Growing up in a family of tenant farmers in Oklahoma was mostly serious and duty-oriented. However, there was a particular joy sneaked into our lives when we got a horse who liked us as much as we liked her.
We named her Doll. She left our lives bright and our spirits up.
We cut her bangs and gave her a straw hat, imagining that she was like the First Lady at that time, Mamie Eisenhower. We three kids loved her dearly. She was the living end!
My brother was definitely her lord and master. She would do anything he commanded. But for others, like me, my big sister, and my cousins, she would only go around the house once and stop, awaiting further instructions from my brother.
Doll always stopped at a certain place. My brother would leave her there when he came in for a drink or a snack. When he went back out, there Doll would be–waiting patiently for her master to give her the next command.
One summer my cousins, Charlie and Jimmy, came on their yearly visit from California. We chuckled when Jimmy asked how to “drive” the horse. We felt so thoroughly equestrian, knowing the proper word was “steer”.
My brother usually rode her to round up the small herd of cows each afternoon in time for milking. One day my mother, my older sister, and I were out in the field when my brother started his daily trek. As he and Doll neared the train track that went through our farm, my mother hears a train and began to scream like the dickens.
It turned out she thought the cows were in position to be crushed by the train–or even worse–my brother on the horse was in mortal danger. We held our breaths as we heard sounds and saw movement as the train finally roared on by.
Then we were thrilled and relieved to see Doll holding her position with the cows, and hear my brother say, “Whew, that was close! Let’s go home now.” After my mother took a few deep breaths, we headed back after the horse and her lad.
Doll didn’t live forever, but all three of us kids cherished the time we had with her:-)
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for use online or in print.