This morning I decided to tackle the horrible task of cleaning out the closet under the steps. In that odd-shaped space were crammed Christmas ornaments, blankets, boxes of unknown items, and a box that held Jason's 4-H record. He did one on Dog Care when his grandaddy let him supervise the pregnancy and delivery of a litter of red Australian Shepherds.
In that file was the picture of Homer.
|Bubba Rhodes (left) and Jason Gibert driving Homer in the Senatobia Christmas Parade.|
On the back of the cart is the sign, "Dandridge Leather Shop."
Daddy thought animals needed jobs, so he made sure Homer and Nugget could earn their keep. Nugget could be ridden, but barely. When we first got him, he would let you ride awhile and then go to the nearest post and scrape his bridle off. The girls put a stop to that. Before long Hayley could ride him around our backyard pasture bareback.
|Hayley and Nugget get in an afternoon ride in the pasture at Westwood.|
We soon found out that Homer could not be ridden. He would upset the rider and then look down on him or her with his sad-looking, big-eared face. But he was great at halter breaking colts. Remember I said he usually got his way. If Homer wanted to go one way, the colt had no choice but to follow.
|See what I mean?|
In time they turned into respectable-looking guys. Nugget was our pride and joy in local shows and 4-H. Both girls showed him in pony pleasure, they ran him in barrels and poles (he couldn't go very fast), and he even captured a Reserve Grand Champion Pony Gelding award in 4-H.
We had birthday parties and Nugget was the entertainment—pulling the cart or letting kids take turns riding while I led him. We took Nugget and another pony Ace to the Very Special Arts Festival at Northwest and let children with disabilities take turns in the saddle. You should have seen their smiles!
|Jason and friend John Alexander took a turn in the cart one July 4th.|
I've been known to say that horses don't love people—not like dogs do. But when Hayley and I saw Nugget at a barrel race years later, I had to rethink that statement. He was standing tied to a trailer, beginning to show his age and taking a little nap. She walked up to him from the side and ran her hand down from his ears over his nose. He opened his brown eyes and inhaled deeply. I watched as he nestled his head into the pit of her stomach. He took another breath and the sighed loudly.
|Olivia lets her favorite cat Patches take a ride on Nugget.|