When I was a child I fell in love with horses. One of my earliest memories is riding a big white horse named Charlie as Daddy led him to the barn after working in the field. He was sweaty, and his white hair stuck to my bare legs. I thought he smelled devine. I grasped the two short stubs of harness at the top of the hames. They stuck up perfectly, like handlebars made just for me.
In third grade, on the inside cover of my arithmetic book (math was called arithmetic) was a picture of children walking through a lovely woods, and in the center of the drawing was a black and white pony. Such a beautiful little thing and in my imagination I became the child upon his back. Daydreaming instead of listening was my downfall. I should have been learning addition, subtraction and division, but my mind drifted far away to a place where I had no school, only free time to ride my black and white pony. With my mind so far from the classroom, math had no chance of setting up residence in my brain. I blame my lack of math skills, even today, on that book.
I was fortunate that I did have a horse to ride -- a big fat plow horse named Daisy. I was ashamed riding a work horse when my friends rode sleek, long-legged horses who ran like the wind. Daisy refused to move any faster than a trot, and then only after I slapped her neck over and over with the leather reins.
My friend Margaret, rode a sorrell named Molly. Oh how I envied her that horse. I would lie awake at night and imagine riding across the pasture on such a horse, a horse that I owned. I never wanted her horse, but I wanted one just like Molly, only black. Then Margaret and I could ride together.
At night I'd ask God in my prayers, "Why do you let Margaret have such a fine animal when she doesn't love horses like I do?"
She often came by my house and asked me to climb on behind her for a ride. One day we were riding double, me on the back behind the saddle. Margaret rode her horse, Molly, at a steady hard gallop for two miles or more without stopping. I feared injuring the horse, but we did not stop until I found myself flying over Margaret as Molly's head went down and she flipped over. She either stepped in a hole or her front legs buckled from fatigue. I'm still amazed that neither my friend nor I was hurt. Amazing also was the red horse, her sweat-soaked body now crimson, who clambered to her feet, without an injury of any kind.
That's why I told God that Margaret didn't love horses as I did.
Many horses passed through my life, but the only one I could ever claim as my very own and the one I loved for 30 years, was "Pretty Thing" a mischievous and delightful two year old given to me when I was fresh out of college. But I 'll save our love story for another day.
You can read one of my horse stories in a Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers, published by Adams Media.
They are available in large book stores.