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?