Monday, November 03, 2008

The Day A Fascination Became A Passion

This is the exact moment that I was sunk for a lifetime. This old white mare was not the first horse I got to sit on, but she was the first one I got to ride. The first time I had hold of the reins and had the opportunity to turn, stop, go, move. Comet was a wise old mare who knew how to take care of me even when I had no sense of danger or urgency or possibility. I didn't even know how to ask but she understood what her job was.

It was Northern California probably around the fall of 1956. The cattle had to be moved down from the high hills to the low hills before winter rains made it difficult to check on them. It was a different time, a different era. We found the cattle by listening for the cowbells. As naive as I was then the cowgirl bug bit hard and forever after my best fantasies were of moving cattle aboard a reasonable cow horse.

I probably did little more than a fast walk directly behind a real wisened old cowgirl. I don't remember if she had a lead rope on Comet, but I bet she just barked at me to stay behind her. That was how Sally dealt with children. They were to be seen...doing as told, not requesting but helping. I would never dream of asking a favor of Sally. I was there to do her bidding, to learn how to grow up to be just like her so I could go on cattle round-ups several times a year. She rolled her own cigarettes and fried a dozen eggs in a cast iron pan over an open fire without breaking a yolk.

I lived about 200 miles away from Sally and Comet and so did not get to be a cow girl often, but I did get to fall madly in love with horses forever and always.

I've got this one picture to remind me where it all started and how I have always wanted to achieve the common sense, no nonsense, approach to horsemanship.

How about you? Do you have memories of when and where it happened?

9 comments:

the7msn said...

My fascination became a passion the first time I stole a horse...ok I guess it was the only time I stole a horse. I was 11 or 12 and on a weekend camping trip in Ohio with my family. There was a barn with a horse about a quarter mile away from our campsite, so of course that is where I hung out. All I wanted to do was ride that horse, but there wasn't any tack to be found. So I attached some twine to a halter for reins, then promptly rode the horse bareback to the campsite to show mom and dad. The second we got there, the horse turned tail and galloped all the way back to the barn, with me hanging on to his neck for dear life. Ahh...to be that young and stupid and fearless again. The seed was sown, but it was 30-some years before I finally got a horse of my own.

Molly said...

Linda, LOL
Naughty girl.

Vaquerogirl said...

Great picture! I didn't have any choice about loving horses, I think it was bred into me as surely as my green eyes. If I dont have a horse- I am not happy. I've only been without a horse for one short time in my life when I was about 8years old. I couldn't stand it, and saved my babysitting money and bought a pony. My sister bought a cart.When I told my Mom she flipped! We drove and rode that pony for miles and miles. When I sold her, I bought another, and then another always getting a better mount than the last.

C-ingspots said...

Hi there Molly! Good to meet ya. Wow, I love this post - the first time had to be when I was 3 years old and my dad got me this shetland pony I named Ringo from the local auction. Mean little wild-haired **!?* that he was, he took off, tried to wipe me off on trees or barbwire or whatever was handy. God I loved him!! He was too big for me to mount, so I used to lead him up to something and everytime I'd swing my leg over, he'd move and I'd fall, so my dad taught him to lie down and we'd grab handfulls of hair, climb aboard and hang on for the ride of our lives!!! I'll never forget the day dad took him to auction and sold him - I cried and pitched the best fit I could possibly muster, but to no avail. He was gone. The next 6-7 years all I did was beg, plead, bargain, whatever it took until like a small stream of relentless water, I wore them down and my mom & dad gave in. I was 12 and the best Christmas present ever was revealed in a note my mom wrote in a tiny little box all wrapped up. It read: Flexy and saddle and bridle are yours. Merry Christmas Love, Mom and Dad
I had her until she was 33 and she was always my very best friend. I lived on her back and she was grand. Thanks for the memories!!

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

I think that you have what it takes to be a Pony Cousin!

Join the fun and find out if you would "fit in" by checking out this page: Highlight the address; copy it; paste onto your browser.

http://kjmiddleoftheroad.blogspot.com/2008/10/so-you-think-you-want-to-be-pony-cousin.html

Molly said...

Thanks for the feed-back my fellow horse crazy friends.

I think I might just fit in with the Pony Cousins!! Yeah!

In my life finding other horsey women has been few and far between. The ones I've found are friends for life, though.

photogchic said...

Great photo...I am like vaquerogirl..didn't have a choice, they were just always there. Everything was always about horses..even my room...I made my parents leave it as "press board" because I thought it looked like a barn. Horse crazy kid.

smellshorsey said...

I don't know which is better -- your memory of Comet or Sally. Wow. That almost makes me weep.

Please write more about this. What an interesting bit of life that I've never experienced. Cows, horses AND a real cowgirl.

I got "bitten" when I was in diapers riding my brother's 105 year-old Shetland, Dan. This pony was so old that he eventually died of old age (don't they live forever?). I could do anything on him, because he wasn't going anywhere. His head was always down grazing and I could stand on his back and be a circus rider. He may as well have been a sofa.

What I would give to have had a Sally.

Donna said...

I don't have to go back to a black and white photograph...it was early June 2006 when I first drove through the gate to the farm where I ride. I can't really explain it, but before I even saw a horse I fell in love with the place, the feel, the smell, the whole idea of just being around horses. That place and its wonderful creatures helped me dig myself out from the depths of despair caused by giving up the dream of having a family. I will be forever grateful.