Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Found My Niche As A Writer and My Girl Found A Horse

I Found My Niche As A Writer and My Girl Found A Horse
            Seriously. A month ago I wrote a want ad for my daughter Dee Dee. One could call it a “want-ad story”. But then every ad is a story. We never go digging for the details beyond the apparent. The “apparent” never tells the story.

            My daughter wanted a horse, a gentle, well-trained, draft type horse, a strong horse. Dee wanted to ride again, to be able to take her daughter Toni horseback into the hills. 

            The “ad” was in the paper on a Thursday and that Sunday Dee negotiated a deal for Tillie, a half-Percheron. Obviously, my true talent lies in writing want ads.

Tillie hails from California. Her owner is moving, a life change that doesn’t include horses. My daughter is a family counselor, specializing in trauma, though she took a two-year hiatus to re-group, revitalize and teach school. (I know. That doesn’t sound like a rest to me either.) Tillie is a trained therapy horse. How perfect.  

            This week Dee drove to Wells, Nevada with her Dad’s horse trailer to meet Tillie and bring her to her new home. The rest of the story is as told to me by Dee Dee.

            She drove one route going and a different route coming. No matter. In true Montana tradition, being that season, every mile was under construction. Remember, she is pulling a three-horse trailer behind a long wheel-base pick up. With her daughter Toni riding shotgun. In one-hundred-three degree heat. Along torn-up, side-winder roads with three foot drop-offs. And the air-conditioning went out before she got a hundred miles down the road. As a pleasure trip it lacked panache.

            Did you know that styles of hay bales are relegated to regions? (Did you know hay has styles?) In Montana, bales are the huge round type. If you are on the lookout for a bale or two for the manger in the horse trailer, you would notice this sort of thing. In Utah, the bales are the huge rectangular variety. Idaho has real bales of hay, the kind that if you are of a certain age, you helped your father “buck”. Nevada has no hay. Nevada has no cattle.

            The girls arrived in Wells tired and sweaty, having drunk forty-dozen gallons of water. They met Tillie, a southern California “star” with a gorgeous deep golden coat and it was love at first sight. Tillie was a bit taken aback when she was unloaded from her padded, air-conditioned, music piped-in, hot and cold running water conveyance to the plain-jane, no-frills, Montana ranch trailer. She rolled her eyes, reluctantly stepped inside with a horsy sigh, “Oh, I suppose if I have to.”

            Later that same evening, at a motel with automatic sprinklers for the patch of lawn beside which the trailer was parked, in the middle of the night, the water turned on, hit the trailer and Tillie freaked out. In her pajamas, my daughter raced out through the shower of water and spent forty-five minutes, soaking wet, calming her horse. “By that time,” she said, “I can’t sleep. Might as well drive.”

            Nevada jack rabbits are social creatures. They gather in the night at the club house, a casino on pavement where they play games of chance. They are the Hell’s Angels-Evil Knievels of the animal kingdom. “Hey, guys, here comes one. Watch this.” The dare-devil races across the road in front of the wheels of Dee’s truck to the sound of rabbit cheers. The survivor postures alongside the road, chest puffed out at his own derring-do. This entertainment takes place between three and five in the morning in Nevada. Nevada has a lot of jack rabbits.

            Once the girls made it home, Tillie was frantic to get out of the trailer. It was the grass. She could smell the grass. The green grass of Montana. Somebody should write a book with that catchy title. Tillie had not seen green grass since drought struck southern Cal.

            While Tillie munched a few mouthfuls of genuine Montana, no additives, green grass, Jill, Toni’s brown Quarter Horse, waited to be introduced. Finally, Jill whickered over the fence, “Hi, I’m Jill. I’m from Montana. I’m rough and tough and hard to bluff.”

            “Whatever. I’m Tillie. I’m from southern California and I’m beautiful. See my mane and tail.”

            “They didn’t tell me you are “blonde”. I hope you have a brain.”

            “Is this dirt in the corral for us to roll in?”

            “Certainly. Be my guest.”

            Tillie lay down and rolled around on her back for ten minutes. She got up and shook herself for five. Then Jill took a turn. Together they walked off to the far pasture, comparing notes about their childhoods and upbringings. New best friends.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

July 17, 2014

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