by Ski Ingram

My sister Sherrie worked at Winchell’s donut shop across the street from our house on Manhattan Beach Blvd.  I used to go over after school and help by sweeping the floor, folding boxes and making crumbs out of the stale cake donuts left over from the day before.  After my work was done, I’d sit at the counter and do my school homework.  I was paid for all my work in donuts and sodas.

There were always a group of people in the shop, mostly employees from the Boys Market.  There were a couple of cowboy looking guys who came in to drink coffee and eat donuts every day or so.  I later found out that these guys owned property with horses near the corner of Marine and Inglewood Ave. One day one of the guys asked me if I could ride a horse.  I told him I could.  My dad would take me to the city of El Segundo and ride the horses that we rented.  My dad taught me how to ride pretty well.

After I told him I could ride, he told me he needed someone about my size to train a pony he had for the bridle.  I was 13 years old and weighed about 110 pounds. He needed someone who was light as the pony was too small for a saddle.  A few days later, after school, I reported to his house.  I found out I’d be riding bare back, which I had never done before.

Just getting the bridle and riding pad on were difficult.  That pony wanted nothing to do with it. Once we got them on, I got on his back. He didn’t try to buck me off, he didn’t do anything. He didn’t have any idea what he was supposed to do.  I kicked his flanks to get him to go, but he didn’t. One of the owners took hold of the rains and pulled him as I kicked him in the flanks. It didn’t take very long before he got the idea, I kick him, he moves forward.  Getting him to turn to the right and left was much harder.

I worked for at least two weeks before he learned to turn by me touching the rains to the opposite side of his neck in which I wanted him to turn, but he did eventually learn.  He could now go forward, stop, back-up, and turn to the right and the left. My job was done. I continued to right him as long as I was willing to muck out the stalls every day.

I’d ride him all over the “Jap” field which was between my house and where the horses were.  The “Jap” field was about ½ mile wide and 5 miles long.  It was believed that Japanese people had a nursery there before WWII and were moved out and interned during the war. Us kids would play all day in that field, building forts, hunting rabbits, riding our bikes up and down the hills and whatever else we could find to do.

As remembered by Ski Ingram