Jo Ann J. Lovelace

     My husband always said if an animal had four legs a tail and resembled a horse I would be crazy about it. So managing a hack line and boarding barn was the perfect job for me. He usually taught the riding lessons although I helped at times. He taught our granddaughter Joni to ride. It wasn't a difficult task because she was a natural born rider.
Since we were busy during the warm months I ask our daughter, Sheila if she wanted to help with the horses. She took the job and brought Joni with her everyday.
It started as a beautiful spring day and as usual and we were very busy at the stable. All the horses were out on the trails.
I watched as Joni positioned herself on a stump next to the riding arena and crossed her legs. She curled a strand of hair around her finger. Suddenly as if by an elastic force she sprang to her feet and gazed toward the trails. She was anxious and impatient while she waited for Clyde to come in. Joni loved all the horses but Clyde was her favorite.
Joni was a pint sized little girl that wouldn't weigh fifty pounds soaking wet. Her delicate face glowed with innocence and beauty. Her blue eyes sparkled with anticipation at the thought of getting to ride Clyde.
Clyde came into view and Joni dashed to the office. Her long brown hair flowed in the breeze.
"Clyde's back mom," she yelled. "Can I ride him? Can I mom?"
"In a minute Joni," her mother answered. "I'm on the phone".
The lady riding Clyde threw her leg across the saddle and bounced off the large chestnut colored horse.
"No one can ride this beast," she shouted. "All he wants to do is walk".
"I can ride Clyde," Joni responded. "He'll trot and canter and everything for me."
"I did everything but put a quarter in him," the lady said. "I would have done that too if I could have found a slot."
Determination appeared on Joni's face. She scuffed the toe of her boot in the dust and crammed her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. She brushed an annoying fly away with a wave of her hand.
"I can too get Clyde to trot and canter," she whispered. "I'll show you soon as my mom comes to help me get on Clyde".
Joni's mother hung up the phone and came out to help her mount Clyde.
Fast as lightening Joni scampered to the arena and waited for her mother. With little effort her mother sat her on Clyde's back.
Wearing a red checked western shirt and blue jeans Joni was a miniature version of a professional barrel racer. Sitting straight and with an abundance of confidence she spoke with authority. "All right, Clyde let's go." Clyde more or less crept around the arena.
"I told you no one could ride that creature", the lady mumbled. "I knew he wouldn't do anything but walk".
Joni sat on an adult saddle and her feet was far above the stirrups. They barely touched the fringe of the Navajo saddle blanket. She leaned forward in anticipation of Clyde changing gaits and kicked him once in the sides with the heel of her boots. "Hit it Clyde", she demanded.
The twelve hundred pound steed came alive and went easily into a trot. Joni held the reins loosely in her hands as the huge horse trotted proudly around the arena.
The lady watched in amazement when Joni leaned forward and kicked Clyde twice in the sides with the heel of her boots and the enormous horse glided smoothly into a canter.
"That horse just doesn't like me," the lady said in despair. "I wouldn't have believed he would trot much less canter if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes".
Joni was close by and heard the lady's statement. She reined Clyde to a stop at the arena gate.
"It's not your fault maam", Joni exclaimed. "Clyde's stubborn with all the trail riders. He just loves us and nobody else".
Joni reined Clyde around and burst off at a gallop. She looked back over her shoulder and was glad that she had told the lady about Clyde.
"That little girl can really ride," the lady said as she walked slowly to her car. "I wouldn't be surprised if she became a professional rider someday".

Copyright © 1995  Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.