Publisher’s Letter: Fathers, daughters, and horses

Tears are falling as I write this column. I have decided to give my last horse, Rosie, to a 9-year-old girl who will love and ride her frequently. Horses have always been a part of my life, and I have my grandfather and father to thank in part for this relationship. In our younger days, my grandfather kept saddle horses for my brother and me as well as my aunts and uncles. Rebel and Rocket were their names. Rebel was a good horse, but he taught my brother and me our first lesson in barn door etiquette. Better make sure the horse barn door was shut before mounting him, because he would take us right back through it!

When it was time to get my own horses, Dad helped me find them. Some worked out and some didn’t. One took me through the fence, dragging about 300 feet of wire behind us while white insulators popped off fence posts like popcorn. My father, in his words of wisdom, said, “Your horse broke it, you fix it.”

While I was in college, I didn’t have my own horse, but once again grandpa pulled through. My grandparents had moved off the farm, but grandpa made sure he had a barn and a horse for his grandchildren. Grandpa did a good job finding Cinnabar because all his grandchildren could ride him.

After getting married, it was time to get my own horse again. Dad had bought my sister a gentle mare named Mandy, and I had to have something to ride, too. My father found an 11-year-old mare at another farm. I can’t remember her name, but I will call her Can It. I owned her for about three weeks. Can It was a great horse to saddle in the barn. We led her outside and I mounted her with no problems while my husband and father watched. All of a sudden, Can It started backing up and then reared, flipped and came over on top of me. I have never hurt so much in my life. The next weekend our friend Diane, an expert rider, came over and tried riding the mare. She climbed on and the horse started backing up again and reared. “Can It, can it, put this horse in a can!” were the last words Diane shouted before she hit the ground and the horse landed on top of her.

I found my perfect horses after the experience with Can It; even my children had the perfect pony when they were younger. It was important to my husband (who did not grow up with horses) that his kids had a pony. Her name was Ginger and she was a gentle soul. If you have ever owned a pony, you know there are two kinds: ones that are sweet and loveable, and ones that would rather throw kids than look at them. Even Daddy cried when we had to lay Ginger down.

My last two horses were ideal for me. Shamrock was a beautiful American Saddlebred. Once again Dad found her at a horse farm where he bought his last pair of draft horses, a nicely matched set of Percherons, who were gentle giants. My aunt decided she liked riding Shamrock, so I bought Rosie for myself. A couple of years ago, Shamrock went to horse heaven, and it is now time to say goodbye to Rosie. I am going to miss her so much. I will miss talking to her, grooming her and seeing her in the pasture from my bay window. My dad is selling his gelding George, too. I guess that means we are both getting older.