Our granddaughter wasn’t feeling well so she spent the day with us. She was quite listless this morning so we sat together reading books and letting the kitten get acquainted with her.
One of her alphabet books had a picture of a pony, for P. She declared it was a horse so I pulled an old book from the shelf next to my chair: Walter Chandoha’s Book of Foals and Horses. A lovely picture book of equines, big and small, and often children pictured with them. All in black and white. We looked at pictures and talked about the differences between ponies and horses, as well as the differences of the horses. And donkeys, and mules. There are even a couple of zebras pictured.
It’d been a long time since I’d taken the book off the shelf to browse through it. My sister gave it to me for my fifteenth birthday, at an age when I was enamored with horses and fortunate to have one at my disposal to ride just about anytime, anywhere I wanted to take her.
Inside the front leaf my sister wrote:
The page almost in it’s entirety.
My sister, Pauline, is six years older than I. Early on she determined to have a horse as soon as possible. We were allowed to ride a Welsh pony, Brownie, that friends bordered at our small farm. Brownie was a cantankerous pony who once knocked me down with his hoof and taking a firm grip of the flesh over my hip between his teeth proceeded to toss me up and down until my shrieks brought the calvary to my rescue. Dad immediately put a lead rope on him and made me lunge him in circles using a carriage whip to make him obey me.
I was probably a couple years older when this picture was taken.
After saving money earned picking berries and green beans in the summers; raising, showing, then selling a 4-H dairy heifer every year she was finally able to buy, a four-year-old mare, Mitzi, who was her pride and joy.
Pauline often let me ride behind her during long gallops around grass fields and two miles up the road to some stables where we took riding lessons. When she left for college I considered Mitzi almost mine. Being too small and scrawny to lift the heavy western saddle onto Mitzi’s back I was forced to ride bareback. Oh the mad dashes we’d have the second we turned for home!
When we moved to Northern Arizona my sister sold Mitzi to a friend of the woman who owned the stables who’d been admiring Mitzi every time she saw her. Only three months after we moved my parents received word from the woman complaining that she couldn’t do a thing with Mitzi and would we take her back? She was willing to even haul Mitzi to us! The moment Mitzi saw my brothers and I descend from the school bus she began whinnying and dancing with sheer joy. We didn’t own property so the Navajo pastor/health clinic interpreter bought and kept her at his place but gave us permission to ride her whenever we wanted. It was that next birthday that my sister gave me the book with her poem:
Ride on, then, happily into the vast arena of life
Ride on, then, and think not of the stumbles,
and falls, and hot dust —
Ride on, then, in tune with the hoofbeats of the universe —
Let our Lord hold the reins.
He is Lord and Master of the mount He has loaned to us,
Ride on, then, ride on… and achieve your goal
under His guiding Hand…