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Stories - truths and tall tales
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How I met Virl
 
   

I have always loved horses and had been taking riding lessons for a few years at Lazy A ranch in California from Gabe Davida. I first met Virl Norton at "Just Breakfast" on Monterey Road in California. He had driven to the restaurant in a buggy pulled by one of his arabians named "Rodney". I went out to pet the horse and was enamored. After a bit of conversation with one of Virl's companions, he gave me a card with the name "Lightfoot Stables" on it and told me to call when I want to come riding. I thought..this has to not be real...but a week later, I mustered up the courage and called. Sure enough, Virl met me at the ranch and pointed out 3 horses that were my speed..showed me the tack room (a huge truck trailer) and basically said...go catch yourself a horse! Thus started a routine for me after work. He was very gracious. I worked at Nordstrom in what was then Oakridge Mall in San Jose (Now Westfield Mall). After work, I would go to the ranch and ride either Lacey, Freckles, Rodney, or Teak. Rodney was an arabian gelding used in the Tevis for endurance racing. Freckles was a brown gelding with white spots on his rump, and Lacey was a dark brown standardbred. Teak was another arabian gelding. I rode Teak only once. Teak was a little spooky from an accident that had happened to him in his past, so I was a little mistrusting of him. It seems that Virl had a whole flock of girls that rode at the ranch. They all seemed very grateful to him. I loved to spend time talking to Virl and hearing his stories..especially of the Great American Horse Race. He told me that he took a gun to "Lord Fountelroy's" head (I believe that is the name of the mule he won the race on, if i remember correctly) because he was old and then after looking into the eyes of his beloved companion..couldn't do it and then put him out to pasture to live out his days. He also told me how they won the race. Virl said they would ride at night, when everyone else refused to go further. Virl once let me drive Teak in his little racing cart....just to the end of the road and back! Virl also took me to breakfast in his surry with the fringe on top. I met him at the ranch and we drove to a little diner close by on or near Almaden Expressway. Virl also begged me to go on trips with him where he said that he was going to be speaking. I never took him up on those offers. About one or two years after I started riding there, I met my husband, Ken and got married. I moved to Scotts Valley and ceased riding at the ranch. I went back to visit Virl later..and his statement was : "I hate all the men cause they take the pretty girls away" LOL. I had a desire to go visit him again not too long after that, but ignored it cause I was so busy that day....it is a decision I regret. Soon after, I heard of his death. I miss Virl. He touched my life in a way that I thought could never happen. I have never owned a horse of my own and I was able to have several wonderful memories of glorious riding experiences at Lightfoot Stables. Skip Lightfoot was also very nice at the ranch. Let's see, I was married in August 1993, so my riding days at the ranch were from about 1991-1992 or 1993. I still love to tell people of my experiences at the ranch...just like I am doing now! I am so happy to have found this page. Thank you for this opportunity. Virl would have known me as my maiden name Karen White. My last name now is Schleimer.

Thanks again,
Karen Schleimer

Virl Norton Great American Horseman
   
posted by: Karen Schleimer - 09 29, 2011
 
   
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
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Virl Norton Great American Horseman Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman Virl Norton Great American Horseman