Ponies and the love of children


My mother-in-law once told me that when my hubby was a little boy, he would draw pictures of horses, cut them out and set up various pastures, corrals and barn stalls for them. He was a horse lover from his youngest memory.


When our children were little, Doug poured over the Farm and Dairy every single week in search of a well-broke pony. One day, he made the trip from our Ohio home to Pennsylvania just to see if the classified description was as hopeful as it sounded.

That little pony came home with him, and even though our son thought it was an unnecessary purchase sure to run us straight to the poor house, that little mare was as perfect a fit for our little girl as if it was ordered just for her.

Caroline named the pony “Hope” as she was battling to get better from a blood disorder, and hope was a great thing to hold on to.


Ever since Caroline had a baby girl of her own 18 months ago, my hubby has jokingly threatened to find the perfect pony for little Landry. Unbeknownst to us, he was already searching, telling me later in the day what he had been to see.

He had high hopes of having a drawing card for our three young grandchildren. He passed on each one he went to see, knowing it wasn’t what he was hoping to find. One day last week, he spent hours waiting in the heat at a farm auction, with an eye on a beautiful, well-broke pony.


As luck would have it, the pony was the last thing to be auctioned. He nearly left to come home, but decided to wait it out, just to see if he could be top bidder.

Buddy, the gelding pony, came home with Doug late that night, and there is no argument he was worth the wait. He is a beauty, calm and sweet, and filled with personality. He was well-loved by one little girl throughout her childhood, and it shows.

Buddy comes when he is called, moves with grace and just like Hope, Buddy is not bothered by dogs, cats or fireworks. He is, as they say, bomb-proof, and perfect for us in every way. We still have the saddle that fit Hope so perfectly, and our 3-year-old grandson has been busy bonding with Buddy.

“I don’t want it to rain today,” Brooks says, while the rest of us prayed for an all-day rain. “If it rains, I can’t ride Buddy!”

His little sister and cousin, Marshall, both love Buddy, but are content just to watch from a distance for now.


I can still remember the day our little girl climbed on the back of Hope for the very first time, bareback, and took her for a walk to the woods. When she turned Hope around, Caroline gave a little kick and a clicking sound as she had seen my girlfriend Wendy do, and Hope kicked into her higher gear, bringing our sweet daughter back to where we stood.

I nearly passed out, but seeing my daughter’s big smile let me know this was a match made in heaven.

I’ve seen a poster that reads, “every horse deserves the love of a little girl at least once in a lifetime.” We could not agree more.

This is a gift for us as we are given the blessing of re-living our daughter’s childhood through the wonder of grand-parenting. It really is joy doubled, and we are reveling in this gift.


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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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