**This piece was submitted as part of our Community Contributor pilot project in collaboration with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
By Angie Hudnall / OC Monitor Community Contributor
I have to start out by telling you, our sweet Silver recently passed away Aug. 18, 2018 at 38 years-old. Our dear Dad, Jerry, noticed Silver looked bad that morning. By that night, our dear niece, Aubrey, found our beloved pony in the barn where he had died in his sleep. Silver will be in our hearts forever and was loved and ridden by many, many children in Cromwell.
Our mother’s brother, Uncle Troy, raised his family in the city. They would come to see us on our little farm in the country. Now, Uncle Troy had one of those large expensive shoulder mount camcorders of which he recorded many memories. As you can see from Uncle Troy’s video, we lived on a farm with a little, fat, white pony named Silver.
Our city slicker cousins hadn’t got the chance to ride a horse… or a pony. Raised on a farm, all six of us knew how to ride very well. You hear our baby sisters give Cousin Tracy instructions for the simple lessons of horse riding.
“You .. got to kick him… Kick him… Kick him hard.”
Now Cousin Tracy is not mean-spirited, and I’m sure she did not want to hurt Silver, so she could not figure out how to do that. So baby sister Jessie grabs the lead and Silver understood he needed to walk around. For someone who has never ridden, I think cousin Tracy did very well.. bare back even!
Looking back it really sounds funny hearing those little ones explain their horse riding tips.
The differences in our lives were as real as the childhood story we read in the book about a town mouse and a country mouse. When the oldest of us were teenagers, we got to stay with them in the city for a visit. We saw and learned so much from their urban living.
A few of our six even prefer the city life, however our animals were by far the best part about being from the country. You can even see our beagle pups in the clip following Silver. Oh, how we loved them puppies. Always ready to play and full of energy.
Our Silver got older and was only ridden by the little ones. He went from pasture to pasture, eating fresh grass to his heart’s content, loving the retired life after helping raise the six of us… and he did help raise us. Kept us busy countless hours… right there with us, many moons ago, on our wanderings off the farm.
Many a time we would saddle up Silver and ride all day to the river and back. Momma would tell us not to go past the big rock on the path.
We thought that rock belonged to us… like a secret hideout you didn’t speak of. But everyone in this area knows that rock well.
Silver would take his time packing us down to the rock. Down our long driveway, up the hill, around old town, down by the old water plant, down to the old gravel road by the river and finally on the path to the rock.
He knew where we was going so we really didn’t have to steer him. We would release the reins and yell… “No Hands!”
That was a sure way to freak out your new friend riding with you.. every time. It was so much fun. They’d slap you on the back to hold on while we laughed because they didn’t understand Silver knew the way better than us.
Mostly we wouldn’t go past the big rock as mother said because the path was grown up with weeds and bushes and we had a real healthy fear of snakes getting us.
Every now and then though, we would feel extra brave and go a little past, just for spite, but would soon turn back when we felt chicken or Silver decided we had gone far enough.
Usually, we would hang out at the rock. We would use Silver as a ladder and climb up on the rock… Write our names in the green mossy film with a stick or gravel we picked up… Just sit up there and watch the river go by… Talk about kid stuff and what we were gonna do when we grew up… Make up games or act like we were movie stars or rock stars up on our stage.
Anything goes.. on top of that big rock. We were way up and nobody could see us. Not that it would have mattered, the woods were so thick at the time, we were closed up in it with just the little path to lead us out.
Never had to worry about Silver being down there by himself. He knew the routine. He would eat the surrounding grass and brush while we played on that rock. But when it was time to go… well, he was ready.
We’d holler for him and here he’d come. We jump off the rock on him and here we’d go!
He would gallop us out of there. Sometimes not giving us time to get settled and grab his reins.
Gallop down that narrow path dodging tree limbs, trot down the gravel road, heave us up that big hill, then he’d take the shortcut.. race through Ms. Margie’s yard and around her barn, under Ms. Trudy’s clothesline and straight to our barn. He could not get there fast enough!!
We would be in such a whirlwind from the exhilarating ride back that our heads would spin. We laughed as we jumped off his sweaty back, took his saddle off, his bridle out of his mouth and gave him some fresh corn from the crib. Thanking him for all the fun.
By that time, Momma surely had supper fixed and we were starving. Chatting about our adventures, dear Mother reminded us to wash our hands. We did so as the smells of beans, cornbread and fried taters filled the air. Still my favorite meal.
We were so lucky to have Silver in our lives… for our many days of him being with us, keeping us out of harm’s way, taking us to and fro, for all the fun rides and good times. You know when I meet up with old childhood friends, they still ask.. “Is Ole’ Silver still alive?”
“Man, we sure had fun riding him.”
Angie Hudnall lives in Cromwell, Ky., and is a health improvement nurse for Perdue Farms. She has been a registered nurse for 18 years in long-term care, physical rehab, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and home health.