My almost seven-year-old grandson, Trevor, wants a horse. Yesterday he opened a lemonade stand to begin earning money for Trevor’s Horse Fund.
When I was nearly seven I, too, began a Horse Fund. My parents had told me, a horse-crazy kid, that I could have a horse when I could afford to buy it myself. I’m not sure Trevor got the same message, he and his family live in the city of Toronto, but he seems to be a horse-crazy kid in the making.
“Prepare yourself,” I told my daughter, “remember, I was ten when I bought my first horse.” I had begun earning money and saving for a horse ever since my first riding lesson at age six. I pulled weeds, ran errands, sold Christmas cards, and kept an envelope taped to my bedroom door with “Horse Fund Donations” written in big letters.
Kindly babysitters, visitors, grandparents and parents donated to the Horse Fund over the years. And I had some ingenious ideas such as surreptitiously placing a tin can on my bed with a sign that read: “Coats, $1.00; Hats, 50 cents.” When my parents entertained people always put their coats and hats on my bed. To my delight, people paid! However, when a departing guest laughingly said the coat check fees at our house were a little steep the cat was out of the bag.
It took four years but by the time I was ten, there was $75.00 in the Horse Fund. Surely that was enough to buy a horse. Every Saturday I looked in the classified ads to see if there was a horse for sale. Always lots of kittens and puppies but never a horse. Until my luck changed.
It was a beautiful spring Saturday. As usual I was in front of the television watching my favorite shows, Fury and My Friend Flicka, with the classified section of the newspaper in my hands. Because it was such a beautiful day my parents thought they’d work on the yard, sow some grass seed, plant flowers. Knowing I wouldn’t budge from the television for the next hour they told me they were going to the nearby Farm Bureau to pick up grass seed and some plants. “We’ll be right back,” my mother said as she waved goodbye.
Goldie Has a New Home
By the time they got home, which was in less than an hour, I had bought a horse, over the phone, for $75.00. Not only had I bought a horse, I had called Mrs. Viau, my favorite babysitter to ask if I could still put a horse in her barn? Mrs. Viau always donated to the Horse Fund and told me when I got a horse, she had the barn. Next I called the riding stable and asked if someone with a horse trailer would come with us to pick up my new horse. I also asked if the vet was there and if he could come too. You see, I had been planning this for four years, and asking everyone at the barn what I had to do when I found a horse.
The shock on my parents’ faces matched the excitement on mine! What else could they do but drive me across town to meet my “team” and pick up the horse? After all, they had told me when I had the money I could have the horse. I just don’t think they ever thought it would happen.
When we finally arrived at the address I had been given, there was an elderly couple holding what I thought was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. Her name was Goldie and she was a very old Saddlebred mare. Her ribs showed through her chestnut coat but Goldie was kind and gentle. The vet said there wasn’t anything wrong with her that a little feed wouldn’t fix.
I think that old mare sensed how much she was loved as she loaded right up in the trailer. I got to ride in the truck and couldn’t stop looking back at her; big, gentle eyes looking back at me. On my lap were Goldie’s saddle and bridle.
For years Goldie and I rode the Hamilton County trails together. Me in the old cavalry saddle, lunch tied to one of its rings. We’d be gone all day, riding with other kids who had horses, exploring every inch of the trail system. About the time my parents thought I should be heading home they’d drive to the spot where the road paralleled a trail. There we’d be, me asleep in the saddle, old Goldie heading for home.
I wish the same joy for Trevor. May everyone buy lemonade…lots of lemonade!