“There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something, even when you ain’t a thing.” — Will Rogers
I told the story of my first bike to a friend recently, describing how thrilling it was to hop on that brand new shiny blue Schwinn Sting-ray and sail down the barn bank hill, past the dairy barn, pedaling fast and picking up speed on my way to a wondrous imaginary paradise, leaving all the work behind until milking time rolled around again.
My heart sank for my friend when she said, after listening to my glee-filled reverie, “I never had a bike.”
Just as I was feeling humbled and about to offer her my heart-felt condolences for suffering a childhood without a bike, she added with a spunky grin, “I had a pony.”
My friend had trumped me in a very big way! Scamp was not just a pony. That became clear in the very first sentence of Deb’s story.
“Scamp was incredibly fast, and we won races against every other one in the area,” she said.
A painted pony, Scamp was also a rascal. Just let anyone else try to ride him, and he would take them from the farm to the edge of the woods, lickety-split. Just as the rider was beginning to get confident, Scamp would dump the rider at the edge of the woods and bolt for home to find his girl.
It happened every time. Deb never bothered with a saddle, preferring to ride her brown and white steed bareback. She explored the fields and the woods, splashing through streams, on her way to meet up with other kids in her farming community.
Nearly every kid in the area at that time had their own four-legged pal, and all these years later, Deb was still able to name them all.
“None of us had bikes, but we each had a pony. We would meet up at somebody’s barn and decide where all we were going to go. They all just seemed to be a part of us,” she said. “Man, I loved that pony!”Horse tricks. When the day began to dull a bit, Debbie would do some tricks with her little champ, including placing Scamp in a certain spot, Deb standing on the barn bank and making a run for it, hopping on the pony from the rear, then taking off fast.
“We did all kinds of tricks, but the best thing that pony could do was race, and I’m telling you, we won every time,” she said.
Every horse story carries along with it a scar or two. Deb told of breaking her foot when she got tangled up with the reins and fell, the pony dragging her for a ways.
“Ah, sure, I fell and got dumped and not every trick turned out right the very first time you tried it. That’s what made it all the more interesting!” she said.
“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom,” Helen Thompson was once quoted as saying.
Another fitting quote, attributed to an anonymous writer, is one that would find so many kids of the countryside nodding in agreement: “I’ve spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I’ve just wasted.”