Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wanted: A Horse of Any Color—Giddy-Up-Go

Wanted: A Horse of Any Color—Giddy-Up-Go
            My daughter Dee is searching for a horse. I offered to help her find one. “How can you help, Mom. You are in Mexico.”

            “Helllooo, Sweetheart. The newspaper. If you ask me, the newspaper is still the best way to spread the word or find what you are looking for. Besides, we have horses in Mexico too, you know. In fact, I think I smell horses now. (A rich odor I happen to like.) Let me look off the balcony. Yes, see, there are two horses trotting on the beach, docile, safe and bi-lingual.”

            “Mom, those horses are too small for me. I’m thinking maybe a Percheron. A horse who is sensible, gentle, has a brain, will let me use stair steps to mount her. A horse large enough that I won’t break her back.”

            Immediately I thought of old plug-headed Duke, a retired workhorse who’d been put out to pasture on our farm when I was a child. My cousin would get the halter, we’d lead him to a board fence, manage to climb onto his tabletop back, our legs poking straight out laterally, and Duke would trot down the lane, dismounting us quicker than we could mount.

            Dee, on the other hand, was in the saddle, albeit in my arms, swaddled in a blanket, before she was two weeks old. She never had a choice. She rode horses. When she was two, we bought Pony, a retired carnival horse. 

            Pony was tough. He had spent his working years walking in circles with small children on his back. He was a black and white pinto with shaggy mane and long tail. And Pony would eat anything: bubble gum, watermelon, corn on the cob, hot dogs with relish, and cotton candy. He loved candied apples. 

            I’d tether Pony to the picket fence and for hours Dee would groom him, pick up his feet and pretend to shoe him, braid his mane and tail, crawl underneath, around and between his legs. Pony ate up the attention. Before long Dee learned to saddle him with a little help and ride around the barn yard. 

            That horse hated my husband. Every spring he thought he should gentle Pony, who’d been in the pasture all winter, before Dee was allowed to ride. Dee and I would stand in the yard and watch that long-legged man, feet dragging the ground, buck out her little pony. It was a snapshot I never dared take!

            Pony would let Dee do anything with and on him. But that stubborn pony would not let us catch him. I’m sure that today the County Child Protective Services would have us in jail for what we did. When Pony was out in a field, we’d drive out in the pick-up and park several hundred yards away. We’d give Dee a bucket of oats and the halter rope and let her out of the truck. We’d slide out the off side and hunker down behind the box watching our little girl walk out into the field and catch her horse. We hid out until she walked him into the trailer. Pitiful, huh. But it beat running that stubborn old pony over hundreds of acres, swinging a rope. 

            In time, Pony retired once more. Dee graduated to a larger horse with fewer dietary quirks. And eventually, life happened and horses were left behind. But now, Dee is living on a small acreage near Glendive and her eight, oh, pardon me, eight-and-a-half year-old daughter Toni gets to ride Grandpa’s horse, Jill, around the corral. Dee wants a horse of her own so they can ride out into the hills together. 

            “So, help me here, Dee. How should I word the ad?”

            “Broad bottomed woman wants broad backed horse. I don’t know, Mom. I want a horse that is going to be gentle with me with my bad knees and who will be good with Toni. I don’t want a knot head horse. I don’t want a horse that has been abused or has bad habits. I’ll have to use steps to get into the saddle. It has to be a steady horse. I just think a Percheron, or a horse like that, might be perfect. It needs to be strong enough to carry my weight and sensible enough to get along with other horses.”

            Wanted: the Perfect Percheron, not too old and not too young. Broke to saddle. Likes children and big people. No bad habits. Bi-lingual a plus. Please respond this ad. Email address follows.  
Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door
June 19, 2014

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