“The journey through life is brightened and enlightened by those who travel at least part of it on horseback.”
Ponies, my friend Cindy explained to me just yesterday, have two gears. The first gear, she said, is known as a filling-loosening trot; second, a flat-out gallop. “Wait,” I said. “What is that first one again?”
“You know, the kind of trot that loosens the fillings right out of your teeth,” Cindy explained with a hearty laugh.
Cindy, at about age 8 or 9, was riding her pony in high-gallop gear to an enormous downed tree she’d found along a creek every day, the log standing much taller than either of them, in hopes of transforming her stubby pony in to a jumper just like “National Velvet.”
Someone ratted Cindy out to her grandfather, and I have to wonder all these years later if it might have been my father, always so concerned a fearless child would get hurt. After Cindy’s Grandpa Sigler realized his only granddaughter was determined to ride Frisco Pete as though putting on a show, even with no one watching, he decided to bring the show place to his own back yard, certainly in hopes of avoiding broken bones and sleepless nights.
He contracted the building of an indoor riding arena behind the home he and his wife Nancy shared on the edge of the small village of Jeromesville. Though there was nothing elegant about it, the kids in the original club, known as “The Trail Blazers,” along with every child in the neighborhood, watched the construction of this small building as though it was the next Yankee Stadium.
Becoming a grandfather
For the seemingly stern, tall, business-like Glenn Sigler, a no-nonsense man raised with work horses, folks in our small hometown in 1970 certainly wondered if becoming a grandfather had softened the successful man in to a marshmallow. He likely wanted to do everything in his power not only for his grandchildren, but for every other little cowboy in the community.
The building nearing completion, Cindy started riding the minute the workmen packed up for the day.
“Grandpa would come out, sitting up straight with his cane perched between his legs, and watch me ride. He even built a couple of jumps for me, and he would nod his head and say, ‘I give you first place.’ Grandma would come out and watch too, always smiling, and she thought we could win The World Championship!”
Cindy questions now how that little building was big enough for jumps, but inside those walls, anything seemed possible.
Advisors Janet Funk, Betty McClure and Marie Farnsworth certainly had their hands full when the club of about 50 kids began meeting in the new arena. Nancy Sigler, baking refreshments all day, was excited to host the events.
Parents would arrive with kids and their ponies, clogging up the alleys, parking at the nearby Jeromesville Elevator, every kid raring to try those jumps. If only all that energy could have been harnessed, Jeromesville would still be going strong!
Grandpa Sigler had to have wondered where this horse-centered energy would take little Cindy. He introduced her to competitive events, Frisco Pete hauled to open shows in a horse trailer.
“I thought that trailer was incredible, and traveling to a show in Fredricktown made me a world traveler!” Cindy says with a laugh.
“Now I realize how small and plain that horse trailer was, but I thought we were traveling in high style.”
She recalls a trip to Schneider’s Saddlery in Cleveland as a childhood highlight, coming home with new blue jeans, a plaid shirt and the nicest, biggest cowboy boots she’d ever seen.
The club evolved in to “The Midnight Riders” as Cindy outgrew Frisco Pete, and some kids moved on to different interests. Cindy’s wiry pony was replaced by a “diamond in the rough” named Snoopy, and chapter 2 of the horse-centered childhood began.