About this time-I was at least 8 or 9-my Dad bought me a horse. He was a black and white paint, and his name was Prince. He had a nasty disposition and hurt me several times. I would not tell my folks, as I was afraid they would take him away from me. I rode him to Dupre Elementary School in Lubbock and would stake him in a big field behind the school. All kinds of horses were there and I remember there was a real poor family, whose four kids rode to school on an old longhorn steer. I can still see that old Longhorn plodding down the dusty, soft dirt street with those four on his back like stair steps. Several of my friends rode their horses to school, and after school we would ride all over town together until it was time to go home for supper.
I did also get into trouble during this time. We were down near the Lubbock Hotel and decided to race on our horses out to College Ave (now University). We took off galloping out Broadway, and when I got home, someone had called my Mom and told her I was running my horse on the pavement out Broadway. When my Dad got home that Friday night she told him, and he was furious. He told me to go into the bathroom and wait; I knew he was going to give me a “whuppin”. He used a straight razor and had a razor strap that hung beside the basin. He finally came in and said, “Don’t you ever run a horse on the pavement. That horse could slip and fall and he could even break a leg.” Then I got my “whuppin”. That was all my Dad said about the incident.
I said Prince had a nasty disposition, and I will give you a few examples. Of course, from about May until October, all of us kids would be barefoot. We even went to school barefoot until the weather was too cold. One day I was “fixin” to get on Prince, and I was going to kind of shinny up his left front leg. Well, just as I was doing this, he stepped on my bare foot. I could not get him off. I remember, I was crying and beating on him as hard as I could. He finally took his foot off mine, and I was hopping around on one foot holding the other. Needless to say, after that I watched his feet whenever I was standing near him. We never wore a shirt either, except when we went to school. So another time I had my back to his head when I was “fixin” to get on, and he reached back and bit me on my bare back. When my Mom asked me about that cut with all the blue around it, I told her I had fallen off the wall around the house.
When I used a saddle, which I did about half the time, Prince had a habit of taking a big breath and holding it while I was saddling him. When I would start to get on he would let his breath out, and of course the saddle was loose. As soon as I stepped in the stirrup, off would come the saddle and I would end up on my back in the dirt. I swear, Prince looked around and grinned at me. I learned real quickly to wait till he had to take a breath, and when he did; I would jerk the latigo real tight.
My Dad’s sister, Aunt Ada in Houston, was a real horsewoman. She rode Tennessee Walkers in the Houston Stock show each year. I confided in her about Princes’ disposition and she said I had to show him who was boss. She sent me a quirt to get his attention, and the next time he acted up, I laid that quirt on him pretty good. Believe me, we had quite a rodeo. After four or five jumps and pitches, he sent me right over his head. I got right back on but after that, every time I had to get his attention with that quirt, I was sure I was sitting pretty good and solid before I laid it on him.
Prince was really a rough riding horse. Sometimes we would be riding along and all of a sudden he would jump sideways and go to crow hopping. You talk about something that would jar your innards, and that was sitting on a horse that was stiff legged, crow hopping. One time,’ bout six or seven of us “young-uns” were riding across a big open field with Bennett Browns’ older brother TI, who was a teenager. Well, Prince was doing his thing, kicking and giving me a rough ride. When we got to the other side of the pasture and stopped for a minute, TI said to me,” Man, George, that was some real riding you just did.” Of course, I didn’t think it was anything unusual, but I played like I really had a hard time staying with him.
Photo of Dupre Elementary found here.
Photo of the Hotel Lubbock found here.
Photo of the Tennessee Walker found here.