The first time I rode King, Al’s best saddle horse, I had to catch him in the pasture, get him into the barn, and saddle him myself. I was thirteen at the time. It was a heavy western saddle, and all I could do to get it on his back. I’d cinch it up tight, and very quickly learned that you had to tighten it again after the horse relaxed, or the saddle would fall under his belly when you tried to get on!. I had to mount him without help the first time, as well. Al wanted to be sure I was capable of doing it myself in case anything happened when I was alone with the horse.
After that, if I was going riding with Al, he would saddle both horses.
I rode pretty well every day, but had to ask Al if I could use his horse EVERY time… but first I had to ask Lena if it was okay to ask Al! She wanted to be sure that I had done all the work she had asked me to do…like washing dishes or the cream separator…. That was a horrible job! She didn’t use soap in the dishwater because the water was thrown out in the yard where the chickens were “free ranging.” The water was really yucky by the time you finished the dishes.
One day she was upset with me for something and wasn’t going to give me permission to ask Al for his horse. Al sat looking out the open door at the meadow… and about a half a mile away there was a swampy section with a big stump.
He said “Heh, Norma! You see that stump down there? Go get a horse and see if its a bear!” Lena would never counter what he told me to do! I was out of there as fast as I could go! I loved that guy so much!
One summer when I was heading home he gave me my first camera… a box brownie. It took really good pictures for years, and I eventually gave it back to Elsie, their daughter. Another time he gave me Five Dollars for my work with the hay crew. In these days five dollars doesn’t seem like much, but it was a fortune when there wasn’t any money around. They didn’t have much cash available, either.
To be continued….