I started writing about my pony as a reply to Red Molly's comment, but my comment grew so long I decided to turn it into a quick post.
When I was little, my next older sister had a wonderful, gentle buckskin gelding that she rode in barrel racing and other redneck competitive events. Like many little girls, I loved the idea of the horse, and my sister's mount was placid enough for me to plotz around upon with no fear. I began to ask for a horse of my own. This is an unpleasant memory so I'm uncertain how old I was. I'm guessing about 4 or 5.
If you're reading this and fondly remembering your own pony club days, put those associations aside immediately. This was a purely working class/blue collar/clip-on tie crowd...no jodphurs, no wicker picnic baskets, and certainly no helmets for god's sake. I probably saw someone knocked out in a fall about every third "playday."
Apparently, in conversations around the concession stands (which featured Frito Pies - the real kind, served in the Frito bag) my father mentioned my desire for a ride of my own and someone saw the perfect opportunity to offload the demon spawn of the horse world. My dad couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase a pony at such a reasonable price and, perhaps, bring his bookish youngest daughter into the horsey world.
Riding my pony was nothing like riding my sister's sweet horse. If I asked Prince to go, he'd stop. If I asked him to stop, he'd go. If we were standing still, he'd reach around with his head and try to bite me. My dad, of course, thought all of this was my fault. You can imagine the joy-filled sessions of father-daughter bonding.
I would cry. My father would yell. Inside his little pony head, Prince would neigh with glee, "I am accomplishing my purpose on this earth, sowing misery wherever I trot. Truly, I have earned my oats - and I think a carrot as well - this hot Texas afternoon. Thank you, horse gods, for sending me to this stupid human family."
After a few weeks of this, tempers were wearing thin. I no longer wanted Prince, but my father was determined I would learn to ride. Our hopes were covered in the red dust. The fantasy of two sisters (we were nine years apart) growing closer through their mutual love of horses, exploring the woodlands and creekbeds, encouraging each other in competitions, and making their father proud with blue ribbon after blue ribbon had disappeared into the sweaty reality of a short-tempered, middleaged man leading his bored, nervous daughter around an arena on a vindictive alpha-pony.
Looking back, I've decided that Prince was some kind of reverse Mary Poppins. She stayed with a family long enough to make them happy; he stayed long enough to make them unhappy. But he didn't have a magic horse trailer to truck him out of our lives and into the lives of another family. Obviously, we were too stubborn for his usual tactics. What was a malevolent miniequine to do?
Lie down. With me in the saddle. And my dad holding the reins.
I cried. I think both Prince and I got a spanking. And I suspect that my mother played a huge role in saying, "Enough is enough." But shortly thereafter Prince moved on to another happy family. And I never felt comfortable on horseback again.
I'm sorry for any undetected typos. I'm using a giant Dell laptop (grrrrr), and for some reason the spellcheck isn't working.