CHARLIE PALMER, my grandpa, was a true horse whisperer. He chased wild horses across the border from Wisconsin into Canada and gently broke them in. His oldest child, my mother, rode those wild-eyed young horses and drove her three little sisters to school in a red buggy. She seemed to have inheried his love of horses. It was in her blood.
Here she is, on the right, with her favorite horse, Star.
One day, driving her sisters to school in the horse and buggy, the half-wild bronco, startled by a stick in the spoke of the buggy, jumped a ditch and leaped a barbed wire fence - overturning the buggy and dumping her poor little sisters on the ground. MOTHER jumped out, grabbed the bridle of that crazy rearing horse - then bravely reached up and stroked his face to calm him. She was only 13. The horse galloped home like a beast shot out of hell. When poor grandma saw the horse without the children or the buggy she panicked. Mother, undaunted, brushed her little sisters off, picked up their mangled lunch buckets and walked them to school.
We told and embellished that story for years!
I always dreamed of having a pony. One summer when I was 8 we visited country friends and I got to ride a very old shetland pony! I was so proud. I can't remember if he actually 'moved' since he appears to be sleeping in this vintage picture!
Years later when I was studying theology I traveled around the prairies with my trio called 'The Harmonaires'. On the day of this picture we sang in a rural community center and then spent an afternoon on a somewhat neglected old farm. Ever the intrepid rider I scewed up my courage and tried to ride this incredibly shaggy old horse - without even a saddle. Alas, the winds were high and the horse was reluctant. Suddenly though, he got the idea, and as you can see, below, he took off at a determined pace with the barking collie at his heels.
I've never been really comfortable on a horse . . .
they seem so BIG and powerful . . .
This dear horse, in retrospect, looks more like an ancient wooly horse ancestor.
Later that year when I was 19 my boyfriend John and I snuck away to Banff in the Canadian Rockies. We drove the 600 miles in his sleek green Hudson Hornet. We rented mild-mannered horses and rode up the steep mountain trail to the Plain of the Six Glaciers.
I was TERRIFIED every time my horse, Jasper, leaned his head down to graze over an abyss of unimaginable depth. I felt myself slipping inexorably over his head and plunging into the void!
THAT WAS THE END OF MY ROMANCE WITH HORSES. IT IS SIMPLY NOT IN MY BLOOD.
I decided to stick with more modern
modes of transportation :)