The Dart: RLMS student enjoys classic mode of transport

Published 12:11 am Monday, April 30, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Tyler Harris, 12, has had his horse Sonny for four years after his mother gave it to him for Christmas. Tyler is a student at Robert Lewis Middle School, and has been riding since he was 5 years old.

NATCHEZ — Tyler Harris doesn’t get around the neighborhood like most of the 12-year-olds in Natchez. While most of the other children choose to walk, hitch a ride or bike to their destination, Harris prefers to saddle up Sonny, hop on his back and trot to where he wants to go.

Sonny is Harris’ 7-year-old horse, and the two were getting ready for a trip down the street to grandma’s house Saturday afternoon when The Dart landed at Harris’ home on Gayosa Avenue.

Harris said his method of transportation separates him from most of his peers.

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“There are a lot of young folks out there that like to be in the streets being all ghetto,” he said. “I have my own style. I ride horses.”

His love for riding started at a young age, and he started riding when he was 5 years old.

“I decided one year when I saw people riding them in a parade,” he said.

But it wasn’t until he was 8 years old that he met his four-legged friend Sonny.

It was Christmas, and his family went to celebrate at his grandmother’s house in the country. Everybody had their Christmas present at the house but Harris, and he thought he had been left out.

“I woke up and see my present wasn’t there,” he said.

When the family came back home, Harris said, he saw Sonny waiting on him.

“I got excited,” he said. “That night I got on his back. I didn’t have a saddle. I just rode him bare back.”

Harris said he and Sonny did not get along well at first.

“When I first got him he was real mean,” he said. “I just kept on riding him, and every time he’d act up I’d get on his back or tie him up on a pole until he got right. I had to let him know I’m his owner.”

It took Harris approximately a year to tame Sonny, he said. But now he has full control over his horse.

“He really just lets me ride him,” Harris said. “He doesn’t like grown people. If a child gets on his back he’s OK though.”

Harris said he spends his weekends riding Sonny. He said Saturday he started riding at 7 a.m. and was still going at 7 p.m.

“Every weekend I ride him,” he said. “I don’t have time during the day.”

Harris attends Robert Lewis Middle School and said weekday nights are for homework, games and sleep.

Harris said everyone at school knows him as the boy that rides horses, and he is comfortable with that label.

He said that patience is key when learning how to ride and care for a horse.

“You have to take your time on a horse,” he said. “You don’t just jump on back of a horse. You have to know them.”