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Flying Changes

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

 “Flying changes” is the name of a dressage movement, in which the horse switches its lead in mid air. But this song isn’t just for dressage enthusiasts! It’s about the changes that life can throw at you, and the fact that “you can only work with the horse you’ve got.”

 

Big draft cross, Clyde and thoroughbred
bought him as a colt, got him for a song
figured I’d start him, have a little fun
till the money for a better horse came along

well the money never came so we kept on working
got him on the bit at the canter and trot
’cause if wishes were horses, we’d all ride champions
but you can only work with the horse you’ve got

Chorus:
Flying changes
switch your lead in midair
when you find yourself looking for a new direction
then a flying change is gonna take you there

Oh that big horse tried hard to please me
got a little rounder every day
but we never could manage a flying change
though I tried my best to keep out of his way

feeling discouraged, I thought about selling
’cause it seemed that goal was out of our range
and then one day when I didn’t expect it
that big horse did a flying change

Chorus

Oh it’s just like life, you look for a rhythm
and you have to stay supple ’cause you’ll need to bend
and sometimes you’ve got to change on the fly
but you keep moving forward until the end

So we’ll never rank in the top one hundred
never make it to the national team
but my horse now loves flying changes
so canter pirouette is our latest dream

Flying changes
switch your lead in midair
when you find yourself looking for a new direction
then a flying change is gonna take you there
Do it every stride and you’ll be dancing
ah, those flying changes will take you there

 

The Naughtiest Pony

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

We’ve all known one like this guy. “Naughty pony” is probably redundant, isn’t it?!

 

He’s as wide as he’s tall, he stands ten hands at best
his tail is a tangle, his mane is a nest
he’s as old as the hills and he’s blind in one eye
But you’ll never outsmart him, so don’t even try

Tie him up to a tree, he’ll just undo the knot
and head back to the barn at a merry old trot
He’ll nip and he’ll kick and he’ll stomp on your toes
And then he’ll go slobber all over your clothes

Chorus:
’Cause he loves to make trouble, he will not obey
He’s the naughtiest pony that ever ate hay
that ever, that ever, that ever ate hay

Turn him out in the paddock, he’ll stomp on his pail
then he’ll crawl on his belly right under a rail
to munch on your garden and then he’ll move on
up the road to the neighbours to trample their lawn

And his cast iron stomach has helped him consume
two brushes, eight gloves, an old boot and a broom
No wonder his belly’s so ample and round
You might as well call it the barn’s lost and found!

Chorus

And riding that pony’s like passing a test
he starts off so docile, you think he’s the best
then he’ll buck like a bronc or he’ll stop on a dime
and dump his poor rider most every time

So maybe you’re wondering just why he’s still here
but no one else wants him, they’ve all made that clear
and the truth is we’d miss him if he went away
’cause we’re gluttons for punishment – what can I say!

Oh he loves to make trouble, he will not obey
He’s the naughtiest pony that ever ate hay
that ever, that ever, that ever ate hay
He’s the naughtiest pony that ever ate hay

 

Heavy Horse Song

Music: M.L. Hammond/D.Woodhead lyrics: M.L. Hammond

I’ve always loved the big draft breeds. (And no, I didn’t steal the idea from Jethro Tull – I found out about their great song, “Heavy Horses,” after I’d written mine…)

Chorus:
Curves like melodies, muscles like chords
and the heavy horse rhythms are steady and strong
curves like melodies, muscles like chords
and the jingle of the harness is the heavy horse song

Handsome Clydesdale, kind and willing
silky feathers and broad white blaze
the British sent thousands to the colonies
to build the Empire’s glory days

Belgian beauty, shades of caramel
he’s got stamina, strength and size
in pulling matches at your county fair
chances are he’s gonna take the prize

Chorus

Massive Shire, gentle giant
carried armoured knights of yore
he pulled the plough in times of peace
and hauled the heavy guns of war

Elegant Percheron, he’s got Arabian blood
they say, and it makes him smart
the colour of mist or as black as night
he’s got the movement and he’s got heart

Now some believe you will rise again
when machines stand still ’cause the earth’s run dry
then we’ll need your strength to turn the soil
and bring us home under a darkening sky

Curves like melodies, muscles like chords
and the heavy horse rhythms are steady and strong
curves like melodies, muscles like chords
and the jingle of the harness is the heavy horse song

 

Newfoundland Pony

Music: M-L Hammond/Tom Leighton Lyrics: M-L Hammond

This song is set in early 70s, not long after laws were passed, declaring that the ponies, which had roamed and grazed free until then, had to be fenced in, along with other livestock. This meant more expense and labour.  At the same time, increasing mechanization of farming and other work meant that the ponies were sold off by the thousands, mostly to be slaughtered for meat. As a result the breed is severely endangered, with fewer than 400 in existence as of 2012.

Chorus:
Diddle-ee dye-di dum, diddle-ee dye-di day
we were born on the Rock, of hardy stock, and the Rock is where we’ll stay
with the cliffs and trees and the foggy seas, diddle-ee dye-di dee
oh, together we’re grand, my Newfoundland pony and me

My pony he’s descended from more breeds than I can tell
like the Highland, Welsh, and Exmoor, the Dartmoor and the Fell
that came here with the settlers for to work this rugged place
and now their blood has joined to form a new and sturdy race

Chorus                                                                                                                                               

May Day (photo:Veronica Arend)                                                                                        

My Prince he stands about 13 hands, he’s a handsome brackety* grey
and when I hitch him to the plough he’ll pull and pull all day
We’ve hauled logs from out of the woods and kelp on the beaches too
His heart’s as big as Conception Bay, there’s nothing he won’t do!

Chorus

He’ll pick his way on a rocky ledge and never slip or fail
and when I’ve had a drop or two, he’ll keep me on the trail
he’ll take my boy to school at eight and come back on his own,
and then we’ll send him out at three and he brings the laddie home

Our ponies used to roam at large and graze along the way
but now the law says fence them in and pay for feed and hay
So folks are buying tractors now while the ponies disappear
But I swear by the moon and the snows in June, old Prince he’s staying here!

Chorus

* brackety: Newfoundland dialect for spotted, dappled

Special thanks to Paul Aird for inspiring me to write this song and for letting me borrow the line about pulling the plough all day from his poem about the Newfoundland Pony; and also to Bob Bossin for letting me borrow “I swear by the moon and the snows in June” from his song “Newfoundlanders.”

 

Sergeant Reckless

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

The true story of a real little mare. Her tale was almost forgotten, but she’s been rediscovered recently. Written from the point of view of a fictional Korean veteran. Special thanks to Harold Wadley, a former Marine who remembers her fondly and who gave me the idea for the chorus.

It was sixty years ago today I shipped out to Korea,
a rancher’s kid from Arizona, still in my teens
and my story’s worth a listen, ’cause I served with Sergeant Reckless
a real unlikely soldier, but the pride of the Marines

She was from the racetrack down in Seoul, a small Mongolian mare
we named her for the rifle* that would help us win the day
and we trained that horse to carry ammunition to the gun crew
and she earned her stripes** for the courage that she showed along the way

 Chorus:
Oh there must have been an angel riding Reckless through the fire
to save her from the bullets and the shrapnel flyin’ round             

Reckless & two Marines

And every time we saw that mare, we felt our spirits risin’
oh little Sergeant Reckless helped us all to stand our ground

And on the first day of our battle to recapture outpost Vegas
that mare made over fifty trips through rugged, steep terrain
at first I’d lead her to the guns, and then she’d do it solo
and each time we changed positions, she’d just learn the way again

 Nine thousand pounds of ammo she delivered to the gunners
on that day, and then she carried out the casualties of war
and twice she came back bleeding, but Reckless was no quitter
so we cleaned her cuts, and she turned around and headed out once more

 Chorus

And Reckless kept us laughing with her antics and her appetite
from scrambled eggs to whiskey, there was nothing she’d refuse
and seeking warmth on winter nights, she’d creep into our tents
and all us leathernecks would let her, ’cause that gal had paid her dues

And when the war was over, there’s no way we could leave her
as a decorated veteran, she deserved the very best
so when we shipped her stateside, she received a hero’s welcome
and retired to Camp Pendleton – lord knows she’d earned her rest

And now that I’m old man, I sometimes get to wonderin’
if every war is really worth all the blood and death and pain
But still I’d give most anything to see my long-lost buddies
and to stroke that little white-faced sorrel mare again

 Chorus

Yeah, every time I saw that mare, I felt my spirits risin’
oh little Sergeant Reckless, she sure helped me stand my ground

 

*The recoilless rifle, nicknamed the “reckless” rifle.
**The mare was officially given the rank of sergeant by the Marine corps and later promoted to staff sergeant.

 Links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIo3ZfA9da0
http://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/sgt-reckless-combat-veteran

 

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My Little Quarter Horse

Music: M.L. Hammond/D. Woodhead    Lyrics: M.L. Hammond

When I was a teen, I owned a gelding named Traveller who was half-Quarter horse. The math jokes people made about him inspired the chorus of this tune, and other Quarter horses I’ve known inspired the verses.

Chorus:
If your fancy horse was half the horse that my little Quarter horse is
Then your mount would amount to twice the horse that you’ve got
He’d be supple and fit and clever and quick, the way my little horse of course is
If your horse was half the horse my Quarter horse is – but he’s not!

 My Quarter horse he’s strong and steady, he’s an old foundation type
deep through the girth, he’s mostly muscle and heart
traces his blood through Silver King right back to the Steel Dust line
and he just about trained himself ’cause he’s that damn smart

Chorus

Now your horse needs a cushy stall and boots for his delicate legs
and a big thick blanket ’cause I guess he can’t take the cold
my Quarter horse is out 24/7 with nothing but his shaggy coat
and he’s sound as a dollar though he’s twenty-two years old

If your fancy horse was half the horse that my little Quarter horse is
If your horse was half the horse my Quarter horse is – but he’s not!

My little Quarter horse he’s a special sorta horse
English or Western he can do it all
reining and ropin’, or just some easy lopin’
you can even jump him, there’s nothing that’ll stump him

 

If your fancy horse was half the horse that my little Quarter horse is
Then your mount would amount to twice the horse you’ve got
He’d be supple and fit and clever and quick, the way my little horse of course is
If your horse was half the horse
Half my little Quarter horse
If your horse was half the horse my Quarter horse is – but he’s not!

 

Chestnut Mare (new version)

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

A slightly abridged version of the song that appeared on my CD Pegasus. Inspired by a real mare I saved from going to auction – that’s her in the photo.

Everybody said now you gotta beware
you’ll have nothing but trouble with a chestnut mare
it’s the same kinda thing we’ve all heard said
about women and girls with hair of red

they’ve got a fiery temper, ’cause their blood’s so hot
they’re real darn stubborn and they fight a lot
well I’ve never paid attention to that old folklore
but I’m starting to believe in it a little bit more

 Chorus:
Oh she’s a naughty little horse that chestnut mare
she’s a naughty little horse but I don’t care
’cause she moves so fine and she looks so fair
I went ahead and bought the little chestnut mare

Her mood can change like the weather in fall
she will nuzzle your face when you enter her stall
Then she’ll turn around and pin her ears right back
She will step on your foot and try to eat her tack

Oh but ten minutes later she’s as good as gold
her trot is willing and her canter bold
with a mouth like butter and a back so round
you feel like you’re floating above the ground

 There are horses to be had that are free of vice
they will jog in a circle as meek as mice
but they’ve got no soul, there’s nothing there
I wouldn’t trade the lot for my chestnut mare

 Chorus

well my friends all shake their heads and say
you sure don’t pick the straight and easy way
but there’s nothing that’s certain in life but change
so I don’t find that little mare all that strange

 No, there ain’t no reason and there ain’t no rhyme
just a random pattern that weaves through time
you never know what’s coming, that’s the way it goes
and the chestnut mare keeps me on my toes

 She’s a naughty little horse that chestnut mare
she’s a naughty little horse but I don’t care
’cause she moves so fine and she looks so fair
I’m glad I went and bought the little chestnut mare
oh I’m glad I went and bought the little chestnut mare

 

Wild Horses and Mustangs

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

Do all you can to protect wild horses and mustangs—there are those who want them gone.

 

Chorus:
Wild … wild horses and mustangs
who can measure what a wild heart is worth
wild … wild horses and mustangs
they fly on the winds of freedom
they are the spirit of the earth

See the palomino stallion
see the sorrel mare and the bay
a buckskin and a blue roan
a pinto and a gray
all the colours of the seasons
all the shades of this ancient land
all the colours of your deepest dreams
in this little mustang band

Chorus

See them racing through the canyons
see them running on the midnight plains
starlight on their gleaming flanks
moonlight in their manes
hear the thunder in their hoofbeats
see the lightning in their flashing eyes
may they gallop on forever more
under these endless skies

Wild … wild horses and mustangs
who can measure what a wild heart is worth
wild … wild horses and mustangs
they fly on the winds of freedom
they are chasing the winds of freedom
they are the spirit of the earth

 

Two Old White Horses

Music: M.L. Hammond   Lyrics: P.Aird/Hammond © 2006

Nellie had worked all her life in a mine
pulling the carts down in shaft number nine
day after day she leaned into her load
hauling the coal on a black iron road
never a pasture nor sky did she see
only darkness or headlights, and never let free
so many years later old Nellie they find
was still willing to work even though she’d gone blind

Winston had worked all his life in a town
pulling the bread wagons up hill and down
day after day he leaned into his load
hauling those carts on a cobblestone road
never a pasture nor brook did he see
only pavement and steep hills and never let free
So many years later the cobbles they blame
old Winston was stumbling because he’d gone lame

Chorus:
Two old white horses tied up by a gate
nervously sniffing the air
two old white horses awaiting their fate
in a place where the motto is Buyer Beware
Buyer Beware

Nellie and Winston came into the pen
while the auctioneer started his chanting again
bidders were few, only butchers by trade
The horses stood still, then the male turned and neighed
and the mare answered back with her head proud and high
and although I was never intending to buy
As the gavel descended I threw up my arm
And took Nellie and Winston back home to the farm

Chorus

Now sometimes I’ll harness them up for the day
to haul a few logs or a few bales of hay
and Nellie’s so steady on any terrain
that Winston moves just like he’s sound once again
and although we pass mud holes and sharp jutting rock
he leads the way so she’s safe, trot or walk
Nellie helps him to stand and he helps her to see
They’re as perfectly matched as a good team can be

Chorus

Two old white horses now amble and graze
in the warmth of the late summer sun
Two old white horses will live out their days
in a way that befits all the labour they’ve done
All the labour they’ve done

Emily Flies

Music & Lyrics: M.L. Hammond (© 2008)

After my big riding accident, I eventually started riding again at a  therapeutic riding facility. Many people don’t know they exist all over the world, and that horses can provide powerful physical, mental and emotional therapy for children and adults with disabilities. This song is based on the kids and horses I’ve met at three such facilities.

Emily’s slim and dark haired
Emily’s eyes are blue
Emily’s going on fourteen
but she’s different from me and you

Her limbs don’t really work right

With a pony

she needs canes to help her walk
and she mostly squeals or mutters
she doesn’t really talk

Chorus:
Creature of the earth
but looking to the open skies
oh oh oh, Emily flies

Cody is a little bay Standardbred
he raced until he was six
then he went lame and somebody figured
he wasn’t worth the trouble to fix

Sal found Cody in a feedlot
where you buy a horse by weight
but he had a kind eye and Sal had a hunch
he was meant for a better fate

Creature of the earth
but looking to the open skies
Cody may be only walking,
but Emily flies

And Cody is the best, nothing fazes him
that’s what the volunteers at Sal’s all say
the kids can wriggle and squirm and shout
he seems to understand that it’s just their way

Riding the bay

And when Emily’s lifted up into the saddle
she gets this look on her face
Sal thinks it might be joy
or at least some kind of grace

And she could swear as she leads them round
when she looks at Emily’s eyes
that though Cody may be only walking,
steadily, patiently walking,
Cody may be only walking,
but Emily flies

Creature of the earth
but looking to the open skies
Cody may be only walking,
but Emily flies

Emily flies, Emily flies
Cody may be only walking,
but Emily flies

“There’s an art to writing a song like that.  My admiration.  You open my
heart to feel I have entered the hearts of two creatures I can’t really
know.” — Eric Nagler