Thursday, March 4, 2010
She was his first love. Short and shaggy and four-legged and full of attitude.
Jon wanted a horse practically since he could walk. We bought a wild paint named Dusty who turned out to be only half-gelded--someone hadn't done the neutering job right and he was a right pistol to handle. Not good for a little boy. Not good for a grown woman either, I learned after he tossed me a couple of times. Dusty soon went to the horse sale, and good riddance.
Jon saved his money and we added enough to it to make $100. On his 8th birthday we went to the monthly horse sale at the livestock market to look for a pony. It didn't take long to find one. A man with a trailer full of ponies was outside in the parking lot, and he told Jon that for $70 he could have any one he wanted. Jon looked them all over, and picked Goldberry. With the extra money he got a saddle, bridle, saddle blanket and a curry comb. He was in business.
Goldberry came home and promptly got sick with shipping fever which we learned from the vet was actually pneumonia and not unusual for ponies that were shipped from sale to sale. The horse salesman said she was seven years old. In my years of horse and cattle deals I learned that no animal at a sale is older than seven. It's the magic number where they just quit aging. But I think in this case it was the truth. Goldberry survived shipping fever and turned out to be one good pony.
She loved kids and let any child ride her except Aaron (son #4). For some reason he irritated her and she even bit him once, on the chest. Poor boy, he got little sympathy because the other kids all sided with the pony! Goldberry hate adults who tried to ride her and threw every one who tried. Years later when we finally sold her, she threw the son-in-law of the buyer, breaking his arm. He got little sympathy from us--we told him she'd do it.
As a pony, she wasn't much to look at. She was brown and rough and only looked good immediately after Jon groomed her. She loved running in the brush and could be depended to bring the cows home at milking time because she liked to clean up their spilled sweet feed. While she wasn't a looker, she was a real worker. We'd hook up a cultivator to her to work the tobacco, sorghum or gardens and she went through the rows faster than a tiller could. We had to put a face mask of chicken wire on her because she liked to nip off the plants as she went through the fields. She only tried the tobacco once, though--it, apparently, was not to her taste.
Jon rode her until his feet touched the ground when he straddled her. He adored Goldberry and she returned his love. Later when Jon bought a bigger horse, Goldberry went to Derek, and when both boys left home for the military we finally sold her. The last we knew of her was about 10 years ago when she was owned by a blind girl in a neighboring county.
One of my best memories is Jon and George, our oldest son, riding across the ridge on Goldberry. Two small boys on a pony, silhouetted against the sky on a narrow ridgetop, talking as fast as they could go as the pony jogged along the dirt road. Now that is what childhood should be.