Tennessee Walkers and My Sister the Horse Whisperer


It’s been half a century, now, but I still remember that enormous Tennessee Walking Horse.

We were at my Aunt Mackie’s house on West 24th, back when that was wayyyyyy out of Norman. I was maybe four or five, and probably about three feet tall.

The Tennessee Walker was the biggest thing I had ever seen.  It must have stood 16 hands tall. 

I remember having to look straight up to see my cousins in the saddle.  I was totally awestruck.

And then, it got even better.  Somehow, I found myself in the saddle.  Like John Wayne or something.

How I got there, I will never know.  Maybe a helicopter was involved.

But there I was, gazing way down at the ground, where my cousins looked like ants.  Then someone took the reins and started walking the horse  around the pasture.

I became a cowboy that day, and probably grew about a foot.

Despite my Potawatomi blood, I never was a very good rider.  But you should have seen my big sister.  Man, could she ride.

Effortlessly. Fearlessly. Beautifully.  It was something to see, with her long hair trailing in the breeze.

Cathy was already a teenager. And my uncle had given her standing permission to “ride anything you can saddle.”

How many times did I see her ever-so-slowly walk up to a horse, gently holding out her hand, whispering, nuzzling and eventually winning it over and slipping on the bridle.

Then she was off. Bareback or saddle, it didn’t matter. Cathy could ride like the wind. 

I don’t think she ever got to ride, Go Man Go Jr., a famous quarter-horse  that my Uncle owned a stake in, which was supposed to be worth a fortune.

But if she’d been given the chance, I’m pretty sure she could have.  Because that girl could sit a horse.

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