Clifford’s Birthday Ride – With a Morgan Legend

The Morgan Horse Pride and Product.jpg

Kerry 7th Gen – Morgan Horse – Pride and Product of America

My friend Stayner Haller is something of a legend in the Morgan horse world. With his eventing gelding, LGM Challenger, he competed in 104 USEA events, including one when Chally was 27 and Stayner 73. “Chally” lived into his mid-thirties, remaining active and fit, and even still jumping before succumbing to colic in 2015.



Stayner with Challenger and Clifford in 2013


This loss, besides being one equivalent to the loss of any beloved family member, has left Stayner temporarily without a mount…. Sort of. Not surprisingly, he has a host of friends suddenly pushing horses at him. Heck, who wouldn’t want to place a horse with someone of Stayner’s caliber?

Luckily for me, he had a hankering for a trail ride and thought we should take Clifford and the baby (Kerry 7th Gen) to Waterloo State Game Area. Not only that, he offered to ride the baby. Not only THAT, but he offered to hook up his deluxe, made-for-Morgans trailer and come and pick us up!

Kerry 7th Gen is now six years old and has only been ridden with a bit in his mouth a handful of times. Although he ran loose on Drummond Island for 4 months in 2016, he didn’t carry a rider in all that time. He knows nothing about leg yields, cues from the seat or the reins, or the cursing of an irate rider.

Okay, well maybe he knows about the cursing.


The date Stayner chose for our ride, Saturday April 22, just happened to fall on Clifford’s 26th birthday. The horses had all been celebrating with a mud bath. I tied Clifford and his doppelganger, the baby Morgan known as Kerry 7th Gen, to the rusty trailer Wheelzebub, now flushed a hot pink with embarrassment as the sleek silver bullet of Stayner’s trailer backed down the driveway.

We spent a good twenty minutes brushing and scraping the mud off the horses as big clumps of soft winter hair floated to the ground.


Clifford the Birthday Boy was all too happy to walk right into Stayner’s wide, welcoming vehicle with its padded butt bar. What a switch from the rattle trap where he leans against the wall, bracing himself, probably with his eyes squeezed shut.


After Kerry Seventh Gen, or JR as we call him for short, was reluctantly loaded with a few coaxing taps from the Leather Negotiator, we drove a good hour down to Waterloo Rec Area. The roadsides were bursting with clumps of bright yellow daffodils and sunny forsythia. Stayner knew the way to a small staging area where we unloaded the horses. JR was pretty excited to be there and thought he’d better show off a few dance steps while Stayner put the saddle on.


What followed was the clench, when Stayner tried to put the bit in his mouth.


Stayner finally won the tack battle. But then he spent about half of the trail ride moving in reverse. Clifford was in his element, happy to forge ahead, although he agreed to stop so I could snap a couple of photos.



There was so much backing up that we finally decided since we had no beeper, we should just call it a day. Upon our return, Jr posed next to the trailer, showing that when all else fails, it’s important to at least look good.


Clifford, on the other hand, had a magnificent time. I didn’t mind so much that the first trip to Waterloo involved a short ride. But before we loaded up again, in a wistful moment, I saw him look back toward the lake.

About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
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4 Responses to Clifford’s Birthday Ride – With a Morgan Legend

  1. Amy Flemming-Waters says:

    What a wonderful day for a trail ride! Stayner, keep riding! Horses are the best medicine for your mind, body, and especially your soul. I’d love to be riding up until my body absolutely tells me it’s done. JR is a sweet boy, but was probably surprised that you knew some of his tricks. lol Happy birthday, Clifford! Hope you all enjoyed the day! I think Trudi probably enjoyed her “alone time”. Looked like it from the picture of her grazing in the background.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a beautiful day! It sure would have been a lot more enjoyable if JR had just decided to play along. I feel very fortunate to have a pro like Stayner along to handle his shenanigans. Baby horses are so much fun. He did say JR had smooth gaits though and would eventually make a great trail horse. Trudy was just as happy to be left behind because she was slurping from a big bucket of soaked beet pulp. Nothing was stopping Clifford from enjoying his day!


  2. Mary M Dixon says:

    Looks like it was some rough going and so fortunate to have someone like Staynor along! What an honor!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tammy says:

    Looks like a great day!! I don’t know your friend Nancy, but he must be doing something right!! I sure hope I’m riding when I’m his age, and able to have “conversations” with the young ones, not just ride the old packers!! Keep it up!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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