Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pony Tales

When I was a kid we used to celebrate my birthday at a steak house called Taste of Texas. These days it's a great big restaurant that is so popular you have to wait for two hours to get a table. But back then it was dimly lit, intimate restaurant in the shadow of Town and Country Mall. I cared nothing about steak, but there was a horse-drawn carriage at the restaurant that would take you on a nice little tour of the area after dinner. This was the number one reason we went to Taste of Texas every year. To put it mildly, I was obsessed with horses. Truly obsessed.

I would spend a great deal of my birthday dinner outside the restaurant petting Bob the horse and talking to the carriage driver. As soon as dessert was eaten, my dad would join me outside and we'd pay the carriage driver to take us around. It was the highlight of my birthday. One year (I think I was turning 9) my dad was explaining my out of control love for horses to the driver and somehow by an act of God the woman offered to sell us a pony for $75. This pony's name was Coco and the woman and her family had used him for pony parties. I was ecstatic. It was the happiest day of my entire life. I could not believe my dad said yes!

Very soon we went to meet Coco at this family's farm. I was immediately smitten with my equine friend. As they say, love is blind and this love was no exception. I did not allow the fact that the first time I sat on him, he went to the bathroom, or that he then squished my leg up against a pine tree, to cloud the glory of my horse ownership.

It was not long before we moved Coco the Wonderhorse to our family farm in Waller, Texas. It was only a 40 minute drive from our house - an incredibly beautiful drive, in fact. My dad basically grew up on that farm and I think he enjoyed being there as much as I enjoyed my adventures on horseback.

Daddy took care of all the saddling and bridling. He would trot Coco and me around on a lead rope when I got bored of walking. He rescued me countless times when Coco ran me into a barbed wire fence (definitely intended for cows, not horses) or rubbed my leg against a tree trunk. That little pony was ornery. He knew exactly what he was doing but I was so infatuated I would never admit that he didn't genuinely love me and care for me.

Then there was that time when he took me under a low branch. I knew we were headed for trouble because the branch was definitely not high enough for me to duck under. He would not be steered away from it, so I closed my eyes and held my breath. Next thing I knew, I was laying on the ground. I'm sure my dad had some choice words for Coco the Wonderhorse, but all I can remember now is how he looked cutting the branch of that tree. I can still picture him - his black hair and his back to me, his arm going back and forth as he sawed it off.

Dad would show me different parts of the farm where he did this or that as a kid. He would tell me about riding his own Shetland pony out there - Pony B. Pony B was so bad, his legs had to be in restraints when he was ridden. One time the whole family thought it would be great to remove the restraints for my dad's turn to ride. Pony B took off like greased lightning toward a bull. My poor dad was probably terrified, but everyone looked on and cheered, "Ride him, Keith! Ride that Pony B!" I love how hard my dad laughs when my aunts and grandparents tell that story.

One ornery Shetland pony, one young dad, one young girl, one farm in Waller, one collection of amazing memories with the man who raised me.

My horse fascination continued up through junior high, when I upgraded to a quarter horse thanks to my Pappaw. Once boys entered the picture in high school, that season of my life drew to a close. Now, I would still put horseback riding on my list of hobbies. I still take any opportunity to ride that I can get. I still like to sketch horses on my worship bulletin at church sometimes. I still love the smell of horse sweat and would choose it over perfume any day. But that hyperventilate-with-excitement feeling did fade over the years. Which is probably best anyway.

What did not fade, what has in fact grown, is how much I love my daddy. The time we got to spend together driving out to the farm and riding that silly horse bonded this mama's girl and that young dad who wasn't sure his daughter needed him all that much. We had something special together that Mom and Melissa weren't a part of. Who knows what we talked about on those car rides, but I do remember chatting it up all the way. On the way home, we would stop at a little shack called JR's Chicken and get a huge Coke and a bucket of chicken. That place is no longer there, but we have often talked about how much we wish we could go back. Our family farm was sold years ago, but Dad and I have a standing date for a trail ride every time we go to the mountains.

Daddy, thank you for getting me a pony. I know now that Coco didn't really love me. That he didn't really deserve the title of Wonderhorse. That $75 for a horse of that caliber wasn't that much of a bargain. But I knew then and I know now that you love me. And you definitely deserve the title of Wonderdad. I love you with my whole heart. Happy 51st birthday.

Love,
Your goofy kid

32 comments:

willblogforshoes said...

What a sweet post!
Happy Birthday Amanda's Daddy!

Leigh Gray said...

THAT WAS SO PRECIOUS!!! I KNOW YOUR DAD WILL SO PROUD!! i AM GOING TO MAKE SURE MY HUSBAND READS IT AS WE HAVE 3 LITTLE GIRLS! i WANT HIM TO KNOW WHAT A DIFFERENCE DETAILS MAKE!!

THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

LEIGH

Kristin said...

Amanda, You are such a sweet daughter to give your dad the gift of this precious memory. I know that he will be so blessed to read this!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay...the tears are flowing. Your daddy better read and comment - even if he hates computers! We want to hear from him!

Shelly said...

Mmm...all weepy over here. Precious post girl. And precious memories.

BooMama said...

The image of your daddy cutting that tree branch just about did me in - that's a sweet protector right there. Happy birthday to him - I imagine he's wiping away a tear or nine after reading your beautiful tribute.

The Preacher's Wife said...

wow amanda...

i have spent most days of my parenting life wondering if i was doing it 'right'. your daddy obviously did a lot of things well...what a priceless gift this note is to him!..i promise you, he'll cry. and then he may even buy that darlin' jackson a pony and start all over again...

from a fellow horse-lover..:)

lisa

Patty said...

What a sweet post! What sweet memories of your father! Happy Birthday to Keith! Thank you for sharing!

Have a great Monday!!

Big Mama said...

This is just about the sweetest thing. I love it! Happy Birthday to your Daddy.

Teri said...

Such a sweet memory! What a precious relationship! Amanda, your gift for story telling is rich! Thank you for sharing!

Kelly said...

You never really get over that first man, do you?

Happy Birthday Mr. Biggies! :-)

Sharon said...

I am so glad that you have special memories like that with your Dad. It must have made it so much easier for yo to accept God in the role of a Father.
Thank God for loving Dads.

courtney said...

my husband is 4 months older than your dad. you may not want to post this. ;)

connorcolesmom said...

Amanda,
What a tribute to you father and the bond you share.
I love the "picture" of your dad taking it to that branch to make sure you were not knocked off that horse again-LOL!!

I often wonder what special memories my little ones will take with them into adulthood.

My oldest often talks of the little things we have done together like playing matchbox cars on the the rug for hours or exploring in the backyard.

I love that just spending time together with our children is all they really want :)

Oh and Happy Birthday to your Wonderdad!!
God bless,
Kim

Josh, Nat, & Lily Pat said...

your sweet story made me tear up. i just had to call my daddy just to tell him i loved him. i can't wait for Lily and Josh to share those sweet memories one day.

Kay Altic said...

That is the greatest blog friend...I totally remember us going and riding your horse...I loved it...I know what you mean by sweet talks in the car...I remember talks like that when dad and I took scuba diving together...don't really remember what was said but like you I remember loving it...sweet memories

Erin said...

you always make me cry...in a good way of course!

Jackie said...

Wow, that is such a sweet post. What awesome memories. I hope Jackson gets a pony (though maybe a more gentle one...spend a bit more on it :-))

You are such a great writer...such vivid pictures come to mind when reading your stories. Have a great day!
Love ya!

Abby said...

that is sweet like only a daughter and her daddy can be :)

Susan said...

What a precious memory of your dad! It makes me giddy to find out what kind of memories my girls will have their dad.

Happy Birthday, Keith!

MamaCass said...

I love this sweet post. I definitely have warm fuzzies. I use to be a horse doodler too. When I was 16 my little sister who wsa 9 or 10 at the time got a horse of her own for Christmas. I got a car, nothing to be ashamed of. But secretly I would rather have gotten the horse. Happy Birthday to your Daddy!

Profbaugh said...

Oh, and I want to add here, your daddy is one special guy. After all he has you for a daughter! Enjoy the time celebrating together.

From one Daddy's Girl to another,
~Cheryl

Nancy Mon said...

Amanda,
I enjoyed your pony tales and gave me such joy to remember long forgotten times when I was that age and received a tempermental horse that I named Missy D. She ran me into more low branches and reared up with me on her several times. She would run me through bramels and branches and I would come home with bruises and scratches all over me. We kept her at a farm in Sugarland and I am sure that farm from long ago is now smack dab in the middle of First Colony. I loved riding her, she had a fifth gate called a fox trot. But when I hit Jr. High, I discovered boys and my interest in Missy D lessened.

I have friend who has a farm in Brenhem and it is a great place, all the comforts you could ask for, but my favorite part of staying out there is mucking out the stalls and being around the horses. The love of Flicka still burns in my heart.

ang baylis said...

Awe, Amanda! What a sweet memory you had today of your daddy! Thank you for sharing! You really are a gifted writer! All of us girls would be so blessed to have memories like this one! It's great that you cherish him! I really cannot wait to see pictures of your Dad and Jackson on a horse one day in the near future!

-Angie

Janelle & Ella said...

This is a very sweet post! I'm glad to know the history of when you love for horses began. I hope your dad's birthday was a great one.

Heather said...

Daddy's are wonderful! I wanted to respond to your question about my hair color. I do love it, and I've gotten alot of comments on it. Also, I get asked a lot if me and my sister are twins - she's 17! Maybe, it's the hair?

Love you,
Heather

jen said...

sweet sweet sweet! I remember on my 5th birthday my dad had his aunt bring over one of her horses and daddy walked myself and each of my party guests all around our neighborhood on the horse. It's still one of my most treasured memories of time spent with my daddy. :) Thank you for sharing!

Allison said...

You are such a kind soul! Cherish your walk down memory lane...I sure enjoyed reading about it!

Mindy said...

HOW SWEET! This made me cry!
Happy birthday to your daddy!

Janelle said...

What a beautiful post! I loved that tribute to your daddy. It sounds like you still think he hung the moon. Sounds like he is still your hero and you are still his girl.

jennyhope said...

I put some pics up tonight on my blog of my latest bible study group. I managed to get a group shot with your mom in the tv! :)

Jenny Williams, Pelham AL

jennyhope said...

ps this story reminded me of the movie Flicka! I cried. If you have not seen it...(the latest version) it is so good!

Jenny Williams, Pelham AL