Our pets are loving members of our families and make a remarkable difference in our lives. We treasure the memories of our loving companions long after they are gone. A friend recently posted about the loss of her beloved golden retriever on Facebook along with a photo of the beloved Max with his regal pose, loving eyes and gray muzzle. Crazy older Cat Lady jokes aside, many of my friends find that the furry, four legged companions are essential companions in later years. A pet dog provides the motivation for frequent walks in the neighborhood, others love the comfort of a cat with less demands for routine walks. The social worker at a program where I consult provides special care to residents by using her two dogs, both Bichon Frises, a well-known friendly breed. She trained the dogs to be therapy dogs and they go to work with her on a daily basis. These special pets love to earn their keep and help to cheer up the residents and the staff. In some larger apartment complexes or stores, owners have found that a resident dog or cat can be a draw for customers. Maybe some of our Maryland Villages have some success or special stories with a Village pet or mascot among their membership? Instead of a dog or cat, our regular guest blogger, Jack Matthews from the Home Ports Village in Chestertown shares this story about his thoroughbred mare.
WHY CAN’T I?
At 15, I was given a young thoroughbred mare that had bowed a tendon on the race track, and the owner wanted a good home for her. I rode her home five miles to our farm, through farm country that is now heavily developed.
Her life was much different on our farm: except when I rode, she was out on pasture with the mules at night, and young cattle during the day. Since I was either in school or working on the farm, my riding time was after supper. She was easy to catch and take to the barn where I cleaned her up, picked out her feet and put on her tack. Though the original injury prevented her from racing, she handled my 115 pounds very well.
This new life meant learning new habits and new training, but she was intelligent, a fast learner and was soon adjusting to my communications, and actually seemed to enjoy jumping over several objects I provided. It wasn’t long before we were going over jumps in fences, with the top bar down.
In the 1940’s our farm was in the midst of farming country, every fence had a jump, so we could travel for several miles without being forced to open a gate.
That fall, a horseman nearby asked me to ride with him to a ‘meet’ of the Stump Jumpers, a group of farmers who owned fox hounds and met at different locations on Saturday , during hunting season. This was exciting for me and my mount, and we had some wonderful rides in the hunt field.
(An interesting comment: those farmers with hounds often met on a hill at night and let the hounds run loose to chase a fox until it decided to run into a hole to rest. They just enjoyed listening to the sounds at night.)
Looking back, I am ashamed of myself: I never gave the ‘lil mare a proper name, even though every mule on the farm got one, like Tobe, Kit, Beck, Jim.
And I have finally realized “why I can’t” … I don’t have that ‘lil mare.