Triangle B
Tennessee Walking Horses
Millarville, AB   Canada

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Spring was early that year. The fields were bare and the trees still looked dead, but the weather was warm and the snow was gone. The two neighbor boys and my younger sister were riding with me on a Saturday afternoon. We were lucky enough to live only half a mile apart. Being close in age we had someone to squabble with on the school bus during the week and to go horseback riding with on weekends.

The boy’s mounts were hot overgrown chuck wagon ponies. My sister rode Jimmy, our little black and white pony and I rode Dad’s horse, Pride.

Pride was a draft cross, a flashy chestnut pinto gelding with a blaze face and a mixed mane and tail. He was a bit (lot) too much horse for me but he was easy to catch. He was kind and gentle on the ground and he was the only horse available for me to ride.

In my childish efforts to prove myself as a rider I’d raced the boys’ little rockets anytime, anywhere the challenge was given. By the time I was eleven Pride understood and liked winning a race. Being beaten in a race by a younger rider, especially a girl wasn’t much fun so the boys quit racing me. At about the same time the school bus became far more peaceful. My self esteem was excellent thanks to Pride. Unfortunately Pride never stopped thinking about a race or even just a short dash home with or without competition. He also liked to catch me off guard.

The fields that day proved to be very muddy. The pastures, with their gates to be opened and closed properly held no attraction. Since we all rode bareback, getting off was easy but climbing on was a chore to be avoided. So down the dirt road we trotted. It was just soft enough to discourage traffic so we were quite safe.

The ditches held a lot of water, even those at the top of a hill about a mile from home. Soon we were competing to see whose horse would go through the deepest water. Hot in their shaggy winter coats, the horses were glad to wade into the cold water. Pride enjoyed it a bit too much. He stopped, pawing furiously with one front foot, then the other. Not knowing what was about to happen, I let him splash all he wanted. Suddenly he began to sink down lower and lower until he was lying in the water on his side. (This brought gales of laughter from my amazed companions.) Stubbornly I refused to get off, strongly urging him back up. Sighing, Pride heaved himself to his feet then flopped over onto his other side! (The laughter became hysterical.)

Now I had to get tough. I slid off into the knee deep water, jerked on the horse’s reins and kicked his big belly until he finally got up and meekly followed me to high ground. Leaning against his shoulder, I emptied the water from my rubber boots and wrung out my socks. ( Even I had to laugh by now !)

Feeling a bit over confident after having imposed my will on this mischievous oaf, I declined the boys’ chivalrous offer to help me mount. Carelessly I pointed Pride’s head toward home as I positioned him below me, using the road’s steep shoulders to my advantage as I jumped broadside onto his back.

Feeling refreshed after his bath, Pride waited only long enough for me to drape myself over his back before taking off at a dead run. By the time I got my right leg over him, there was no stopping him. It wasn’t difficult to guess where he was headed so I just hung on, getting madder with each stride.

Meanwhile back at the farm yard, Dad was quietly milking his cows. He must have heard us come thundering into the yard because he avoided getting trampled and made no comment as we clattered noisily into the barn. Dad stoically kept milking as Pride finally came to a stop at the closed back door. Frustrated by a single closed rein and the lack of a whip, I thumped Pride’s sides with my feet and roughly circled him, then galloped him out the way we had come. As we left, I shouted over my shoulder, “I’m never going to ride this horse again!”

I must say that everyone (except Pride), gave me my dignity that day. The rest of the riding party was politely waiting for me where I’d let them so abruptly. No one said much; we just carried on with the ride. In all the years since, they’ve never mentioned my bath or my runaway, at least not in my presence. I imagine it was the subject of amusement that night at the neighbors’ supper table that night, though.

Dad said nothing of the incident and gave me no lectures or riding tips. He did admire my well muscled shoulders and arms, saying it was from all the riding I’d been doing. He also developed a habit of speaking softly to himself while he milked with both barn doors closed when he knew we were out on horseback.

As for me, I certainly did ride that horse again. That was the last time he got away on me, though. I can also tell you that since then I have never liked draft crosses, chestnut pintos, geldings, riding someone else’s horse and the name Pride!

About the author; Brenda L. Baker lives near Millarville AB where she raises Tennessee Walking Horses with her husband, Dave. Ironically, there are many Tennesee Walking Horses with the name Pride in their pedigree!

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