One horse, two riders

Published 8:16 pm Friday, September 14, 2012

In my child’s heart, all I wanted was a horse. A horse of my own.

I had to share the horse that my granddaddy, Pop, bought us with my cousin, Jimmy.  Neither of us knew much about sharing nor wanted to participate in it.

Pop told us the story about the two women in the Bible that were fighting over a baby and how King Solomon told them he would cut the baby in two and give each one of them half.

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We decided half of a horse wasn’t much, especially if you got the tail end. We thought we’d give sharing a try.

For a while, it worked out all right. Ol’ Betty’s next stop was the glue factory. We rode her in tandem without a saddle or bridle as she moseyed around the chicken yard.

Ol’ Betty was not Trigger or Champion so we weren’t exactly the envy of the other children who were flying up and down the dirt road on their shiny Schwinns … until.

One day Pop unloaded  “Black Beauty” in the catch pen. It was the prettiest, shiniest horse I had ever seen in my whole life. Pop said Lightning was ours, mine and Jimmy’s to SHARE.

As pretty as that horse was, I wouldn’t have cared if Pop had hacked it in half and I’d gotten the tail end. It would have been all mine.

But, no. We had to share.

Pop bought a saddle and a bridle and a horse blanket for Lightning. I’d never seen such a fine horse all dressed up like that.

Now, if it had just been Jimmy and me, we might could have shared that horse and everything would have been all right. We could have taken turns, being in the saddle and riding behind, but our friends “laid” their bicycles down by the side of the road. They wanted to ride that big, black stallion called Lightning.

Pop said the boys and girls would have to take turns, which we decided was the same thing as sharing. We didn’t want to do either one.

But like Pop said to do, we drew straws to see who would get to ride first, Betty Kay and me or Jimmy and Preston.

We got the long straw and got to ride first.

What Pop didn’t say anything about was how long we got to ride “first.”

We, Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane, saddled up and rode and rode and kept on riding.

Jimmy and Preston were waiting their turn on Preston’s front porch. We would wave and laugh every time we went by. They would holler something like, “Stop” or “Get off. It’s our turn.”

But we weren’t for sure what they were yelling.

On one pass by, Jimmy tried to pull us off by our feet but we giddy-upped Lighting and took off dragging him in the sand until he had to let go.

Now, you can only ride a horse so long before your hind end tells you it’s time to get off. Ours spoke to us.

We went back to the barn and were taking off the saddle when Jimmy jumped from the barn loft onto my back and hauled me to the ground. We usually settled our differences with our fists but he caught me by surprise and from the back. Before I knew what was happening, Jimmy was punching me in the stomach with both of his balled up fists. Betty Kay jumped on his back and started beating him and Preston jumped on her and started walloping her. We had a free for all.

Dora, Pop’s cook, came running out of her house and beat us off each other with a straw broom.

Before our noses stopped bleeding, Lightning was being loaded in the cattle truck and the last thing we saw of him was his shiny back end on his way out of town.

That was a hard-learned lesson in sharing.