Horsin’ Around 3-22-10 | TheFencePost.com

Horsin’ Around 3-22-10

Roger Thompson
Fort Collins, Colo.

Did you ever wonder just how you got the desires you have in your heart that made you turn out the way you are and the things you have loved to do? The photograph is of my mother when she was a young woman resting in the mountains of Colorado while my uncle painted a landscape.

She was taken there, on doctor’s orders, by her mother, along with all the other four kids and lived the best way they could. Often, they stayed in abandon houses or paid a small rent when they could. Most of the time, in the summer, they camped out in the mountains. You might think that was a hard thing to do, but in those days most of the gold prospecting had shut down and there were a lot of abandon mining towns.

The older kids, my mother and her brother, worked wherever they could find jobs, and my grandmother cared for the younger two girls and kept the house. I guess my grandfather sent them money whenever he could, but it was for my mother’s health and they did whatever they had to do to save her. It must have paid off because she lived to a ripe old age of 95 years, and I buried her next to her husband in Dallas, Texas.

She not only healed up, but fell in love with the mountains of Colorado. Not having finished high school she somehow passed a test and landed a job teaching school in the old mining town of Garfield, just before you go over Monarch Pass. She taught there two years and her first class was with her two younger sisters as students. Claribel had many stories to tell about living alone in a cabin high in the mountains.

However, I guess she was driven by stronger desire to write and moved on to become a writer for a national magazine. But she never lost her desire to visit the mountains and her love of camping out. Later, Claribel met and married my father who had been a lieutenant in the First World War in France but had been gassed and disabled but was also a writer. I came along later but at 7 years old, my father died because of war injuries. We had to give up the ranch and live in town but I never gave up my dream of a ranch nor my love of horses.

Mom stepped up as editor of the magazine but also never lost the love of the mountains and outdoors. She became famous in the magazine business but we went camping and horseback riding as much as we could. When I was a little boy she was determined to create in me the love of the outdoors. I ate my beans by picking out the rocks and sticks that fell into them. Mom taught me how to shoot the .22-caliber rifle my dad left to us when he died and I hunted rabbits, squirrels and many other small varmints that crossed my path. She taught me to get comfortable sleeping on the ground and enjoy it.

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Later in life I heard her tell some one that she was trying to get me to love the out-of-door life but guessed she had overdone it. But because of the way I was raised, I loved her for it.


Prior to his retirement, Roger Thompson was a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.