You would think that having grown up on a farm I would be good at riding a horse...you would think! Today's tale is why I am not an equestrienne and why I had a serious case of hero worship for a long time!
They called her Old Cream. She was a gentle old mare with a large white mole on her lower jaw.
Or was it a wart?
I don't know...I was only about 8 years old and I believed what my cousins told me and I had heard both theories about the large round growth on the horse's jaw. I felt sorry for her because everyone called her "old" and some called her "ugly" because of the wart/mole, whatever it was. I thought she was a pretty horse, all creamy white with kind eyes. She was a good one to let the kids ride on her without putting up a fuss. So it was that one day when some Ellsworth cousins came for a visit to the farm that Cream was taken from her corral and bridled up for their entertainment.
I had been given rides before, usually on my cousin Marta's little brown horse "Fancy". I had never been allowed to ride alone because #1) I was very small and #2) the horses belonged to Uncle Joe's family. I couldn't just go help myself. Whenever the horses were brought out for giving rides I could go ask for a ride and Marta was always very good about humoring her younger cousin. On this particular day the visiting cousins were all older boys so my big brother Dean, along with a couple of Uncle Joe's sons were the ones giving the rides. No nice female cousin to pity me. I was told I had to wait until our company had had all the rides they wanted, then I could have a turn.
Finally after what seemed like forever my brother Dean lead Cream over to where I was waiting on top of our yellow dog house, under a mulberry tree. He was giving an older cousin his last ride. It's probably a good thing I cannot remember who this older cousin was...I am still mad at him today! Let's just call him "Clyde". Dean helped me up onto Cream as Clyde begged to be allowed to lead the horse for me. I protested saying that I wanted nobody but my brother to do the deed. Dean told me it would be alright, Clyde was as old as he was and would be careful with me. And so, away I went on top of a huge white horse with a city boy cousin leading the way.
I gave a backward glance at my big brother." How could he do this to me?" I thought.
Most of the older boys had gone north on the farm to Uncle Joe's back yard which was full of fun equipment to play on, so that was where we were headed. We were about 2/3 of the way there when good old Clyde got distracted. Not being a farm boy himself, he did not comprehend my lack of experience and handed me the reigns as he wanted to go see what was going on at the horse corrals. Just like any good cowboy he'd seen on T.V. he slapped Cream's rump just to keep her going.
Well...GO she did!
Cream began to trot with me jiggling and bouncing around on her blanketed back. I began to scream at Clyde that I didn't know what I was doing and he had better come back right now. He just laughed at me and ran off! As my yelling and crying got louder, Cream trotted faster. Those of you who are "horse savvy" may be laughing at me too, but I thought I was going to die, that this was the end. That trot felt like the fastest gallop I had ever seen on any Sunday night episode of Bonanza. Up ahead I could see my brother Richard jumping on the trampoline. As the runaway horse and I got closer and my yelling became frantic all of the boys started to laugh at me, but not Richard! I saw a serious look on his face as he jumped off of the trampoline and ran to my aide. I was immediately calmer as I saw him coming...MY HERO! He grabbed the reigns which I had dropped, put his hand on Old Cream's neck to slow her down. When she came to a stop he put his hands on my waist and lifted me down. I cried and held onto him tightly. "You saved my life!" I wailed. After I had calmed down a bit he asked me what had happened.
"HE LEFT ME ALONE ON THE HORSE!!" I screamed and pointed to Clyde. The city cousin was still laughing at me along with several other boys. I was also being scolded by some for yelling and screaming while on a horse's back.
"You NEVER do that!" they told me sternly. Well. Had any of them ever taken the time to teach me how to ride or what to do?
NO...thank you very much!
Richard told me I was going to be alright and said I should turn around and go home to rest. I was obedient. While I was walking home I thought to myself in my most dramatic Scarlett O'Hara way, "I will never, NEVER ride a horse again!" I would have thrown in "With God as my witness!" if I had seen Gone With the Wind at that point in my life!
And so, I have not.
Ever ridden a horse again.
I had also recently seen some silly T.V. show where someone's life was saved and they swore to faithfully serve their hero forever.
So did I...
promise to be Richard's slave...
That vow lasted one evening. I took off his shoes for him and brought him drinks. I fawned over him and clung to him like a koala. I nearly drove him crazy with my desire to serve. After he assured me my debt was paid I was released from my vow. No more slaving for me, but plenty of adoration that lasts to this day.
Oh. I also forgave Dean for leaving me in Clyde's incapable hands.