Memories - It was a Miracle Morning... She Offered him in Friendship...

 

Mother had always loved horses, and I always remember having one myself. Patti was getting old enough to have a pony, and it would serve two purposes. She would have one to ride, and Mother would have one to love, and take care of. The ones I had, would kick and bite any time they got the chance. So Mother couldn't take a chance to be around them. She could only pet them through the fence.

My Dad had a friend that owned a cattle auction in Tampa, and he would go to visit on Mondays while the auction was going on. He asked his friend to keep an eye open for a real calm and tame pony, the smaller the better. Well, we got a call a few days later that he had found one, but since it was registered it would be a bit pricey. Back in the late fifties the registered ponies were going for $750 and up. But to see the happiness on Mothers face, seeing my little sister Patti ride, it was worth it. The day came for her to be delivered and I think the night before Mother was awake all night. She would have the dream of a lifetime, to her. She knew she would never be able to ride her, but just to be able to be close to her was enough. Her name was Candy, and she was jet black. She was so fat she looked like she would drop a baby any day. She measured a full 6 feet around the belly. And was so funny. I think she would eat herself to death if given the chance. Patti was deathly afraid, and wasn't the least bit interested in riding her. So it looked like Mother was on her own. I had to feed her every day along with my own horses. They had an acre pasture in the South end of the property with a big pond. This is where my horses were. Daddy had a corral built next to the house for Candy where Mother could see her and brush her. But the brushing only took place when Daddy was gone to town as he would have heart failure if he ever caught her in the corral by herself. He would worry that Candy would step on her or kick her. But it never happened. One pony led to another, and another, and another.

There was a raffle at the Showman's club down town. Tom Parker, Yep the manager for Elvis, was a member of the club and had donated a pony to raise money for the club. As it turned out, the one who won the pony didn't want it and sold it to Daddy. He was a pinto, brown and white, and the only one we had. He had been trained to pull a cart so Daddy went out and after a short search found a Governess Basket cart. Now Mother could drive with her pony anywhere she wanted to go. There were several kids living in the camp, and Mother would make the rounds every afternoon and pick them up for a ride. They loved it as much as she did. 

 

Little Prince was a good pony and would just stand still if he thought there was any resistance on his harness. Daddy rigged a mushroom boat anchor on a long rope, and when Mother went to the local grocery store she would just drop the anchor and Prince would stand there and wait for her to come out of the store. She would then pull the rope and anchor into the cart and go home. She had freedom and took advantage of it. She had dreamed of someday riding a horse, but never thought it would be possible. Because the cart was up high she was about the same height as the pony's back.

One day when she was alone and riding Prince in a smaller cart, really a training sulky, she took him down by the waterfront and would circle around and then go back through the camp. On one of these trips, the tide was out, and the little Fiddler crabs, were out in the sun. Prince never liked anything like a stick or palm fronds that would be in the road so Mother knew he was shy about stuff that was different. When she came around a bend to make the circle by the water the Fiddlers were startled and they ran. Thousands of them. The pony bolted and headed for home Throwing Mother from the cart. One of the workers saw what happened and Mother on the ground. He and Daddy ran to her aid. She was yelling for someone to catch her pony. Mother was taken to the hospital to have the dislocated shoulder set. Daddy told her on the way that the little Prince was history, and he would be taken to the auction the following Monday. Mother was heart broken, but Daddy loved her so much that he couldn't stand to see her in pain. That was when they decided to just raise ponies. There was a man hired just to take care of the ponies. By then I was training a fancy show trotter. Apache was a big pony, but he loved to race. There were several tracks around central Florida to race every Sunday. Mostly old men trying to relive their past. And I was trying to make the decision, to continue to race ponies, or to go on and race horses.

Later in my life I would do both. One of my horses, a small welsh mare, that was as mean as a snake, had been bred and was due any day. One morning just before sun up Cookie, the expecting mare, was making so many noises Mother looked out her bedroom window to check on her. She settled down a bit, and Mother just stayed up, as by now it was just about daybreak. Mother went out to the corral and there was Cookie, nudging the tiny baby on the ground. Mother was afraid to go in the corral because Cookie could be very vicious at times. So she just sat on the ground and looked across the yard at the tiny baby. He was the first baby to be born here. Mother just sat still, and didn't say anything to upset the mare and colt. And was in awe, of the gift of life the night had brought. Then like if by magic, Cookie started pushing her baby to get up, which is what he did. Then the real surprise, Cookie kept nudging the baby towards Mother, and didn't stop till he was within her reach. It was a miracle morning. That she never forgot. Cookie offered her new baby, in friendship, but only to Mother.  She tried real hard to bite anyone else that went near the corral, but when Mother approached she would push the baby her way. I know in life there are many steps we have to climb, and the step taken by this horse just proves to me they have a connection to the crippled and young. The pony farm continued on till there were 30 ponies here at one time. Mother would clean the stalls herself. And in the many years that followed, she was never stepped on, bitten or kicked. They all knew, she was different, and meant no harm to them. But like everyone else that knew her, loved her....

 

2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

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