Let's take a walk down memory lane. My life with equines started in 1952. In 1952 I asked my Daddy if I could have a pony. He acted very sad and told me that he couldn't afford to buy a pony. He cleverly told me to ask my grandfather...as a joke.. .never suspecting that his life was going to be a series of pony-hell from then on. "Yes" my grandfather said, "I'll buy you a pony. My mother found Cricket and she was in foal.
Pony in foal with hand carved saddle and bridle cost $200. My grandfather went into shock. He had no idea ponies were that expensive!
Cricket and Princess..the Foundation Ponies
The pony was delivered to her new home which was our unattached garage where she had to live until my father built the fence in the back yard. This act alienated our friendly neighbor as we found out that his precious row of trees were actually planted on our land. My father cut the trees down. The neighbor built a fence. My father built 3 sides to fence in the lot and my ponies rubbed against the neighbor's fence for years. He hated us!
This is Cricket and Princess with me and my Dad. Princess was 4 days old and I was dressed to ride in the 4th of July parade. Princess got so tired during the parade, my mother had to carry her home!
One of Cricket's many colts.
My father came across a buggy deal that was too good to pass up. Natuarally, the buggy was too big for a shetland. My father took off the axle and big wheels and built an axle that would fit bicycle wheels. The shafts were cut down to pony size. My parents bought a harness and I can still remember them marveling and wondering about all the parts. I stupidly sold that harness in the '80s. What could I have been thinking? I want that harness back!
My mother became a shetland pony business woman. She bought brood mares and a stallion and we started producing ponies at a rapid rate. I got to train all of them.
We spent a week every summer in Perry, Oklahoma, at the largest pony sale in the world. We also owned the '50's version of a convienance store and we raffled off a pony colt every year for many years.
For several years, I got to be in charge of the pony-go-round...free rides for children of customers.
The ponies paid for most of my way through college. In the '60's, the bottom fell out of the pony market. We had to give away our baby colts We sold our fillies for ridiculous prices. The pony ride was over!
SHAM, THE LARGE PONY
I had just read King of the Wind and learned that Sham in Arabic meant SUN. My parents found a two year old buckskin large pony for me. He had not been ridden. He came with the name Davy Crocket. I named him Sham. He looked just like Dale Evan's horse Buttermilk. Thus Sham, Davy Crocket, Buttermilk JR became his name...but I called him Sham. This was the horse that I enjoyed the most.
I put a bridle on him and crossed the reins so he would learn to neck rein. My mother led me around first and it wasn't too long before I was off on my own with Sham.
He was a barrel racer, a pole bender and a large pony pleasure class. I rode him with a girl's drill team. I rode him all over town. I rode outside of town on any gravel or dirt roads that I could find (alone!). I had Mr Willis Todden, my trainer, to teach me how to do all the racing and showing events. I lived on Sham. I outgrew him when I was 15. I couldn't show in large pony events at the age of 15. He was sold and I still miss him.
DIXIE LEE STONEWALL
My mother was terrified that I would become a barrel racer and die. She cleverly manipulated me into wanting a drop-dead gorgeous American Saddlebred horse. Imagine her surprise when the nice horse at the seller's house (probably drugged) turned into a frantically scared horse at our house! She tried to jump out of the truck on her way to her new home. That's before we had horse trailers. Horses rode in trucks with high sideboards. She was insane in the trailer ride to our house. After she rested for a day, I went out to the barn to bridle and saddle her. She was nuts when I tried to get a bridle on her. She stuck her head 1000 miles up into the air.
Dixie had to be sent to Mr Todden. I couldn't get the bridle on her.
Mr Todden was one of the orginal natural horse trainers. She came back a manageable horse with a few hangups with which I could deal with the help of weekly training lessons. Our first year with the lessons were quite a struggle. It smoothed out and Mr Todden started teaching me to ride an English saddle (almost) and how to manage the double bit bridle.
Dr. Paul and a Peavine American Saddlebred Horse at the ROSE BOWL PARADE
Dr Paul was one of the three horsemen that made a big difference in my life. Dr. Paul had his barn and arena across the street from where I lived. I spent a lot of time over there watching him train horses. He had a liberty act with six white horses.
Later he gathered up us young town cowgirls and made a fast and exciting drill team out of us.We won first place in every drill team competition. Dr. Paul made us girls into RIDERS!
After he got done with his liberty act, he finished his life with horses with PARADE HORSES. He went to shows everywhere. Most of his parade horses were palomino Peavine American Saddlebreds. He rode his Parade Horse at the Rose Bowl parard every year. I saw him ride twice..in person at the parade. Imagine, someone from tiny Osceola in the Rose Bowl Parade AND, as a solo act!
The 2nd man that made a difference was Austin Smith. He trained high level dressage horses. All horses in his barn were owned by wealthy people across the country. One of his wealthy customers brought him a pony to train for a daughter. I got to ride/train that pony, with a little help from Austin. I don't have a picture of Austin.
All My Favorite Horses with Mr Todden and my Dad
Willis Todden trained mules for the Army during WWI. He was an original natural horseman. He drove 12 miles once or twice a week and gave me a lesson. We started with my large pony which was just a warm up for the level of training needed to learn to ride my nervous American Saddlebred, Dixie Lee Stonewall. It took about a year before she was a nice relaxed trail horse/show horse.
If anyone knows any of these three men, I would love to hear from you!
My life with horses ended too soon. I turned 18 and left for college. I didn't return to horses until I was 48 years old...quite a gap.