| Written by Richard Gappmayer, Jennifer’s father, age 82 |
Every farm needs a few horses, either to ride, pull the wagon and the cultivator, or to look at. My father had them for all three reasons as well as to talk about them with his neighbors. He had a real gift with the horses. He loved them, respected them, and took good care of them. One of the biggest jobs with horses was to break them to work or to ride. My dad was good at breaking and training the horses. When a new colt was born, Dad would start loving it and showing it that it was loved. He would rub it down with a cloth each day after the birth. The colt, nervous at first, would slowly get used to this activity.
Then in a few weeks, Dad would put a saddle blanket on the colt. The colt would again be nervous and jittery but in a few days, he would be comfortable with the blanket on his back. A halter was next, and in a few months, the saddle would follow with the same result. When the colt was big enough to ride, Dad would saddle the colt’s mother and tie the rope attached to the colt’s halter to the saddle horn. Then—this was the fun part—I would get on the colt.
I remember doing this once when I was twelve years old. Of course, this made the colt very nervous, and he would try to throw me off. The rope to his halter would keep him from doing anything very serious. We would walk slowly into the farm. All the while, the colt was kicking, jumping, and trying get rid of me. Dad and I and the colt would go through this routine every week for several months. Finally, the colt could be ridden without the halter rope attached to his mother. He was comfortable with me on his back. He was now a very good and useful horse. And I had no broken bones.