Tony’s Pony

I had not ridden a horse much, but enough not to be nervous.  I am a firm believer that animals sense our fear and take advantage of it. My first experience was at my Uncle’s ranch in Oklahoma. He ‘boarded’ horses and planted a crop of potatoes annually.  My cousins and I would spend all of July on the ranch, riding horses, digging potatoes and gigging carp in a swamp nearby. (we never tried fried carp, but the folks who worked the ranch and the Indians did)  I got into trouble by riding two Tennessee Walking horses Uncle Richard was boarding.  He had warned all of us that these two were never to be ridden. He said it would ruin their gaits.  They were the most beautiful of animals with jet black coats, four white ‘sox’ and a flowing white mane and tail. They were very gentle and would come to the pasture fence whenever we offered bits of apple.  I was so bright and a punk, so I decided to sit on the back of one and all we went round the pasture.  I thought, “Well, that was fun”, so I tried the other and it went very well.  When Uncle Richard (by the way he was Sheriff of McCurtain County, Oklahoma), when he got home, the other cousins had to blab.  That was the shortest summer visit I had made to the ranch, and as it turned out, the last one. I had one more bad experience when I was taking my six-year-old cousin on a horse at his grandfather’s farm.  Pat got excited and jerked the reins from my hand, dropping one and spooking the horse who ran under a low branch. I tossed Pat off and took the hit, shoulder high.  He screamed and his mother came out and truly blessed me out for ‘throwing her baby off a horse’. I didn’t ride there again, either. We rode up in the Tahoe Mountains for a “Cowboy Breakfast”, but the most embarrassing of my horseback experiences was while performing in the cast of summer stock at The Point Theatre in Ingram, Texas, I was invited by one of the local cast members to visit his family ranch and go for a ride on one of his most gentle mares.  Tony was a fine athlete and horseman and things went well for a few moments. Then he spurred his mount into a lope and gallop and all-out run.  My ‘most gentle mare’ thought it a race and off she went, just barely keeping her rider in the saddle. Frantically grabbing for the saddle horn, I dropped my reins and had Tony not looked back at my terrified face, this Wade would not be. He returned, took up the reins and ‘led’ me and my steed back to the barn. I shuffled off to his truck and was taken back to our cottage.  As I got out, Tony said, “Well at least you can sing pretty good.”  Yep, I could after my voice returned to it’s normal level.  I’ve not ridden a horse since and that’s a good thing, donchaknow.  That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.



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