Love for a pony is a lesson in life


“A horse gallops with its lungs, perseveres with its heart, and wins with its character.” — Tessio

All of my life, I realize now that I totally misunderstood one extremely important part of horsemanship, and perhaps life in general. Now that the light has been cast upon my misconception, everything makes much more sense. Maybe, just maybe, I have stumbled upon the philosophy of life.

It all came to light as I discussed my friend’s life-long spunky determination to prevail as a cowboy, beginning with the fiasco of Frisco Pete, who dumped her in the street.

Demonic pony

As I laughed along with her, listening to humbling escapades that often landed her in hot water with her grandparents (and her parents, when they found out about a few that couldn’t be kept quiet), I found myself thinking of the one thing I’d always feared when around the only pony we ever had, a demonic Shetland named Beauty, who came to us with a colt by her side.

“I was always scared to death to be around our pony,” I admitted with a feeling of slight embarrassment, comfortable with our herd of mellow Holsteins. “That pony always acted like she hated us all, and maybe I’m wrong, but it seemed sort of like she was constantly trying to bite us.”

“Oh, yeah, ponies like to bite!” Cindy said. “Every pony I was ever around just loved to bite. And it was never just a little bite, but a chomp-down, set-you-down kind of bite that hurt like heck. You just learned to snub them up short when you tied them, especially when you were trying to saddle them, so they couldn’t reach their head around to get you. And when my pony did bite me, it just made me all the madder, more determined. I found a way to never let him get away with that again. That’s one big reason why I started riding without a saddle. If ya just jumped on and started riding, it didn’t give the pony a chance to bite you.”

Mean creature?

Wait a minute. I was stunned, speechless. I thought Cindy had loved her ponies and the ponies loved her back. Nope, it turns out it was a steely grit that kept that little girl getting back up on a mean creature. Every time.

Whoa, Nelly. This changes everything. Maybe even life and the way we live it should be approached this way. I was taught to be a lady; Cindy had it within to be a cowgirl, standing strong, snubbing tight, reining in, loving the moment, bites and all.

Can you see me?

The first time that little girl was entered in the great big Coliseum at the fairgrounds, she yelled out to her parents and grandparents as she rode by, “Can you see me?” The laughter of the crowd warmed the atmosphere. She rode ever taller in the saddle. Her grandpa set her on a course. It has evolved in to a lifetime of fun challenges for Cindy and her husband Phil and all the horses to come which they have shared with dozens upon dozens of young wannabe cowgirls.

Greatest pony?

“I think I just didn’t know different. Frisco Pete, to me, was the greatest pony, in spite of his mean, nasty personality. Grandpa was gruff, but he was the greatest grandpa.” He spent hours showing Cindy how to break a horse with a lunge line, how to saddle up, cinch tight, and ride. Blue ribbons and trophies aside, it was the ride that mattered most of all, and Cindy wore the black and blue marks of horsemanship with gleeful pride.

Cindy, still enjoying that endless ride, sums it all up with this keen observation: “It taught me you can love something just by accepting it.”
And that, my friends, pretty much says it all.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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