From the time I can remember I wanted a horse. It was my request for birthdays, Christmas, and every occasion when a gift was offered. In my earliest years, we lived in a city, Wichita, Kansas. No place to put a horse. The pelt of my Dad’s old paint horse Knobby was slung over a folded rollaway bed we had in the basement and I’d climb up on Knobby’s pelt with the head of a broom stuck in the fold of the bed, a rope for reins and pretend I was riding the range. Later we moved to the suburbs of Bellevue Washington – still no place for a horse and Knobby’s pelt didn’t even make the trip.
When I was little my father promised he would get me a horse – someday. He bought me a dog in the meantime. My mother was animal-phobic and didn’t like any four-legged but tolerated the dog, a boxer named Rocky. I was given riding lessons and horses were rented for me to ride at stables and arenas but for the entire time I lived with my parents, nary a living horse of my own. I had plastic and ceramic statues of horses, read books about horses and horse magazines, played with farm sets with horses; pretended I had a horse in our garage that I groomed daily. I lived in hope that a horse would materialize if I kept the faith. But alas, no horse happened. Then my teen years erupted, and my obsession changed to Elvis, music, and boys. I still took riding lessons, but the glow was off the dream of owning a horse.
In the spring of 1967, my dad called and said he had a horse for me. A real horse. I was married with an eight-month-old daughter. We lived on the edge of town on an acre or so and we did have a little room for a little horse. Lucky me, it was a little horse. Periodically the State of Washington would round up wild Palouse ponies and put them up for auction to manage the wild herds. The Buick car dealer purchased some as giveaways with their new cars. My dad was buddies with our local Buick dealer. His friend told him about the giveaway and my dad immediately went down to buy a new car and voilà I got a horse. He had Brandy delivered to our house and we quickly put up a fence to keep him on the back acre of property.
Brandy was feral but I knew with time and love he could be a good riding horse for our daughter. I set about breaking him to saddle. It was slow and bumpy, but we got along pretty well. Then I found out I was pregnant again. Done was the riding. Fortunately, Brandy was a gentle sweet-natured fellow, so training continued. He followed me around like a big dog and I was able to continue working with him. I was confident enough in him to put our daughter on his back and lead him around the yard. A thrill for her. But I knew we couldn’t keep him. We were moving to a new house for our growing family and had to find a home for him. I put notices in the paper and called around, but no takers. Then I called a riding stable that gave lessons to kids. They came out to meet him and agreed he would be perfect for their beginning riders. Brandy found a new home.
Dad fulfilled his promise to me. Little did we know he would be dead in less than a year from a sudden explosive heart attack. Thank you, Dad, for my horse.