Riding Our Horses

My siblings, first cousins and I all worked on my grandparents farm, from the time we were old enough to do anything useful. For me that was about 6 years old. This was in the mid-1960’s.

When I was a kid we weren’t called that. We were children (sometimes pronounced chillen), young’uns or chaps. It was a while before I  learned (from television) that children were “kids.”

There was always a large gang of us chaps on the farm and once the barn was full we were free to play. When we were playing, we usually were riding our horses. Not Champ, the giant Clydesdale who pulled the slides of tobacco from the fields to the barn. We rode him of course, but not during our play time. When we were playing, our “horses” were tobacco sticks with corn-twine reins. We straddled the sticks and drug them around, pretending that we were riding horses.


A tobacco stick. The tobacco leaves were tied or sewn together and hung over the sticks, which were themselves hung in curing barns.

Sometimes we raced. We’d build racetracks in the dirt and push smooth stones around the track, pretending they were race cars, driven by Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, David Pearson and the other NASCAR heroes of the day. Better yet, we’d race Dr. Pepper bottle caps, collected at the the nearby country store. They had numbers in them, and the ones with numbers that matched those of the famous (to us) race cars were especially prized.

That was 50 years ago. Good memories.




24 comments on “Riding Our Horses

  1. Great memory – I love it! ❤
    Diana xo


  2. shoreacres says:

    We rode corn stalks! Sometimes we’d get creative and make a cardboard head to go on them, but mostly not. I was going to say your location made you more interested in auto racing, but then I saw the date. Why, you’re just a young whippersnapper! In my day, they still were having buggy races at the state fair!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, it was a time when imaginations were fueled by outlandish thoughts. Cowboys, Indians, Mountain Men, were all imitated in our play time. Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill, and many others were my heroes. It was a time when I and a couple childhood friends would explore dry creek beds, climb trees, and build mini bikes from old bike and small engine parts. Guns were fabricated from boards cut in the shape of a gun and old tire inner tubes cut in big rubber band rings were shot at targets. Wooden stilts were made from scrap lumber. Bike parts were swapped around to make chopper bicycle bikes with playing cards rubbing the wheel spokes to make the motorcycle noise. Coaster vehicles would be dragged to the top of the highest hills to speed down the hill as fast as we could. It was a grand time growing up when life was about what you made happen and built. It’s a wonder I made it through those years without a single bone broken. However, I’ve lost count of the the stitches received to close up gashes and cuts.

    Have a great riding the horses day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      You’ve triggered many more memories with this great comment Dave. It was a grand time indeed.
      I never broke any bones either, amazingly. And none of us were ever seriously hurt. There was that one time we hung my brother, but fortunately it all turned out OK. 🙂


  4. Ah, Imagination… The best toy ever: )


  5. karenhumpage says:

    Hi Bill,
    As a child I used to be crazy about horses – still am I suppose. I couldn’t persuade my Dad to buy me a pony, so my substitute mount was a broomstick with a stuffed sock on the end. I drew eyes on it with a felt tip pen and made a bridle out of my Mum’s bias binding from her needlework box. During one long summer holiday Dad made some ‘jumps’ for me and my pony, and we won many showjumping competitions. The head fell off occasionally during a particularly vigorous round.
    Like you say, good memories.


  6. Scott says:

    I remember PLENTY of cardboard box tanks, as many times as we moved as a kid.
    Never seen a metal tobacco stick. Ours are all oak with a semi-sharp point for spearing six stalks to a stick of similar length. I’ve got tons in my barn I need to sell… But they only bring a dime apiece…


    • Bill says:

      I would build sand forts, with little sticks or twigs for guns, then have them bombard each other (using rocks for cannonballs). Good memories.
      Our tobacco sticks aren’t metal. They’re wood. The one in the photograph is machine cut, but a lot of them were made by hand. We still have both kinds on our place and I’ve managed to save some of them. One of the old tenant houses on our place was filled with them, but someone who thought he was doing me a favor pushed it down and burned it, along with all the tobacco sticks. Sigh.
      The sticks you’re describing are used for burley tobacco, which is what is grown in Kentucky (as I’m sure you know). Here we grow bright leaf tobacco and it is flue cured. Well, it used to be. I’m not sure exactly how they cure it now, but I know the process no longer involves tobacco sticks.


      • Scott says:

        I see now that’s the gray of old sawn wood, but looked metal in the photo. Most of mine are hand split. I’m no expert in tobacco, you’re definitely learnin’ me. You’ve mentioned before that we grow different types of tobacco, here vs there. I’ve never worked on tobacco, looks too much like work. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. shoreacres says:

    This is off-topic, but lookie what I found growing over in Staffordshire, England!


    • Bill says:

      Interesting. I didn’t know that the “chicken” is in the Old World too. I almost missed this comment. For some reason it was in my spam folder. I went there just now to see if I could find something that would make me chuckle. I was not disappointed: “Great Post, I love this, you give me a exciting.”


  8. Joanna says:

    You would love to see the children play here in Latvia Bill, they still use their imagination and play outdoors a lot. Not sure that all the new play equipment that arrived this year is really the best move but the kids seem to enjoy it 😀


  9. Tom says:

    WOW!! You woke some old memories I have hot had in many years. As a Child on a farm in central Kentucky, I played the same games.


    • Bill says:

      When I sat down to post, I hadn’t intended to write about this. But something about horses prompted memory. Glad it did since this seemed to have brought back memories for several people.


  10. thesnowwoman says:

    Good memories. When my daughter was in daycare one of her caregivers would get so upset if someone called the children “kids”. She would promptly say “kids are baby goats, these people are children”!


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