A.K.A.: Cranky Franky, Frankenfurter
Breed: Possibly Appendix QH
Color: Black with a little "chrome"
Age: Somewhere's between 14 and 19, he ain't tellin'
Boarded at KEC: since about May 2017
Owner: Kris Oyler, 50
This quirky pair can be found most evenings working out in one of KEC's arenas, or standing in some out-of-the-way corner while Kris chats on the phone (a crucial piece of equine equipment, as any horsewoman knows). They are barn regulars, and Kris is a founding member of KEC's (in)famous Cowgirl Bitches, and was recently "deppitized" by the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office to assist with the evacuation of horses from fire-threatened ranches in Northern California.
Kris never had horses growing up, and a couple of unpleasant experiences could have soured her on horses permanently; thrown from a pony at 12, and at 17 was chased through a pasture by a homicidal geriatric mare named Queenie (or "effing Queenie" as Kris called her). Queenie's malicious attempt was thwarted, but in hurdling a split rail fence to escape, Kris caught her leg on the top rail and flipped right over. Her thigh dragged that wooden rail, leaving splinters (which Kris swears she still has) and road rash in its wake. Not a good introduction, perhaps, but fate clearly had other plans
When her oldest son bought his first horse several years ago, Kris had an idea. "I'm gonna ride that horse," she said, Her concerned son cautioned, "Mom, you're gonna break a hip!" "No, I'm not," said Kris. She climbed aboard and immediately thought, "Good God...I'm gonna break a hip!" But she didn't. She did, however, get bit by the pony bug.
She was hooked, and went in search of a horse of her own. She found her match in Franky, a stubborn, black, Appendix-looking gelding with an unknown history who was being sold by a local "horse trader". His exact age and breed were not known, but it was believed that he was worked on a ranch in his younger days, then as a trail horse for Diamond Lake Stables. That he worked on a ranch seems credible, Kris says, since he seems right at home dragging cows to the branding fire. She leased him for eight months before sealing the deal, and bought him in August, 2016. "There was something about riding around the ranch, talking with the girls, having absolutely no control of the animal was great," said Kris.
The early days of their partnership was a battle of wills, but Kris had the edge. Frank thought cantering provided the perfect opportunity to buck, and did just that at every opportunity. Kris stuck with him, though. He was also a little difficult to "steer", and had a naughty disregard for the "personal space" of other horses in the arena, bumping a few butts in the process of his education. She started taking lessons from local trainer, Michael Wakefield, a few months later, and says that he helped her "an amazing amount". Kris probably doesn't realize it, but she inspired more than a few of us at the barn as she consistently demonstrated remarkable boldness, persistence, and patience, and she and Frank began to form a formidable and fun team.
These days, Kris and Cranky Franky enjoy trail rides, working cows, branding, and hanging out with the barn gang. "Even just sitting and talking with friends...anything on horseback is enjoyable." says Kris. She also spends a lot of time reading and watching training videos, absorbing information on everything from equine massage and The Masterson Method, to nutrition and ground work.
About boarding at KEC, Kris says, "KEC is a great place. I appreciate the care and knowledge they give!"