Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, September 6, 2008

C Answers the Initial Question: "What's the Stick Horse Thing?"

A few days ago a good friend e mailed me one of those questionnaires. You've seen hundreds of them; I usually pass them by. But this was a good friend sending it to me, and it was one of those days. I "bit" and answered the questions, forwarding it on per the instructions. It turned out to be great fun as all my "forwards" sent their answers right back, and I enjoyed reading them.

One of the questions was, "What was your favorite childhood toy?" I did not even hesitate: mine was my stick horse! From age three to about ten (probably older!) I had a whole stableful of stick horses. I had the luxury models with the plush on the outside, and I had the plastic-headed kind (these "mid-levels" were usually either white or red, as I recall). Those two models had reins: a distinct plus! These were the days before stick horses came with sound capability; all our horses' whinnies and snorts had to come through our lips!

But the stick horse that flashed through my mind as I typed my answer to the questionnaire was just a plain old broomstick with the bristle end sawed off by my dad. V lived right next door to me, and she always had one, too (wouldn't have been any fun, otherwise). The one I recall was a gold color, and his name was "Cimarron"; V's was green and answered to "Gypsy."

I grew up later to be a "real" horsewoman, but that stick horse may have been the most versatile mount I ever rode. V and I would meet in the mornings, saddle up, and ride for hours, stopping for drinks from our water jars in the fridge and for lying on our backs in the cool clover patches, letting our stick horses rest as we looked at the summer clouds above.

Our stick horses were not perfect, mind you. They actually sometimes bucked out of friskiness (never meanness--they were our great friends!), and there were times that an imaginary rattlesnake would cause one or both to snort and shy. These only served to demonstrate our equestrienne skills, and any tumbles V or I took fit neatly into the plot of the play that was spinning out in our yards. There were episodes, for example, where one of us was badly injuried, requiring that the other gallop off for help or throw a rope down the well to pull the other up. The possibilities were endless!

V and I never tired of galloping our stick horses. We would do it day after day, our mothers occasionally calling us in for grilled cheese sandwiches or a mid-afternoon snack of watermelon or an ice cream bar purchased from the melodic ice cream truck that came by each afternoon.

As I look around me now, I realize that for many children those are bygone times. They have fancy-schmancy stuff to occupy them these days: I-pods; electronic game devices; video contraptions--all going wherever they go! How deprived our childhood would look to these techno-kids. We never had these bells and whistles of childhood; my fondest memory was a bare stick! But, on the other hand, sitting on the couch on a fine summer's day would have been a punishment to V and me. Heck, we had horses to exercise!

I cannot help but think that those hours-upon-hours of free-form play with the barest of props were healthy and important. They kept us in tiptop shape (no couch-potato flab on us back then!). Certainly they forged a lifelong friendship for me that is of inestimable value and may have really saved my life in recent months. Many times since our adulthood V has thrown a lasso down to me and pulled me out of a well of despair--just as she practiced doing all those years ago in our heavenly summers together.

So, when that questionnaire basically asked about my fondest childhood memory, what immediately flashed were Cimarron and Gypsy and V. All of us living the magical life of childhood to the fullest.

When V came to me with the blog idea, I knew I wanted to do it. When we considered a name for ourselves, good old Cimarron was fresh on my mind and when I mentioned it to V, she said, "Yes! You and I will always be 'Stick Horse Cowgirls!'" C.

1 comment:

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

What a wonderful blog! I'm following and eager to read all your old posts. Our kids have stick horses and *stick cows* and no video games etc. Our big family Christmas gift/indulgence is watching the Waltons on DVD. Thanks for all you share here!

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