Many residents of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties love horses.

Among one of the most ardent horse fans is former school art teacher Vicki Dow who has had a love affair with horses from childhood.

Most recently Dow was reading The Villager newspaper and came upon Barb Wire Bob’s epic tale of riding a pinto pony bareback with no bridle or saddle.  The story rang true to Vicky because that’s how she rode her pinto horse named “Champ,” named after Gene Autrey’s famous horse.  

Vicki Dow riding her horse “Champ” bareback, without a bridle.

A decades’ long subscriber to The Villager and family friend,  she called to relate her close association with my column and how we both had pinto ponies.  The call resulted in breakfast at the new Morning Story restaurant in Belleview Square.  The following notations she penned about her childhood riding habits.

Vicky relates, “Champ” was my first “Heart Horse.”  When I was 9 or 10, my brother Stan, and I, accompanied our grandfather to the livestock auction. Coming out of the shoot came this beautiful brown and white pinto. Being a brat, I cried until I got that precious horse.

Her notes continue, “He was perfect, and he never reacted when cars would pass, honking, yelling, pounding on doors attempting to startle Champ.  He paid no attention to them.”

Dressed for a date she gives “Champ” a carrot.

“He always took care of me, and I would coax him to the apple tree.  I would climb up in the tree while he was snacking on an apple and then I’d jump on his back with no bridle, halter, or saddle.  Then we spent our time wandering around the pasture.”

Vickie had another favorite horse later in life named “Dixie.”  “He was a fantastic sassy horse, probably too much for me, but I had the good fortune to board him with a wonderful horsewoman, Maletha King, who gave me unbelievable courage and got me back to bare back riding and then gave me the courage to jump the crossbar bareback.  During our years of living in the area we would see Vickie at social events and a guest at her home in Homestead.  Often, she would be bruised, sometimes in a cast, from her many riding experiences.

Now reaching 82 years of age, and her last horse passing recently, Vicki has given her saddle and tack away and taken her last sunset ride.  She laughs about naming the last “gilding” boy horse “Dixie.”

I loved my black and white pinto horse just like she loved her brown and white horse.  People who own, and ride horses, know what we’re talking about; there is just something special about “horsin’ around,” with a wonderful horse, with or without a bridle or saddle.   They are amazing equines.  We both have fond horse memories.