Today’s article comes to us from an old friend, and terrific member of the local Liar’s Club, Wes Carr:

Is there life after 55 years of basketball?

I played basketball every year from age 10 to 65, often in multiple leagues both winter and summer.  This all came to a screeching halt when I came back from playing in the World Senior Games in Utah in 2004.  I talked to a surgeon about knee replacement that ended my basketball career.

Two years later, at age 67, my wife (Adrienne) thought I was depressed and needed a new hobby.  I used to train and show quarter horses for over 20 years, so she went to work on the computer and found a horse that turned out to be a great challenge. Rosie was a beautiful sorrel 3-year-old 1uarter horse with four white stockings. She came from Ohio, where she had been mistreated by a professional trainer.  I’m sure this must have been the longest and worst month of her life. Rosie was just what I needed to fill the void after basketball.

I was fortunate to make arrangements to board her with Doug Haines at Ledyard Farms, a local Morgan show horse breeding farm with indoor and outdoor training facilities. I started Rosie with four weeks of intensive groundwork training to gain her respect. My understanding was that Rosie had been ridden a few times when she was only 2 by the trainer in Ohio and he abused her with very rough treatment. It was time now to saddle her and get her started riding. I tied her on a crosstie with quick release tie rings just in case things didn’t go well. I placed the saddle gently on her back and she exploded! She bucked the saddle off and kept bucking until I cleared all the equipment from the area. I knew then that I had a lot more preparation to do before she would ever accept the saddle or anything else. I started working Rosie seven days a week for the next five months and she started to develop into a good demonstration horse that I could use to teach others the Natural Horsemanship Method.

I got a request from a local saddle club that wanted to bring about a dozen young members to watch Rosie do a training demonstration.  The day for the demo came and about 40 people, mostly adults, showed up. Rosie did very well and turned out to be a natural performer. She went on to perform for several groups, including one with more than 300 people. She never let me down.   

Rosie’s most important demo came in July 2011, when she performed for Bill (from New York City) and Doug (from Florida) Haines, Ledyard Farms owners, when their families were visiting for their annual vacation. Rosie did her thing and put on an impressive performance. The next day Bill asked me to work with one of the Morgan show horses that was having some problems. She was broke to drive and ride, but had started to refuse to do either. He asked me to work with this horse for two weeks and he would be back to get my opinion. Bill came back from New York City after two weeks and I worked the horse about 45 minutes for him. Bill then asked what I had done with his horse because she performed so well that it couldn’t possibly be his horse!

A few weeks later I met with Bill and Doug Haines and they offered me a job managing the farm and training the horses.  There are about 35 horses at the farm with about 10 foals born each spring. I was 71 and in need of a hobby, so why not!

And then came Timo Teo. Bill thought it would be more appropriate to have a trained Morgan demonstration horse, and not use a quarter horse to perform for visitors and prospective buyers visiting Ledyard Farms Morgan farm. Timo was born with a knee problem that required surgery in his first year and this ruled out the possibility of him becoming a show horse. He was too far behind to catch up with his class. This colt was shiny black with a precocious and funny personality. He was very smart and athletic, which made him a great prospect for training demonstrations.

When Timo’s class of 2009 Morgan show prospects left Ledyard and moved on to finish their preparation for show competition, there was no place to pasture him with other colts his age, so he moved in with Rosie and the other two quarter horse mares at the farm.  Whenever I finished working the Morgans and came after Rosie, there was Timo, acting like a border collie and wanting some action. I spent a few months perfecting his groundwork exercises and liberty work in the round pen. I started him under saddle in February of his third year.  On Timo’s first ride we worked in the round pen for about 1/2 hour and then another 15 minutes in the indoor arena. He was well prepared so I rode him out the door and around the farm, including on a trail through the woods.

Timo was improving steadily so I started using him for training demonstrations when small groups and saddle clubs visited the farm. On one occasion we had a saddle club visiting from western New York. I used Rosie and Timo both for this demo hoping to make it more interesting. I finished the demo with Timo doing some fast-paced work with sliding stops and high-speed rollbacks along the fence. I called him into the center and asked the group watching if they would like to see both horses working together (with no halters or lead ropes) — just two horses running free and taking direction from me in the center of the pen. They were excited to see that so I asked a helper to bring Rosie to the gate and turn her loose. Rosie came to the center of the pen while I explained what we hoped would happen. The horses would walk, trot and canter, then do a rollback and do the same thing going in the other direction. I called both horses into the center while they were galloping clockwise and they suddenly appeared, one on each side of me, and stood still waiting for their next command.  I later got a nice note from the club president saying how much they enjoyed the demo, especially the round pen performance with the two horses running circles together.

Timo’s biggest and most important performance at Ledyard was as a 4-year-old when many of the Morgan show stable owners and top show horse trainers visited Ledyard Farms to see our young show prospects and watch Timo do a training demo. These folks were in town to compete in the Northeast Regional Morgan show at the New York State Fairgrounds. Mr. Haines had invited them to the farm for dinner and a preview of our young show prospects. Timo put on a great performance representing Ledyard Farms. I had many owners and trainers visit me over the next three days, including Harry Sebring, the president of the Morgan Horse Association, asking about the training method used to get Timo to do so many exciting things.

Timo went on to do many more training demos, including one for some Cornell professors and graduate vet students. Timo has been pictured and written about in three magazines. He is also known for some of the crazy things he has done around the farms where he has lived. At Ledyard he bumped his stall door hard enough to pop it open, and then opened the stall door next to him and let that horse out and took him for a run around the farm. On another occasion, he backed into a steel pipe pasture gate until it was bent low enough for him to sit on it and then walk out over it. Thirdly, Timo was left in the round pen with his sister, Barbie, and he lifted the gate handle and took her out of the arena door and around the paddocks where the other horses were turned out. They had a good run before they settled down to eat some lush grass. Most everyone who has spent any amount of time with this horse has a “Timo story.”

This is just a sample of the enjoyment and entertainment I’ve had while training and caring for Rosie and Timo. Thanks to my wife Adrienne for finding Rosie. Adrienne actually owns Timo, but lets me borrow him!

Yes! For me, there is life after basketball.

Wes has been a great friend of mine and he was a terrific athlete as well as being a great friend to horses and animals. Thanks, Wes, for being a terrific Legend of Auburn!

Timo Teo

Timo Teo is ready to work in the garden.

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Ormie King's column appears Sundays in The Citizen and he can be reached by email at ormie5king@gmail.com.