In the fall of 1903, Ima, still on crutches, missed Napoleon, her favorite horse, who was kept at Varner. She still missed him many years later, when she wrote:
“My wonderful Napoleon Arabian horse. He was kept groomed so he shone like satin. . . black as the ace of spades. He had a long tail and mane of silky fine hair. He knew how to tease me, too. When we had to cross a creek he would roll over on his side, make me slip off, then get up shake himself and turn around with a real horse laugh, turning up his nose and showing his teeth. Horses know when you love them and they can be as affectionate as a dog.”
On October 23, 1903, Ima’s father wrote to her about Napoleon:
Now don’t say hard things when I tell you the truth about Napoleon’s condition, for it was to be expected under the circumstances. You know he was raised in Houston where ticks and mosquitoes were rare and his stall was screened against them. Then again he was given candy and sugar regularly which keep his appetite sharpened as they acted as laxatives on him. And again he was rubbed and curried three times a day. And above all he was given regular exercise and handled gently at all times. After we left the plantation he was denied most of these treatments and refining influences. Therefore it could not be expected that he would be otherwise than a bag of bones by this time. If this were all he of course could be refattened by proper attention. No one supposed that he would take the big-jaw or the spavin in this short time to forever disfigure him. . . . When I got a glimpse of Nap you can imagine my surprise. . . . He looked so taf eh ylriaf delbbow sa eh deklaw! Indeed he looked renif naht I reve was mih! Now quit writing me backwards!
J. S. Hogg