|Southwest Spanish Mustang Association
"Heritage Horse of Oklahoma"
|Preserving The Purest
In Existence Today
|Someone Your Should Know - Harold Davis, SSMA Director
Article in Hugo Daily News - By Gloria McAfee Carver
|In those days of boyhood, Harold relishes the times of running wild and free, barefoot and shirtless in the summer time, “I a
roof top, jumping off and landing on a piece of broken glass, and not having any cut from it.”
The Davis kids walked the one-half mile to a school house at Speer before it was closed. At age twelve Harold began
schooling in Hugo. That’s where he met his best friend, Bryant Rickman; they are still running buddies to this very day, and
are leaders in the Southwest Spanish Mustang Association (SSMA).
Harold said, “I don’t recall ever going without horses in those days; we rode them everywhere we went. My Dad always had
a good number of horses around. There were quarter horses, thoroughbreds, and the Spanish Mustangs, that we called
Choctaw Ponies, now known as the famed Heritage Horses of Oklahoma.
“My father and mother were both great with horses and I remember well riding in the saddle with Mother when I was very
small. Our horses were great using horses; they had to be versatile to work the land and the cattle.
“My very first horse was Tony. I learned to ride bareback; having a saddle was a luxury. I raised Tony from a colt. I bottle fed
him after his mother was killed by lightning. “Tony was gentle and a great kid pony. There came a time we had to sell some
horses to pay bills, and Tony was one of them,” Harold explained. A part of him understood the practical aspect; yet another
part of him remains tender hearted about Tony.
Harold’s second horse was a pretty, black filly with a white diamond on her forehead. She was half quarter horse and part
Mustang. He named her after a horse in a book he had read called, Trey Spot. “Everything about Trey Spot was special.
Her mother was killed by a big, wild boar hog,” he said.
Immediately after High School graduation at Hugo in 1965, the barely seventeen year old country boy joined the Navy for
four years. “The recruiter promised me the world,” Harold said with a laugh. Beginning basic training in San Diego,
California, the familiar sights and sounds in his world changed forever. “At that time, I had never been outside of Choctaw
County,” he said.
After basic training, Harold began seven months of training as an aviation electrician in Jacksonville, Florida. The classes
were set up exactly as any full time
job; eight hours, five days a week. He learned to build transistor radios and to understand many aspects of electrical skills.
He requested an assignment in Viet Nam, however, he served on a training
squadron in Corpus Christi the duration. From that base he was sent out on hazardous duty assignments aboard aircraft
carriers, and saw duty on the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola, Florida, the Atlantic and May Port, Florida.
Harold said, “After I came home, I began training as an electrical engineer at Wilburton, and Commerce, Texas, now known
as Texas A&M. Bryant Rickman talked me into changing my major to agriculture. I went for one semester then I quit school
and went to work. I traveled to Oregon and worked in the log woods for a time. After that I came home, got married and
raised some children, and more horses. I’m real pleased I got to give my children, grandchildren and
great grandchildren their first horseback rides.”
Harold began working at Choctaw Electric Company in 1972 and retired in 2005. Those early years back at home in
Oklahoma, Davis and Rickman took on a very special cause; the preservation of the Spanish Mustangs.
The Spanish Mustang’s native location was in Kiamichi Country, with Black Jack
Mountain as the back bone, when it was shaken to the core. There was real danger of the horses becoming extinct. Timber
companies bought up the lands where the Spanish Mustangs had roamed free for 170 years, and wanted the horses
removed, gone, one way or another.
Carrying on work for the first SSMA founder and president, Gilbert Jones, to preserve foundation herds, Davis and Rickman
began in earnest to gather up and relocate the horses. The South West Spanish Mustang Association (SSMA) formed by
Gilbert Jones in 1977, and its members continue in the conservation movement at this date.
Harold said he cannot count the hours or years devoted to the successful relocation of the Spanish Mustangs by the SSMA,
“We spent a lot of time riding and camping to gather the horses,” Harold explained. The men set up feeding corrals to coax
the horses inside; they were then transported by truck to other safe locations. There are now 16 conservation herds
throughout the United States. The organization is nonprofit, supported by the membership dues, horse registrations and
Harold encourages others to, “Find your dream and be faithful to it; find a job or profession you love and stick with it.”
Additional information on the SSMA can be found on their website: southwestspanishmustangassociation.com.
Harold Davis is someone you should know. A native of Choctaw
County, he was one of six children born to Cecil and Edith Davis, in the
mid 1940’s, and was raised on a panoramic 320 acres of farm and
ranchland. His childhood memories reflect an era passed; when large
country families lived and worked together, creating a bond never to be
broken. Neighbors were always welcome, never locked their homes and
could always be counted on to lend a hand in need.
Perhaps someone should create a theme park reminiscent to those
times and experiences; of children beginning at early ages, working
together with their parents to fill root cellars with the harvests of huge
vegetable gardens and fruit preserves. A variety of animals that paid
their own way would include cattle for milk, cream and butter, and beef
steak; dogs for hunting, horses or mules for labor in the fields,
transportation, and just plain fun.
Harold shared some his treasured country memories, “I was three years
old when Dad set me up on the seat of our John Deere tractor that was
hooked by a chain to his pickup truck stuck in the mud. The tractor was
put in gear, all I had to do was steer it. The tractor moved forward slowly
and finally got the truck un-stuck. Dad yelled to stop; however, I couldn’t
reach the levers to do that. I actually drove through the fence before
Dad caught up to me and brought us to a stop.”