7. Runaway Nell - ©  Anne B. Wilson 2010

Based on a true story from my childhood, and told in the voice of a
kid who wants so much to be helpful and grown up, this describes the terror
and exhilaration of riding a horse that takes complete control of itself.  Though
Nell probably wasn't really going that fast, I remember it as pretty close to flying!


The cowboys finished workin calves down by the west corral.
"Somebody has to ride Nell home," old Windy hinted loud.
He looked at me and I piped up, "I'll ride her home, for sure!"
At ten years old I'd finally earned the trust to help that crew.

He said "I'll need my saddle.  Can you ride her bareback home?"
I said, "You bet," they helped me up, we started down the road.
Nell had just seemed tired at first and started out real slow,
But once we got around the curve, then she began to go

(They said) She's no kid horse, but you'll be fine.
Just let her trot and hold on tight.
You're old enough to go alone.
It ain't too far; ride Nellie home.   

Her trottin' speeded up until it shook me like a sack,
My sixty pounds were nothing - like a fly upon her back.
My legs were just too short to grip; I bounced from side to side,
Then grabbed more handfuls of her mane and tried to hold on tight.

Her hoof beats drummed the hollow bridge; we started up the hill,
And though she moved at quite a clip, I hung onto her still.
Once we passed the hilltop, she broke into a run.
She was glad her work was over, headin home to have some fun.      


Her feet were solid thunder; those trees were whippin by.
The wind was tearin at my hair, I thought:  She's gonna fly!
Then everything became a blur; I knew I'd lost control,
And as she made the driveway turn, I felt myself let go.

Those rocks gave me a beatin when I landed hard and rolled,
But once I stopped, I realized:  I'd almost made it home!
I walked on up the driveway and let Nell in through her gate,
Slipped off her sweaty bridle, let her roll and eat some hay.      


I never told about my fall and hoped no one had seen.
Changed out of my torn up shirt and washed 'til I was clean.
No one ever asked me 'bout my bruises and my nicks.
They just knew I'd rode Nell home & got there mighty quick!
Clean Curve of Hill Against Sky
Volume 1 Songs of the Kansas Flint Hills
photo by Ron Klataske
photos above by Annie Wilson
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