Note: My sister doesn’t want to be identified in these pages, so I’ll either call her My Sister, the Sister Person, or Ding Bat, our favorite term of endearment for each other.
We had wanted horses for years, so my sister saved every dime she made painting houses in a summer teen work program. I was about 11 and she was around 14. When she found a bargain-priced pony in the paper for sale, she bought it, sight unseen. Obviously we needed two horses, but figured we’d start with this. The man said “Peanut” was middle aged so nobody rode her very much, but she’d be “just perfect” for us. We had a fenced-in area and barn built, and moved her in. We did run into some immediately obvious problems, starting with the fact that we knew almost nothing about horses, and had no equipment except a bit and reins. My sister could have bought the man’s saddle also, “Cheap!” he said, but the $200 price tag would buy half of another horse, so she declined.
Our first problem was getting the bit into Peanut’s mouth, because she would simply clamp her teeth shut. We figure out that if we covered Peanut’s nose, she couldn’t breathe and had to open her mouth. Luckily for us, she was short and couldn’t lift her head very much to get it out of our way.
The second problem was getting on her. Since we didn’t have a saddle, we pushed her against an old wooden cable spool, my sister would climbed that, and then sit on her. That worked pretty well until Peanut figured out she could rub Ding Bat’s leg between her body and the stool. At that point, we understood that Peanut was playing us, and it became a game between the horse and the humans to see who was smarter.
We got the Sister Person situated on top, and she gave a hesitant kick and cluck. At which point, I think Peanut thought to herself, “Oh goody, she’s afraid of me; watch this.” At first, she refused to move, until I slapped her on the butt. Then she tried running straight toward the barbed wire fence and turning at the last second. This worked beautifully; my sister got off and flatly refused to get back on. So, I tried. She was the resourceful one of us, but I was more adventuresome, I weighed more, and I was too stupid to be afraid. Peanut was twice as wide as a barrel, and a good dancer, and we soon found out why nobody had wanted to ride her. I definitely wasn’t used to riding bareback, and hadn’t been expecting her to pretend to trip, and then take a sharp turn.
When I looked up, she was pawing the ground, daring me to try that again. I didn’t know at that point if Peanut really would have hurt me if I had moved, or if she was just playing another trick. But I decided I’d better play dead until Ding Bat could figure out how to rescue me. She put some grain in a can and shook it. You could tell Peanut would really have preferred to mow me down, but in the end, her stomach saved my life.
Part 2 Tomorrow