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December 21, 2021 4 Comments
The road narrowed from two lanes to one and turned from pavement to gravel. The irony didn't escape the father's thoughts. For his experience, it seemed all journeys began with wide open highways, almost inviting you forward, but as the end drew near, the pathways became harder, slower, bumpier, dustier. Life was tricky that way. He wanted his daughter to experience the open road of that magical beginning but he knew, eventually, there would be bumps in the path. He knew at some point, she'd question herself, maybe even want to give up. But he shook off the burdens of the future with another deep breath and pinned his attention to the priceless smile of his beautiful princess in the seat next to him. She was scanning the fence lines looking for that grey thoroughbred she'd seen on video. The very same horse they'd travelled so far to see.
The noise of the truck and trailer bouncing down the road borrowed the attention of all the horses on the farm and they began to call out and gallop about the open fields. "It's just like the video described, isn't it? Wide open fields, horses naturally playing together. Isn't this beautiful?" Asked the father. His daughter turned and nodded an enthusiastic yes. But he could see a hint of despair, or perhaps confusion, in her eyes. After scanning the herd, the very horse they were looking for was missing from the postcard like setting. "She's here somewhere, I'm sure." He said with certainty. "They've probably got her in the barn."
The ranch road ended on top a small bench just above the valley floor, commanding exceptional views from the small house and barn situated to soak it all in. The big barn doors were closed until the truck came to a complete stop. The sound of the engine halting, like the ring of a doorbell, called the homeowners through the small walkthrough door at the side. They were appropriately dressed for cold Montana weather and he could tell they had been busy this morning. He hoped it was for the right reasons. His imagination raced with things that could be off. The welcoming smiles and waving gestures they delivered gave calm to his anxieties. He tapped his daughter on the shoulders, then he and his excited new horsewoman in the making, cracked the doors, stepped down from the truck and embraced the sights and smells of what only a small horse ranch can muster.
If you're not an animal lover, the smells generated by crisp, dry air, dusty roads, trodden pastures, wood shavings, horse hair, sweat, and even manure, can be overwhelming. For the father and daughter, this smell was the first sign that, in spite of the distance between their home in Arizona and this one, they were in familiar country, and likely, with familiar folks. After their initial greetings, the two of them followed the homeowners through the side door and down the breezeway, all the way to the end with no horses to be seen in the stalls at the sides. The anticipation in the young girl was building and only one door remained. With a light tug, the last door slid open into a section of the barn reserved for what looked like a small indoor riding or training space. Clearly, the space was not meant for large crowds of people and horses, but in the eyes of the daughter now standing at the edge, the four-legged creature standing in the center made the space feel more grand than a jumping arena filled with spectators and lights.
Dapple grey, large eyes, bright white tail, dark tipped, perky ears, sparkling coat, smooth top lines, and a generally calm demeanor all indicated a well looked after, prized partner in the making. The homeowners had clearly spent their morning making her shine because the horses outside looked like they been playing in the mud all week. The father's measure of certainty was rising. Partially because the horse looked every bit the part they'd seen on video and also because she carried a saddle. And standing next to the mare was a young rider who was beaming with pride. The rider invited the daughter over to meet her new horse and with a glance to her father, and his nod of assurance, she stepped out into the small arena. Those first steps took her back to a memory of a dream, and forward at the same time, because today... that dream was not just in her heart, but truly standing in front of her.
The silver mare's ears perked as she stepped near. She even reached out to meet the young girl approaching, and with that first touch, the father knew it was needless to wonder if the horse would be coming home with them.
Author's note: For most of us, we remember the anticipation of that first horse and the magic of seeing a dream come true. What comes next? Part three to this story will arrive in your inbox next week. Thanks for reading, as always feel free to comment below and don't hesitate to reach out if you and your horse need a helping hand. We are here for you.
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