My First Horse, Way Back When

My mother and Lady.
My mother and Lady around 1974/75?.
I had a horse when I was a kid growing up in Northern Saskatchewan. She was a little plain bay half Arab named “Lady”. I got her when I was 12. She was a range-bred 4 year old. The rancher that sold her to us figured she’d make a great kids horse. We didn’t find out until I’d been riding her for quite a while that his idea of a broke kid-type horse was that they’d brought her in as a 3 year old, put tack on her. jumped on her back and kicked her to see what would happen. She walked forward. They chased her a bit, and she trotted. “Good enough” they all said, “This mare’s broke”.

As it happens, she was a bossy, confident and very tough little horse that should have been in endurance. I rode her all day, every day through the summers. I rode her in town, in the woods, on the roads, at the fair, to the drive-in restaurant, in barrel races, and keyhole races, and flat races. I rode her western, english, bareback. She was an awesome little pole-bending horse since she had lovely, easy lead changes, and was a handy, athletic jumper. She also had tricks. Bad tricks. Smashing my leg on fence posts. Balking in the middle of nowhere (sometimes for several hours). Jumping into the neighbour’s garden at 2am for snacks. Jumping out to follow other horses going out on trail rides. Jumping out to follow kids on bicycles. Jumping out to go break the stallion down the road out for a few days of gallivanting. Just… jumping out for no reason at all. We got a lot of phone calls to come and retrieve her actually.

I had a friend who rode with me a lot. Lorrie. She had a big rawboned chestnut paint named “Chief”. Very sweet horse that one. Good natured and kind, if a bit umm…. speedy. He was always in a bit of a hurry. So we did a lot of chasing after Chief and Lorrie. Many miles of riding all over the place. In northern Saskatchewan there’s a lot of room to roam. But the best riding that I remember required crossing the river. That was the North Saskatchewan River, which is a big river. We had to cross a rather intimidating bridge. Looking at the photo, I’m boggled that I ever had the nerve. I don’t know that I could get off and lead a horse across this bridge now, much less ride across it. But Lorrie and I did it many times.

A very old photo of the Old Nipawin Bridge. That's a team of horses crossing it. The upper level is railroad tracks, the lower level is for a single lane of traffic. Click if you want to see a larger version.
A very old photo of the Old Nipawin Bridge. That’s a team of horses crossing it. The upper level is railroad tracks, the lower level is for a single lane of traffic. Click if you want to see a larger version.

Over the years, I did manage to get her turned into a pretty good little riding horse. Mostly as a result of so many miles and hours in the saddle and not at all because I had any training skills. I was a clueless little hooligan, but determined to ride. I’m not sure any other horse could’ve survived me. Of course it’s possible that not so many other kids would’ve persevered with such a tough-minded, smart boss mare either. Maybe we deserved each other πŸ™‚

5 Replies to “My First Horse, Way Back When”

  1. What a great story, Deanna! Thank you for sharing it. Gosh, the things we did as kids, the horses we rode, without a thought. We just did it.

  2. I had a difficult horse for my first horse too. A crazy appaloosa with similar ‘breaking’ but left in the paddock for a few years after! But if we had gotten quiet old nags for our first horses, we wouldn’t have learnt as much! Great story, I must tell the story of my first horse on my blog one day. Thanks for the entertaining read!

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