That Cantakerous Mare
I’m not much of a horseman. I was at one time in my life–until Sally, that is. It all started when I was 7 or 8 years old–maybe I was 9–when Dad gave in to my request to replace old “Zeke.”
Zeke was my twenty year old pony . He was coal black, and had a sway back so deep you’d think you were riding between the humps of a camel. His ribs showed, and the pointed tips of his hip bones were visible through the skin on his flanks. No, we didn’t starve him; he was naturally skinny. He was a good horse; gentle and easy for a kid to ride and maneuver, but he was getting too old for the challenge. Zeke and I were also becoming the butt of some joking from the folks around town, so Dad agreed that maybe it was time to shop for another pony for me to ride. The photo to the left is not Zeke. I just added that photo to add a little ambiance to this post. Now on with my story.
Dad had heard about a farmer north of Soda Springs who had a mare for sale, so he and I headed for Soda in the black 1941 Ford pickup to look her over and try her out. Her name was Sally, and she was a beautiful bay with good conformation and four white stocking feet, but I soon learned that’s about as far as the beauty went. The owner saddled her up, and Dad helped me into the saddle. She had a colt with her and she was in a cantankerous mood that morning. She was the orneriest most hard to handle horse I had ever been around. I guess for the equine purists, I shouldn’t refer to her as a horse. A mare is a mare, and horse is reserved for the male genders. But, again, I digress. Back to my story.
As soon as Dad handed me the reins, she bolted around the coral on a dead run, the colt following close behind. Then she started to buck; she nearly dumped me. I made up my mind right then I didn’t want this ornery old nag.
In spite of my protests to the contrary, Dad thought she would develop into a good kid pony, so he struck a deal and bought her. Dad had a pretty good eye for horses, and I really believe it was the colt he was most interested in. But to this day, that mare’s the reason I’m not an avid horseman. She made life miserable for me the next couple of years until Dad finally realized her true colors and hauled her off to the sale ring.
Sally had penchant for swelling herself up whenever her rider tried to cinch the saddle. It would usually take several jabs in the ribs to make her let her air out before one could get the cinch tight enough to hold the saddle in place. Also, if she thought the cinch was getting a little too tight, she would reach her head around and try to bite the forearm of the person cinching the saddle. She was just plain ornery. I soon tired of this nonsense, so I began riding her bareback. It was an instance when I had been bareback riding that brought Dad to see the light.
I and some friends had been out riding one afternoon, and when we were within a half mile or so from home, one of them suggested we race the rest of the way. Sally was a good runner when she wanted to be (that’s about all she was good for) so I was amenable to a race.
We each agreed to put up a quarter, winner take all. We scratched a starting line in the gravel road and the race was on. Sally and I took the lead and held it until about twenty feet from the finish line, when she decided she didn’t want to run anymore. She planted all fours and came to an abrupt stop. Not knowing in advance what she was going to do, I did not stop. I sailed over her head and landed on my hands and knees on the gravel road.
I was a skinned mess from my head to my toes. Faced was skinned, hands were skinned, knees and legs were skinned. If I’d had a gun with me I’d have shot her right on the spot with no remorse. Dad took one look at me when he got in from the field that night and asked what happened. I told him. The following week, Sally went to the sale ring. That was the last horse I’ve ever owned, and haven’t really cared for horses that much since.
Now, since this blog is all about nostalgia, perhaps you’d like to drift back a few years and read some more. You can click on the free download button at upper right of this page and receive a free copy of my book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. It’s a book of adventures of a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s. It’s sort of loosely based on my own life experiences during that period. The full story about this mare is included therein. Enjoy.