The Story of Tuff: Part 2
- February 23, 2018
- Savanna Simmons
Continued from The Story of Tuff: Part 1.
Tuff and I went on to represent our county at State Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We got a few top-ten ribbons through the weekend, but once again, my eye was set on one prize: trail. I slicked Tuff up as nicely as I could (I still refused to cut that long mane), and we gave our all in that trail pattern. I once again had my homemade vest, covered helmet, and borrowed chaps and saddle that were fancier than the ones I owned. I had hoped it was enough.
They announced trail placings at the end of the weekend. Our stall decorations were tore down, the tack was stuffed in the trailer, our dorm room was emptied out, our horses were patiently waiting in their stalls to get loaded; we were just awaiting the trail results so we could all go home. I was standing at the bottom of the stadium, my parents at the top of the stairs above me, and the announcer had finally gotten to my age group’s trail standings. When they made it through top ten without listing my name, I was sure I was done. Our pattern was good, but not good enough. I turned and looked up at my parents 15 feet above me and shrugged. They smiled down at me, knowing how badly I wanted it and also knowing there was nothing more they could do. Then they called my name. While I was looking at my parents, they called my name and Tuffys Connection as the Grand Champions in 10th Grade Trail Class. It was us. I was in shock.
With my mouth agape and still looking up to those supporting me, my parents shooed me to go get my plaque, and I slowly turned around to go retrieve it. It was what we had worked for. It was our year. We qualified for state at our next two fairs, my last two years in 4-H, and we got reserve champion in trail both years.
I learned more from that horse than I will any other. He is also probably as finished as I will ever make a horse. I still have him. He’s 18, almost 19, now, and we have done it all together. We have trailed cows many miles together; we were the American Ranch Horse Association Reserve Rookies of the Year in 2012, and received ARHA high-point reserve ranch cutting and high-point reserve boxing.
He was in my wedding program, he’s given lessons in my husband’s and my horse business, and I’ve hung a spade bit from his mouth, earning him the regaled Cavvy Marks. I’m convinced God gave me Tuff to lead me to the life I now live, with my husband and our two boys, living on a ranch in Wyoming. That summer that my brother Hayden and Tuff cowboyed in South Dakota was the summer Hayden met Boe, my husband. My brother was the one who urged me to reach out and meet Boe.
My four-year-old, Brindle, has ridden Tuff a great deal. He was his first horse, and now my two-year-old, Roan, has taken a shining to him, and that sweet old Tuff, with cataracts glinting in his eyes and gray hairs peppering his face, will stand for 10 minutes straight or longer bridled up soft as can be because my son is pulling too tight.
He follows me around like a puppy with Roan straddling the tiny saddle nestled snugly into his old sway back as I work with Brindle, focusing on him and his pony Sparky, knowing that all those years with Tuff, bonding and leading and just loving on him has paid off in this moment.
I love that horse more than I will likely love any other horse. I trust him completely. If you’re unsure that horses are capable of love, you haven’t found your Tuff yet, and I hope that soon you do.
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...