of movement and she just happened to have one.  She could use my old horse for a school horse so we traded, but I had to give her a little extra.  The new horse was fine but my tack wouldn’t fit it so I needed new tack to fit the new horse.

The next show went well and then I went to a clinic.  The German clinician said I was doing really well but what I really needed was a German horse that had been bred to do this sport.  I explained that I just wanted to learn about it so that I could use it to improve my riding, but he said that I would have so much better understanding if I had the big German horse.

Well, I got the big German horse and wouldn’t you know it.  My tack wouldn’t fit it either so I had to get more new tack, but that is not the half of it.  This horse would not fit in my trailer so I had to get a new trailer as well.  Now this new trailer is much bigger than my little 6’ WW and my old Ford 150 wouldn’t pull it.  You guessed it.  Now I have a new truck too!

I have a new truck, new trailer, new saddle, new bridle, and a new imported horse that has to live in the trainer’s barn and has to be insured.  My waitress job won’t pay for all of this so I had to take a second job, which means I now have two jobs, and I am really tired on the weekends.  But the trainer really likes riding the new horse and says I got a really good one.

I have joined an organization for people with my problem.  Maybe some of you have friends who have joined also.  I will let you know how it goes.


New member of Dressage Anonymous  

Added July 20, 2003

Well, folks, the questions just keep building up so I guess it is time to answer some of them. You know I do answer all questions even though they do not all appear here in Caution:Horses.

Dear Lerlene,

Some of my friends have told me that the custom of female's riding astride is harmful to young girls. I am now worried about my daughter who is a barrel racer and my son's future family because his fiancé is a barrel racer. Can you give me some guidance on this issue?

Side-saddle in Selma

Dear Selma,

I thought at first this was a fashion question. You know, if the girls don't ride astride, they won't be able to wear those tight wranglers and the flashy shirts. Then I thought you were talking about something else. He can't be, I thought. But then maybe you are and need to be educated that this is really a fashion question. It only relates to the importance of wearing tight wranglers and shirts with lots of sequins as opposed to riding skirts. If you don't believe me then have your son call me so I can tell him to move out of your house before he gets infected with any more antiquated foolishness. As for you daughter, I would more worry about her safety with respect to whether she is wearing an approved safety helmet. I hope you don't listen to every silly thing someone tells you about horsemanship because, honey, a lot of what people tell you about horses is total bull s____.

On the other hand if these girls want to ride side-saddle in a drill team for a chariada then it is okay because those gals can ride and they understand fashion. We have Mexican rodeos down here and the ladies who ride in those drills would impress anyone on any level.



Dear Lerlene,

I have a gray warmblood and I am going to board him at a stable for training. I want the stable to keep him out of the sun so he won't get skin cancer or those cancerous growths under his tail that kill so many gray horses. However the stable does not want to leave him in the barn by himself. This place has plenty of turn-out and he would be by himself in the barn. What should I do. He would have a paddock with trees to himself but he seems to choose to graze in the sun rather than stand under the tree in the shade.

Gray Ghost's Mom

Dear Mom,

I have to admit this is the first time I have heard this one. Most of the boarders jump up and down with glee if they can find a place that has turn out. I have to put up with the gravel lot here at the truck stop. While I am used to hearing the breed association folks talk about preventing sun damage to hair coats, I have never heard anyone complain about optimum care for their horses. I even went to a book and looked this stuff up. They are talking about light skinned horses that most grays aren't anyway. Mine have dark skin, or they better have. These tumors appear in older, light-skinned horses in the genital and eye regions because light skin absorbs more ultraviolet rays.

Grays are known to get growths which sometimes become malignant under their tails.

Not much sun gets under a horse's tail and unless he is really different, your gelding has no genital region under his tail so that lets out the first problem. You can get a fly mask that will substantially cut the UV rays that get to his eyes and even a sheet that will reduce the amount of UV rays that reach his body. That should do it and then you can let your pony take advantage of this great place. Or you can just lock him up every day and watch his temperament change. But hey, if somebody told you this, it must be right.



Dear Lerlene,

I took a student to a show as my groom. I am showing her horse. After one class she was un-tacking and took the bridle off without having the rein over the horse's neck, or the halter or anything. The horse took off wearing only the saddle. Fortunately, he was caught before any damage was done. We had been over all of this at home. If something had happened would I have been blamed and how do I prevent this in the future?

Near Miss in Nantucket

Dear Nan,

Are you serious. Don't you know that if you do these things yourself you can charge for the service?  Besides that, the student can make a mistake like yours did and then it makes you look really bad. If you insist on having the student do these things then you need to make sure the student does it right. You can make this happen by practicing at home and teaching the student a specific procedure for everything. This means where and how to tack up and un-tack, where to put your sequined, spandex pants. Where to stack the boxes of make-up and where to store the feather boas between classes. I mean if she is going to be useful she might as well take care of the important stuff.



Added November 16, 2003


Dear Lerlene:

I have heard from several horse people that wearing a helmet horseback riding after you are used to riding without one makes it so you can't think as fast. Do you know if this is true?

R. Trickrider

Dear Trickrider:


There are two ways of looking at this very interesting question. First, a person who is having to ask this is probably not thinking too fast anyway. Second, riding without a helmet often results in the rider not thinking as fast - eventually - if the rider goes without one long enough.

I have often wondered how helmets work and have decided that they are like those old-fashioned "foundation garments" called girdles. They offer support to the brain so they will make a rider think faster and keep him doing it.



Dear Lerlene:

My husband is in oil and he bought me a beautiful ranch mink coat for Christmas. I will be running barrels at all the stock shows and want to wear the coat. What goes well with ranch mink so that I can show off my coat at the winter shows.

Warm in Waxahachie

Dear Warm:

Your husband's in oil? Mine is usually in hot water. Accessorizing a ranch mink is problem I'm not too familiar with. I guess the first accessory you need is a ranch. That's why they call it ranch mink - cause you are supposed to wear it on the ranch. So get a ranch.

Now at the stock shows it is different. You didn't say whether you wanted to wear it to ride or to party or to ride and party. It makes a difference because if it is a big full-length ranch mink either you will have to sit on a lot of skin that ain't yours or it will be flapping all over behind you when you ride. If your times have been slow that ole coat may speed up your horse the first couple of times you wear it.

I normally would say add feathers or sequins but a ranch mink is an important piece of wearing apparel and nothing should detract from it. Get a flesh colored leotard and some flesh colored tights and let it go with that. You will have many admiring glances.

Or you could wear nothing but the mink!



Added March 20, 2004

To Whom It May Concern:  All of you who have been writing in to ask if I am the blonde in the Wal-Mart joke, well, I really appreciate that. For the rest of you that was about a blond who fell off a horse and got her foot caught in the stirrup. The horse kept going. The blond kept screaming, her head kept bouncing on the ground. Finally, the Wal-Mart manager comes out and unplugs the horse. Thanks a lot. I wear a helmet anyway. 



Dear Lerlene, 

Spring is coming and I am worried that I am going to be too hot jumping cross-country with my body protector. Do you have any suggestions?

 Training 2 in Bloomfield

 Dear Bloomy,

 I'll be honest, I did not know people rode double while jumping cross country. This is a first for me and I am not sure I can answer adequately since I have never had a body guard.

 My first suggestion would be for each of you to use a separate horse. That would be safer anyway. The second suggestion would be for y'all to stop under the trees for a while to cool off. Maybe you can find a swimming hole.



 Dear Lerlene,

 My daughter, Bodina, has just started taking Western riding lessons and will soon be leasing a horse. She absolutely loves anything to do with horses. Her father and I thought horse riding would be a good way to delay the "boy" issue as long as possible. Now we are not so sure.

 She is supposed to ride in her first horse show in May in a class called Western Pleasure. We went to the local store that sells clothing for all the girls who show and I was shocked!  They have things called "slinky tops" and the pictures have these little girls all made up. Now I am afraid that Bodina will just be a walking boy magnet at these shows. We read your column faithfully and respect your views. What do you recommend?

 Panicked in Pawnee

 Dear Panicked,

 First, I love those slinky tops. You can finally get enough sparkle, sequins and all that stuff I really love - and plenty of make-up. The girls love it. They all look like tiny Lerlenes. I love it.

 Do you need to worry about Bodina becoming a boy magnet?  Not a chance. There are a few boys riding the cutting horses. Some boys are ropers and that's about it. This is not where the boys gather. Trust me. Horses are the center of the girls' club. GIRLS RULE   BOYS ARE SMELLY.

  Shhhhhh. If you girls really want to meet boys, go to the rodeos. That's where the boys are!  You won't even have to ride - just dress up, wear the sequins, put on lots of make-up and you'll be good to go!



Added June 20, 2004

Some truckers came out behind the truck stop where I train horses between shifts to ask me some questions about their girl friends.  This happens more often than you would believe.  I think I should have been one of them counselors.  Anyway, they was asking me if I was a horse person.  I said, yes, and then they asked me what that meant.  What they wanted to know, of course (I’m clever so I knew where they was going) was how to tell if their girlfriends were horse people.

So I said, let me tell you about me and you see if these things fit them.

My leg moves like I am pushing my horse when I change lanes while I am driving.

I even hold the dog leash like a rein.

No one wants to ride in my truck because they'll get sweet feed and hay in their socks and purses. I’d have to rearrange all the tack to make room for them, anyway!

Whenever someone does something nice I say "good boy" or "atta girl" and given them a pat.

When my boyfriend of the month complains that I love the horses more then I love him I always wonder, "And your point is?"

I can’t help saying "whoa" to the dogs, kids and my truck.

I’ll stop channel surfing when I see the Budweiser Clydesdales!

I have a $20,000 trailer and a $2,000 dollar truck.

If when your girl walks past someone and instead of saying, "excuse me," pokes them in the ribs and says "get over" it is a sure bet you have a horse lady.

I have never had a new BMW or a boyfriend who did either but if I did or he did I would want to trade it for a new truck that could pull the trailer better.
I have a lot of nice outfits accented by feathers and sequins but these horses all wear custom-made and they have more blankets and sheets than I have in my whole house.


I told the guys that any five of those was a sure sign that they had a horse lady.  Not that being a horse person is bad, but it sure is expensive.  That is why I have to work at the truck stop.   



Added October 31, 2004