By Barb Hauge
Old Zip was our kids-horse on the ranch. She was probably mis-named because Zips zip was mostly gone. From the time we could walk we would pull ourselves up by her mane and slide off her tail and ride her three at a time.
I immortalized her in a poem: Our horse Zippy was old and slow; we could hardly get her to go. But once she was a mean rodeo horse. Shed bite your butt which hurt, of course. Zippy was nippy. When we trapped gophers we tied the traps on Zip, then shinnied on top and got a firm grip. Thats the only way we could get her to run. While the traps were a jinglin we had some fun. Zip let her rip!
Zip was an independent sort. Saddling her was quite a chore because shed swell herself up and make it hard to tighten the cinch. It was easier just to ride her bareback. It was a real struggle to get Zip to take the bit. Even though she was old and tired, Zip didnt take kindly to becoming a beast of burden. Cant say I blame a horse for fighting even a gentle bit. Some bits are shaped in a cruel way to torment the horse. Id sure hate to have steel in my mouth with leather reigns that jerk you this way and that.
In fact, most young people do fight the bit of adult restrictions which they feel are repressive and unfair. A lot of conflict is purely generational and is over such things as appearance and behavior. In my day you did not wear rings in your belly button or other unmentionable places or dress in glorified slips that barely covered possible; nor did you entertain your boyfriend in your bedroom. Nice girls did not smoke, drink booze or enter the forbidden beer hall.
But I did have my moments of rebellion. Even small amounts of money can buy a bit of independence. Mine came from babysitting. One summer day I invested 25 cents in a pair of shorts and wore them to the dinner table where all hell broke loose. Mother was aghast and asked, Where did you get those? Dad ordered me to leave the table and go put some clothes on. I promptly obeyed; went into his dresser drawer and donned his long-johns, then returned to the table. Dads main problem when disciplining me was he got to laughing so hard his shoulders shook and we knew the crisis was over.
I recall that men were also upset when women began wearing pant suits. After fighting years of binding girdles and garter belts and panty hose that never fit because Im an odd size, I took our little foster daughter to the Child Amputee Center at Grand Rapids, Michigan, and came back wearing pant suits. Those early ones had rather long tunic tops. When informed, at a dance, that this was an occasion where women should really wear dresses, I took off the pants and danced the night away in my short little dress. Had plenty of partners, too.
So much for steel bits and nylon/elastic restraints!