By Donna (Geer) Stover – Saskatoon, Sask.
When I was eight, growing up on a farm not far from Killarney, Man., my parents bought me a little brown, Shetland pony. They bought him at Rolla, North Dakota so my grandfather named him “Rolly”.
My older brother, Elvin, broke Rolly in so that I could ride him or have him pull me on a toboggan.
I rode Rolly to school every day. Some days he decided he wasn’t going to go to school, so mother would swat his behind with the brush of the corn broom and off we’d go!
This happened many mornings. Eventually, when he heard the screen door slam and see mother coming with the corn broom, off we’d go!
While I was at school, Rolly hung out in the schoolyard. Unfortunately, the fence was sometimes in disrepair and Rolly would escape.
After school, I’d try to catch him to get a ride home. Rolly was such a big tease! He’d look back to see where I was and then he’d stay just far enough ahead of me so that I couldn’t grab the reins.
Once we got to the steel gate at home he’d then let me catch him.
If Rolly got tired of someone riding him, he’d find a slough and lay down in it. You can imagine what I looked like when I arrived at school!
Rolly was quite a little rascal and he proved it when he pulled me on the toboggan. We’d go out on the rough cow trails and he’d get going too fast so when we hit a bump, off I would fly. Rolly then took off for home leaving me walking!
Rolly was very short and round so it was difficult to keep a saddle on him. He’d puff out his stomach making it hard to mount him as the saddle would slip to his side.
After pushing on his stomach with my knee, he’d release his breath and then I’d be able to tighten the saddle and mount him.
He didn’t like this, so he’d bite me on my hind end as I mounted him.
I raced Rolly against a lot of other kids’ horses. He was a stubborn little pony who hated to be left behind so he’d put in everything he had to get the lead and get home first. I don’t remember him ever losing a race.
After school, Rolly and I had the big job of searching and rounding up the cows to be brought back to the barn for milking. The cow pasture was a half-section of heavy bush where the cows liked to hide. One cow wore a bell.
We’d stop to listen for the cowbell, and most times, Rolly heard the bell before I did and he’d take off to where the cows were hiding. He took his job very seriously.
Sometimes I’d get off Rolly and he’d chase home some of the cows while I rounded up others.