The Saga Of Colonel

Scan0068Little girls have a thing about horses.

Perhaps it’s part of that Prince Charming Fantasy…
the one where you are swept off your feet by a knight in shining armor…
riding into the sunset, to live happily ever after.

I was six or seven when, low and behold, a real, live pony magically materialized
before my very eyes.

As part of his work at Ralston Purina, my dad became acquainted with Eddy Arnold (1918-2008), an American country music
singer.  Eddy was managed by Colonel Tom Parker, who later masterminded the
career of Elvis Presley.

One Christmas a red and white checkerboard saddle arrived at our door, courtesy
of Colonel Parker. After the saddle had occupied valuable space in the basement for a period of time, my dad threatened to dispose of it. My sister implored him not to…reasoning that a pony to go with the saddle would arrive NEXT Christmas. My dad decided to humor her.

Sure enough, the following year, there was a call from Nashville informing us a pony had been loaded into a pickup truck and was on its way to St. Louis.

My dad scrambled to find a place to board our new equine friend….not an easy task on such short notice.

He was a beautiful dapple grey Shetland stallion with a blond mane and tail.
In honor of Tom Parker, we named him Colonel.

Unfortunately, they neglected to tell us that Colonel had been neither completely broken nor fully trained, prior to transport. He was an ornery son of a gun who preferred to spend his time chasing mares or hanging out in the barn, consuming oats and hay like there was no tomorrow.

Given that staying upright in the saddle was a real challenge, boarding a horse in the city was an expensive proposition and my dad was allergic to him, Colonel was living on borrowed time.

A year or so later, the farm where he was stabled was sold to make way for a new school. Colonel wound up with a local dairy as part of a team of Shetlands used to pull a wagon for promotional purposes. At long last, that little devil had to shoulder his fair share of the load for a change.

Looking back, my pedal race horse was a lot more fun than Colonel ever was.