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Susan Williamson – Vegas for Low Rollers, Part 1 -05/04/2018

For two years now we have been watching airfares to Phoenix. Why? Because we have a dear friend who lives there.

Only recently did it occur to me to look at a map and figure out that Phoenix isn’t all that far from Vegas, a place boasting cheap airfares. And since the time share we bought in a weak moment always has Las Vegas trades available, we plotted our vacation. First to Sun City, AZ and then Las Vegas.

Another friend who had recently moved to the area, volunteered to meet us at the airport and take us to an offsite car rental which would be cheaper and easier. After catching up with him over a nice lunch, we headed into the desert. The road to Phoenix goes right by Lake Meade and the Hoover Dam. We didn’t stop but had lots of scenic viewing.

We are both fascinated by differences in terrain and noticed how the vegetation changed with elevation. We spent a lot of time driving through Joshua Tree National Forest and realized that the scrubby trees did not grow at the highest elevations. Some of the desert was ranch land, we saw a few cattle, but in this climate the ratio would be at least forty acres per cow, so they were widely scattered. We wondered how far they had to go for water.

We stopped in and later revisited the lovely town of Wickenburg, AZ—a quaint western town with roping arenas all over and the wonderful Desert Caballeras Western Museum. We came back with our friend and paid a bargain $10 for admission to the museum which was hosting Cowgirl Up! Art Show for female western artists.

We were asked to vote for our show favorites and I had many. I finally cast my vote for a watercolor of a coyote looking out from behind an saguaro cactus. But the sculpture of the cowgirl at the mailbox wearing one boot and one stiletto, other stiletto still in just opened box was wonderful. It was entitled “All Work and No Play.” Another painting of cowgirl’s herding cattle was full of motion and pure joy.

And I haven’t even finished with Sun City, let alone Las Vegas. More next week.

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Susan Williamson – The Golden Horse

Ever since Roy Rogers and Trigger, and undoubtedly before, people have been fascinated with golden (palomino) horses. Mr. Ed was another famous palomino.

A  golden Alkhal Teke horse has been making the rounds on FACEBOOK as “The World’s Most Beautiful Horse.” He is indeed handsome. The Alkal Tekes, a very old breed from Turkmenistan, are known for their gleaming metallic coats. So in addition to being a palomino, he had the metallic sheen gene.(Doesn’t that sound cool?) At the rare breeds horse show held at the Virginia horse center in 2016 I saw buckskin, silver, bay and golden models. The sheen is the result of a particular gene or genes. Since these horses originated in the desert, I can’t help but wonder if this coloration causes them to reflect more light and thus is a cooling mechanism. I am fascinated with this breed and feature them in my novel, Turkmen Captives.

I have seen beautiful palomino horses, but also ugly ones. A pretty color can’t disguise a poor conformation. And a pale washed out dirty yellow may even distract from an otherwise attractive horse. A true palomino has a chestnut gene along with a cream dilution gene. True palominos have white manes and dark skin. Palomino is a color, not a breed, but there are palomino breed associations. The problem is since the color is the result of a hybrid state, a palomino bred to a palomino can produce a cremello, a chestnut or a palomino, so it is not really correct to call it a breed.

When I was growing up, my father traded a horse for a palomino parade horse named, (you guessed it—Trigger). He was a handsome fellow, probably mostly American Saddlebred but he had no papers. He came with a very fancy faux silver saddle. (I think the metal was  stainless steel, but still very heavy.) One day my father agreed to saddle Trigger in his parade outfit and let me ride him down the road.  I mounted up and headed out the driveway, only to have one of the stirrups fall off. We stopped and screwed it back on (literally—the heavy stirrups are attached with metal screws) and off I went.

I had no sequined garb or fancy hat, but I still thought I was the hottest thing on four legs.

A great fog descended on the land and not a car appeared in my entire two mile round trip. What a downer!


Susan Williamson is a lifelong horse person, former newspaper editor, food coop manager, extension agent and college adjunct. She is the author of two mystery novels: Turkmen Captives and Dead on the Trail and two e-books published by High Tide Publications: How to Buy Your First Horse and How to Get By as Time Goes By.