How many of you asked for a horse every year for Christmas and your birthday until you were 35 years old? Did your parents give you a stuffed horse or a horse pendant necklace or Barbie’s horse or a porcelain figurine of a horse instead?
Did you cry and tell them you meant a REAL horse?
My grandparents had a horse named Chester. I loved Chester, but Chester was a bit stubborn. When I was in second grade my mom let me ride him in our small town parade. She had bought me a white denim Billy the Kid vest and jeans, white cowboy boots, a white belt with a big silver buckle and a white cowboy hat. I thought I was the coolest kid in town, every girl would envy me. Except when I wore that outfit everybody thought I was a boy. One day when I was wearing my Billy the Kid outfit my grandma took me over to one of her friend’s house for a visit. The older lady asked, “What’s your grandson’s name?” instead of correcting her my grandma answered, “That’s April.” With a frown the woman looked me up and down then muttered, “Why would anybody name a boy, April?”
I was so excited that I got to ride Chester down Maine Street with all the other cowboys and cowgirls. I remember watching Mom saddle Chester. It had been a while since anyone had ridden him. Mom was struggling to tighten his saddle because Chester had bloated his stomach. All of the sudden Mom said a few choice words and gave Chester a hard knee to his gut, he let out the biggest belch and she quickly cinched him.
I was so proud on that day I rode Chester in the parade. I waved to all the people, I smiled and yelled greetings to my friends to make sure they knew it was me and not some strange boy in a white cowboy get up. When we reached the end of the parade route I was still wanting to ride Chester so, I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me ride him back to the horse trailer that was parked at my father’s business on the other side of town. Reluctantly, she let me. She followed me through the streets of town in her yellow Bonneville and when we reached the dirt road that lead to my dad’s building she went ahead of me and told me she’d meet me there. Dad’s building was about half a mile away, Mom thought it was safe enough to let me ride that distance on my own.
Getting to ride Chester with no adult supervision was almost as wonderful as the first time I got to mow the two acres by our house with the old Ford tractor by myself, I felt like someone had just handed me the keys to a luxury automobile and said, “Go have some fun kid!”
After Mom pulled away Chester and I pretended we were moving Long Horn cattle from Texas to Dodge City and I was the only girl on the ride, I was also the Boss. We were searching for a place to rest our weary bodies and find some grub…..and that’s when Chester decided he wasn’t having anymore of this trail ride nonsense. He meandered into the ditch with tall grass and wouldn’t move. Have you ever seen the ditches in western Kansas? They build the roads up a bit, because it’s so flat and they make ditches that are a good three or four feet deep so water will run off the roads and fill the ditch.
“Come on Chester! We need to go! Pleeeeeease go!” I pleaded, but Chester was done. He was stubborn and he knew I couldn’t make him move out of that ditch, I tugged on the reigns and then he reared up in hopes that I’d get off of him and let him be. Luckily I stayed on, but I was scared and let go of his reigns to grip the saddle horn which is just what he wanted so he could start munching away on all the grass in that ditch. I though about sliding off the saddle to pull him out, but I feared what might be in that grass and once I got off I wasn’t going to be able to get back on him because I was too small and I feared he might run away and then what was I going to tell the other cowboys?
So, Chester and I stayed in that ditch for what seemed like an eternity. It was hot, I was crying and my horse was happily munching on ditch grass.
When I saw the dust flying out from behind my mom’s Bonneville I was so relieved. She rolled down the window a bit miffed at me and asked what I was doing. When I tearfully explained what Chester had done she parked the car on the side of the road. The person that came out of that Bonneville was not my Mom it was a real cowgirl. She helped me off Chester then swung heself on that saddle and took charge. I stood on the road in awe as I watched that cowgirl tug, kick and fight with Chester for a few seconds and then off they went down the dirt road with no question who was leading who. Mom was so mad at Chester, but she showed him who was Boss. It wasn’t me.
That little incident didn’t quell my love for Chester. He was in my life until my grandparents sold him when I was in junior high. I was devestated. I dreamed of having my own horse for most of my childhood.
When I took Ellen with me to Fox Eye Ranch to help with the little catering gig, we saw this beautiful Palomino Paint Baby. We both immediately had to walk over to talk to her. All those hopes and wishes for my own horse came flooding back. Especially when I saw how comfortable my daughter is around a horse and how she stared longingly at that pony.
Oh, my. To dream of a horse. Maybe someday……maybe.