Friday, January 15, 2010

Horse Tails ~ Pat

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
and she shall have music wherever she goes

     The first horse I ever owned  I never rode.  I don't know what possessed my parents to buy her, but to me my dream had come true.  Pat was an older Palomino but not a kids horse.  Apparently my parents didn't understand how to choose a horse for a beginning rider let alone ask for advice.  When I first saw Pat she was at a tumble down, junk strewn ranch.  Old tractors, piles of old fencing, rusty wire coiled and smashed against the barn were scattered around the property.  There were other horses boarded here in corrals along with chickens, goats and cows.  The corral fences were gnawed upon by the horses over the years giving them a look that made you wonder if the horses could bust threw them easily if they wanted.  The feed troughs were in the same condition made from old plywood.  You could hear the banging of hooves against them by the horses and goats waiting for their next feeding.  

     Pat was a tall mare and in my eyes she looked like Roy Rogers's horse Trigger.  My imagination soared thinking of our future rides together.  She walked around lazily with chickens running from under her hooves as she came towards us.  I had a bag of carrots in one hand and a carrot at the ready in my other hand.  My ten year old height gazing up at this huge horse while I smiled from ear to ear.  Her muzzle eagerly reaching out for the carrot which she bit ever so gently and immediately reached for the remaining half.  Then she blew out and breathed me in, looking for another carrot.  I reached up with my empty hand to pet her forehead down towards her nose.  That was what I did with Pat.   My stepfather would bring me every once in awhile for me to feed carrots to her.

     We eventually moved her to a ranch on Old Stage Road out in the rolling countryside of Salinas at the base of the Gabilan Range mountains.  We had a man ride her to the new ranch who appeared to be the only one who could ride her.  Here she had a large open pasture to run on with and a couple of donkeys for friends.  Out here there were Red Wing Blackbirds singing on the telephone wires and on the fences.  You could hear the hum of those wires so distinctly. It was so quiet and peaceful.   It was a wonderful place to run around on even if I didn't get to ride.   I was still taking riding lessons just down the road never knowing that I would not get to sit on her back.  

     It wasn't long after that she took to escaping her new home.  A bit of a Houdini and a jumper.  Maybe it was because she had room to run around in without obstacles that encouraged her to take flight over the fence.   I would hear about this from time to time since the property owners would call and tell us they had to go and bring her back.  Finally the suggestion came that we should hot wire the fence line.  What a job.  My stepfather and I went to the hardware store and bought bags of  porcelain insulators, wire and of course the  charger.  We spent the day out there with him putting the system together.   I ran around just happy to be in the country.  We figured this would work.  She wouldn't escape and for a time she didn't.   Same day that he is working and I am running around pretending to be a horse I guess, I get too close to her while she is running around.  Blam!  I am down on the ground in a split second gasping for air for what seems like forever till I can inhale.  I have been kicked in the diaphragm and the air knocked out of me.  I lay there not knowing what happened.  I couldn't yell so that my stepfather could hear me.  At last I got up.  Pat had resumed grazing without a bit of guilt as to what she had done.  I learned a valuable lesson when running around with a horse running around as well.  I had learned not to walk behind a horse at my riding lessons but like a child you forget lessons you learn.

     For her next trick she somehow fell into the septic tank at the ranch.  How she did this unclear to me.  The septic tank was not in the pasture but near the house on the property.  Turned out to be a good place for her to do this since it made it easier for when a tow truck had to be called to get her out.  Can you imagine when the tow truck driver arrived to find out what needed to be done?  Thankfully it all went well.  She wasn't thrashing or getting out of control.  She was just stuck.  Smelly but unhurt, she was rescued from the tank.    I think my parents were getting to wonder what they had gotten themselves into by acquiring this horse.  The owners of the property had to be tired of this mare who did nothing but get into trouble.  A suitable buyer was found soon thereafter and that was the end of my having a horse for the time being.  It didn't stop me from wanting another one though.  I kept up my longing and vocal wishes to my parents.  I had hope that they would give in if I just was patient and persistent.  



1 comment:

Sara Louise said...

When I was two I was given a Shetland pony named Rainy Day. But by the time I was big enough to ride her, her best horse buddy, Bell, had been sold and Rainy Day kept running away to look for her. Eventually we gave Rainy Day to the people that had bought Bell so they could live out their days together. I know I'm a lucky girl because I had a pony, but I'll never forget how much I cried when she was gone


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