The Red Filly-Chapter 5

            Octavia was saddling Frisco for their riding lesson. He was a big, deep red, sorrel, with a full blaze running down his face and white socks on three of his legs, the left rear being the longest and no sock on his front left leg. Bethany had to fight off the envy she was feeling as she watched her friend tack up the big, beautiful Quarter Horse. Antonia had still not allowed Bethany to ride any of the horses. So, she pushed the hay wheelbarrow down the barn aisle, stopping from time to time to grab a couple of flakes and put them in the hay racks in the individual stalls. It was hard not to glare at her friend as she pushed the wheelbarrow past the saddling area.

            It was as if Octavia was reading her mind because she said, “Bethany, I had to do my time mucking stalls and feeding horses before I got to ride too. It’s called paying your dues.”

            “I know, but how long do I have to keep doing it? It’s been a month,” said Bethany.

            Octavia laughed, “It’s only been a week.”

            “Well, it feels like a month,” said a sullen Bethany.

            Octavia laughed again and removed Frisco’s halter after pulling her riding helmet down over her tight, black braids. She then slipped the bridle on by placing the bit against his lips and placing her thumb in the side of his mouth at the gap between his front and back teeth to encourage him to open wide. Once the bit was in place, she slipped the bridle over his head and fastened the throat latch on the side of his cheek. Bethany watched as she led Frisco to the arena to warm up a bit before their lesson.

            Tyler was riding Freedom, Antonia’s shiny red chestnut retired broodmare. He had set up a few obstacles for Octavia to practice on with Frisco and he was working on the simulated gate with Freedom now. Bethany watched as Freedom and Tyler opened and closed the makeshift gate with ease. Both rider and mount equally seasoned and moving as one.

            Bethany turned and lifted the handles of the wheelbarrow, but then Tyler called out to her.

            “Come here Bethany,” he called.

            She set down the wheelbarrow and headed dutifully to the arena.

            He hopped off Freedom and said, “Grab that helmet that’s sitting on the chair on the other side of the railing and bring it to me.”

            She did as she was told, but thought to herself, Why does he need to change helmets?

            She entered the arena, helmet in hand and closed the gate behind her. She walked over and handed the helmet to Tyler.

            He laughed and said, “That’s for you to wear, girl.”

            Bethany looked at Octavia, who was smiling down on her from Frisco’s back. She looked back at Tyler, and he was smiling too.

            “Well come on girl, Octavia and Frisco don’t have all day. You’re going to practice a few WE obstacles with this old mare here,” said Tyler as he gave a loving pat to the big chestnut Arabian.

            Bethany put on the helmet; her face erupted in a smile as she did so. Tyler held the mare’s reins while she mounted the mare. I can’t believe this is finally happening!

            Tyler lifted the reins over Freedom’s head and handed them to Bethany. “Now, just take things slow. You know that Frisco is a rescue horse and is just now learning to trust Octavia and the rest of us. So, we’re going to do this slow and easy. Just let Freedom show you the way. She knows what to do.”

            “Yes sir, Tyler. I’ll take it easy; I promise!” said Bethany still sporting an ear-splitting grin.

            “Okay girls, I’ve set up three WE obstacles for you to practice on.” Began Tyler.

            “What’s WE?” asked Bethany.

            “It stands for Working Equitation. It’s an equine sport that originated in Portugal primarily and involves dressage, obstacles and cattle penning…”

            “What’s dressage, and what’s…” interrupted Bethany.

            “Bethany, we’re never going to start riding if you don’t listen and quit interrupting,” said Tyler.

            “Sorry.”

            “It’s okay. So, I set up three obstacles. The gate, the jug, and the switch cup. Octavia has done these before Bethany, so she’s going to practice a bit, while I show you a few things before you try them,” said Tyler.

            “I know how to ride, Tyler. I used to ride my mom’s horse, Starbuck, before he got too old.”

Bethany clicked her tongue and squeezed Freedom’s sides so she would pull up alongside Octavia and Frisco. “I can’t believe, Antonia already let me ride after one week,” said Bethany.

            Octavia laughed, “I thought you said it felt like a month.”

            “Octavia, please don’t do that. Don’t make fun of me,” said Bethany, smile changed to scowl.

            “I’m just kidding Bethany; I think it’s cute.”

            “Cute? Like a little kid?!”

            “Bethany, calm down. I meant you’re cute…darn…”

            “Okay, I’m sorry. I just hate to be treated like a little kid. Please don’t be mad at me.”

            “I’m not mad.”

            “Okay Bethany, I know you have ridden before, but I’m going to show you a few things anyway,” Tyler said, interrupting the girls’ exchange. “Octavia, go practice the gate while I teach Bethany.”

            “Yes sir!” said Octavia as she urged Frisco into an easy trot toward the makeshift gate.

            Tyler was now standing with Bethany and Freedom. Looking up at Bethany he said, “Your mom told Antonia how you used to jump on Starbuck’s back with no halter and just ride him around in his paddock, but you need some formal training. Eventually I’m going to show you how to use your legs and hips to communicate with your horse, but now we’ll keep it simple. The four main parts of the horse are the hindquarters, ribs, withers, and pole. You apply pressure on both sides of the ribs to move forward. If you want to turn, you just apply pressure to one side. For instance, when turning right, apply pressure to the left side and lay the left rein lightly on her neck. If you have to, you can lightly pull the right rein, but that won’t be necessary with Freedom. The main thing is that you don’t want to yank her head around. Now try it. Urge her forward and then practice turning both ways at the walk.”

            Octavia did as she was told and lightly squeezed Freedom’s sides to urge her into a walk and then she turned right using her left leg against the horse’s side and then after a few more steps forward, did the same thing to the left.

            “Excellent Bethany! You’re a natural!” said Tyler.

            Bethany’s grin spread across her whole face.

            Tyler continued to teach Bethany a few simple techniques while Octavia practiced maneuvering Frisco through the gate obstacle.

            “Okay Octavia, that’s great! Now let’s show Bethany how to do each obstacle. She can practice and then we’ll do a little mini course trial,” said Tyler.

            Bethany watched as Octavia completed each obstacle. Octavia was so poised and polished on the massive Quarter Horse’s back. The girls attended the same middle school, but had never talked to each other before a week ago when they met at Kuhaylah Arabians. Octavia had moved to Dale City with her family from Dallas because her older brother, Lucas, had gotten a job as a deputy at the local sheriff’s office. Octavia didn’t talk much about her life before Dale City, but she gushed about Frisco. Her brother had saved him from certain death and since Octavia used to ride at a stable in Dallas, Lucas had arranged for Frisco to be boarded at Kuhaylah Arabians and nurtured by Octavia. She had told Bethany, that the only thing that kept her going after leaving all her friends in Dallas, was caring for Frisco. The girls were both outcasts at Samuel James Middle School for different reasons, so they started forming a bond with each other right away.

            “Okay Bethany, so you follow behind Octavia and Frisco and after she completes each obstacle, you try it. We’ll do each one at a time and then complete all three like a course. Actually, I’m not going to have you do the gate yet. You just do the first two. Also, I want you to only walk between obstacles. Frisco is still a little anxious and you’re not used to riding Freedom yet, so we’re going to take it slow today,” said Tyler.

            Bethany watched as Octavia walked up to the poles for the switch cup obstacle and stopped Frisco between them. She then gently lifted the cup from one pole to the other and urged Frisco through the poles after completing the task. Bethany mimicked her exactly on Freedom.

            “Great job, both of you!” said Tyler.

            Then Octavia headed over to the drum with the jug sitting atop it and after stopping Frisco next to the drum, reached down and lifted the jug over her head. Bethany again copied her movements aboard Freedom.

            “Great guys! Now each of you complete all three obstacles like a course. First the switch cup, then the jug and Bethany, you just ride to the gate stop and turn around and exit the course. And remember Bethany, slow and easy. Walking only.”

            Bethany sat off to the side on Freedom as Octavia executed the three obstacles with perfection. After she was done, Bethany completed the first two and then rode to the gate as instructed. She turned Freedom around and then let out a “Whoop!” and urged Freedom into a gallop. As Bethany and Freedom flew past Frisco, he was so startled he bolted to the other end of the arena, but Octavia being the excellent rider she was, managed to bring him to a stop and leaned over his neck saying soothing words to him as he stood trembling.

            “Bethany! I told you, slow and easy!” shouted Tyler as she slowed Freedom to a walk.

            “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” said Bethany and she started crying after stopping the mare.

            He ignored her as he headed toward Octavia and Frisco to check on them.

            “I’m sorry!” Bethany said again, still crying. “It’s just that I’ve never ridden an Arabian horse before. I got too excited.”

            Tyler’s face softened. “Bethany, you have to understand that God puts these horses in our life for a reason. We have to take care of them because they can’t take care of themselves. You have to promise me that you’ll always do what I say from now on.”

            “I promise! I promise! Please don’t tell Antonia!”

            “Don’t do it again, or I’ll have to tell her next time. You girls go unsaddle your horses.”

            “Thank you! Thank you, Tyler!” said Bethany.

            He opened the gate to let them out and didn’t say anything else. Octavia and Bethany led their horses in silence back to the saddling area.

            After they unsaddled and groomed the horses and had put them in their stalls, Bethany said to Octavia as she followed her down the barn aisle, “You’re mad at me, aren’t you?”

            “We probably better not talk right now,” said Octavia.

            “Octavia please! Please talk to me!”

            Octavia turned to face Bethany at the end of the aisle and said, “Yes, yes I am angry with you. You know Frisco was abused before he came here! I thought you loved horses?!”

            “I do, Octavia! I’m so sorry! I’ll never do it again, I promise! Please don’t stop being my friend!”

            “Bethany, just because I’m mad at you, doesn’t mean I’ll stop being your friend. Just please stop thinking of yourself all the time. Think about other people’s feelings and especially the horses.”

            “I’ll listen from now on, Octavia. I promise.”

Timmy and the Filly-A Timmy Tale

            When Antonia and her friend, Ama, had first spotted the black Arabian stallion, Spirit in his ten-acre paddock, his head was down as he sipped water from the scenic pond near its center.  He was standing beneath a willow tree with his faithful gelding, Ambush, by his side.  It was like a scene from a movie…so beautiful, so serene. Ama felt the moisture in her eyes and cleared her throat, just as Antonia whistled to the stallion. 

            Spirit’s head shot up at the sound of Antonia’s whistle.  He was every bit as stunning as the black stallion from the movie the young women both loved so much.  Spirit turned on his heel and galloped toward the two women standing at the fence.  Ambush ran behind him.  Spirit slowed to a trot and the bay gelding managed to catch up staying at the gallop, and then he too slowed to a trot. 

            As they both watched Spirit trot toward them with tail held high, Ama cleared her throat again and said, “He’s magnificent, Antonia.”

            “Thank you, Ama,” said Antonia.

            “I won’t lie, Antonia.  I’m a little jealous,” laughed Ama.

            “Ama, I love you and I would never want you to feel jealous.  I want you to share in my joy. I was so happy when my best friend called from New York and told me she was coming to Dallas to start her own law firm,” said Antonia.

            “Best friend? Oh, you mean me,” laughed Ama.

            The two women hugged, both laughing.  Spirit snorted, reached over the fence and pressed his lips to Antonia’s head and then Ama’s.  They broke apart laughing once more and Spirit drew back his head, snorting again.

            “See Ama, Spirit approves,” said Antonia.

            Now Ambush wanted to be part of the celebration too, so he softly nickered and shoved his head toward the women.  Spirit stepped aside, ever respectful of the older gelding.  Antonia placed both hands on Ambush’s cheeks and kissed him on the nose, “Oh sweet, Ambush, we would never forget you,” she said.

            “C’mon Ama, let’s go to the house, I want you to meet my protégé, Gina Targoff. And then I have a surprise for you,” said Antonia.   She then whistled three short bursts in the direction of the stallion barn and two Anatolian Shepherds appeared from deep inside it.  They must have been napping because they stretched their legs for a couple of steps and then came running with tails wagging. 

            “Meet Ralph and Lauren,” said Antonia.

            “Ama laughed, “Of course that’s what you named them.  Still missing your days in Paris, at Louis Vuitton?” asked Ama. 

            “Those were good days, Ama, but this place is my destiny,” answered Antonia in a serious tone, but still smiling.

            The two women looked at each other for a moment and then Antonia, turned and headed toward the house with Ralph, Lauren and Ama falling into step beside her.

            “Gina,” Antonia called out as she opened the back door leading to the kitchen and she with her entourage in tow stepped in. 

            “I’m here,” said Gina, stepping around the corner hopping as she pulled on her other boot.

            Gina stopped in mid boot pull when Ama stepped from behind Antonia.  Gina had always thought Antonia was beautiful, but Ama was breathtaking and at least ten years younger than Antonia.  Her black hair tumbled down past her shoulders in loose waves.  Her skin was the color of porcelain and her eyes were emeralds. Her tiny t-shirt which bore the name of Antonia’s fashion label, bigshotcowgirl, exposed the slightest midriff. She wore jeans that accented her hips and a very fit, gluteus maximus.  A pair of red leather boots engulfed the lower part of her jeans to finish out the ensemble. 

            “Hello, Gina.  I’m Ama Yasutsuna,” said Ama.

            Gina managed to regain control of her jaw and said, “Hello, nice to meet you.”

            Suddenly, they heard a shrill whinny.  Ralph and Lauren ran to the back door, whining and scratching at it.  Antonia opened it and the dogs blasted out the door toward the sound.  The whinnying continued…more frantic.  It was coming from the paddock nearest the front pasture, northwest of the house. 

            “That’s one of the broodmares!” said Antonia as she bolted toward the gunrack in the hall and grabbed her shotgun.  “Let’s go Gina!” she said as she headed out the side door to the garage. 

            “I’m coming too!” said Ama, running out the door behind them and jumping into the back of Antonia’s jeep.

            “Ama, you drive!” commanded Antonia as she jumped into the passenger side, shotgun in hand.

            The key was already in the ignition, so Ama started the jeep and shot out the back of the open garage.

            The tires squealed a little as she put the jeep in drive and peeled out of the driveway.  They sped over the cattle guard and then Ama wheeled the jeep a sharp right toward the commotion in the front pasture.

            They all gasped.  “My god!” said Ama.

            At the top of the hill, they saw a baby black horse surrounded by three coyotes and her frantic mother, a chestnut, Arabian mare, running along the other side of the paddock fence, screaming. The baby was crying too, but could barely be heard over the mother’s frantic cries.  As they sped toward the calamity, they saw Timmy, the golden pony, gallop up and start kicking one of the coyotes and then as if on cue, Ralph and Lauren burst onto the scene.  Those coyotes didn’t have a chance.  They were outgunned and they knew it.  So as if they were connected telepathically, all three of them sped off at once.  Ralph and Lauren took off after them, but Timmy was standing with the baby as they arrived at the scene.  Antonia jumped from the jeep, shotgun at the ready before Ama brought it to a complete stop.  She strode toward Timmy who stood protecting the trembling filly.  Mom was still running the fence line whinnying frantically. 

            Gina and Ama were now by Antonia’s side. Gina put her arms around Timmy’s neck, and he nuzzled her while Antonia ran her fingers over the baby, checking for injuries.  Finding no injuries, Antonia stroked the baby’s neck and said, “You’re okay, little Sapphire.  That was a close call.” Then Antonia called out to the mare, “Rose, your little girl is okay.”

            The chestnut mare, continued to trot along the fence, upset that her filly was not by her side. 

            Gina and Ama were now consoling the filly too, as Timmy sauntered off into the pasture, grazing again as if this had all been a normal day in the life of a plucky, little pony.

            Antonia stood up and said, “Okay guys, help me herd this little girl back into the paddock and reunite her with mom. There’s a small gate just a little down the fence row, we’ll get her back in through there.  Antonia began to coax the filly toward the gate, while Gina and Ama brought up the rear, tapping the filly’s rump from time to time.  The process wasn’t too difficult because the filly was drawn to her mother’s cries. 

            As they watched the filly trot toward her mother’s side after encouraging her through the gate, Ama said, “She’s beautiful, Antonia.”

            “I’m happy you think so, Ama. She’s yours.  She’s the surprise I was talking about,” said Antonia.

            The filly trotted back toward the fence as if to thank them. Ama bent down to touch her face and as she was tracing the star on Sapphire’s forehead with her finger she said, “Antonia, this is too much.  I can’t accept this gift.”

            “She’s not a gift,” laughed Antonia.  “You have to work for her.   You have to help Gina and me at the ranch, when you’re not too busy with your law firm, of course,” Antonia winked as she said it. 

            Ama stood up, tears in her eyes, and faced Antonia.  The two women embraced as Gina looked on. “I love you, Antonia,” said Ama.

            “I know,” said Antonia.

            “Gina, come join this love fest,” said Ama, reaching out to her with one arm.

            Gina joined their embrace.  She shed tears too because she had never felt such love before in her life. 

            “We three are a team,” said Antonia.  “Team Olympic Spirit, in honor of the legacy of our beloved black stallion!”

Timmy Goes Missing-A Timmy Tale

            Gina loved the weekends because her mother often allowed her to stay at Kuhaylah Arabians from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. So instead of waking up on this Saturday morning to the sounds of her mom and current boyfriend arguing, she awakened to the smell of chicken apple sausage cooking. At her own home, she would have been lucky to find a decent brand of cereal and milk that was in date.  After her usual morning ritual of face washing and such, Gina wandered into the kitchen just as Antonia was scrambling the eggs.

            “Good morning, Antonia,” said Gina as she retrieved a couple of plates from the cabinet and carried them to the table.

            “Good morning,” said Antonia.

            The morning news was playing in the background on the small television on the kitchen counter as Gina finished setting the table and Antonia finished cooking.  Gina helped Antonia make the plates with eggs and sausage and Antonia set another plate on the table with toasted English muffins that were already dripping with butter.  Antonia turned to shut off the TV because she preferred talking during meals, when a breaking news story announced a missing boy.

            The local news reporter, Nancy Hill, appeared on the screen.  All blonde hair and blue eyes…a walking cliché.

            “A boy has gone missing,” she announced maintaining her serious reporter face as she continued.  “I’m here at Connie’s Creatures, a local petting zoo, where the search is underway for a five-year-old boy that disappeared from his church group who were here to visit the sweet farm animals as part of the Mother’s Day Out program that the church runs for single mothers.  The boy’s mother has just arrived,” said Nancy with a gleam in her eye.

            Seconds later, Nancy Hill, was shoving a microphone in the face of the distraught young mother. 

            “That woman has no shame,” said Antonia as she turned off the television.

            “You know her?” asked Gina.

            “She used to cover horse shows and the like.  She always loved it when someone was injured.  The more serious, the better.” Antonia continued, “That animal farm is near here.  We need to help with the search after we feed the horses.”

            Antonia walked over to a side counter and picked up her iPhone.  “Go ahead and eat. I’m going to call Lucas.”

            “Lucas Remington, the sheriff’s deputy you’re friends with?” asked Gina.

            Antonia nodded as she said, “Hello Lucas.  Yes, I heard.  We’re going to help with the search after we feed the horses.  Gina’s with me.  Okay, I’ll call you as soon as we’re done.  Let me know if you need horses to continue the search,” said Antonia and then she clicked off the call and slid the phone in her pocket.

            Gina finished eating and started to clean up, but then Antonia said, “We’ll clean up later.  Pull on your boots and let’s go.” She grabbed a chicken sausage with one hand and ate it as she opened the back door with the other and strode toward the main barn which housed the mares.  Gina came flying out the door behind her just after slipping her feet into her steel-toed cowboy boots, her barn boots as she called them.  Even in a hurry, Antonia looked graceful in Gina’s eyes as she scrambled to keep up.

            Several scoops of feed later, the mare’s barn was done, and they headed to the smaller stallion barn.  Spirit and the younger resident stallion, Flame whinnied in unison as Antonia and Gina arrived at the barn.  Antonia walked straight to Spirit and held the beautiful face the black stallion offered over the stall door in her hands, placing her forehead to his.   He became a kitten in her hands. It always looked to Gina as if they were communing telepathically.  She couldn’t help feeling jealous every time they did it.  Flame nickered softly to her.

            “I know.  You want your feed,” Gina said quietly.  She walked to the feed bin, lifted the lid with one hand and grabbed a scoopful with the other.  She closed the lid after retrieving the scoop and then crossed the narrow barn aisle and entered Flame’s stall.  He immediately attacked the feed after she poured it in the corner feed bucket.  The sun was peeking through the small windows up high in the stalls and Flame’s bright red coat glistened with spots of gold and copper.  Gina couldn’t help wishing he was hers and she could one day share the same bond with him that Antonia shared with Spirit.  Flame lifted his head from the feed, turned toward Gina and nuzzled her, but quickly returned to the feed bucket.  

            “He’s bonding with you,” said Antonia, as if she were reading Gina’s mind.

            “What do you mean? He just turned for a second,” said Gina.

            “When a horse stops eating feed, one of their favorite things, to greet someone, that means they care about that person,” said Antonia.

            Gina took one more look at Flame before stepping out of the stall and allowed herself to imagine for a moment that he was truly hers.

            “Ok, let’s go feed the retirees.  They’re already gathered up front,” said Antonia, breaking Gina from her reverie.

            Gina loved how Antonia called the front pasture horses retirees.  They earned their retirement she always said.  The feed buckets for the pasture horses hung on the fence just east of the stallion barn, so they didn’t have far to walk.  Antonia had poured feed into a wheelbarrow that she rolled over now as they walked toward the fence.  They both grabbed a scoop of feed and emptied them into a couple of buckets before wasting no time to scoop up some more feed.  This was a process that had to be done quickly to minimize the breakout of fights.  A few minutes later, all the horses were happily munching away in their individual buckets, but then Gina noticed one of the buckets had no one attending to it.

            “Oh my gosh, Antonia! Where is Timmy?!” Gina exclaimed.

            “I just noticed that too,” said Antonia.  “I’ll saddle up Spirit, you get Freedom from the other barn and we’ll ride out to find him,” said Antonia.

            Gina ran to the mares’ barn to get Freedom.  The seasoned mare had finished her feed and was happy to see Gina to take her out to the mares’ pasture as per the usual routine.  Gina slipped her halter on her in the stall and as she exited the stall, she turned right in the barn aisle to head to the pasture. 

            “Sorry girl.  We have to find Timmy first.  You’ll get to hang out with the other mares later,” said Gina as she patted Freedom’s neck and then turned her the other way toward the saddling area.

            Just a short time later, Gina met up with Antonia outside the gate that led to the front pasture.  Antonia on her black stallion, Spirit and Gina on the dependable chestnut mare.  Freedom was the first offspring of Spirit.  And like all his children, she was beautiful; fiery chestnut coat, flowing tail, blaze, and all. 

            “Ok, let’s check the pond out front first,” said Antonia and they cantered out together toward the pond.  What a sight they would have been to anyone watching.  Two petite women riding magnificent Arabian horses, running with tails held high.  One glistening black in the morning sun and the other flaming red.

            Timmy was not at the pond, so they headed toward the gate that led to the back pasture.  It was open this time of year, so they cantered through single file, Antonia leading the way on Spirit.  Kuhaylah Arabians was over two hundred acres in size, so the search was cut out for them.  They rode side by side on the main trail, walking now and watching and listening.

            They both stopped in their tracks.  They heard the faint whinny at the same time.  Gina’s heart leapt into her throat, “Timmy’s alive!” she said out loud because she had feared the worst.  She loved that little golden pony so much.

            Antonia held up her hand, palm facing toward Gina.  She was listening intently.  Nothing.  So, she called out, “Timmy!”  There was another whinny in response to her query and this time stronger.  It came from in front of them, off to the right, deep amongst the trees.  Antonia urged Spirit straight into a gallop from a dead stop.  Gina urged Freedom to follow.  The red mare wasn’t as fast as Spirit, but she willingly followed at a good clip. 

            They slowed to a trot as they left the trail to enter the thicket.  Halfway into the trees, Timmy came trotting up to them.  He seemed perfectly fine, so Antonia said, “Timmy, you gave us a huge scare.  Come here!” Timmy looked at Antonia and just as it was with Spirit, it appeared that they were communicating telepathically.  They continued to stare at each other for what seemed to Gina like several minutes, but in reality, was only seconds.  Timmy shook his head, blonde mane tossing about his neck, then turned on his heels and trotted deeper into the trees.  Antonia followed without saying a word, so Gina followed too.

            Timmy slowed to a walk as they entered a small clearing, so Antonia and Gina slowed their mounts too.  Timmy had stopped in front of a lone tree in the clearing.  Antonia and Gina had both been temporarily blinded by the morning sun.  Timmy stepped sideways, head down near the base of the tree and when Gina and Antonia urged their horses a few steps forward into the shade of the great oak tree, they saw what Timmy was looking at.

            The little boy stirred and placed his little hands on each side of Timmy’s soft muzzle and kissed his nose. “Hello horsey,” he said.

….

            “We found the boy,” said Antonia talking on her cell to Lucas. “He’s fine, just a few scratches and tired after his adventure,” she continued. 

            The little boy whose name was Caleb, he had informed them on the ride back to the house, was now munching happily on some leftover chicken apple sausage at the kitchen table.

            “Ok, we’ll see you in a bit,” said Antonia before setting down the cell phone.

            Antonia walked over and sat down at the table with Gina and Caleb.  “How are you feeling Caleb?” she asked.

            “Great!” he answered with a mouthful of sausage.  “I love Timmy! He saved me! And I love Freedom too! I never got to ride a horse before! Can I ride Freedom by myself sometime? I mean, it was fun riding with Gina, but I wanna try on my own!” Somehow the boy was smiling, talking, and eating all at the same time.  Gina and Antonia looked at each other and smiled.

            There was a knock at the back door.  Antonia rose from the table and walked the few steps to the door, opening it and in stepped Lucas Remington, tall, dark, and formidable in his deputy’s uniform.  He removed his hat as he entered, revealing the tight, jet-black, curls clipped closely to his head.  He was clean cut and smelled of leather and musk.  Gina always had a hard time talking to him because of his great beauty.

            “Hi Lucas,” Gina managed.

            “Hello, Gina,” he said before turning his attention toward Antonia.  His face softened when he gazed at Antonia, and Gina wished that someone would look at her like that someday.

            “Hello Lucas,” Antonia said smiling.  “It’s good to see you as always.”

            Lucas smiled at her and then turned toward the boy, his face all business again. “How you feeling, Caleb?” he asked.

            “Awesome!” said Caleb, now munching on an English muffin.

            “That’ good to hear,” said Lucas now smiling at the boy.  Lucas reached out his hand and said, “Let’s go see your mom now, she’s been worried sick,”

            “Okay,” said Caleb getting up from the table and grabbing another English muffin on his way out.

            “I’ll call you later Antonia and let you know how things went,” said Lucas as he turned to leave, holding Caleb’s hand.

            Caleb stopped and turning toward Antonia asked, “Can I come back and ride Freedom one day?”

            “I would like that Caleb,” said Antonia.  “Lucas, give my number to his mother, will you?” she asked.

            “Yes ma’am,” said Lucas, tipping his hat and smiling warmly at her, before turning and stepping out the door with Caleb in hand.

            After they drove off in the squad car, Gina asked, “Why don’t you go out with him, Antonia?  He’s obviously in love with you.”

            Antonia had her back to Gina as she continued to look out the kitchen window even though the car was no longer in sight, but then she turned toward Gina and for a split second the sun caught in her eyes and Gina noticed a slight shimmer, as if Antonia were holding back tears. But that wasn’t possible Gina thought, because Antonia was always strong, never emotional.

            “Gina, we need to turn out the mares,” Antonia said as she turned and opened the back door, stepping out as she said it. Her voice was strong as always, no hint of sadness or longing. Gina followed her out the back door without another word.

Sorrel vs. Chestnut

Hanging out with my beloved, Flame.

So, the great debate, sorrel vs. chestnut. In my opinion, Flame is a sorrel horse, however, the Arabian Horse Association doesn’t recognize that color, so he is registered as chestnut.

Wikipedia says that there is no difference between the two colors: “Sorrel is a reddish coat color in a horse lacking any black. It is a term that is usually synonymous with chestnut and one of the most common coat colors in horses. Some regions and breed registries distinguish it from chestnut, defining sorrel as a light, coppery shade, and chestnut as a browner shade. However, in terms of equine coat color genetics there is no known difference between sorrel and chestnut. Solid reddish-brown color is a base color of horses, caused by the recessive e gene.”

If you search Wikipedia for the terms sorrel (horse) or chestnut (horse), the same horse is pictured:

The funny thing is, I would have called this a dun horse or maybe a red dun horse. So confused!

Timmy-the half Haflinger

As for my rescue horse, Timmy, I’ve always considered him chestnut, but I’ve heard others refer to him as sorrel. I know that many people consider sorrel, the lighter color and chestnut the darker color, but I’ve always thought the opposite.

The American Haflinger Registry agrees with me:

“The specialty of the Haflinger lies, of course, in its unique golden chestnut coloring with a long, flowing white mane and tail.”

In conclusion, I’ll continue to apply the terms sorrel and chestnut the way I want to, in regard to my own horses anyway! 😀

Flame and his half-brother, Blaze=sorrel
Honey=chestnut
Frisco=sorrel
Timmy=chestnut, okay golden chestnut
Patriot=grey

Wait, how did Patriot get on this post?! He’s not my horse; belongs to The Franch, but he sure is beautiful!

Mary and Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue

Maryjune 2020

The sweet Tennessee Walker in the picture above is a horse that I’m currently sponsoring at Becky’s Hope and her name is Mary.

Like many people, I became fully aware of the impact Becky’s Hope has had in the animal rescue world when I heard about, Bubbles, The Rescue Horse:

Bubblestherescuehorse

His story is inspiring and full of hope. He was obviously a horse who had led a rough life, but he was still brimming with love and hope when Becky’s Hope found him. This is the short version of what led to his rescue, “Bubbles, a smart old horse with frostbit ears, escaped a kill lot by hiding with a group of mini donks being rescued from slaughter and hopping a ride on the Freedom Trailer bound for Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue!”

Sweet Bubbles has since passed away, but he found great joy and happiness in his final years at Becky’s Hope, even falling in love with a mare named, Muffit:

BubblesandMuffit

Check out his Facebook page, which is now run by another sweet rescue horse named, Pops:

Pops

Here is Pops with Bubbles and Muffit:

BubblesMuffitandPops

Horse rescue is dear to my heart, in fact all animal rescue is important to me. It’s only 50 dollars a month to sponsor a horse at Becky’s Hope and any donation is welcome. Thousands of people view the FB and Twitter posts for Becky’s Hope as well as the FB page for Bubbles The Rescue Horse, so if everyone just donated one dollar that would make an enormous impact.

For more info about Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue, Inc and Bubbles The Rescue Horse, check out the following FB pages, Twitter and their website:

On Facebook:

Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue, Inc.

Bubbles The Rescue Horse

Twitter:

Becky’s Hope

Website:

Becky’s Hope

#BeTheChange #RescueWorks

 

 

 

 

 

Mary-My Sponsor Horse

MARY (1)

I’ve been following Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue on Facebook for some time and when they posted that they needed a sponsor for the beautiful, Mary, I couldn’t resist.  She’s a Tennessee Walker and here is her bio:

MaryBIO

Animal rescue is important to me and I’d like to dedicate my life to it through my writing.  As I’ve mentioned on my home page I have several rescues of my own. I wish I could save all of them!

Becky’s Hope has saved countless lives and continues to do so.  If you sponsor a horse (which is only 50 dollars a month), you get this cool certificate (and the above bio and thank you card):

CERTMARY (1)

They are a wonderful organization!

Check them out on Facebook: Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue, Inc.

or their website: Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue

Timmy and the Girl-A Timmy Tale

Just for fun I’m going to write a series of short stories centered around my little rescue horse, Timmy. Here’s the first one! Timmy is just so cute I felt compelled to write stories about him! Hope you guys like it!

CuteTimmyatcar
Timmy

Gina shimmied under a low spot beneath the white, pipe fence separating the front pasture of Kuhaylah Arabians from the road, and the pony trotted right up to her as always.  She pulled the carrot from her pocket and, not wasting any time, he took the entire treat in his mouth before the rest of the herd noticed.  The pony was the smallest of the bunch and not a purebred, like the rest of them. He was a cutie though, a beautiful coppery, golden color, with a dishwater blonde mane and tail and a jagged, white, blaze running the full length of his face to the tip of his nose.  And on this lovely Spring day, his slick coat glistened in the sun.  The pony didn’t leave after he finished the carrot, but stayed with Gina.  She was drawn to him because she was an outsider in her circles too.  And, like him, she had dishwater blonde hair, although it was cuter on him in her opinion. Gina felt less than cute with her skinny body, and long, stringy, often tangled, hair.

Gina spoke softly to the pony, rubbing his neck and scratching his cheek, the way he liked. “I love you little boy, I wish I could stay here with you,” she said as she started to cry.  She hugged his neck as the events of the previous day came crashing back into her brain.

“We have to add Gina Targoff to the list,” Chet whispered.

“Of course! She should be at the top!” responded Cassie, in a louder whisper. Chet, Cassie, and their minions all giggled.

Gina was keeping her head down, pretending to read whatever textbook she had opened in front of her.  She refused to cry; she would not show them weakness.  Even though Gina knew they were whispering loud enough for her to hear on purpose.  Samuel James Middle School was almost a daily exercise in humiliation.  She fought back the tears though…

“Yeah Gina is definitely the ugliest girl in the school,” said Chet.

They all laughed again.

The golden pony put his head on Gina’s shoulder as if he was trying to comfort her.  She hugged him tighter and just let the tears flow until there were no more, but she continued to hug him, just taking in his horsey scent and allowing it and the quiet to calm her mind.

“Timmy has really taken to you,” said a voice behind Gina. One with the slightest hint of an accent, an accent from another country though, not rural Texan as Gina had grown accustomed to.

Gina straightened and jumped back a step from the pony in one quick move.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here,” said Gina looking up at the woman astride a black, Arabian stallion, solid black save a small white star on his forehead.

“Come closer girl,” said the woman.

Gina walked toward her and saw that she was probably around her mother’s age. She was beautiful, with an exotic look about her.  She had her long brown hair pulled back with a black velvet scrunchy.  But then Gina’s eyes were drawn back to the horse.  So much like the black stallion she had read about, except the one in the books was solid black. But this stallion before her had the same wild look of the one in the books; thick black mane, forelock blowing in the breeze about his face, and a thick, flowing tail.  He pranced about a bit and snorted a couple of times.  The woman said something to him that Gina couldn’t quite hear, and he settled down.

“What is your name?” asked the woman.

“Gina…Gina Targoff,” Gina answered. “Please don’t have me arrested. I’ll never come on your property again.”

The woman laughed. But in a lilting way, not in a, you’re darn right you’re going to jail, kinda way.

“I was actually thinking of offering you a job. I’ve watched you with Timmy. You two have formed quite a bond.”

“Timmy, a cute name, for a cute little boy!” said Gina.

The woman laughed again.  “My name is Antonia Silva and I am the owner of this ranch.  So, what about the job?” Antonia asked.

“I don’t know anything about horses or ranches,” Gina answered.

“Do you know how to drag a water hose or carry buckets?”

“Umm, yes…” answered Gina.

“Okay, good.  We’ll start with that,” Antonia smiled.

Gina smiled back and then jumped when something firm and soft rubbed the small of her back. She spun around and little Timmy nuzzled her chest.   Gina reached out and stroked his face.

“He loves you and trusts you.  You’re a natural with horses,” said Antonia.

“He’s so sweet. May I ask how he came to be here among…” began Gina.

“…among all these purebred Arabians?” said Antonia finishing her sentence.

“Well…yes.  Is it rude to ask?” said Gina.

Antonia laughed again. A sound like music to Gina. “No, it’s not rude, Gina.  He was my horse, when I was a young girl in Brazil. The story of how he and I came to be here in this small north Texas town is a long one,” Antonia said with a smile on her face.  “Spend a little more time with Timmy and then head up to the big house and I’ll show you around,” said Antonia as she wheeled her black stallion around and galloped up the hill toward the house.

Gina watched the beautiful woman in control of such a magnificent animal and couldn’t help wishing that could be her one day.  She turned back to Timmy and gave him a hug. “Did you hear that boy? Now I can see more of you and no more sneaking around!” One of the chestnut Arabian mares had come closer, curious about this skinny, young girl in the big pasture.  Timmy laid back his ears and turning on a dime chased her off as if to say, “This is my girl!”

Gina laughed, for the first time since she could remember. It had been a long, emotional journey from Dallas to Dale City. Even though they were only an hour apart, they were years apart in cultures, and the students of Samuel James Middle School did not respond well to a newcomer.  For the very first time in a long time, Gina felt like she was where she belonged.

Franch Horse Spotlight-Timmy

CuteTimmyatcar

Timmy is one of my two rescue horses who now calls The Franch home.  He is a sweet loveable pocket pony who loves everyone.  He has never been ridden and I estimate his age to be around nine.  He was rescued from a severe neglect situation along with 63 other horses in Lewisville, Texas in 2009 by Anastasia Keyser of Hope for Horses Equine Rescue Inc.

Here is a before photo of a small group of the rescues back in October 2009:

LewisvilleHorses10-09003

Timmy was less than a year old at the time, so he may have been too young to remember much of what happened, considering how much he trusts people.  Most of the rescues were Pony of the Americas, Haflingers and a few other breeds.  He has the coloring of a Halflinger, so I just like to say he’s half-Halflinger and half Pony of the Americas, but he’s just really my sweet, cute, funny little boy!

Hope for horses still has horses in need of adoption or sponsorship, check out their website at hopeforhorses.com.

Timmy in the pasture:

Timmyinthepasture

Timmy and his best friend, Frisco (my other rescue horse):

FriscoandTimmy

Timmy and me:

Timmyandme