"This is not what I meant when I said I wanted a Red Ryder!"
The sashaying Shetland was my Grandmother Athalia Barker's beloved pony "Max." This was the nag that I and my cousins first learned to ride, which for all his small size was harder than it might seem. Max could expand his barrel of a belly to a prodigious girth, thwarting all attempts to cinch a saddle. He was just as likely to roll over as canter under a low hanging branch to rid himself of an impudent rider. In addition to the western saddle with the red wool blanket, he also pulled a pony cart, in which he was far less rambunctious.
Max was the primary lawnmower at Windrock during the 1970s. There were shovels and a wheelbarrow instead to follow him about with and gather up excess manure. In later years he preferred standing with his hind legs crossed, and he lived beyond 30.
Judging from the wide collar of my dress shirt, I'd say I was probably just finished with 3rd or 4th grade in this picture (1977-1978). I am sure during the summer I only wore my red Keds when my feet were in stirrups. Max and I are actually reined up rather near the bluff overlooking the bay, but I am certain that there was no risk of him deciding to plunge. Not when the barn and the barrel of sweet feed lay in the other direction. My stern expression may betray a suspicion that my rotund steed is poised to bolt. Today the barn is filled with many things, including hay for my Aunt's horses at her home down at the end of Great Neck, but alas, no resident equine species.