Chapterhouse

March 23, 2006

The Best Horses

Filed under: Pen to Paper — chapterhouse @ 7:36 am

When I was a little girl my grandmother would spend the night with us once in a while, and we would share my room. The best part about that was when she'd tell me her "horse stories," and I'll tell you one here. But first, a bit about my grandmother. She was the eldest of 11 children. She went to college (!) and studied astronomy (!). She wrote poetry. Her specialty was what she called "Star Sonnets," where she combined her knowledge of astronomy with her poetic talent. She taught "elocution," which is called "speech" today. Here's a story I wrote about her stories, 23 years ago:

The Best Horses
All Rights Reserved

We were in our nightgowns. I remember her brushing her hair in front of the dresser where I kept my collection of ceramic horses. Nannie's hair was white and gold and hung down to her waist. She wore it up in a braided crown during the day, but took it down and brushed it out every night, 100 strokes, religiously.

I showed her my horses, especially the red one reared up with its hooves in the air, my favorite.

"That's not red; that's a sorrel, honey. My hair used to be just that color – just like yours is now* – and the boys at school used to tease me and call me 'sorrel-tail' because I wore it in a long straight ponytail."

"Why do they call our hair red and not sorrel?" I asked.

"Because when you're talking about people you say 'red,' but red horses are called sorrels. There's all kinds of names for colors of horses. There's daple, which is gray with white spots, and buckskin, that's light brown with a black tail and mane, and chestnut, which is like a sorrel only darker brown." She looked in the mirror and laughed. "Now, I'm a palomina-tail."

"How come you know so much about horses, Nannie?"

"My daddy used to raise horses."

"He did? Did you get to ride any?"

"Oh my, yes, all the time."

"Did you ever ride any sorrel horses?" I held up my favorite horse.

She patted it with the tip of her finger. "I remember one sorrel Daddy had. He was the biggest horse anybody had ever seen. Daddy wouldn't let any of us ride him because he was just 'too much horse.' Daddy sold him to Sheriff Pate – old 'Two-Gun Pate,' we called him, because he always wore a double holster with matching pistols. We kids were all scared to death of him, especially when he was atop that great big sorrel. He could look right down into your eyes and he'd know if you were telling tales or not. He made sure that all the kids were behaving themselves and not getting into any trouble."

She finished brushing her hair and then she brushed mine. She gathered my hair up into a ponytail and said, "Yes, you're a sorrel-tail, alright. And even a little wild, like I was at your age. But I think old Two-Gun Pate was right about one thing: sometimes the wildest colts make the best horses."
——————-
* red was my natural hair color.

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4 Comments »

  1. So, how did you turn out?*

    (*”Why, damn good, Hoss, thankew very much.”)

    Comment by OldHorsetailSnake — March 23, 2006 @ 11:48 am | Reply

  2. Do you ride horses?

    Comment by libs — March 23, 2006 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Anonymous — March 23, 2006 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  4. Sweet memory, Candace, and SO well written. If you could put together a book of those… Wow.

    John

    Comment by Duke_of_Earle — March 24, 2006 @ 11:09 am | Reply


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