We had moved to Wisconsin from Chicago when I was about 7 years old. Living in a one-room cabin with a small attachment and no inside toilet was certainly a change from living in the city, but I really didn’t care. Dad had promised me a horse and sure as shooting, by spring the first true love of my life arrived.
Her name was Trinket. She was about a year and a half old, black with striped hooves and dots on her muzzle. She was not very big at all, what folks would call a POA – a small Appaloosa. At the time, I really didn’t care what she was as long as she had four hooves and whinnied when I came to the barn. I was in little girl heaven. Of course I had never ridden a horse before, or cared for one or even spent more than a few minutes around them. This left me deliriously clueless. Lucky for me, my new best friend didn’t care how dumb I was – it was love at first sight.
I really wish I had a picture of her to share with you, but try as I may; I am unable to locate one. The picture in my mind’s eye is probably more majestic, beautiful and amazing than reality but that is ok with me too.
Being the impatient child that I was, listening to my parents when they told me to be careful was out of the question. I was small, agile and light even for this small horse so she didn’t mind when I sat on her back while she ate in her tie stall. Each day I grew braver and more confident around her until just before Trinket turned 2 years old, I decided it was time we went for a solo stroll around the pasture. There was one problem – I had no tack (the stuff you put on a horse like bridle and saddle so you can control them and ride). As with all other like challenges, I rose to this one and produced a length of binder twine.
I was to find that through my equine career, binder twine would become my 2nd best friend.
After leading my trusty steed from the barn to stand next to the water tank, I looped the rope on each side of her halter to create make-shift reins then hopped on. I remained seated for about 2 strides after she lunged forward with surprise only to slide ignominiously off and then bounce upon the grass for an equal number before coming to rest. I looked down the pasture to see Trinket standing about 20 feet away eating grass.
Most normal people would have decided this was not the way to learn to ride a horse – good thing I have never been close to normal. I walked up to my girl, took the “reins” and lead her back to the tank. This time I lasted 4 strides before bouncing down the pasture, a sure sign of progress.
Overall, it took many tries before both Trinket and I realized what was needed to work as a team. She never bucked; I was just totally uncoordinated at first. Once I got the hang of the rhythm of her movements things evened out and my first attempt at being a cowgirl could be deemed successful. Of course, I was bruised from head to toe, but I didn’t care. All you “horse girls” out there know just what I mean!
Over the next few years, Trinket and I were inseparable. I rode her all the way from our home to Woodside Ranch to watch the Gymkhana’s whenever I could. I even rode along with the livery riders from time to time. I was not very shy and readily offered to help bring up the rear. Bythen my dad had bought me a saddle and bridle so I was much more respectable (although, I loved riding bareback the best). By the time I was 12, we had moved to a new place a few miles away (one that did have indoor plumbing) and we obtained another horse, a 2 year old Appaloosa named Notsuam Siw (Mauston Wis spelled backwards).
I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending – that my first true equine love lived a long and happy life; but I can’t. Shortly after this, my dad got a new job and we had to move. I was told the horses could not go with. I am pretty sure I know what happened, but to this day would rather believe that some young girl wound up with my Trinket and gave her a happy home for a very long time.