For a four year old, there’s not much that can compare with the excitement of sitting atop a horse. In the picture above, I am posed with my older sister’s horse, Shaggy. A year or two later, I got my own horse. I can’t find a picture handy of my horse, Trixie.
Growing up in the country afforded lots of opportunity to enjoy animals. We had a menagerie of animals: cats, dogs, a bird, and two horses. I enjoyed all of them, but for me, riding a horse was an extra special event.
Even though I had a horse of my own, Trixie, I didn’t ride her very much. Trixie was a temperamental pony. She was the right size for a little girl, but she was obstinate. She had a fondness for biting her riders, too.
My memories of horses lay more with Shaggy, my sister’s horse. When I was younger, as in the picture, I was ridiculously happy to be led around the pasture as my dad held the rope to the horse. Later, I learned to take the reins on my own as I rode Shaggy at my grandfather’s place near our house. We didn’t have a fenced pasture to hold the horses, so they were housed at my grandfather’s farm. One time, I fell off the horse as Shaggy began to gallop too fast for me. I still recall the shock of being flat on my back as I looked up at a horse’s belly and hooves above me. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt.
I remember when Shaggy spared my sister from harm. She was riding him in our yard, and she carelessly led the horse straight into the clothesline. My sister’s hair got tangled in the line. Shaggy reacted calmly, stopping patiently until my parents dislodged her head and hair. That’s when I learned that horses can be wise and gentle.
Somehow, I don’t remember the downside of having horses. My grandfather and my uncles brushed them, fed them, and housed them. My father supervised our adventures. All I did was ride when the opportunity was afforded to me.
Despite the lack of care I gave to our horses, I did have other chores. Every summer, I shelled peas, snapped beans, and shucked corn.