Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riding Horses Back in the Day Was a Good Treat for Children

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riding Horses Back in the Day Was a Good Treat for Children

Article excerpt

Byline: Dorothy Fletcher

Most Americans of a certain age can remember falling in love with horses. How could we not, when Westerns dominated TV programming of the '50s and '60s?

There was Roy Rogers' Trigger and the Lone Ranger's Silver. Images of powerful horses rearing up, bounding away and chasing bad guys became fixed in our subconscious early.

It's no surprise that when a man happened by our house with a pony, camera and cowboy outfits, we were beside ourselves with joy. Mandarin resident Bob White, now 54 and chief operating officer of Sleiman Enterprises, suited up as fast as any 4-year-old would have when the time came for his photo to be taken.

"When I saw all that cowboy stuff, my eyes got big, and I was all over it," he said.

His beaming face was captured in a picture his mother carefully saved. It is almost the exact same picture that so many other mothers have saved in scrapbooks all across the land.

In the late '50s, riding the ponies was the best of all possible treats for little kids in Jacksonville. Southsider Valerie (Westbrook) Bennett, 56, an account representative at State Farm Insurance, can attest to that. She remembers fondly that there were pony rides at Beach Boulevard and Longwood Road (later renamed University Boulevard).

"I was into speed back then," she says.

Valerie almost always requested the faster pony circle. "It was a big treat back in those days to get to go there."

There were other wonderful places where kids could get to ride horses. One great place was the Circle C Horseback Riding Stables on Old St. Augustine Road in Mandarin. Huge, saddled horses were trotted out for kids to learn how to ride. …

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