June 3, 2021


Arley loved horses.  He didn’t look like John Wayne but John Arley probably enjoyed riding horses even more than the movie star.  He was fairly short (about 5’8”) and stocky—and certainly didn’t have a cowboy outfit or any special riding clothes.  This is the only photo we have of him on horseback.  

He usually had two or three horses at a time and a mule.  The mule he used for plowing his garden and other farm work.  I’m sure he didn’t know much about training horses but he loved grooming them and always taught them to follow specific commands.  This was Jesse, definitely his all-time favorite.

When I was a baby, Jesse was born.  Shortly afterward, Arley went to the pasture across the road from our house to feed the mare and her new foal.  Harriett was standing on the screened porch holding me and watching.  Inexplicably, as he was finishing up, Arley walked behind the mare and tweaked her tail.  As any new mother would do, she kicked him with her left rear foot.  The blow hit him squarely in the chest and he fell to the ground.  Harriett thought he’d surely die and ran screaming into the front yard.  He quickly came to, jumped up and headed toward the house.  He called out that he was fine—and went directly to his car and drove away!  

He was embarrassed that he’d been so foolish and after driving around to catch his breath, sheepishly came home.  He had the imprint of the kick on his chest and probably several broken ribs.  He never did that again!

Sunday mornings were favorite times for him to go horseback riding.  Arley always said he felt closer to God when riding his horse than when sitting in church. That was where he felt peace and joy.

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