The first horse I ever sat upon was Tony, my grandfather’s cranky old pony, and none of the three of us was sorry when the “ride” was over. The next horse, attempted on a 6th-grade dare, was an unnamed booger on a Klamath Falls ranch, who slammed on the brakes at the irrigation ditch, sending me on alone into the alfalfa field. The third and final attempt was aboard “Smackwater Jack” somewhere near Atlanta, Georgia. When Jack smacked the water with his hoof, it meant he was going to roll over in the creek… thus ended a short-lived career as a horsewoman. As a result, I never did ask for a pony for my birthday. I never drew endless sketches of horses, or went neighing and galloping around the playground like so many of my girl friends. In college, I did develop a liking for cowboys – well, bull riders really, but I digress… cowboys aside, I have recently developed an appreciation for what graceful creatures horses are. I’d like to start some of those horse drawings now that I skipped before, if you please!
Our trip to Elkhorn Valley last week wasn’t quite what I had hoped, given that I was sick with a rotten cold/flu, but that gave me a good excuse for just hanging around at the Elkhorn Valley Inn B&B, relaxing, coughing, and sketching. The unexpected bonus was Nike, this two-year-old Appaloosa pony in the pasture beside the pergola. She was a decent model, even though she didn’t hold poses for longer than it took to pull up the next thistle or whatever prickly things she kept eating. She’s never been ridden yet, so she didn’t give me that knowing look that horses usually do… “So, Sucker, wanna have another go?” She was just happy for company, especially since she couldn’t reach the blueberry bushes on my side of the fence. Her destiny is to be a trail horse starting next summer, taking riders up into the glorious old growth timber of Opal Creek and neighboring forest lands – not a bad way to live, if you’re a horse. But with a name like Nike, it does seem a bit mundane.