Old Selim was a ‘low key’ contribution
By Jean Simon
In the world of our childhood most of us can look back and remember a favorite animal. It seemed like it was mostly a favorite dog or a favorite horse. The stories are humorous, sad, crazy, and maybe they were sometimes even imagining the things which happened concerning these animals, but there were certainly some real people and animal friendships formed.
I never learned to ride horseback as early as some kids and I never rode bareback. When I was in the first grade I decided to ride what would have to go down as my favorite horse to school. He was gray, lazy, fat and of good temperament. His name was Selim, which I was told was a name for southern horses.
I was going to ride horseback to school; I had no saddle of my own, so I put my feet in the “leathers” to use as makeshift stirrups. The first day I rode him I had a mishap that scared me for a long time. Halfway home from school I met the boy who was staying at our place and attending high school in the rural school. We were going to ride home together. As we started to trot Selim started to run. With my limited experience I knew nothing about jerking the reins. I just pulled. My friend could see that Selim was out of control so he stopped. Selim ran across country toward home, about a mile, with my feet quickly out of the leathers, and I holding onto the saddle horn, bouncing wildly. I was nearly home when a car came down the road and met us, Selim stopped. A neighbor picked me off the horse and I nursed my black and blue spots for days.
Then the truth leaked out; my dad and the boy who stayed at our place had been racing to the house every night when they came in from checking the sheep.
Selim wasn’t so dumb. He was out to win!
I didn’t ride again for about two years and then I rode Selim a lot. He could get the job done any time, any town kid could ride him and he was around for over ten years.
Selim would “shy” when being ridden and I finally found out if I tried to get him up to an object of which he was afraid he would rear up on his hind feet. As I got older and braver, and wanted to show off a bit, I would make a game of letting him rear. He really never got spoiled (and I don’t know why). Probably because he was ridden by other people who didn’t tolerate such foolishness. He was a good horse in rainy weather, you could catch him on the prairie, you could carry anything on the saddle. He never seemed to wear out.
One summer three cousins from the city visited for quite a few days. We had a great time riding Selim, and he was gentle enough for them to ride. They would ride across our hayflat, the same pattern every trip. Finally Selim got so he would turn back a little sooner every time and go back to the house. Still he was not spoiled when someone else rode him.
As I got older and more horses around for me to ride to school, Selim was saved for a “spare” and not overworked too much.
Finally my dad sold Selim to a man for $25. I was going to high school at Sorum and one time during a picnic in the Slim Buttes some of us students stopped to see if Selim was there; he was. We went to visit him tired in the barn, just back from a ride. I hugged and sympathized with him when I saw a bloody spur mark on his side.
His last days were spent herding sheep in the northern part of the county, ridden by a man who had once worked for my dad. Where and when his life ended I never knew, but in horse society he made a terrific “low key” contribution.