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As far back as I can recall I always wanted a real live horse of my very own. Perhaps it was from watching so many Roy Rogers and Flicka shows on those early Saturday mornings as a youngster growing up in Oklahoma City. Even as a very young child I would dream about a horse saddled with sparkling sequins flashing rainbows of vibrant colors. I told mom and dad that I wanted a horse for Christmas, my birthday, and on most every single day of the week for that matter. They did eventually end up getting me one of those miniature plastic pretend horses since I was so outrageous in my persistence. It wasn’t even a stick horse like my cousins owned in Blackwell, Oklahoma. Butch and Jimmy Dale would ride around all day on their horses made from broomsticks pretending in their minds that the little round sticks with a stuffed horses head on the end and a black plastic strap for reins were the real thing. They would continue on in their dreaming, wishing, and pretending.
It’s kind of funny to think about it isn’t it? Butch and Jimmy Dale in reality owned several donkeys and a Quarter horse named “Lady” that they could have ridden anywhere in Blackwell that they wanted to. I guess sometimes even when you have the real thing it becomes more fun and certainly a little more interesting to get lost somewhere in a dimension of imagination. I suppose I was no different though as I start to think back. Wasn’t I in one sense horsing around in my own dreams?
It happened on the day of Christmas Eve that year when everything just kind of came together like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich does. You know the kind I’m talking about. If you add a cold glass of milk to it you feel like you’re eating the perfect meal and you start to purr like a newborn kitten. Mom and Dad had just gotten a divorce and my brother Tim and I were living with Dad in Oklahoma City. Dad had met a lady in Ponca City, Oklahoma named Mary with a four-year old daughter named Marie. He eventually proposed to her and they came to live with us in Oklahoma City. What a pain in the midpoint grain Marie could be. I can’t stand drinking spoiled milk if you know what I am trying to say.
I was just entering the third grade at Crooked Oak Elementary in Oklahoma City and Tim started that year as a first grader. My younger sister Cathy was four at the time and ended up living with Mom and a Siamese cat. The cat turned out to be quite the rascal and seemed to like to eat little sisters breakfast in the morning before she could saddle up to the table to get it.
Now remember I never stopped wishing and hoping for a horse. I never stopped asking. This Christmas was no different. Was it really though? As they pulled up in our driveway in the old white rusted out, rickety car there was the most awful commotion that Christmas Eve. I could not believe my young eyes when I saw in the back of the car with the seats that had been pulled out a real live Shetland pony attached to two grown men. They scuffle was furious in trying to hold the little fellow down and keep him from busting through the roof. Massive sweat droplets poured off both of them. They spit and mumbled some profanity about the little horse having sharp teeth.
My dear mother had finally resolved my persistence in the grandest of ways with a fine-looking little Shetland! It didn’t really matter that we had no place keep him since we lived in a residential neighborhood close to Crooked Oak. The only advantage we had going for us was that we had a sort of a wooded type area at the back of our house. We had no bridle or saddle. All we had in our possession was a makeshift halter that we could throw around the little fellows head. The halter was really just an old piece of rope that we had lying around in the garage.
Tim and I had smiles as big as the Red River I am sure that day. Little did we know that we were going to be in for the ride of our lives trying to take care of the newest member of the Smith family. Our very first order of the day was to find a name! Since he was just a little fellow we settled on the name of “Peanuts”. Peanuts somehow seemed appropriate. After the naming convention was over we led him, or should I say, we drug him against his will with our makeshift halter. The next order of the day came from Peanuts. He insisted on revealing to us his pearly whites and started to bite at us. This just might have been the result of his irritation from the car ride over and not being strapped in properly with a seat belt.
Oh how we tried to ride Peanuts in the little section of wooded area at the back of the house. He was wild though and apparently had never had a single person set on his back before. Dad was cautious as he could be in placing us on his back and would tell us to grab on to as much of his mane as we could. Just as soon as Peanuts would feel the weight settle in on him he would start bucking like the crazed little pony that he was. I can recall getting thrown off more than once and landing in thickets of shrubs layered with sharp pointy needles. I would struggle to get up from the hard and dusty ground. Spit would come drooling out both sides of my mouth as I would start to rub the strawberries on my legs that were bursting with pain.
After a few times I would give up, but Tim wanted more. He was always so competitive and wanted to outdo me as his older brother. Have at it little brother I thought to myself. Keep riding until the sun sets on your tomorrow. In many ways that competitive spirit is good and seems to be learned at an early age. Tim never seemed to lack either the learning or the spirit.
We really shouldn’t have tried to keep a horse in a residential neighborhood. Peanuts seemed to always be causing trouble somehow. We would come home from school at the end of the day and there in the front yard a few houses down would be Peanuts who had broken loose yet once again from the back yard area. There he would be. Grazing. Munching on some fresh-cut green grass of our neighbor’s manicured lawn.
You know I’m not quite sure whatever happened to that little pony. All I know is that it didn’t seem to bother me too much when I woke up one day and he was missing. We never saw Peanuts again after that day. I guess Peanuts was no Trigger or Flicka. The little Shetland ended up not being as worthy as the horse of my dreams. I eventually got over the loss of Peanuts and went back to dreaming again. I suppose my cousins must have had it right after all. Dreaming can sometimes be even better than the real thing. For our imaginations and dreams allow us to travel to places we otherwise would never get to enjoy. If we never visit these places, how then can we even have a hope to conquer some of life’s greatest challenges and live out our dreams?