Ranger on the Tonight Show
Ranger The Singing Donkey
What an exciting, unbelievable experience the Tonight Show was. I am still in a daze about all that went on and probably won't get back to normal for some time.
I came home to 1,000 emails! Spent most of last night reading some of them. I have to tell you guys that it was wonderful reading the things you had to say. The words of encouragement and the support we had from you was so amazing! We were ALL in this together. Thanks guys!
There's so much to tell I hardly know where to start. Our trip to my Mom's went smooth. Ranger was welcomed at the stables in Benicia with open arms. The whole barn turned out to meet him and he was treated like a star. They had a stall all ready for him but I asked to have him put in a huge corral and that's where he spent the night.
Sunday we headed south again stopping every couple of hours to let Ranger rest and stick his head out of the trailer window. He got quite a few stares at the rest stops from the people. He wouldn't drink any water while he was in the trailer. He did drink a small amount if I held the bucket up to him. We got to the Eq. Center just after dark. I had called ahead and was told which barn and stall to put him in. The stall had dutch doors but I couldn't leave the top open because he was acting like he was going to coon jump out of it.
After we got him settled, my son, Bryan, and his girl friend, Julia, and I found the hotel and checked in. Got a call from Camilla and that was fun talking about what was going to happen. So many of you called the hotel to talk. It was so neat hearing from you. I have to say that Camilla and Loretta are nuts! They had me laughing and really helped ease the tension.
When I got to the stables on Monday and opened Ranger's stall door, he was ready to come out. Big time! I wanted to see if he would do some tricks in a strange place and he was shaking his head yes and no so hard when I asked him questions. He counted up a storm and was laughing to beat the band. When I asked the manager if we could put Ranger in a pen, he said "sure" and we found a real neat big open pen to put him in. It was right next to the dressage arena and when Ranger brayed, it made one of the horses jump and the gal got off the horse and started complaining. We had to move from that pen. They had done some team penning the night before on the other side of the barns so I put Ranger in one of the cattle pens. I couldn't leave him because he would start braying and the pen was near the big trail that leads to Griffith Park and they didn't want him scaring horses that were using it. As I sat with him sharing my Fritos, some guys came to take the pens down. So it was back to the stall.
I ended up staying with him for 12 hours that day. He hated the stall so we spent hours walking around the show barns where no one was. I had wanted to take him for a walk on the trail but they advised me not to. They said that most of the people that ride there, only ride once a week and are riding hot horses that might spook at the sight or sound of Ranger and dump the riders. They said that they had a banner hanging from one of the barns once and it flapped in the wind and scared a horse and the owner threatened to sue the Eq. Center.
There were arenas everywhere. 2 jump arenas, dressage arena, roping arena, 2 show arenas, trail course, polo field you name it they had it. I had wanted to take Ranger to some of the pretty rings and take his picture but couldn't. I did get a picture of him and Larry standing near one of the show arenas. No one was there but we couldn't go in because the ground was groomed. I then found the EquiDome arena. BEAUTIFUL! I snuck Ranger in there and turned him loose thinking he might roll. He had that huge area but hung around me. We got out of there with no one seeing us.
Deb White from the list came by twice for a visit. It was so nice of her to bring Ranger fresh carrots. Here Ranger and I were, stuck out in the boonies, feeling all alone and out of the blue Deb showed up. Thanks Deb!
Larry got there Monday night. He had a load to deliver in Buena Park and the timing was perfect. Thank goodness! Ranger loves Larry and it gave me a break from walking him for hours. The muscles in my legs are sore from all the walking we did. Ranger did roll on this dirt parking lot. It was funny. We were walking along and he put his nose to the dirt and kept walking, dragging his nose. All of a sudden, he dropped and rolled real fast and got up.
On Tuesday, we had to be at the studio by 1. It was only about 3 miles from the center. We had to park in this small alley way with limos on each side. It was cool seeing Jay Leno's car parked in his spot. When we unloaded Ranger he slipped on the blacktop and almost fell. I told them about that and they got a mat out there and that helped a lot. He had to go in and out of the trailer several times before the show.
We were taken to our dressing room and met with the animal trainer, Megan, that they had hired to help us. She works for a company that trains animals for movies and commercials. Really nice girl. I heard her talking to her husband on the phone. She was telling him that she was concerned that if Ranger decided to act up that she wouldn't be able to stop him since he is so big. She had thought that he would be a standard. An older, dignified looking man came in the dressing room and said he was our back up singer. I thought he must have gotten the wrong room but found out later what he was talking about.
Jolie, from the show, met with us and wanted to know what Ranger would be wearing. I told her a halter and lead rope and stud chain. Well, when she heard the word "chain" she said "No way" They didn't allow chains or whips. She said that the big Liger that was on last week had to be brought on stage with a leather lead even though the trainer wanted to use a chain lead and collar. I explained to her that the stud chain was only there in case of an emergency and I hardly ever had to use it as all I need to do is wiggle it and Ranger is fine. Nope. She wanted us to rehearse without the chain.
You wouldn't believe the narrow hall way that Ranger had to walk through. A wall on one side and speakers and amps and all kinds of electrical equipment on the other. Cable to walk over on the floor. You know the big screen that they show videos on? Right behind that was the ramp that they had built for Ranger to walk up. They had a piece of plywood and then the stage entrance which was very narrow also. Larry and I checked the ramp and plywood section to make sure it would hold him. Larry even got down and looked underneath it and it was braced very well. The band usually doesn't do rehearsal but they decided to see what Ranger would do with them playing. As soon as we were on stage, the band started and Ranger whirled and drug me to the exit ramp. The band leader, Kevin, started laughing and said "I guess he doesn't like that number." Kevin was so funny. All through rehearsal he was laughing and joking with us. At one point, he had to put his guitar down, he was laughing so hard. The lady that sings in the band was seated right near where we came onto the stage. She kept saying "Don't let him jump on me! Don't let him jump on me!" She was afraid of him. Jolie stood in for Jay and went through some of the questions that Jay might ask. They had a huge tray of carrots on Jay's desk for Ranger. After the third time that Ranger whirled around and headed for the exit, Jolie said I could use the stud chain. I broke my shoulder a couple of years ago and don't have much strength in my left arm.
So here we were, on stage, Ranger staring at himself in the monitor and me crying and saying "I can't do this", when they told me that I would have to be on stage without Larry. That really did it for me! Larry put Ranger back in his trailer and I was in the dressing room wondering how I was going to get out of this whole thing. I mean, this was the craziest thing I have ever done! Expecting Ranger to go on that little stage with tons of people and lights and the band and all the activity that was going on. I had to be nuts! Jolie came in and said that was the funniest rehearsal they had ever done. Yeah right! And I'm a basket case. About that time, Jay walked in and said "You're gonna be fine. No sweat. It's not Carnage Hall. Just go out and have fun. Whatever happens, happens." I said "Yeah but what if he gets away from me? I'll have two lead ropes on him and you can help me hold him." He said he would help me but it ended up that he didn't have to.
By this time, NBC had sent a limo to the hotel to pick up the kids and brought them in and they had reserved seats. The plan was Jay was to do his comic routine for 12 minutes. Then a 4 minute break and Michael Caine would be on for 8 minutes and another 4 minute break and then us. I sat in the dressing room and watched the comic routine and then went outside and walked Ranger around the limos. He was so calm when we were walking around. A man rushed out and put wires all on me and the microphone on and told Ranger not to take it off of me. He said that some parrots that Jay has had on the show have broken the microphones.
When it got down to 5 minutes before we were due, I stood at the top of the ramp, behind the video screen and Larry led Ranger up to me. The ramp was so narrow that you couldn't walk at Ranger's shoulder but he had to follow Larry up. I swear, when they announced us, it was nothing like the rehearsal. I don't know what came over me but I was fine. I wasn't one bit afraid and I think Ranger felt it. During rehearsal when I had been so nervous, Ranger was too. I was never in my life so proud of him as I was during the taping. Even though he didn't sing and he only counted to two, I am still in shock that he was so good. We were supposed to stand facing the audience but he was standing so good, I was afraid to move him. Thinking he might bolt back to the exit. I was concerned with that singing donkey. Thought he might spook. He had seen it during the rehearsal and I can only imagine what went through his head. After being away from his donkey and mule friends and not seeing many horses at the Eq. Center, he probably thought that donkey looked pretty good!
When Jay asked me how I discovered Ranger's talent, I lost it! I don't know why it sounded so funny to me. Maybe it was the tension and how Jay made me feel comfortable about the whole thing but I started laughing and was afraid I wouldn't be able to stop. I still laugh when I remember it! Did you see how sad Ranger looked when he honked the horn for Jay? That about broke my heart. He was such a trooper for doing this and I'll always be grateful to him.
When Michael Caine first saw Ranger, he couldn't believe how big of a donkey he was.
But he cracked up when Ranger honked the horn that Jay held up for him.
Also on the show was Christina Agulirra.
WOW! I'm about talked out and there is so much to tell. I have a list of 30 radio stations that want interviews. Inside Edition is wanting to come out here and tape a show to air in Jan. I have given 3 on the air interviews for radio and even did my imitation of Ranger braying at 6 am on a radio station in Portland, Oregon. BTW, I HATE the picture they put in the paper. It is horrible. Thanks Pat, for sending it though. I was able to get online at my sister's and see it before I got home.
What Jim said was true. It doesn't matter that Ranger was in front of millions of people. Every time you take your guys out, even if just for a walk down the road, you make people smile and feel good to see our wonderful animals.
Oh, Ranger was so glad to finally set hoof on his own property. He was surrounded by the gang greeting his return. All except GloryB. She stayed by me and wanted hugs. Boy, I sure missed them.
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