sally, the horse, came to our farm one winter's eve about 2 weeks before christmas. she was by breed, a paint with red and brown patches - a stout little horse, almost a pony. she was in fact the type of pony you may have seen many years ago, walking across the plains, pulling a travois and carrying a sioux mother and her tiny papoose.
in the farm house resides a girl. a little girl barely into her teens who is suspended somewhere between dolls and perfume. a little girl for whom christmas is starting to lose it's magic. a little girl who despite her tender years has already trained and broken two fillies. her calm, tender, no-nonsense manner is admired among the neighbours. "she should be a vet," they say. but she has other romantic notions of someday attending university in england and marrying an irish folk singer. perhaps this will, one day come to be and the newlyweds will ride their ponies over endless green hills. but that is another story.......
this story is about sally and it started on the morning the diligent farmer came in after chores and announced the news. now, there is nothing in the world that will interrupt home schooling quicker than to announce a horse has wandered onto the farm overnight. a streak of blond hair bolts from her seat at the kitchen table, she pulls her boots on and rushes out. a while later that same blond head comes back in - talking to me as soon as she opens the door. her cheeks red from the cold but her face expresses pure delight. "mom, mom she has one brown eye and one blue eye". "mom, she so wild and she whinnies so loud." "mom, she a pretty little thing" "what should we call her?" " i was thinking something for winter, like snow or tinsel but i think her name her name is sally." "well, sally she is then," said the mother. "now come and finish your work. "mom do you think she's halter broke?" "mom, who do you think she belongs to?" " mom can we keep her?"
sally settled into life on this new farm. she met her sisters tessie and abby and her brothers henry and old skipper. she met her donkey cousins biscuit, poppy and the cranky nancy. she made friends with the big hound dog, birdie. after a couple of days sally's owner was located and it was discovered that sally had already been sold and was heading for market. she would end up being french cuisine or dog food or even the mystery meat in your stir fry. the diligent farmer offered to buy sally but the owner said he was committed to the other sale. it was arranged that sally would be picked up in a few days when the owner had time to get her.
the diligent farmer tried to soften this news for the little gril by saying the horse was just a range animal. probably too wild to do anything with. everyone knew that horses like sally are sold for their meat but nobody wanted to talk about it.
the next few days came and went. everyday, as the little girl fed and watered sally, she crooned her secret horse talk. sally stayed a safe distance away but her ears perked forward as she listened to the words of a love song only a little girl can sing.
in the end it was sally herself and mother nature, with perhaps a little help from father christmas that decided the pony's future. the day for sally's departure broke cold and the snow swirled thickly on the north wind. the owner arrived to retive his wayward filly. sally kicked up her hind legs and began galloping in circles that made herding her in the snow and wind nearly impossible. after about 15 minutes of chasing the dodgy girl, the owner sighed and turned to the diligent farmer. the diligent farmer smiled and asked if perhaps he had changed his mind about the little horse's future. "yes", the owner said." i'm too old and tired to chase a little horse through the snow." so it turned out that a surprising small amount of money secured the christmas wish of a little girl and a pony.
the diligent farmer got to play hero that afternoon. on the way to her piano recital he turned to his baby girl and said "i guess we should feed sally a bale when we get home." the little girl asked, "why are we giving her a bale, isn't the owner coming back tomorrow to try and load her" "well," said the farmer, "i'm asking the "owner" if we should feed her horse."
sally has brought some magic to the farm this christmas. she is someone to be fussed over. a jaunty new halter was bought with the little girl's babysitting money to adorn sally on christmas day and a special bag of sweet oats for her and her stablemates to enjoy. this is another chance for the girl suspended between a child and a women to enjoy the delight of an unexpected surprise. it does a mother's heart good to hear here the constant chatter throughout the house - snatches of conversation about horses, making cookies, her older sister coming home...... for one more year we see get to feel christmas through the heart of a child. the care this family will give sally seems tiny in comparison to love and good cheer she has already given us.
today, with only 5 days until christmas i look out the window and see a mittened hand rubbing the forehead of a wild pony. i watch the pony follow the little girl as she goes for water and i know that sally is wishing that the mittened hand will reach out again soon. i see what love can do in such a short time. i am glad sally found her way to us this holiday season.