Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Pony Tails


I can never look at a picture of Hippy, a wild, half-starved, tri-coloured pinto pony that I brought back to health, without remembering my mother. I’m sure this sounds a bit odd, but after reading this ‘tail’ I think you’ll understand why.
The youngest in a large family, mom lost her father when she was only eleven years old, ironically to a horse accident. Though her childhood home was in the countryside, it was in a small village. She didn’t grow up on a farm, though they had some smaller animals. The most mom had to do with horses was when the neighbourhood kids would get together, to pull a horse or cow, out of a canal or ditch. I can only imagine how bewildered my parents were by my fascination with horses. Though I was never given a pony, I had horse books, posters, puzzles and watched any show with horses. When we were moving from the city to the country, my father would lead me on and tell me that every building he put up was for a pony. Of course it never was, he thought himself very funny, and mom scolded him for it. It didn’t matter how many times dad led me along, I was more than willing to believe. I did get to buy a ewe with a lamb though. I think they believed that having them, would cure my horse desire, it didn’t. In fact, I proved that I could take care of animals, so that backfired just a tad.
After I got horses of my own, and on my own, my dad would ask now and then, for me to bring one home to eat down the long grass.
Mom loved those times. She had a soft place in her heart for all living creatures, and a creature with a backstory, even more. After all, an abused animal surely needed more kind nurturing than one who had not.
Although Hippy got her name from the ragged mane that nearly touched the ground here and there, as well a tail that dragged, she cleaned up rather well. It was a hard slog to halter break her, as she was incredibly wild and frightened. She had ringbone from malnutrition, as well as lice, yet with time and the right kind of care, she did a complete turnaround. She became so quiet and sweet, that she became the natural choice to stay by the house now and again.
I remember a time when I was woken in the wee hours of the morning, by my rather concerned mother. Hippy had gotten loose and was gone. Sleep confused, not only did I not understand how she would know such a thing, but I couldn’t make sense of the lights flashing on my bedroom walls.
“I’ll go check,” already pulling on jeans, I tried to make sense of it, “She’s probably still there. You just missed her in the dark, that’s all.”
“No,” mom insisted a little too cheerfully, the police are waiting. They found her about a mile away. One’s waiting by her while the other one’s waiting to make sure she doesn’t go anywhere. Hurry,”
The flashing lights against the bedroom walls suddenly made sense.
“I can go by myself,” I assured. I simply couldn’t imagine making my mother walk with me in the middle of the night. “You can go back to bed, mom. I don’t need help.”
“I’ve already told pa that I’m going,” she grinned from ear to ear, “and I’m going.”
Suddenly realizing that to my mother, this was an adventure, I smiled, “Okay mom, we’ll get her together.”
The RCMP officer generously transported us to where his partner stood on the road, waiting. Hippy was on the far side of the ditch, up against the three plank fence of the Thoroughbred stables I’d worked at a few years before. If she went west, the officer did the same and she would stop. If she tried for the east, he would get ahead of her, and she’d give up again. With the officers behind Hippy, I approached from her front and a minute later, had a halter on. As soon as they saw that we had Hippy secured, the RCMP left us to get at it.
I will never forget the walk mom, Hippy and I shared that night. It was about two or three in the morning. There was next to no moon, and the night was completely calm and peaceful. We talked about all sorts of things, and all the while, Hippy kept nudging mom from behind. It was as if the little horse was saying ‘okay. I had my fun, time to get home. Hurry it up, will you? I’m exhausted.’ It was the cutest thing ever, and mom loved every bit of it.
For a couple of hours that special night, my mother got to step away from her life as a housewife and do something completely unexpected. Never again, did I ever see anyone as pleased that a horse had escaped, as my mom had been that night. And that is why looking at pictures of Hippy makes me think of mom, and smile.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB