I saved every cent from that moment on. It started with $5 in pennies, included all my Christmas and birthday money for 13 years, and every cent I made sweeping floors for my dad after school (starting at age 11) until the day before my 16th birthday. That was the day I bought my first horse.
Gypsy Lee, a potbellied (there was a baby in there) jugheaded, stubborn little bay mare with roaning up in her flanks and white hairs in her black tail. I can see her clear as if it was yesterday.
The baby was exactly what I wanted: a sorrel filly, no white on her legs, a pretty blaze face, Tama (short for Tamalina). I raised her, started her, and made a good horse of her.
Then I convinced my dad to buy a chestnut thoroughbred mare with a crooked blaze on her face, Dancer. She could run, taught me about trust, and that it was dangerous to lose my temper with a horse.
(I’ll have to find Mac’s picture)
It was a hard decision but I sold all three to get enough money to attend University. I became the little girl with no horse again till I fell in love and married my cowboy. He bought me a buckskin colt, 4 months old. We fed him a gallon of oats, a cup of cows milk replacer, a cup of flax seed, with a couple of tablespoons of children’s vitamin syrup poured on top, Mac. He grew into a big gelding and I got to start him.
We bought some mares, Holly, Candy, Missy, Annie, and an old stallion, Les, an actual grandson of the great Three Bars. He loved his colts and took care of his mares. It was a privelege to ride him. How can I say how awesome he was or how much I loved him? There are no words for feelings so deep.
I had a pretty bay mare, Sam, that all the kids in 4-H thought was a trick horse cause she could count and I could steer her with no bridle.
I had a miscarriage and my cowboy worked 3 weeks for some folks just to buy a pretty little sorrel filly with a flaxen mane, Susie. I started her and she became my daughter’s Junior Barrel horse.
Buzzard, all 16.3 hands of that big chestnut gelding has a special place in my heart. So many times I cried in his mane and told him my troubles. He kept me safe when I didn’t know how to do it for myself. He’s buried at the ranch after a long life of faithful service with us (even though he never quit bucking).
Buckwheat, we bought for the youngest girl but he became my best bull chasing horse, the little horse with a big heart. At age 22, he won me a buckle, himself a winterblanket, and enough money for me to buy a fancy Montana Silversmith’s watch. He never was real friendly with people but his best friend was an old gray gelding that had once been the Indian Rodeo Cowboy Association Champion’s calf roping horse. They are buried together.
Tom who was the horse my daughter bought with all her summer wages, sold to her dad, and I got to ride. I called him Tommy Holiday because riding him was so easy it was like being on a holiday.
The first time I moved bulls with Pic, he was so awful I got off and walked a mile and a half back to the trailer and swore I would never ride him again. You should see him do it now. He just needed me to understand.
Now there is Hooch, a promise for the future.
My cowboy told me one day, out of the blue, “When you and Buzzard come for me, bring Trouper.” I immediately knew what he meant and I will.