A Reader’s Story: Kristie Allison

To say I was ?horse crazy? in the 60?s is like saying War and Peace is a good book or the Mona Lisa is a nice painting. It doesn’t begin to give an accurate description.? Mom said I came by it naturally because her father loved horses. Add to that the television genre for that time period was Westerns and it is no wonder I grew up believing my life was incomplete until I had a horse.

16-year-old Kristie Allison gets her first horse.

We lived in San Diego and not only did I not have a horse, there were none close by and I didn’t know anyone that owned one.? As I set my goal on saving enough money to buy one myself, I got by with a lot of creativity and imagination.? Barbie dolls took a far second to my ?Buddy-L? horse hauler, complete with three plastic horses.? A B-B gun was another favorite Christmas present, because all of the television cowboys had guns and rifles.? I tied tin can lids to the back fence with a piece of string and would stand on the patio and shoot them, making them spin.

I am still amazed my first horse never pitched me.? It was a picnic bench placed upside down at the edge of our picnic table.? I had one belt circling the bench, another was the stirrup leather and a third was the stirrup.? And I actually put all of my weight into the stirrup and mounted my horse just like you’re supposed to, from the left.?? Once mounted, I kept my right leg curled on top of the picnic table.? Two dog leashes fastened to the ?X? of the upturned bench were my reins.? I would open a book on riding that I had checked out from the Bookmobile whenever I could find it and practice mounting, holding the reins and proper foot placement while riding.

Between my riding lessons and during the weeks I didn’t have the library book, my imagination took over.? I was riding all over the Shiloh Ranch with James Drury of ?The Virginian? or I showed up at the Texas Ranger?s headquarters in ?Laredo? as Captain Parmalee?s long lost daughter and got to hang out with Joe, Chad and Reese.? Joe Riley (William Smith) was my personal favorite until he put on an eye patch and shocked me by killing Nick Nolte at the end of ?Rich Man, Poor Man.?

I had set my horse purchase goal at $300.? I kept checking the San Diego paper classified ads to see how many were for sale and for how much.? Trying to reach a $300 goal when I was given 25 cents a week allowance was rough.? It did teach me the value of a penny.? During one of my many investigations of the classified ads, I saw a boxed ad stating that if a certain car dealership couldn?t put you in a new car, they would give you $100.? One hundred dollars would be a major step towards my horse purchasing goal!? I called up the dealership and told them I wanted to buy a car.? When they heard my age, they told me they couldn?t do it.? I tried to collect the $100, but they wouldn?t do that either.? Another of life?s lessons learned–if it seems too good to be true . . . and nothing comes easy.

Someone finally gave me a subscription to a horse magazine that I read like a bible.? I planned to be fully educated when I became a horse owner and rider.? Thanks to an article in that magazine and a patient Basset Hound, I can still create three different kinds of halters with a length of rope.

Yes, I finally did get my horse.? When I was 16 my father gave me the ultimatum–a horse or a car, but I couldn’t have both. you can’t have both.? I chose the horse.? The other catch was that I was financially responsible for all horse costs–feed, vet, blacksmith, etc.? Again, nothing comes easy.

But “horse crazy” doesn’t end when you get your first horse.? Horse crazy is your mom catching you leaving the house for school with your spurs on, skipping classes to check out western stores and horses for sale,? and your best friend?s mom knowing she’ll never have shrubs in front of her porch because that’s where you tie your horse. Horse crazy is riding too late at night and returning home alongside the state highway with a flashlight so the traffic can see you in the dark.? Horse crazy means that while every other senior at your high school heads to Florida for spring break, you and your best friend drive to Colorado in search of cowboys.

While the rest of the seniors are off to a lake for Senior Skip Day, you’re riding all over town to meet up with other horse crazy classmates for a full day on horseback.? When you finally return home that day and dismount, your legs are like rubber and you can’t even stand up.? A Saturday night of raising hell was shoving a couple bottles of Boone?s Farm into a bag of ice and heading over to the horse auction.? You and your friends never fail to elbow each other and comment that you should have signed up for a number, because that was a fine looking horse and he went cheap.

When you’re horse crazy, instead of going away to college you head to Montana and work at a dude ranch.? Once they take the room and board out of your pay, you?ve got enough left to put some gas in your car and buy a few incidentals.? You also discover there is nothing romantic about branding cattle.

Horse crazy means you’ll muck stalls and groom horses in exchange for English riding lessons.

Horse crazy means you still own the saddle you had 40 years ago.? Funny thing is, it has shrunk over the years and no longer fits your rear end.?? It is now a decorative item in your Western-themed guest room.

Finally, horse crazy means you will never forget the contentment of standing in a warm barn and listening to horses eat. And you will always look twice when you see anyone out riding.? You never, ever get over horse crazy.

About Kristie Allison
Kristie grew up in San Diego, California, and southwest Michigan with a love for all animals.? She acquired her first horse at age 16 and successfully trained her second horse two years later.? Her colorful career began with a job working for the Forestry Service after graduating from high school.? The following summer she worked as head wrangler for a dude ranch in Montana until the job fizzled out in the winter.? To keep connected with the horse industry, she took an apprentice job at a leather repair shop and worked for a couple of stables in Michigan before returning to college to study business administration.

Kristie married her childhood sweetheart in 2002 and moved to Arizona.? She and her husband operated ?Carefree Gardens,? a nursery and pond supply facility where they also maintained a non-profit bird rescue organization.? At one point, the nursery housed nearly 100 birds including Macaws, Peacocks, and a wild roadrunner that would follow Kristie around the nursery waiting for the mice she chased out of the bird aviaries.

In addition to the nursery, she organized a garden club, co-authored weekly newspaper articles, ?Ask The Carefree Gardener? and hosted a weekly radio talk show with her husband.? After selling the nursery in 2006, they founded ?Jimmy Kristie Productions? where Kristie worked as a producer and was instrumental in the production of? ?The Carefree Gardener? which became syndicated nationally and internationally.

Currently, Kristie is self-employed and lives with her husband Craig and a rescued dog, Bandit, in Arizona.? Kristie still has her love of animals and has been involved with various dog and horse rescue organizations.

Read more of Kristie’s exploits:

Pard’ners and Best Friends

Confessions of a Tack Hoarder

Horses and Flying Saucers Don’t Mix

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