Thursday, October 29, 2015

Horses and Kids in the Good Old Days

Or maybe that should be the Bad Old Days.  Either way, I stumbled across a photo of Our Sally Ann, one of my father's American Saddlebred horses and one that he purchased early in his career.  Dad showed Sally in the parade horse class, and had thoughts about showing her in fine harness, but that didn't pan out for him.

Our Sally Ann
Dad bought Sally Ann because he thought she had promise.  He got her at a good price because the people that had her before Dad bought her didn't know what they were doing as far as training went, and as a result Sally Ann had a few bad habits that were exacerbated by the poor quality horseman riding her.  On top of that, Sally was somewhat temperamental.  I remember Mom describing her as 'having a screw loose'.  Some of these were classic problems, but a few were truly unique.  For instance, Sally had a habit of playing around with the bit in her mouth and getting her tongue over the bit.  Dad bought a special bit with a couple of little dangles on the bridge that she could play with, and so keep her occupied.  That worked for a while, but then she started sticking her tongue out all the time.  Dad tried a half-dozen or so different bits, and finally resorted to tying her tongue up so it wouldn't come out.  Then she started hopping in back (taking uneven steps with her hind feet), so the old man tried different shoes and a few other things before the horseshoer suggested a unique type of shoe called a rocker, which cured the problem.  Then she started biting people, but after she clicked her teeth at Dad the two of them came to an understanding about that kind of behavior.  Then she reared up, went over backwards and broke her tail, and after a few pounds of hundred dollar bills given to Old Doc Elrod (not to be confused with Young Doc Elrod, who became Doc Elrod after Old Doc Elrod had been dead for 40 years), her tail never did heal up correctly, and Dad had to buy her a false tail, which was more money to set fire to.

Along about the middle of all this one of my parents fellow equine aficionados sent them an impromptu gift, pictured below. 

Our Sally Ann
Dad just grinned and put it up on the shelf behind the bar, where it remains today.  A reminder of something, but I don't remember just what.

Along about this time I was informed that Mom was in foal going to have a baby.  I knew nothing about children, never having been one (or at least not for very long), but I was told by all the matrons of the family that I should be happy and excited about this.  I did the best I could.

That Christmas my folks had the usual discussion about what to get the grandmothers for Christmas.  My maternal grandmother had a nice disposition and was fairly easy to please; the other one - not so much.  So Mom hit upon a nice little silver pin in the shape of a tree with little round fruit on it, each fruit having the name of a family member.  Family tree, get it?  The only thing was, my brother hadn't been born yet.  In fact, he wouldn't show up until March.

The grandmothers agreed that Mom would have a girl, and I was informed that my sister's name would be Sally.  Not knowing any better, I naturally figured that they were naming her after Sally Ann, although just why anyone would name their daughter after a horse with more problems than Carter had liver pills was more than I could fathom.  But that was that, and the pins kept both grandmothers pacified over Christmas.

By the way, no one dissuaded me from this idea about Sally being Sally Ann's namesake.  Go figure that one out.

March rolled around, Mom went to St. Luke's hospital and at 3:00 PM had a nice baby boy.  I had a brother, which is what I wanted, and Robert MacFarlane Emery came to trouble the otherwise tumultuous Emery household.  I think it's worth noting that Robert is a direct descendant of Donacha dhu na Dunaigh Mhic Phàrlain, or Black Duncan the Mischievous MacFarlane.  Here he is showing his inherited tendencies.

Robert McFarlane Emery
Yes, that is a bottle of Rolling Rock he has his hands and feet wrapped around.  Nice, huh?

Our Sally Ann retired from show horse status and became a brood mare, giving us a number of fine fillies, several of which turned out to be champions.  She was put out to pasture in her later years and had an enjoyable life.  Dad figured she'd earned it; he knew he certainly had.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Great post, Mr. Emery. Thanks for sharing your memories.