Part one: Freedom on horseback

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“No hoof, no horse” is a saying which alludes to the importance of four strong foundations under one big animal. Study the structure of a horse even in passing, and their ability to accomplish such speed and agility, is astonishing.

Lucy Lu of Timbuktu had never paid one bit of attention to that old saying, and she managed to do all kinds of important things for me on the farm.

Skinny as a stick, that horse only had a simple head, but I thought she was a beauty. When my three sisters went off to school in the morning after my birthday, I now had a new gift on which to explore the great outdoors.

I was sure I looked just like Dale Evans on my horse, and I called up Roy Rogers to be my sidekick. I needed an extra punch to make my new holster with two shiny pistols fit just right, and then I was ready to ride.

Imagination can be a powerful ally, taking a child places that would otherwise never be seen.

Life-changing

As we galloped to the machinery shed, I suddenly realized I would need to tie Lucy Lu to something so she wouldn’t go off exploring, leaving a cowgirl stranded. It had never been a consideration before, which made me realize horse ownership was life-changing.

I stopped long enough to ask my dad what he thought I ought to do for a tie-up. He was busy working on the corn planter, he said, but could take a minute to help me solve this new problem. He tacked a perfect little hook to the machinery shed center pole, and the tiny little rein that was such a big part of Lucy Lu’s connection to me would attach over it perfectly.

Dad agreed wholeheartedly with me when I said Lucy Lu was the best horse a girl could ask for, and he added something about his adoration for the fact she wasn’t a hay burner at all.

Back to reality

Later in the day when I heard the school bus coming, Lucy Lu and I took off on a gallop to greet my big sisters. I felt proud of all that we had accomplished while they were gone, but the shine was wearing off. She was just a one-trick pony, and I was doing all the leg work.

“All you have to do is tell Dad you want a REAL horse,” my sister urged me. I had only heard her ask our dad this very thing once a day, every day, in recent memory, but somehow she felt my words would be the tipping point, and a four-legged horse would appear.

At the table that night, I made the big announcement that Lucy Lu of Timbuktu was pretty and all, but she relied on me for everything. I was dreaming of a partner horse who could really take me places. “She didn’t hurt you by throwing you off even once today. We don’t have to clean up after her, and she’s an easy keeper,” Dad said, in a tone that said he’d already thought about this a time or two.

A few years after Lucy’s appearance and rather abrupt retirement, Dad gave in and got us a pony with a colt at her side. We named the pair Beauty and Trigger. Let the adventures begin….

Next week: Beauty shows an ugly side.

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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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