This is a special memory from my own childhood.
My sister Judy and I always wanted a horse. What little girl didn’t want a horse when they were growing up? We were never lucky enough to own a horse of our own but for a few years we got to babysit two of them! Our family had become good friends with a family that lived outside of town on a real farm! They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and when they would go away on retreat Lucky and Sugar would come to stay at our house! In my mind, it was for 6 weeks in the summer but I doubt that it really was. They couldn’t have been gone from their farm for that long.
My Dad was an excellent rider; he had grown up on horses so he taught us to ride. That meant learning to put on their bridles and their saddles. Daddy would ride bareback but we rode with saddles. I can remember standing in the front yard as he put the saddle on Lucky and then showed me how you had to nudge her hard in the stomach with your knee so that she would let her breath out and you could cinch the saddle down tight. I think my mom found out about that trick the hard way when she and the whole saddle slid off one time. We thought it was funny. She didn’t!
Lucky was a tall pinto and had a mind of his own; he was not easy to control. Sugar was a beautiful brown mare that did everything at about half the speed of Lucky and followed Lucky everywhere. Judy rode Lucky and I rode Sugar. She was much more daring than I was! Lucky had tricks! He would look for low hanging limbs so he could knock you off. He even took Dad off in the peach tree once. Lucky also knew that if he took off and ran for the barn door – he could duck and knock you off! More than once as Judy got off Lucky she let go of the bridle and he took off for the alfalfa field. NO ONE but Dad could get him out of there!
The horses also liked to make a run for the crab apple orchard. It really wasn’t an orchard so much as 30-50 crab apple trees that someone had planted and then forgotten. Lucky loved crab apples and of course, wherever Lucky went Sugar followed! One of us would have to run home to get Dad before they eat too many apples.
Lucky and Sugar both thought it was fun to go down the side of the gravel pit with us on board. Neither of us had much control over those horses! Now going down the gravel pit on a sled in the winter was just amazing – going down the side of it in the summer on a horse was just plain scary!
Both the horse knew that Daddy usually had sugar cubes in his pocket and would bump him with their noses until he gave them some. I remember feeding them apple pieces and sugar cubes from our perfectly flat palms so they wouldn’t bite our fingers by mistake – another lesson from Dad. While I was always a little hesitant to do it, I loved the feel of their warm lips as they took the treat from my hand.
We really were very lucky to have such an interesting backyard. We may not have been Horse Whisperers but how many people can say they were Horse Sitters?