Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dreams Can Come True

She had been mine since 7th grade when Dad and Uncle Jim pulled the truck into the driveway pulling a horse trailer behind. I leaned on the wide ledge of my bedroom window wondering at the activity in the yard. Uncle Jim opened the back of the trailer, and I was in the window no more.

Dad's big Belgian work horses were gone by the time I was a born. The old harnesses and yokes were the only reminders of another time. Dad would tell me about the beautiful matched team that had helped him farm, hulling trees from the creek bottom to the building site of the new barn. How I longed to sit astride one of his beloved horses.

Playing cowboy was just something we farm kids did back then. Dad would tie a piece of twine around the end of a tobacco lath, and I would ride around the farm chasing bad guys. Most times I was Roy Rogers. I knew it would be my only horse. There would never be money for such a luxury.

Hanging out at the horse barn at the fair gave me a taste of what it would be like to have a horse. As a tyke I sat on a live pony that walked behind another plodding around in a circle. Our friends, the Eliker family, had a horse in the fair horse barn. The smell of horses and the chance to pet a nose peeking out of a stall were worth the trip to the fair. Oh, how I wanted a horse.

I'm not sure how I managed to contain myself when I saw this beautiful bay quarter horse standing by the barn. She was huge. Her coat was dark, reddish brown with a black mane and tail. A small white star sat between her sweet, dark brown eyes. Dad handed the harness strap to me and told me her name was Cherry, she was mine.

Not every child gets to have dreams come true. I didn't know what it would feel like. My imaginings didn't come close to the real thing. Dad explained that when Uncle Jerry (the man who taught me to love singing) had died, his horse and tack were to be given to me. Uncle Jerry was surely smiling looking down at this girl he loved loving his beloved horse.

Cherry and I had our adventures. She was a trained horse, and I was untrained. I learned to understand her gaits. Yet sometimes when we were walking at a slow pace, she would go into a trot or a canter bouncing her rider all over the place. We learned about each other.

Horses will gorge on corn should the opportunity present itself. Cherry escaped through a hole in the fence into the corn field. I walked non-stop the rest of the day and into the night trying to keep her on her feet singing the song Uncle Jerry taught me, "Over the Rainbow". Tears stained my face; she plodded along. The next morning she was dead. It was the first day of my senior year.

Wow, I still cry thinking about it. There is something everlasting about that relationship with a pet. Even one as large as a horse. I bushed her coat, combed her mane and loved her. She nuzzled me, nibbled at me, was my friend.

Dreams can happen but at a price. My dream came in a trailer that day. So children, dream. Dreams can come true.

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