Thank you to my lovely mom Frieda for sharing with us today:
On the last day of classes one of the students from my college English composition class stopped by to tell me he had enjoyed the semester in my class. He presented me with a gift, a small stuffed animal of dubious identity.
“It’s supposed to be a horse,” he said, “but my mom says it looks like a squirrel. I wanted to give you a horse.”
“Thank you so much! . . . But why did you especially want to give me a horse?”
“Because you told us lots of horse stories,” he answered.
I was totally puzzled, as I wouldn’t expect anyone to ever think of horses in connection with me. But as I thought about it, I guess I had told a few stories that had to do with horses.
The thing is, my husband was practically born riding horses. His mother told about seeing him when he was two years old hugging the back leg of a horse which was known to kick anyone who got behind him. She was horrified, but the horse seemed to be fine with the baby hanging on his leg. Hal has always told me about his dad keeping him home from school when he was in first grade to help with roundup. I think he owned at least one horse all his life except for the years we were in Central America and Mexico. He hasn’t ridden since his last heart attack, and just recently gave away his last horse.
My experiences with horses have been very limited and not pleasant. When I was about eight years old in Dallas, a friend of my parents took my sister and brother and me to ride Shetland ponies. The ponies walked in a circle in a ring made of unplaned boards. The proprietor at first objected that I was older than the allowed age because I was tall, but reluctantly let me ride. Evidently the pony also objected to me—he walked along scraping my leg against the rough boards until I cried to get off.
When I was ten in Honduras, my family and I went with a church group on mule back to hold meetings in another village. My mule plodded slowly along in line with the others, and I began to think this wasn’t so bad. Then he decided to take off over a small embankment to get a drink from a stream below. I was in no danger, but I was terrified.
On our honeymoon, Hal took me to visit some friends of his who owned a ranch. I was talked into riding one of their quarter horses. It was in a big corral and riding looked easy. After all, the family’s six children, even the two-year-old, were all riding their own horses. I have a slight fear of heights, and the back of that horse felt a lot higher when I was on it than it looked from the ground. Besides that, instead of being in control, I was on an animal that had complete control over me. I was scared and embarrassed in equal proportions. It didn’t help that the little two-year-old girl kept begging them to quit leading her horse and let her ride alone, while I was begging someone to get me down. The lady of the ranch was an excellent horsewoman and had great appreciation for Hal because he was so knowledgeable about horses. I felt she looked on me with the utmost contempt and was disappointed in Hal for marrying such a sissy.
When we moved back to the States from Mexico, Hal was able to have some horses again. I thought they were beautiful out in the pasture and liked them just fine as long as the barbed wire fence was between them and me. That’s the extent of my personal horse experiences, but these are evidently the stories I told my students at one time or another.