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Rindge

Riding it old school

Rindge: Resident recalls riding to school by horseback in the 1950s

  • Jed Brummer, a lifelong resident of Rindge, was the last person (along with his twin brother, Jeff) to legally ride a horse to school.
  • Jed Brummer, a lifelong resident of Rindge, was the last person (along with his twin brother, Jeff) to legally ride a horse to school.

Jed Brummer had a sweet ride to school in his day.

Brummer, a 69-year-old lifelong resident of Rindge, used to ride his horse to Rindge Memorial School each day, along with his twin brother, Jeff. Both Brummers were the last students to legally use horses as transportation to school in the town.

In two interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, Brummer recalled his riding days, which began around age 9 and with his mother’s interest in owning horses.

“We woke up one August morning on our birthday, and there was a horse tied each to our respective windows,” Brummer said. Brummer eventually had two horses, by the names Rebel and Apachee. “They were a ploy of my mother’s to keep us busy,” he said.

Brummer and his brother had to feed and groom their horses, as well as muck out their stalls. And, of course, there was riding.

“We’d take them to school in the morning, riding across lots and getting there before the buses did,” Brummer said. While riding to school by bus took 45 minutes, the Brummers could make it on their trusty steeds in only 20. According to Brummer, what was normally a 5-mile trip by road could be cut down to a 3-mile journey through back trails and dirt roads.

When Brummer and his brother arrived at school, they would tie up their horses in the field of what was once Hoyt-Allen house, which was bought in 1994 by the Rindge Historical Society, according to the town’s website. Tethered up and left with water buckets, the horses would wait for their young owners to return in the afternoon for the ride home. “They’d be alright,” Brummer said.

The Brummers usually didn’t ride the horses to school during the winter.

Brummer recalled the attention he and his brother received for their hairy rides. “We weren’t really into girls at that point, but girls tend to like horses. They would come over wanting to ride.” Though Brummer described these interactions as “more of a nuisance” than anything else, as the two boys grew older and more interested in girls, the horses could come in handy. “They became like what you would call a chick-magnet,” Brummer said.

Sometimes one can have too much of a good thing. The Brummers could only have so many girls wanting to ride the horses, before they were ready to go ride like cowboys on their own.

“We did all the things you weren’t supposed to do,” Brummer said, recalling doing a lot of galloping and racing around. “We copied what we saw on TV,” he said, adding that he and his brother imitated shows like “The Lone Ranger” and “Cisco Kid.” “Equestrian elites would look down on us,” Brummer said.

Those more reserved riders wouldn’t have to worry for long. According to Brummer, Rindge made riding to school by horseback illegal between 1956 and 1957, citing worries about what would happen if more students tethered horses in the adjacent field.

Brummer said he and his brother weren’t too upset. In fact, after five years of horse ownership, the Brummers were ready for a change. “We said, ‘Mother, we’ve had enough of this,’” Brummer said, pointing out that all the work to take care of the horses became quite cumbersome.

Brummer remembers the horses with fondness, though he also called his brother and himself fortunate for never getting seriously hurt. Brummer was once dragged 300 feet, and he had his horse fall on top of him another time. But overall, the two brothers had a fun time riding. “We certainly knew how to ride a horse,” Brummer said.

Brummer has ridden off and on since his childhood days, and he even bought some Belgian horses to pull wagons and sleighs after purchasing the Woodbound Inn from his parents in 1978. The inn has since passed to other owners. The last time Brummer could remember riding was about 12 years ago, when he rode at Night Flight Farm in Rindge. “I got back into my galloping days,” he said.

Elodie can be reached by phone at 924-7172 ext. 228, or by email at ereed@ledgertranscript.com. Elodie is also on Twitter @elodie_reed.

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