Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

My Gray*


*or, My Grey. Today I am not going to delve into the joys of the Anguish Languish and the assorted ways of doing write right. Right?


Or I could say, “Tally ho!”

***   ***   ***

The Cowboy was my first boyfriend, my first marriage, my first divorce. And because of The Cowboy, my first horse.

A mutual fondness – Big Swede and me. Unfortunately, the photo technology (the kind where the picture spits out from the camera and develops before your eyes) has not stood the test of time.

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time on this stage, it brings me great pleasure to introduce, Big Swede!

Or just Swede. Or Swedums: a variation of Sweetums of Muppet Puppet fame, who whose star was rising about the time my wonderful grey/gray  guy came into my life.

As a girl, sure, I wanted a horse. Obsessively so. Which I think is a basic rite of passage for young girls, isn’t it? Black Beauty, National Velvet, the Marlborough Man all had an influence, for better or worse. I grew out of it, eventually.

When, in my late teens, I met The Cowboy, he boarded his horse at a farm north of Waterloo. It wasn’t too long into our relationship before I bought a horse of my own. Swede stood 15 hands, had a wonderful disposition, especially ideal for me, a rank beginner at horseback riding.

He had a mixed pedigree, some Arab, some Quarter Horse. Didn’t matter to me, though. We were not into showing horses, just riding the trails.

My first solo ride did not end well. Swede knew he was dealing with an amateur.

The ride started out fine. We slowly rode down the lane to the cornfield behind the barn. We successfully crossed the clunky board bridge over a creek. Turned right along the water, and then left along the perimeter of the knee-high corn. Swede started to fidget and fuss, to slow down, and finally he stopped altogether. He wanted nothing more to do with the ride, or maybe it was the rider.

The moment we turned back toward the barn, he bolted full-speed along the corn row. He reversed the trail – right at the creek, left at the bridge, and finally he cantered back into the yard where The Cowboy noted with alarm that the rider did not return with her horse.

I was in the creek, two turns back. Physics, you know. Horse turned right, but unsuspecting rider continued on the trajectory into the drink.

Today, it surprises me to report that I did not give up riding. I got back in the saddle, literally, after I recovered my dignity and from the whiplash injuries.

Eventually, Swede and I managed to respect each other. I recall those days with The Cowboy with fondness. I loved him to bits, actually, and used to dream about him. He and I had a connection that ran deep.

Oh! I should clarify: I’m talking about Swede, not the boyfriend!

***   ***   ***

Inspired by Ann Coleman and her lifelong attachment to horses – china or otherwise.

Categories: Blog Blog Blog


44 replies

  1. There’s that model, Maggie, again! Lovely photo. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely tale of literally getting back up on the horse 🙂
    I am not a horse person. They are beautiful and majestic and powerful AND THEIR TEETH ARE VERY BIG. I have always been afraid of them. I’ve been told my mother got kicked pretty hard when I was small and that’s why, but I don’t know why, really. The horses know, though. I’ve always maintained my poise so my kids wouldn’t be afraid (and they’re not) but I never could fool the horses.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Joey for this. I’ve never encountered another person who was afraid of horses for no particular reason except they are very big. I will appreciate them from afar, thank you for much, but I’m not so inclined to get close.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Last I rode a horse, I was 13. I was scared to death, but my girlfriend’s aunt was adamant and I didn’t want to disrespect her. The horse’s name was State, as he had won a ribbon at the state fair. He was 16 hands and I had to mount him from the porch.
        I clung to my bestie and seldom opened my eyes.

        Liked by 2 people

        • After we got Swede, we purchased a mare from a fellow who had been kicked in the face by her – he was lucky he wasn’t killed – both he and she were a nervous handful.

          Yeah, I can’t explain why I wasn’t more nervous about being around horses – I suppose it was plain old naïveté – I’m way more cautious these 40 years later – after several bad falls, bites, and stomps. Never kicks, though, so that’s good.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think it’s a good thing. When people feel that kind of comfort, or affinity, with animals, it should be revered.
            I always admire those who ride horses, no lie. It looks like it should be wonderful and natural…

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, I had the same obsession. My reality only made it as far as figurines, some I have are over 50 years old! The turn of a leg or the toss of a mane can still make me quiver. I’m talking about horses of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Horses can be the best friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with joey– horses have BIG TEETH that scare me. And horses don’t seem manageable to me. I rode one once, stayed on [somehow] and have never wanted to be on one again. I do like photographing them, however. Out in a field, they make for pretty pics.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yay! Another person on the same page as me. Somehow I missed the whole National Velvet, I-want-a-pony thing as a little girl. I was thinking more along the side of sports cars. My younger-older brother had a box full of dinky toys and when I could get it, the little blue convertible was my car of choice 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Some horses do know how to nip, no question. We were training a colt to allow us to clean his hooves. It was on a warm afternoon, I was wearing shorts. The horse stretched out his neck and reached around my husband to nip me hard on the calf. Hurt like hell. Fortunately, this was a one-time incident and didn’t put me off horses. I learned to be more vigilant. And to wear long pants. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I admire horse people. I lived in the ranch country of eastern Oregon and had ridden a few times in my life. I was getting comfortable with horses until I went into the round pen with my friends four Icelandics and started handing out treats. Drago, a gelding, decided he would railroad me and steal my treats. He knocked me into the side of the barn. Felt like getting hit by a small truck. I hit the barn with my left thigh and ended up with a bruise the size and color of a vary large eggplant. YEESH! I never did get comfortable with horses again, but I absolutely loved having the neighbors graze theirs on our property and going along with my husband to feed the rest of the herd when their owners were out of town. I never felt confident getting on the back of one of those animals and they knew it. I like to motor on my own two feet, closer to the ground…much. Good for you not letting that first jilt deter you from your life love, the cowboy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, that Drago had some bad habits!

      We used to really enjoy helping out the farmer who boarded our horses. We’d come out after dinner and to help with the feeding or like you, take care of chores if he needed to be out of town.

      Oddly enough, when we bought a 50-acre property of our own and were able to keep horses, we never had time to ride. Life and work obligations got in the way.

      These days, I’m like you: both feet planed firmly on the ground.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved this story! Gypsy, my first horse, actually bucked me off on my second ride, but that relationship did not last (she also was quick to bite and kick when I entered her stall). But even with a very easy going horse like the one I got later, there are times when the rider parts company suddenly with the horse…. It’s just part of the riding experience, and good for you for sticking with Swede and working out a good relationship!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ann, I’m glad you enjoyed this.

      I give a lot of credit to Swede for being such a good-natured horse. And to my husband for teaching me a thing or two about taking control of the reins. I was ready the next time the horse tried the same trick.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I rode a bit (and by “bit” I mean just a bit… not much) when I was young, but I never was a horse person. I never got past the stage where all my innards felt like they were being juggled about. I’m glad that nothing was too injured when you took your spill, except, of course, your pride.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great pic, even for a Polaroid ! I had a great early relationship with ponies, all due to my mother’s affection for them. As an adult, I was sure I could handle them. We moved out west, I found out how large and determined those work horses were…one of them rode me right into the only tree that was visible for miles. I got the message, have not been back on one since.

    Love your last line…lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was a great story, Maggie. I didn’t need the clarification at the end. I tried having a girlfriend who had a horse. There was time for phone calls, but never time to go out. I was always playing 2nd fiddle to that horse.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great story Maggie, and thanks for the link to the original about the Cowboy…and others 😉 I remember as a girl always planning that I would one day own a horse and some sort of retriever, or maybe it was an Irish Setter?? One of them was definitely going to be named Maggie!!!! although now I don’t know if that was horse or dog. Neither ever happened, and the last time I rode I got tossed just before crossing a muddy creek. Happened so fast I didn’t even have time to think.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Swedums…..that is so sweet….uh, Swed. Haha! Glad you clarified the ending of your post ’cause I was wondering about those deep feelings for The Cowboy. A great post, Maggie.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Is it awful that I laughed when I read that you ended up in the creek? 😛 They say you become a good rider after falling off 100 times. I was very good. 😉


  14. Ha! Thanks for the final clarification — I had read that wrong, for sure. 🙂


  15. For all the time I spent on the hobby farm (and in the middle of farm country) as a kid, I never picked up riding.

    I did have affinity for barnyard livestock, but my options were limited by what the parents had on the farm – chickens & ducks, goats & pigs, and cats.
    LOTS of cats.

    I still live with 4 furballs today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, watch out! Trip down memory lane alert!

      Way back at the beginning of my courtship with The Cowboy, I’d go with him to the barn to attend to whatever needed attending – grooming, cleaning the stall, whatever. I usually ended up playing with the half-dozen kittens that hung out in the warmth of the barn. I remember sitting on the floor of the stable and being completely covered in kittens. I was so overcome with delight I started to cry. What a sucky baby, eh?

      My boyfriend didn’t care for my show of emotion. That should have been a red flag, right there!

      Liked by 1 person

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