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I read this news article today about high school students trying to save money by riding their horses to school. I was reminded of Jenny* (not her real name) and her pinto horse.

I attended high school in Ely, Nevada in the early 1970’s. Jenny lived out on the sagebrush flats between Ely & McGill. She was a year ahead of me in school, but we had some classes together and we both loved horses. She was a great artist who could draw horses like Walter Farley (The Black Stallion author). I drew stylized Arabians.

What set us apart, other than the crowd we hung out with (Jenny smoked) was this: she worked hard to buy her own horse by cleaning out dog kennels for Mrs. B’s dog grooming business (also out on the flats about midway between Ely & McGill, say five miles out?) And Jenny owned her very own horse, a brown and white pinto she named… Horse.

In those days, the high school was a three story monstrosity right across Aultman from the city park (where there was a lovely gazebo. Someone blew up the gazebo with dynamite in the 1980s). The smokers hung out at the park because they could smoke there.

Every May and September, as long as the weather held, Jenny would saddle up Horse and ride him to school, for no better reason than she liked to ride him. She kept him tethered in the park during school hours and the smokers lounged around him during breaks. At one point, she sold one-half of Horse to someone (the brown half) for a quarter (or fifty cents, I really don’t remember the details). Horse was not a very big horse, probably 15 hands, a Quarterhorse in build, and extremely gentle. He was a handsome little pinto.

When I was a junior and Jenny was a senior, she gave Horse to me. Lock, stock, saddle and bridle. All mine. Free. She was getting married and wouldn’t be able to keep him any more and she wanted him to go to someone who loved horses as much as she did.

I owned Horse for all of ten seconds. The truth was, I was going away to college and I knew it. I wasn’t going to return to Ely after college. My folks wouldn’t care for a horse if I left one behind (they were a little ticked that I was leaving a cat behind). I really wanted Horse, but I couldn’t, in all honesty, keep him. I handed the reins back.

I did eventually own a horse (I got her for free, too, incidentally) that I owned for seven years. I never rode her to work or school. I did a little trail riding, but not much. She cost a lot of money to keep – probably more than I spend on gas and car repairs on my truck. It is tempting to think about riding a horse to work, but where would I ride along the I-5 corridor? I could probably manage most of I-205 (except the overpasses). But I-5…

And to think Jenny rode along the McGill highway. Oh, yeah, that’s right: nothing but sagebrush for miles on either side…

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