For the luck of the Irish
My mother's maiden name was McCormick. Although it wasn't her given name, her friends called her "Corky." Corky McCormick. Can you think of a more Irish name than that? But the Irish are supposed to be lucky, and my mother wasn't. She died early of an insidious disease, but she did leave some wonderful memories. Chief among them involved her escapades as a horse woman.
My mother grew up in a small town in Missouri in the 1920s. She rode her horse "Beau" six miles to school each day, meeting her cousin Roberta at the crossroads and proceeding on to the small school house in Knox City (the population of this metropolis remains the same today as it was in 1920—three hundred and twenty.) Needless to say, by the time she reached the age of 18 and left Missouri in the early 1930s, she was an accomplished horsewoman.
My earliest involvement with horses was at the age of seven. We lived on a farm in Northwestern Ohio where we boarded two Tennessee Walkers. We had unlimited use of the horses in exchange for board. Both "Dan" and "Lady" proved to be a challenge. While Dan was at least rideable, Lady was not only barely broken, but also crazy. Her typical response to being mounted was to either buck or run away. The first day we had her, my mother sensed that the horse was untrustworthy. Therefore, she had my father mount her first. Since Dad weighed 220 pounds and was a commanding person aside from that, she felt there would be no problem. Except that Dad got bucked off. Not once, but twice. My mother's disdainful words, as she climbed onto the horse's back, were "Oh, for heaven's sakes!" (as in, I suppose I'll have to do it myself.) Of course, the horse was immediately docile and did not move a muscle. The two of them then proceeded on a short and uneventful ride during which Lady behaved as though she had been ridden all her life.
The next four-legged creature to appear on our farm was a large pony named "Glider," whom we acquired at auction. The luck of the Irish apparently failed again, as this was one motley and miserable equine. He continually bit, bucked and bolted every chance he got. One day, as I was taking him out of his stall, Glider "Glided" away from me before I could buckle his halter. He nearly ran me over getting out of the barn. I was completely intimidated, and knew that I wouldn't be able to catch him on my own, so I called for help. My mother immediately cornered him in a field of tomatoes, leapt on his back and rode him safely back to the barn with her only aid being a small stick. No saddle, no halter, no reins, no nothing. And so it went. Whenever there was a problem with a horse, my mother would step in and solve it. Otherwise, she never rode. All those years of traveling to school and back took away the pleasure of it. Horses were vehicles used for transportation from point A to point B, much as cars are now. I don't think she was ever aware of the gift she had.
I sincerely hope the luck of the Irish comes through this St. Patrick's Day. I know that as far as horses go, it has pretty much managed to elude me. My untrusty steed, known as "Moody Mare," argued with me constantly. I could have sold her at any time, except I think part of me hoped that one day my mother would somehow come to my rescue. I know. Unlikely. It's just that I keep hearing her say, Oh, for heaven's sakes!
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