Yes, the girl on the horse in this picture is me. This is the "before" picture. Fortunately, no one took an "after" picture . . .
Novels about horses were very popular among girls when I was in junior high school. I read all of "The Black Stallion" series, the "My Friend Flicka" books, "Black Beauty" and "Misty of Chincoteague". Most teenage girls would love to have had their own horse. I got to live that dream . . .
We had a family farm for four years, from when I was ten to fourteen. We had dairy cows, and my sister and I had to get up at 5:30 every morning to help with the milking until it was time for school, and then after school another three hours. I complained a great deal about my lot in life.
My dad didn't have a whole lot of sympathy for my whining. When he was my age, he had a lot more chores than we did, and when Grandma and Grandpa ran out of work, they sent him to the neighbour's farm to work, and he had to give all of the money he earned to Grandma, and then he had to walk 3 miles to school barefoot in the snow - up hill both ways. Okay, not that last one.
Dad surprised me and my sister Debbie by buying horses for us. It was the summer I turned twelve. My horse was named Rusty. And as I said earlier, the picture above is the "before" picture.
This was my first time on Rusty, and I was terrified. It was okay when Dad was leading her around the yard, but then he gave me the reins (literally!) and told me to ride around the pasture.
In the "Trixie Beldon" novel series that l collected, Trixie gets riding lessons. I remembered from the books how her instructor kept telling her to keep her heels down. As it turned out, this was a very good thing to remember.
I had no idea how to ride a horse. I really wished that Dad had agreed to let us take riding lessons from the kid who sold us the horses. I can't remember his name, but I remember his long, curly blond hair. He was fifteen, and really cute. He offered to give me and Debbie riding lessons, but Dad said no.
So there I was, riding Rusty around the field, not knowing anything except to keep my heels down. Rusty started to go little faster, and then a whole lot faster. I lost my balance and fell off. My only injury was to my left shoulder. I couldn't lift my arm for about two weeks. Fortunately, I didn't get dragged at all, because I had remembered to keep my heels down.
The other thing that Trixie Beldon's riding instructor told her was to always get right back up on the horse after a fall. That one I didn't do. I don't think I ever rode again after that. Debbie didn't ride her horse very often either. We kept the horses for awhile, not riding them, and eventually Dad sold them.
I don't really include horses in my Ode to Critters I have Loved. My apologies to any horse lovers reading this. I like cats.