My friends, the Clydes (again)

by cheri

I’m not sure when my love affair with horses began. I know they were the subject of most of my childhood scribblings, as well as role models for my cantering around the school playground, shaking my mane and swishing the tail I thought I had.

Before long, I had consumed every horse book written for children and young adults. I mowed through Marguerite Henry’s books as if they were made of alfalfa–Black Gold, King of the Wind, and Justin Morgan Had a Horse, to name just three.

I attended a children’s horse camp for years. In that time, I grew from a shrimp to a bigger shrimp but my size never stopped me from saddling the biggest horse in the barn, Amigo. Here is an excerpt from my story about Amigo:

“When I was ten and a big blowhard, I told all of the other buckaroos at Shady Lawn Farm ( a horse camp for children, not an insane asylum for the nervous) that I could back any horse into his stall, saddle him, and make him worship me. All the other little slack-jawed kids with oversized cowboy hats, filthy Western boots clumped with manure, and a moistened blade of alfalfa resting on their lower lips  took notice of this pint-sized horse whisperer.

To demonstrate my equine acumen, I selected Amigo, a 16-hand old Palomino gelding, to canonize  my standing in the Saddle Club.

With his halter over my shoulder and a sugar cube in my pocket, I presented myself in front of this massive horse and introduced myself, “Hey Amigo. I’m Cheri, your friend. Ha, ha.”

The Gang of Eight  scuffed back, leaving boot prints in the dusty pathway by the stalls.

Amigo awaited saddling.

As I reflect on that seminal moment with my present knowledge of the challenge of enduring banal repetition (being saddled for twenty years every day) and sharp pain of life (girths pulled too tight by inexperienced hands),  often delivered to the gentle and the kind, I should have expected Amigo’s recalcitrant response.

My father told me never to turn my back on the ocean. That same advice might be given when backing horses into their stalls.

I turned my back on Amigo, still with his worn leather halter in my gloved hands. There, in front of his massive chest, I elbowed him in that soft place between that wide chest and his mighty foreleg.

“Back, Amigo, ” I ordered. “Back up boy, that’a boy, Amigo, Back, back, back! I whacked my elbow back and forth as if tenderizing a brisket, hoping to impress the crowd now gathered at Stall Number 11.

Then it happened.

Amigo bit me on my head, right through my straw cowboy hat.

I won’t lie. It was a shock. I screamed. The crowd left. I do not remember adults assembling.

It all got down to Amigo and me.

As it always does in life.”

Life presented me with a new opportunity last fall when I stopped at the bottom of our road to photograph these two old Clydesdale horses, who at the time, were hungry because the hills were dry. I had apples and carrots, so they wandered on over.


photo by c. sabraw


And now, they are feeding me.


About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in My childhood, My painting, My photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to My friends, the Clydes (again)

  1. Brig says:

    Got a little too big for your britches, did you? Most of us who have spent any time around horses have been nipped.
    What a great painting, you are talented.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, Brig. I am happy with this painting but surprised with how long it took me to paint. And yes, way too big for my britches. For a long time.
      One thing about painting horses…if you are inaccurate, an old cowboy will come by and tell you what is wrong.

  2. shoreacres says:

    My first up-close-and-personal experience with a horse occurred just a few years ago. I stopped to look at one in the hill country, and had an apple in my hand. That horse either saw the apple or imagined it, and here he came.

    Then, it happened. More than a little nervous, I held out the apple. The horse very neatly bit off one side of the apple. So, I gave it a quarter-turn, and he took another neat little bite. Two more turns, and there was nothing left but the core, which he got, too. I never would have imagined that a horse could have such good table manners.

    Your painting is marvelous. You certainly are talented. What surprised me was the narrow nose (face? head?) I think of Clydesdales as so large that I assumed they would have large, broad faces, too. I guess I’ve never looked closely.

    • Cheri says:

      Amusing retelling of your hill country horse whose registered name must have been Miss Manners. How dainty!

      You are correct that Clydesdale horses do, indeed, have large heavy heads with bowed muzzles.

      His bald face markings seem to indent, creating a more refined head shape. Good eye, Linda!

  3. And you are feeding US! Well done little horse whisperer.

  4. Cheri says:

    Coming from a real artist, I take that compliment very seriously.

  5. worzeloddii says:

    Got bit on the head to, stomped on, dragged through a sewer, bucked off really hard- still love them- love them Clydes.

  6. wkkortas says:

    I wonder how many times Wilbur Post was nicked and nibbled by his reliably recalcitrant equine buddy?

  7. Cyberquill says:

    How can you tell these two horses were “old”? Look like teenagers to me.

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