When I got home from school one day, Daddy was there, home early from work. “Let’s go to the barn,” he said, with that twinkle in his eye when he had something special. Mom and Daddy and I walked to the barn where I was directed to a box stall. I opened the top door and looked inside. “A pony! For me? My very own pony?” “He’s a Shetland pony,” Mom said. “His name is Smokey, from the gray streaks on his sides.”
Daddy put a small pony saddle on Smokey, and Mom showed me how to thread the cinch strap and tighten it. I was boosted up, and I was riding! I was thrilled, and scared, but they walked Smokey around the barn entry until I got more comfortable. Mom told me that I’d be responsible for feeding Smokey, and, to fork the manure out of the stall and put in fresh straw. I was too excited to take in that part, but it worked out okay.
Eventually, I would saddle up Smokey myself and ride around the farm. When I mounted up, I was a cowboy! I was Roy Rogers, Wyatt Earp, and Gene Autry, all rolled into one! I was a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman! I was the Sheriff and the fastest draw in the West! What wonderful times Smokey and I had together!
One day when I was feeling adventurous, I packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a paper bag, saddled up Smokey and rode across the highway all the way down the lane to the back of the farm. What an adventurous outing! I tied Smoky to a small tree, and sat on the grass to eat my lunch, then started riding back to the barn. When Smokey saw the barn, he took the bit in his mouth and took off running!
My pulling on the reins and shouting had no effect on his rush to get home and get something to eat. Thank God there were no cars on Michigan Highway 66 as we crossed. Smokey scraped against the barn door, tearing my blue jeans as he rushed to get to the oat bin.
After my scary ride, I started using the two-wheeled pony cart which I really liked. I felt safe driving Mom up the lane to the house and back, and with Mom riding “shotgun,” I would have help if Smoky started acting up.
THE COWBOY KID
I’m the Cowboy Kid from way out West,
With fancy boots and buckskin vest.
My six-gun strapped on my waist for show,
Up on my horse and away we go!
Been out punching cows all day long,
“My hands are sore,” the cowpoke’s song.
I’ve been riding the range, rounding up cattle,
I’ve got so many blisters, I’m tall in the saddle.
The big blue sky all day overhead,
The stars at night, and the ground for my bed,
The howl of a coyote in the still of the night,
As he serenades his love in the pale moonlight.
I love my life on the lone prairie,
As free and happy as a man can be.
My horse, the herd, and me on the range,
With a peaceful life that I hope won’t change.