Smoke was born when we were little. We had been raising horses, but Smoke was magical. She was ours. It was such a special day that Toni got to stay home from school. We couldn’t believe that this little black creature was ours. In fact she wasn’t supposed to be ours. When Dad had traded for Apache, the black and white devil pony that was Smoke’s mother, the deal had been with the neighbor Glen, that he got the foal back. He had bred Apache to a racehorse named Duffy’s Cabin that was running at the Sundowns Racetrack. Luckily he never pursued it and just let us keep Smoke.
As little girls, we watched Run, Appaloosa, Run way too many times. The perfect name for our new precious gift was obviously Holy Smoke. We loved Smoke. There was nothing probably special about her, but she was ours. No one was going to take our baby from us. We kept riding Apache and would pony Smoke along with us. Dad always made us ride bareback so we couldn’t get hung up in a stirrup. Usually at some point in the day Apache would get sick of us, spook, dump us and run back to the house. We didn’t care. We rode the countryside on Apache with Smoke right beside us. One day Grandpa was over showing a guy cows and they stopped to talk to us. The guy asked us if we would take a million dollars for our Smoke. We were so insulted, no amount of money was enough for Smoke. I still remember Grandpa cackling and shaking his head at how naive we were.
Smoke was the first “horse” we broke to ride. She never bucked and was as good of a cow horse as a 10 hand pony could be. She had grit and she was quick. There wasn’t a place we didn’t ride her and unless she was going to get hurt, she never said no. She could also jump. For awhile Dad made us keep her away from the house. I am pretty sure he thought we were spoiling her. We had a desert lease with a barn with lots of wide open space and cows. Dad kept his mare Star down there so he could check the cows. Dad tried to ride out without Smoke and she jumped the fence and went with him. That wasn’t the first nor the last time Smoke jumped out, but she really only did it sometimes, and always for a reason we could understand.
We did everything on Smoke. Barrels, poles, key hole, showed her 4-H, halter, she was the best rescue race horse a person could find. I am not sure she was ever beat at the rescue race. Anyone could ride her, but every once in awhile, especially if you were just riding her with a string, she would take off. That did not stop us from riding her with a string. She could out-walk most quarter horses, so it never felt like you were riding a quarter pony. Smoke really didn’t seem to age for a long time. We kept riding her and when we had kids, they all rode her. She saw 2 generations of Piersons through learning to ride. I think Kade only stopped riding her because he got too tall.
When Smoke turned 30 she started to look her age. She began losing sight in one of her eyes, but never seemed to go all the way blind. We continued to love her and take care of her. One of the best things she did for us was give us the chance to say good-bye. On July 13, 2022 she passed away peacefully. We feel that when Smoke was born, we were given the greatest gift. We had many wonderful years with her and are thankful for her blessing our lives.
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