It is hard to remember my first introduction to horses. I really liked Roy Rodgers and his horse named Trigger. There was some disdain from my father because he didn't really like palominos. He felt that they were just raised for their pretty color, and their white mane and tail with the yellow body was beautiful. The horses that my father liked were race horses. He had been a jockey for Dr. L. D. Stewart and he loved two horses “Utah Man” and “Jab O Randy”(spelling is phonetic). One ran short distances and the other longer than 5/8 of a mile. Dad used to talk of horses and then one day he took me out to Monte Sperry's farm to see a black horse that he was purchasing. I remember being scared when I rode this horse but now we had a horse. Soon after this he traded this black horse for a red or sorrel horse that we knew of as “Old Red”.
Old Red was a great horse to ride and ride we did. I remember riding her in the summer and the winter. One year Glen Ray Spencer and I rode her out to Uncle Wayne's farm in January (’49). This was quite a trip to take just the two of us, but for some reason our parents allowed us to go. We rode bare back so we could keep warm. That was a neat part of riding a horse in the winter as she would keep us warm except for our feet. You could warm your hands by placing them between your leg and the horse. On this three mile trip we went west on Fourth North and then turned South by the lower depot across the tracks up to Uncle Wayne's farm. From fourth west until we turned South the road was not plowed by the snow plow so we had to ride over deep drifts of snow. These were really big drifts many were higher than the fence posts. I was truly amazed that we did not break through the snow. We rode on top of the crusted snow. We visited with my cousins Darryl, Connie Lucile, and Betty Lou and then started back home. We probably waited to long to come home because we really got cold before we got home. This was a clear day but the wind was coming straight from the North Pole, I thought. The sun was setting and the wind blowing the drifting snow seemed to cut right through us. I thought that I was going to get frost bite. I do remember how my feet burned when we put them in cold water to warm them up slowly. Cold feet was not good!
Old Red was well trained and completely safe for kids. If you dropped her reins she would stop and not move. You really didn't need to tie her up when you got off to do other things, but that would not be proper and Dad or Boyd as we called him would insist that we tie her up. Old Red was half thoroughbred and she liked to race. She didn't like other horse to get ahead of her and if they took off running you had to hang on because she would try to race. I remember one time I couldn't stop her so I just through the reins over her head and she stopped very quickly or like Dad would say she stopped on a dime.
Because Old Red was old we were to ride her with care. Our hope was to get a colt or two from her for further use. We did get two colts and as I remember it that was only two. I think that she lived to the ripe old age of 30. One day I was riding and one of the older boys kept wanting to race us. I kept trying to convince him that I could not race with her because she was old but he kept pressuring me to race and well we raced for a block. We ran off and left him eating dust. Boy could she run. I never told Boyd about this as he would have taken the belt to me for racing. But down deep I think that he would have raced her had someone challenged him. He was the jockey!
Riding Old Red bareback was hard on your back side. She was skinny and the hard back bone stuck out. One time we rode to much and I wore a blister right between my cheeks. This blister eventually developed into a boil and I could hardly set down for a month. It was really embarrassing to tell my Mom about my sore and even more so when she had to take care of it. The morel of the story is to take care of blisters as things can get worse. Better still use a saddle.
Saddles were good but you had to watch that you did not get hung up in the stirrup because you could get dragged around with your head hitting the ground. The problem with saddles when I was young is that my legs were to short. I could not reach the stirrups. This picture shows me on Ginger our first colt between Sir Grey Spot and Old Red. Note my feet do not reach the stirrup. We would put our heel into the fender strap holding the stirrup. The bad part of this was that we would turn the stirrup the wrong way. The twist in the fender is important but putting your heal in the fender would turn the stirrup the wrong way. We could only do this with the old or used saddle not Boyd's new saddle. Note the picture is using Boyd's new saddle and my feet are not in the fender but just hanging. It seemed like no time until I grew into the saddle. In fact my legs became much longer than either Boyd's or Jennie's.