Jon always loved horses. From the time he was a little boy, he wanted a horse of his own. Eventually he did own a pony and then a rangy mare named Sonzy; he eventually traded her for the next love of his life, a motorcycle.
Horses, however, were far from our minds or budget when we first moved here. We had land to clear, a house to build, fences to fix, and an encyclopedia of country wisdom to learn. Those early years we were busy and broke, and by the beginning of our third year on our land we were still not thinking about horses. Besides, we agreed, the boys were too young to care for a horse anyway.
But a horse came to us. It was September, late in the month when the air is nipped with frost and the kids go to school while it is still daylight. The boys were walking up the hill to the road, the beginning of their twice-a-day mile hike to the bus and back. George and Jon were much surprised to find a horse blocking their way.
"Mom, there's a horse out here!" Sure enough there was, a young horse that looked right feisty.
I walked outside and yelled at the horse and it took off. The boys continued their walk; I didn't see the horse again until later that afternoon. As the boys came down the hill to the house the horse raced up to greet them--but he reared up on his hinds legs and it didn't look too welcoming to me. Jon was entranced. I was terrified.
"Mom, can we keep him?"
"Absolutely not! He belongs to someone and he needs to leave!" I tossed a few small stones at the horse and he thundered away with great mane-tossing and neighing in indignation. I was glad to see the back end of him, I can tell you. The image of this big horse rearing over my little boys didn't set well with me.
We had no idea who the horse belonged to, and no telephone to call anyone to find out. One thing I knew for sure--this was a stallion. That fact was abundantly clear when he reared up! And he wasn't too friendly either. I hoped we'd seen the last of him.
But the next morning, there he was again. The boys were walking up the driveway and the horse galloped up to them. I think now he really wanted to be friendly, and wanted food. Jon stopped to pet the horse, and the animal made a grab for Jon's brown paper lunch bag.
"Oh no, you're not stealing my lunch!" Jon snatched his lunch bag back quickly and hid it behind his back. The horse apparently didn't like taking no for an answer and tried to nip Jon on the shoulder, then reared up again.
Jon quickly raised his lunch bag over his head and yelled up at the towering horse, "Horse, if you don't quit bothering us, I'll hit you with my lunch!" It was a classic David and Goliath moment, and just like the good story, David won. The horse settled back down and followed the boys peacefully up the road.
Later that day a man came looking for his stud horse. We were never visited by the wild thing again, and I was fairly grateful for that. I was still too new to the country to know how to handle the horse, and honestly even to this day I don't think I'd do very well with it.
But for Jon it was simple. It was a horse and he spoke directly to it, completely unintimidated and fearless. It was how he took on all challenges in his life. He never thought, "I can't do that," but rather, "How can I do that?"
As for me, I never worried about his ability to handle a horse or pony of his own again. That year for his birthday, he brought home his pony.