Cpl. George Harley with the Fort Smith Police Department waves his arms to keep a horse from running into traffic on North Sixth Street Monday as police and animal control officers try to capture the animal that was wandering loose near Division Street. The horse, which was coaxed into a halter a few moments later, is owned by James Thompson and had escaped from a pasture at North 20th Street and Kelley Highway.

When I was a kid our family had a pinto (or Paint) horse named Scout. He was beautifully colored with a rich, brownish rust coat and white markings which looked like the map of the United States. Before Scout came along we had a donkey named Tarzan but he was so noisy some neighbors complained so my Dad sold him and bought Scout.

He lived in our back pasture and every morning it was my job (and my brothers and sister’s) to make sure Scout had his feed, hay, water and salt lick. When winter came Scout would stay in a shed that had an opening in the front. When it was especially cold my mother put one of my grandfather’s old wool coats on Scout’s back.

At night my Dad closed the gate to our front yard and let Scout out of the pasture to graze. In those long ago days we had no air conditioning so always had our windows open during the summer. I would wake in the morning to see Scout’s nose pressed into the window screen. Sometimes he woke me with a very wet sneeze.

One night Scout got into our garage which is where Daddy stored his feed and hay. He also had his Al Jolson records stored in the garage and Scout stomped on them. Scout would chew up every pecan and dogwood tree Daddy attempted to plant and kept my brothers’ ball-field well fertilized.

One time Scout panicked when it was storming and jumped down into the deep ditch between our house and our Italian neighbors, the Portas. The water was deep and my mother put on my Dad’s boots, grabbed a bridle and jumped into the ditch to pull Scout out. I will never forget how that frightened me. I thought both were going to drown.


When it snowed my sister and I loved to go to the back pasture to watch Scout make his “snow angels.” He loved to roll around in the snow and left a pattern not unlike what we made.

Our Dad bought Scout in Oklahoma and when he brought him home he was wild. An Indian man named Chief helped Daddy “break” him. Daddy taught me how to saddle Scout, bridle him, groom him and command him. Scout acted “age” appropriate with each one of us. He was spirited with me, gentle with my year old brother and a little slower with my little sister.

My brave Sgt. Major brother, who is a year younger than me, (and leaving for Iraq soon) didn’t fare as well with Scout. He simply wasn’t as interested in Scout as he was in the Cowboy boots he got every year and the kicking tee for his football but I recall that almost everytime he climbed up on Scout he would get bucked off.

My sister and I had a riding club and would venture out on Scout to meet our friends with their horses. Our grandmothers made us cowgirl outfits with matching flags and my sister and I rode Scout in the Rodeo Parade with our riding club. We did this for several years.

One day when Scout was staying at our uncle’s ranch I was home alone, sitting on the front porch, while my parents, brothers and sister were off on errands when a beautiful, shiny, black quarter horse came running down the road.

As if he had a right blinker on, he made a turn into our driveway and ran through our yard. I jumped off the porch and ran to the backyard, grabbing a bridle that hung outside the garage. Tommy, the boy across the street came running over and we set out after the horse.

First he ran into our back pasture and finding no way out turned around. He ran past us at the entrance but we kept following him. Down a side road he went and a lady ran out of her house with a bucket of oats.

While he stopped to sample the oats, I put the bridle on him and Tommy and I took him back to my house. We tied him to a tree in the front yard and I called the local radio station that broadcast lost pet reports. They immediately reported a found horse and within thirty minutes the owners arrived with a trailer to pick up the beautiful black horse.

All this happened within a two hour window. When my parents, brothers and sister got home and heard my story, at first they didn’t believe me but when Tommy Across the Street and the lady with the oats confirmed that the horse had indeed, come and gone, they were believers.

I had a hard time believing it myself.

When I was in the eleventh grade my Dad sold Scout because money was tight and we were growing up and needed clothes. I remember our mother taking us to buy fall clothes for school with some of the money. My sister bought a grey pleated skirt and a white shirt with grey and yellow striped patterns on it.

I chose a rust colored wool sweater and pleated skirt. My brothers also got some new blue pullover sweaters. All of us regretted the sale of Scout but at first we were at least able to hear about how he was from his new owners. Then one day we lost touch with them and I never saw Scout again.

Everytime my sister and I wore our outfits we called them our Scout clothes but we felt guilty at the same time. We missed Scout. Every year when the Rodeo came we went to the parade to look for Scout. Sometimes we thought we saw him and would run alongside the parade until he was out of sight.

Seeing the photo of the beautiful horse in our local news made me think of Scout and the horse that ran away. Ours is still a city full of horses.