Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Family Tradition

The author on her noble steed, Cricket.
The author's aunt on her noble steed, Cricket.
The noble steed Cricket gave birth to baby Patches on an Easter Sunday!
Patches grown up.

My aunt (sitting behind) and Superman on his noble steed Cricket.

The horse virus infected me surely before I was even born. Had I been born free of that incurable affliction, I was certainly infected almost immediately upon arrival. My paternal grandfather was a respected bronc rider as a young man and he retired a mature, respected cattle man. There was ample room in that time span for the horse virus to spread to those in his family born without natural immunity. The worst symptom is keeping expensive horses (even when the patient is unable to ride) simply because there is a need to see horses every single day. I could never get enough time with horses when I was a kid so I grew up, bought land, planted it to tall grass, built a barn and a fence and now I am the indentured servant to horses every single day. It is a powerful affliction, that horse virus.

I have written about my first loves - my father's cow pony, Lady, and my own first horse, Cricket. I have also written a bit about my grandparents, and my father and his brothers and sister. (Some links are included at the end, in case you are interested.) My aunt emailed these priceless photos and shared memories of the horses and the wonderful, long ago times. Receiving the photographs was better than winning the lottery! My dreams this week have been filled with the horses, my parents and grandparents, and that wonderful old farmstead on the bank of the Little Walnut River. My aunt and I came to the same conclusion that those were the happiest times of our respective lives. Undoubtedly, the secret ingredients were the horses and the freedom we were given to spend our days roaming the river.

I was the last child to ever love the old mare, Cricket. She was almost at the end of her natural life when she was brought to our barn for me to "ride". I was so young that I was more than content to simply sit on her, which was fine with Cricket. I always assumed she was one of my grandpa's retired cowponies but I found out she was actually purchased as a children's horse for the cousins one generation ahead of me. By default she became my aunt's horse, and shortly after, none other than Superman (my Uncle Jerry) laid claim to the gentle horse.

My aunt shared some wonderful stories. She tells them best: "Now you have heard the story of Jerry and Cricket. We had the yard fenced at the time. But he would ride that horse by himself at 18 months old. He would get up and put on all of his gear, neck kerchief, leather cuffs, pair of guns, cowboy hat, boots, pair of jeans and belt and his cowboy shirt and he would ride that horse till he’d go to sleep on her and Cricket would bring him by the front door and Mom would go get him and bring him in and put him in his bed."

And this: "Patches' dad was a big old horse. And Patches was not a good riding horse either. Rough ride! Oh, I remember Cricket when she was found that Easter Sunday as Daddy didn’t tell us. He just said, "Come on, let's take a ride". He took us down by the river and there she was with her baby colt. Didn’t have a clue she was going to have a baby! They never told us a thing! I think Dad was afraid she couldn’t do it cause that horse was so big and she was pretty old at the time. But she did it..."

So there you have a brief history of the wonderful old mare Cricket who carefully nurtured many, many children, not just those in our family. And there is the added wonderful Easter surprise story of Patches, the horse that grew up to step on my bare feet so many times that it had to have been on purpose. Surely she got that ornery streak from her father, the "big old horse" from next door!

Not only did I get a bit more insight and information regarding my dear Grandpa, my father, my aunt and uncle, but photos and stories about the horses, too! What a gift.


Bonnie Vista

A Sailor Writes Home


Mokasha said...

What's up Doc? Horses are addictive, a craving worse than the need for cheeseburgers. It started with the one and ended with a herd of 16 mares and a stallion, every year it damn near doubled. It all ended with old age setting in finally winding up with two. They are my pasture art, my "gimme my hay and go away" ponies. The saddles and bridles hang in the tack room waiting for the "let's ride" bunch to show up. Maybe tomorrow........ maybe. Love & light, Mokasha

Jackie said...

Yep... That's how it goes.