My fellow columnist, Art Trujillo, recently asked me if I ever ran out of ideas, stories I can write about. Obviously, the answer is “no” because things just pop up in my life and that reminds me of yet another tall tale or story.
Here’s a case in point: A new — to me — photograph now takes center stage on my refrigerator, a photo I want to share with my grandchildren. Yes, that is me holding the reins of my beloved mare, Nancy. This picture was taken on April 18, 1948. I am 14 and Nancy is barely 3, just a colt by horse standards. It was taken by Lahoma Hargis White, one of my “always” friends that I keep up with yet today.
Her Folks had a farm out by McAllister Lake, and she and I were classmates at Robertson High School here. She and I were at Highlands together and have kept up with each other ever since. She and her husband live in Alamogordo, and she is a retired school teacher. In 1948, the main interest in our lives was horses, of course.
Nancy was a registered quarterhorse, and my uncle, the rodeo cowboy and rancher raised her and gave her to me as a gift because he knew how much I loved fine horses. She was what cowboys call “green broke” so I had my hands full because she was very spirited and planned to take me for a ride at every opportunity. She never did try to buck me off but she did try to run away more than once. Obviously, she and I were best friends, and she always let me catch her and best of all, she stood still when I saddled her.
We are standing in front of the old adobe house barn my grandfather Brown had built to hold, stable his registered American saddlebred horses at Valmora. The horses could look out the stall window at the top of the door.
Nancy was fed sweet grain every morning in that corral with several other horses, of course. And that is my new saddle, given to me by my mother, on her. It is a porter, one of many my grandfather bought in the 1930s. It was very heavy and hard for me to lift so I talked mother into letting me take it to Antuna’s Shoe Shop on Sixth Street, where he could cut off the long skirts and make it easier for me to handle.
This saddle was brand new, stored at the ranch for the dude ranch use in the summer. It had wide wooden stirrups on it, and mother would not let me ride it in these stirrups because she considered them dangerous — my booty would slide forward and I might get hung up and cause a wreck trying to get my foot out. She dug up the Tapaderos, the covered stirrups that are still on this saddle today. They saved my neck more than once. I’m sure I spent hours exploring Valmora and our ranch here at Gascon on Nancy, and I’m sure she explored our exploits as much as I did.
Our horses always wintered at Valmora, and Nancy got through a downed fence somehow and was killed by a train in 1955. What a heartbreak that was for my family and me. This wild ride doesn’t end there, however.
I was given another Nancy in 1963 when we were here full time at the ranch, by my mother, and she was just as much fun to ride as the first Nancy. Oh yes, thank you, for making my day and my year once again!
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.