After Mom and Fred got married, I started riding one of Fred's Shetland ponies named Sunshine.
Sunshine had brown hair, blond mane and tail and soft black eyes. I absolutely adored her. I loved to wrap my arms around her head, rest my cheek against hers and inhale her sweet horsey smell. I thought of Sunshine constantly.
In the evenings after the horses had been fed and watered, Mom would put Sunshine’s bridle on, and I would hop on her bare back and ride her around the stables.
Sunshine was very headstrong and stubborn and would rear if she didn't want to go in the direction I wanted. I quickly learned to let her take the lead and go where she wanted after she bucked me off one day and ran back to her pen.
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Sometimes Mom let me stay home on the weekend, and she would trailer our horses to Griffith Park or Whittier Narrows to go horseback riding on the miles and miles of beautiful trails.
After Mom saddled up Sunshine, I put my foot in the stirrup, threw my leg over her back and settled in to my little black saddle. When Mom was done saddling up Jazon, off we went on our ride.
As I rode next to Mom and her horse in the soft dirt of the trail, I listened to the gentle creaking of the saddles and felt the sun warm on my face, happiness washed over me as it usually did when I was riding.
Unfortunately, the peace didn't last long because Sunshine always got us in to trouble on those rides.
Mom had no patience for Sunshine's stubborn and willful nature. Many times during our trail rides Sunshine would plant her feet and refuse to walk if she didn't want to go in the direction Mom wanted to go.
With fear coursing throughout my body and saying silent prayers to Sunshine to be a good girl and walk in the direction Mom wanted to go, I would frantically kick her sides to make her move her legs. Sunshine paid absolutely no attention to my frantic kicks. Or my silent prayers.
"Hang on, Morrene!" Mom would say as she got out her whip.
WHAP! Mom's whip would land on Sunshine's butt. Sunshine would take off down the trail running and bucking with me clinging to her back screaming in terror. Eventually I would get her slowed down, and Mom and I continued on our ride.
Riding through streams on the trail always proved a problem for Sunshine, because she couldn't resist laying down in the water to cool off.
Midway through the stream, Sunshine's legs would start to buckle.
When Mom saw what Sunshine was doing, she would yell, "Morrene! Keep her moving!"
With my heart thudding fearfully in my chest, and once again saying silent prayers to Sunshine to be a good girl, I frantically kicked her sides to keep her walking.
As usual Sunshine paid no attention to my frantic kicks, and once again she felt the sting of Mom's whip on her butt, and off she would go running and bucking down the trail with me on her back screaming in terror.
Time and time those scenes were repeated throughout our ride. Poor Sunshine never seemed to learn her lesson.
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After Mom married Fred, she decided that she wanted to cut my hair short again. My hair had just started to grow out, and I loved the feel of it on my shoulders. I finally looked like a girl and was no longer mistaken for a boy.
After much coaxing from Mom, I finally agreed to let her cut my hair. I loved and trusted my beautiful mom, and I didn't want to disappoint her.
Sitting on a couple of phone books piled on a chair in the kitchen, I watched as long slices of my hair slowly drifted to the floor around me while Mom snipped away.
After Mom was done cutting my hair, she took out a pair of old thinning shears and quickly made cuts through my hair to thin it out. Tears were brought to my eyes when pieces of my hair got yanked out after getting caught in the dull shears.
When Mom was done, I went to look at my new haircut.
As I stood in front of the mirror in Brother's hand-me-down clothes, I stared in sadness at my short brown bangs and hair that ended just below my ears.
Once again I looked just like a boy.
To be continued…