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Equus Girl Adventures





Updated: 2016-12-05T13:20:10.376-08:00

 



Chapter 10 ~ Barn-do-minium

2010-04-01T11:18:07.516-07:00

Calling Don, Emily and Joy to give them the news was so difficult. Every single one of us cried over the loss of this beloved family member. Even more difficult was the fact that Emily had already returned to college and was not with us to grieve.

The next days and weeks were quiet around our family, but as time does, it stared to fly by. The progress on the ‘Barn-do-minium’, as the contractor liked to call it, was on schedule. That word made me cringe. “Barndominium.” It conjured up images of dirty people living in a fly infested, stinky, run-down trailer. What we were building was so far from that. I was proud that I played such a huge part in its design. The barn was going to be a show palace equipped with 13 foot high ceilings draped with wrought iron fixtures, 6 12x12 foot stalls, 1 12x18 foaling stall with a turn out pen, a 12x12 wash stall a 12x12 and 12x6 storage areas along with 2 12x12 climate controlled rooms. One for laundry and a half bath, the other a feed and tack room. The center isle was a roomy 13 feet wide so if in the case of a storm; we could easily drive our vehicles inside to protect them. At either end of the isles were 2 pairs of huge sliding wooden doors that could be secured with rods down into the concrete foundation. Above the west facing set was an arched window that every evening allowed streams of sunlight to reach far into the structure. When the doors were fully opened a breeze blew making if feel cool even if the temperature was over 100. Each stall was going to be built in, nothing prefabricated! I designed electrical outlets to be placed in the ceiling above each stall for fans and winter lamps, keeping any stray cords away from curious horses. The custom cut stall bars were 2 inches thick and I was adamant that they be no more than 3 inches apart. Every day, with our dog Chrissy in tow, I inspected the work done in the barn and would quickly halt anything that was being done outside of what we had agreed upon. At the same time, the above living quarters was being built. When I toured it, the contractor would walk with me pointing out details in the kitchen or the bathroom and asking me questions. My usual response was, “What do you think?” One day he stopped dead in his tracks and said,

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you are by far the strangest client I have ever worked with!”

I smiled and raised my eye brows as he continued. “I have built homes for people with extremely tight budgets to those who seem to have endless funds. They usually come out 2 to 3 times per week to see the progress of their homes and obviously have input as to what their preferences are. You, on the other hand, are down stairs where your horses are going to live, with a tape measure every single day monitoring every single thing being done. Up here though, where YOU will be living, other than the basic layout that we put together, you just allow me to make all the choices! I don’t understand.” He said as he removed his baseball hat and scratched his head.

It was obvious there was no malice in his questions and I liked that he felt comfortable enough with me to approach the subject.

“Well..” a chuckle came from deep within me. “All my life I have dreamt of owning, showing and breeding Saddlebred horses. Creating this barn is a huge part of that dream. I just don’t want any mistakes made that I feel like I could have prevented. As for the home, I feel like you know best. When you are done building it, I will decorate it specific to my plans, but you are the expert on the bones of its construction.”

From that moment on, he understood me and we worked in sync until the barns completion.



Chapter 9 ~ Heartbreak

2010-03-23T08:26:56.155-07:00

Joy was allowed to go home the next day. Clearly, she was not yet well, but so much better. She was still fast asleep that morning when the phone rang. It was Pam. Pam is one of those people who is really genuine. She is kind and loving, hard working and always willing to give of herself to the benefit of those in need. Pam is who I entrusted all 3 of our beloved horses; Blondie, Sparkey and Trojan. Their farm is about the same size as what we were building, but complete with several different paddocks, pastures and barns to accommodate many horses. With this living situation, I was completely satisfied! “Julie, Julie – You need to come quick!” She said interrupting me as I said hello. “What is going on Pam? I sat at attention waiting for her answer. “Something is wrong with Trojan. It is like he cannot walk..or like his back legs cannot walk…Oh – I don’t know. PLEASE just come over quickly!” There was urgency in her voice that I was not going to argue with. I got up and threw on a t-shirt and jeans as I was explaining the situation to Don. I grabbed my keys and my purse and ran out the door. I took the truck since I was sure a trip to the vet was in order. The Trojan War Horse as he was dubbed because of his towering stature rising up to 17 hands high. Trojan for short. He was a Tennessee Walking Horse, strawberry roan in color, not registered, 9 years old when I told the previous owner I wanted to buy him…but miraculously aging to 12 by the time he was paid for 6 weeks later! No matter. Now an astounding 30+ years old, he had been a guardian angel to both Emily and Joy throughout their entire childhood. He coached them all around the neighborhood without objection, even as they collected riders along the way. It was not uncommon to see 3 children riding him at once! He would happily bob his head to and fro as he made his way around the lake, with that bright orange mane and tale. Many a times he was involved in the girls sneaky escapades. I once found them riding the horses after dark, in the paddock with no saddles or bridles! Another time, feeling compassionate for riding Trojan too hard on a hot summer day, they just brought him into the house to rest under the ceiling fan! Memories were flooding my head and heart as I feared what I would have to face this day. I skidded to a stop on Pam’s gravel driveway. Got out of the truck and ran through the barn. I could see several people with Pam, who was holding a lead line attached to Trojan’s halter. His head was low, but at least he was standing up, I thought to myself. “Oh good. I am glad you are here.” Pam said as soon as she saw me. “What is going on?” I questioned as I took the lead from her hand. “He can stand here, but when we try to move him; ask him to walk, his back end doesn’t move in sync and he loses his balance.” She started to explain as I moved closer to him. “Be careful Julie. I am worried that he could fall on someone.” She followed up as I nodded. I stepped back, but took the lead and asked him to come up 1 step to me. I needed to see what she was talking about. Trojan raised his head. I knew he recognized me…or maybe just my voice. He took one step forward with his front legs. His left back leg curled under his hip and his huge body started to rock off balance. “Whoa big boy!” I said as I pushed back on his chest hard trying to help reposition his weight. I stood silent for a moment. “We have to get him into a trailer so I can take him down the road to the vet.” Pam said, “Use mine Julie. It has a strong divider in the center he can balance on.” And without hesitation, she ran through the barn isle to start hooking it up. She backed it into the barn, getting it right beside Trojan. He looked up at it as we opened the back. Trojan was good about riding in a trailer, but this was a special circumstance. I led him in. He took 2 steps with his front legs and then his hip started to sway[...]



Chapter 8 ~ The Move

2010-03-16T08:23:06.867-07:00

It was hard to pack up my beloved treasures. I carefully wrapped every single memory as best I could, hopefully preventing any breakage during this move. Some of the items could be retrieved as soon as we moved to the farm, I consoled myself. Others though, I knew, would be packed away for years until we were able to build a real home. Our rental was not ideal, but we were thankful to get it considering the very few options we seemed to have. It was a duplex home about 15 minutes from my work. The neighborhood consisted mostly of renters which made for no welcoming party…to say the least! There were 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and den. Both our daughters, Emily and Joy lived there with us until they returned to college. To be quite honest, the place gave me the creeps. I knew most of my neighbors by name though. I could easily read it from their tattooed backs! I found myself constantly checking the doors and windows, making sure all was secure and I stayed inside after dark. Other than that, it was clean and it was the one place that would rent to us for only 6 months. It had a fenced in back yard and other than the Pit Bull next door, who dug under the fence and tried to eat our Corgi KC, everything was fine…just FINE…. I vowed not to stay 1 hour past our 6 month contract, even if it meant pitching a tent at the farm!Once a well was erected, I spent most afternoons at the farm for a few hours every day. It not only allowed me to watch the progress of the building, but when I was there, I worked on the back pasture fence. I had a goal of completing 4 sections of fence a day. I tried to time it so that I arrived back at the duplex right before sunset. Upon arriving home one day, I entered the house and heard a strange noise. My heart started to race. I stood perfectly still waiting to hear another noise. I searched for our indoor dog Chrissy with my eyes but did not see her. Again, I heard the strange sound. It was a moan. I raced to the back bedroom frantically looking around. Nothing. I leapt forward into the bathroom. There was Chrissy standing next to Joy, our youngest daughter. She was curled up around the toilet in obvious pain. “What’s wrong?” I questioned as I knelt down beside her.She tried to focus on me while answering. “Momma, my stomach hurts really badly.”Joy was ghost white and there was a veil of sweat over her face. She had her left arm curled under her body and around her abdomen. The toilet was full of vomit and she continued to gag. I ran into the kitchen, grabbing a towel and dousing it in cold water. I took it back to her, trying to sit her up to wipe her face. She threw her head back and cried an agonizing wail. A sound no Mother ever wants to hear come from her child. I grabbed her arm and pulled it around my neck, picking her up. We went straight out to my car. I tried as gently and quickly as I could to get her situated into the car. We sped off on our way to the Emergency room. “Joy. I have to ask you a question and you MUST answer me honestly! I mean it Joy, I will not be angry with you. You just have to be honest so we can figure out what is going on!” My voice was shaking as she nodded yes.“Have you done any drugs?” I asked as I turned my head from the road to her. She nodded no.“Any drugs, means anything from taking anything the doctor prescribed to anything legal or illegal…ANYTHING?” Again she shook her head no. Her big brown eyes filled with tears as she started to get ill again and we sped down the road.We arrived at the hospital and wheeled her into the Emergency room. Her cries and dry heaves would have brought a grown man to his knees. Everyone who saw her had a look of either sympathy or terror on their face. Once on the gurney she could not stay still. She rolled and flipped and cried. It was hard for the nurse to get an IV started. When they did, they proceeded to give her syringe after syringe full of pain medications, a veritable coc[...]



Chapter 7 ~ Hurry Up and Wait

2010-03-10T09:58:14.592-08:00

The next month was a blur. Every waking moment was spent doing projects around the house from big to small with one simple goal in mind; to make our home look irresistible to as many people as possible!

It was an older ranch style house situated on three acres. Our small subdivision was developed around a manmade lake, maybe 5 acres in size with one road coming in, wrapping around the lake and exiting the same way it entered. Ours was one of the lake front pieces and although we had come incredibly close, our home had never been touched by flood waters! About four years prior we had erected a shed row barn that sat comfortably to one side of the house without looking intrusive. It was a lovely set up which attracted quite a bit of attention from realtors and buyers alike. There was but one problem; our neighbors. Our subdivision, like so many other older developments had an interesting selection of home owners; those who loved their dwellings and those who did not. Sadly, one of the ‘nots’ lived directly across the street from us!

I implored them both by phone and in person to clean up their yard, even offering my help, without response. Their garage too cluttered to be used for vehicle storage was one thing, but the unsightly empty lot beside their home housing an assortment of dead car parts and wooden pallets was inexcusable. Many interested buyers did not bother to stop and visit our dreamlike home because of this. I watched as they sometimes would not even turn into our drive after seeing the pig pen my neighbors called their home.

Month after month passed us by with no contracts offered on our home. It nearly broke my heart and started a swell of doubt to rise inside of me. I tried to bide my time with a contractor we hired. Don and I decided create our dream farm in stages. We opted to build a custom barn instead of a pre fabricated one. Along with this idea, we wanted to have an apartment situated above the barn that we would live in for a small amount of time and later possibly rent out, after of course, our real home was built. As often as my mind started to drift backwards into worrying about the sale of our house, I would force my thoughts forward into this building project.

Six months had passed and we still did not have one offer so we made the decision to let our realtor go and hire one who was of a more aggressive nature. With her tactics we drastically lowered the price and forged forward. Within days we had two interested parties and an offer was on the table. We reached an agreement and our house was SOLD! This entire process took nine grueling months.

Not one week later a massive storm deluged the area with torrents of rain. Again, our home was not flooded, but so many in our area were, that trying to find a rental house while we built, was quickly becoming an urgent situation! It was not a matter of being picky about where we were going to rent, it was a matter of just finding a rental property that was available and would accept our 3 dogs, 3 cats, 1bird and 1 fish! The horses obviously, had to be boarded.



Chapter 6 ~ The Stud Contract

2010-03-03T17:42:39.516-08:00

Once we were sure that we were going to move further out into the country and build our farm, I decided to give myself a gift. Always dreaming of breeding and raising my own horse, I thought this would be the perfect time. It was almost springtime and I just finished showing our mare Blondie at the Pin Oak Charity horse show. Hours of winter evenings were spent thumbing through Saddlebred journals that were filled with advertisements for Stallions standing at stud around our nation. Carefully studying pedigrees and body types only confirmed my original choice. My favorite was a former World Champion 5 gaited stallion named Heir to Champagne.

I phoned the barn manager where this stallion was standing to get some information. She advised me of the costs, which, when added up, were substantially more than I thought they would be. There was the stud fee, the cost of same day air transport and the collection fee. Using a stallion that was located out of state meant that we were going to either have to ship the mare to the stallion or do artificial insemination. We chose to transport the semen here and have the vet inseminate her.

My next step was to take our mare to the vet to get a fertility check up and to have an ultrasound performed to see how close she was to ovulation that month. The next day I left Blondie at the vet’s office with the intention of picking her up that evening after work.

During the day, I received a call verifying that the mare was in perfect health, but that she was going to ovulate in only a few days! Very excited and yet panicked, I called the barn manager again. She calmed my nerves and told me how to express mail the check to them. She would fax me a copy of the Breeding contract the next morning, and before we ended the call I gave her all of my vet’s information. I was elated! Another piece of my dream was going to come true.

Barely able to sleep, I envisioned the beautiful foal we would have the next year. I got out of bed and started to get ready for work early and tried to think if I had forgotten to call anyone of our many friends to inform them of the great news. I could not stop smiling.

Getting to work and trying to concentrate was difficult to say the least. Every project I worked on was interrupted by my day dreaming. I knew the contract was going to be faxed to me and was anxiously waiting for it. About mid-morning, most of the workforce had arrived but the office was still a bit quiet. A woman was walking through the isles on our floor from the business station towards me. I could see her over the half back cubical wall that surrounded my desk. Keeping my fingers crossed, our eyes met when she was still about 100 feet away.

“Juuuuuulieeeeeeeeee” Her voice sung out nice and loud as she started to smirk. Skipping and waiving the paper around the top of her head as if she were imitating a helicopter. “I have your stuuuuuuuuuddddd contraaaaact!”

I bit my lip and tried to sink down in my chair to disappear. Almost everyone around me stood up in their cubical to see what was going on. A roar of laughter rang out over the floor and I realized I had to stand and face my tormentor. “Give me that.” I said as she approached. I started to laugh.

Just as I was about to sit back down, another woman stood up. She was a passive meek looking lady in her mid sixties. I do not remember ever seeing her. Looking straight at me and in a whinny voice she said, “I want a stud contract!” Not sure how to reply, I just sunk back down into my chair and hid in my cubicle the rest of the day.



Chapter 5 ~ "Don; We Are Moving!"

2010-03-01T09:28:29.638-08:00

The truck could not go fast enough driving home…not giving one thought to the reason I why I was running errands; why I was in that area or what I was hauling home. The only thing on my mind was our new home and how I was going to tell Don about it. This, after all, was not something I wanted to tell him about over the phone. It had to be done with finesse. It had to be done with emotion. It had to be done with excitement! “Don!” I screamed before I stepped through the door. “We are moving!”Well, THAT was full of finesse! I thought to myself.With eyes are large as saucers, he listened to me describe the property and what had happened. I spoke as much with my hands as I did using my mouth pacing all about the floor. I could not stand still. Adrenaline rushed through my system and I hoped it was spilling over into his.“So what do you think?” I asked.Dead silence fell over the kitchen as he backed his head up into his shoulders. I think he was waiting for me to pass out. He stood there with a sandwich in his hands ..in the same position he had been in when I rushed into the house nearly 20 minutes earlier.“Do you want to go and see it?” I asked breaking the silence.“Now?” he responded.“Well, I want to go now and if we left right now, we would still have about 20 or 30 minutes of daylight left.” “Don’t you have a big chest in the back of the truck?” he said still trying to absorb everything I had just laid on him.“Oh yeah – that…” I looked down biting my lip.“Can’t we go Sunday – on my day off?” He said still gripping his sandwich.“Yeah.” I was disappointed and could not hide it in my voice. “Okay, I guess that would be better and I can call and find out more about it too.”I fished the tiny piece of paper out of my pocket where I had scribbled down the number posted on the for sale sign as I walked over to the phone. By the time the dialed number was ringing, I had a pen in hand slanted down at a note pad.A 10 minute conversation revealed every detail that was going to be legally necessary, but not mandatory in my world. That particular track of land was roughly 28 acres, mostly pasture and although it had an elevation slope of about 100 feet, none of it was in the flood plain. The attentive sales person was providing information faster than I could request it. This new development was a small grouping of ranches no less than 15 acres and most closer to 50 created from an 850 acre ranch owned by one man that was sold upon his death. They were in the process of creating a fishing lake, there were going to be horse trails and blah blah blah… Little did he know that I was sold the minute he told me the land was still for sale…at any cost! It seemed to take forever for the days to pass until Sunday when Don and I would return so that I could introduce him to our next home. I made list after list of things to be done before we placed our house on the market. I made several calls to friends requesting Real Estate Agent referrals and actually started to clean out the attic for a garage sale. My family surely thought that I had gone mad. * * * * * “There it is!” I said pointing to the short gravel drive. Don pulled the truck up to the gate and slowly got out. I noticed his eyes squinting as he looked around.“Come on. We have to jump this gate.” I encouraged.“Okay..okay, just wait for me!” he said.He could not have been moving more slowly, or so it seemed to me at the time. I grabbed his hand and we headed up to the top of the hill. Just as we reached the highest point the breeze blew and stroked my face. To me it felt like a greeting from someone I adored. I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes. Still clutching Don’s hand, I prayed that he too felt the connection. Opening my eyes, I looked over at him. He was looking back and forth. He turned around and looked over at the wooded area.[...]



Chapter 4 ~ Fast Forward 30 Years

2010-02-25T09:34:14.144-08:00

Driving ever so carefully, I glanced back into the rear view mirror several times each minute. The man at the antique store had done a good job in securing the 4 pieces of the armoire into the truck bed, making sure that the blankets were covering every part and that the ropes would not rub, but this was such a big purchase for me, I still felt uneasy. I was coming down a long stretch of good road. It was quiet, except for an occasional whoosh of the wind as another car passed. It gave me some time to relax. I felt so content. I loved living out in the country, even if we only had 3 acres. It was an amazing place to raise our daughters Emily and Joy. Emily already in her first year of college and Joy would follow the next year. “And finally” I thought, “we were not so strapped financially that we seemingly had to say no to everything!” I gazed around as I drove. The hills gave character to this area unlike any place around it. Not big jutting hills, but gently rolling swipes of land that carried your eyes to the farthest point. Somehow it all of a sudden felt very familiar to me. As I came to a crossroad, I noticed the sign. “This was it!” I thought. “This was the intersection JoAnn told me about.” My precious neighbor and wonderful friend loved to wander. At any given time, if Joann was driving somewhere, she was subject to just venture off the beaten path …and well, just go and explore. She had, only one week ago, told me about a magnificent piece of land she spotted and if I remembered correctly, it was just 3 or 4 miles down this road…the exact opposite direction of home. I wheeled the truck from the right lane into the left turn lane. I had to find it. She said it was at the top of the hill and there was a gate..yes, a gate right after a bridge I think.. The light turned green and I headed North with my precious cargo in tow. Carefully watching the odometer, I slowed down after traveling 3 miles. I could see the road still rising in front of me, so I kept driving. “There it is!” I gasped. Pressed into the landscape was a large metal stock gate coming off of a short gravel drive. I pulled up and turned off the engine. I gazed around. This had to be it. I walked over to the gate and noticed the chain about it fastened with a combination lock. No one seemed to be anywhere around. Again I looked right and left. Grabbing the gate with both hands, I hoisted myself over it as though I was mounting a horse from one side and dismounting on the other. I shoved my keys into my back pocket and started to walk to my right. The driveway was not quite at the top of the hill, so I ventured in that direction. There was a thrill of anticipation. My heart was beating fast and I felt excited for no apparent reason. Trekking about 100 yards North I crested the top of the hill. My mouth fell open. I could not take in the magnificent view in just one sweep. My eyes danced back and forth several times trying to absorb as much as I could. The hills rolled into each other for miles like waves coming to shore. The grass of the back pasture swayed back and again with the constant breeze that was rising from the hundred foot slope. This was my home. At that very second this land claimed me and I knew God had just bestowed a very special undeserving gift into my hands. Bordering what I knew was going to be the back pasture for our horses was a line of forest. Not just a pine forest, which was the norm for South Texas, but massive ancient oaks and pecan trees. I kept walking. There were grape vines hanging from tree limbs spilling the unclaimed fruit to the ground. Stepping through the underbrush and into the forest landed me under a canopy of trees, each so sheltering that the ground beneath was surprisingly clear. It was then that I happened upon a very special place. In front of me were 3 trees that h[...]



Chapter 3 ~ My One & Only Horse Ally

2010-02-24T09:03:52.692-08:00

(image) My Grand Father ~ James Milam Leavens

* * * * * *
I had only one horse ally in my family, my paternal Grandfather, James Milam Leavens. He loved and respected horses and it was he who introduced me to different breeds and horses of quality.

One Saturday morning, Grandfather came over unbenounced to my parents, to pick me up. I was up and dressed at daybreak anxiously watching for him out the window. I was privy to the scheduled events for that day and could not have been more excited. We were going to the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show! This show was held once a year at the infamous Pin Oak Stables and was considered by most to be the social event of the year for Houston, Texas.

Crowds of people flocked to the rings, men wearing suits and ties and the ladies in their Spring finest. Hats, matching dresses, bags and shoes completed with wrist length gloves. With a back drop of laughter, amid the chatter, most of the conversations were centered around a favorite contender. It had all the elegance of high tea with the exception of a few awkward steps to avoid any horse mishaps.

It was here that I was introduced to the world of horses at their finest. Showcasing each individual breed and their talents, I was not only able to experience the horses, but so many disciplines of competition as well. Arabians, Tennessee Walkers, American Saddlebreds, Thoroughbreds as well as Hackney Ponies were all there. Horses cleared jumps I could not see over. Arabians and their riders costumed in vivid colors captured everyone’s attention. Grand carriages being pulled by perfectly matched pairs as well as Roadster Ponies flying around the corners so fast, it had the crowd gasping and waiting for the jog carts to flip over! Class after class opened me up to new worlds of horses and riding styles, but the class that left the biggest impression on me was the Saddleseat American Saddlebred class.

The Ring Master lifted his horn beckoning the show horses through the gate. Trotting in a fashion I had never seen, in came the most breath taking creatures God had ever created! Heads held high, long refined necks and longer legs with a knee popping trot and a confident fire in their eyes captured my heart like no other breed ever had. Hardly able to breathe, I soaked every moment of it into my soul, just knowing that I would relive this day in my mind a million times over. Every rider, no less elegant that their mount was dressed in day suits with matching Derby hats. Their long riding coats were slit in the back and seemed to glide over the back of the horses as a cape would if the wind had captured it. I fell madly in love with American Saddlebred horses that day; a passion I am sure to carry with me to my last breath.



Chapter 2 ~ Prayers

2010-02-22T18:28:45.346-08:00

Not being a very beautiful child lent into my dream world of horses. It was a place that I could escape and had no baring on the fact that I had severely buck teeth, very thin stringy hair and pale skin. I would pine over any book I could find. I traced so many horse pictures that on occasion, when books were returned to the library you could see the indention from my pencil around the subject.(image)
Every night before going to sleep my Mother would come in and say prayers with me. She ended hers with a kiss to my cheek. Knowing that I had God’s full attention; after all I believed, who would not listen my beautiful Mother when she spoke? I continued my prayers after she left.

Looking straight up at the ceiling with an intent stare I whispered
“Dear God. Pleeeeeessse bring me a horse. I promise to be good. I’ll do all my chores, eat all of my dinner. I won’t even whine anymore. Please, please, please, bring me a horse of my own! Also, if you can…make me a little bit prettier each day so the kids will stop teasing me…BUT – if you can only do one of those things, I would rather have a horse! AMEN.” I then flipped over, pulled the covers up around my head and fell fast to sleep knowing that He heard me.



Chapter 1 - In the Beginning..

2010-02-20T16:50:19.149-08:00

My Father always said the worst mistake he ever made in raising me, was taking me to Main Street to ride the Shetland ponies. I remember it like it was yesterday…

It was a warm summer day. Riding in the front seat, I was hardly able to sit still as the minutes seemed to drag on for hours. I held tightly to the plastic baggie containing the allowance money, mostly pennies, I had earned doing chores. A whole dollar! My fingers started to sweat. At the ripe age of six, I was already stricken with it. That dreaded life long disease called Horse Fever.

My heart was racing. From the moment we pulled into the drive to park, I was stretching and twisting my head to look at all the horses. Never would I let them tell me which one to ride. Waiting and watching carefully, I looked for a horse of size and spirit; one who would certainly canter if I asked! At the Main Street Pony Rides, a horse of size was only 11 or 12 hands high. After watching the other children ride and carefully making my decision, I would take my bag of coins to the ticket booth.

“Four tickets please.” I said hoisting my payment onto the counter.

The old man behind the booth was tall and thin. His unshaven face or the fact that he had dirt under his fingernails did not blemish my opinion of him. In my eyes, he had the best job in the world!

Cocking his head to the side, he picked up my bag of money.
“How much is in here?”
“A whole dollar!” I exclaimed.

He moved the bag off to the side of the counter and tore off the 4 tickets.

“Aren’t you gonna count it?” I questioned.

Ever so slightly his left eyebrow rose.
“No Hun. I trust you.” He said as he handed me the passport to my dream!

I ran over to the gated area where the horses stood, each tied to a fence line under a small covering. Bouncing up and down I held tightly to my Father’s hand while waiting for my turn.

The young barn hand walked over to us. He was dirty, but he smelled wonderful..just like the horses. Dad waited outside the gate as I was let through. I held up my tickets at the same time I was pointing to the pony of my dreams. An ancient palomino gelding whose body hair rivaled the length of his mane. He raised his head and looked over the other horses backs, watching my approach.

“That one?” the man asked.
“Yes. He is the one I want to ride.” I said as I made my way to his side.

I was lifted up into the saddle and placed my feet into the stirrups. I put one hand on the saddle horn and with the other I held the reins. We were led to the entrance of the track. Looking ahead of me, it looked massive. We walked just a few steps; enough to be out of reach of both my Father and any one else who might object. No one was in front of us. I cued the pony to canter. He picked up the trot. Determined not to waste my hard earned money, I leaned forward and kicked harder. This time I made the kiss noise my Grandfather told me about too. The well trained steed listened and obeyed and off we went. Busy with another horse and child, the attendant barely noticed my mischievous act but as we came back into the corral, he looked at me from the side of his eye. I dropped my chin and was smiling back at him.

“Do you want to ride him all 4 rounds?” he asked.
Whew! I thought I was about to get into trouble. I smiled even bigger as I nodded yes. I knew better than to make any eye contact with my Father lest he order me to obey the rules!