My mom had high hopes for me. She really did.
I was her first child, was smart, and I was a gorgeous child. I had huge brown eyes, a quick, engaging smile, widow’s peak, dark auburn hair-and she was going to make sure that I did what she didn’t in life. I was supposed to marry a Delta Air Lines pilot or be a flight attendant, be a published author, and be an accomplished member of both the Junior League set and the church.
What she got was a tomboy. I was the kid who climbed the backyard fence and got into the poison ivy, rode the plow mule after my grandfather finished plowing, perched on the tractor fender while he harrowed, learned embroidery and quilting from my grandmother, fed chickens, climbed in the hayloft, played softball–and turned out to be infected with horse fever.
Now horse fever is different from horse crazy.
Horse crazy = a phase in which generally female humans swoon over “cute” horses and ponies, may collect various figurines, wear clothing with horse themes, put up horse posters on bedroom walls and doors. This is normally something that lasts 3-6 years. It disappears normally with onset of puberty.
Horse fever = a incurable and lifelong condition which can afflict either gender. It is marked by the obsessive desire to learn more and more about horses. There is an insatiable need to be around horses and will actually go into withdrawal if forced into prolonged separation.
My mom confused the two. But, lucky for me, my dad convinced her that I needed a horse. So for my 12th birthday, a trailer rolled up and unloaded a bay pinto.
Poncho was a reject from a Girl Scout camp. What my parents did not know at the time was that he was sold for being unsafe. Never had him tested but I later had suspicion that he was crypt orchid. He certainly had the behaviors. Not the perfect horse for a first time owner, but we were ignorant and I survived.
Poncho taught me a lot. He became my soul mate. We were together for 17 years. I lost him to a broken leg.
I had to had a pasture mate for him. He refused to be a single horse. The first was George-a kind and gentle soul. Then when George died, Hickory came. Hickory’s coloration included a lighter colored muzzle making him resemble a mule. Hence the quip from my dad “well, honey, that looks like you’ve got a mule and a sports model jackass”. The moniker stuck.