"Mom," Steven said, bolting through the kitchen door. "May I pet Ginger's baby?"

"You better not," his mother answered. "This is Ginger's first foal. She may not want anyone to touch it."

"Come on, Mom," Steven pulled on his mother's hand. "Don't you want to see the baby?

"Yes, I do," his mother smiled, picking up her sweater as she headed toward the door.

"Isn't the baby beautiful? Steven's eyes sparkled. It almost looks red. Why does it have that big white splotch with reddish looking spots in it next to its tail?

"It's what they call a blanket Appaloosa," his mother laughed, slipping a halter over Ginger's head. "It's suppose to look like that. Guess what, Steven? It's a little filly."

"What's a filly, Mom? Steven questioned.

"Well, his mother smiled. "A filly is a baby girl horse. A colt is a baby boy horse."

"Oh," Steven said amazed. "I didn't know that. Her legs are all wobbly. Is she all right?"

"Yes," his mother answered. "She's only a few hours old. She'll be running and romping in no time. Ginger doesn't seem to mind my touching her baby. "Would you like to pet her now."

"Yes," Steven said, glancing at Ginger tied to the hitching post. "I think she trusts us not to hurt her baby."

"She needs to get use to being touched," his mother said, as she moved her hand slowly down the filly's leg, picking up its tiny hoof.

"I'll need to check her feet everyday for rocks. If they get a rock wedged in their foot, it's like us having a rock in our shoes. You need to be careful, though. Always approach her from her side. She's just a baby. She might strike you with her front feet or kick you with the back ones. I'll train her she isn't suppose to do that, but for safety reasons it's wise to never stand directly in front of a horse or behind it. They spook easy at times and you could get hurt."

"I'll be careful, Mom," Steven said. "When can she eat oats and hay all the time the way Ginger does?

"She'll be eating oats and hay when she's about six or seven months old," his mother said.

"May I name her? Steven asked excited. "I know a real pretty name for her."

"Yes, you can," his mother hugged him. "What do you want to name her?

"Well," Steven grinned. "We call her mother Ginger, because she's the color of ginger spice. So, I think we should call the filly Rachel."

"Rachel," his mother laughed. "How did you come up with that name?

"I didn't want to call her Red or Spot," Steven said seriously. "I just think she looks like a Rachel."

"All right," his mother smiled. "We'll call her Rachel."

All that summer Steven watched his mother work with Rachel. She was very tame and didn't mind when Steven's Mother cleaned her feet, touched her ears, or when she looked at her teeth.

When the leaves began to turn gold on the elm trees, Rachel's legs were longer and her body much stronger.

"The way she's growing she may get big as Ginger," Steven said.
She's sure going to be a beautiful horse."

"Feeding her the right kinds of feed and giving her vitamins is why she's grown so well," his mother answered. "That's why you're growing so well. You eat all the right kind of foods and you take your vitamins."

"I know," Steven answered. "Will you take me riding on Ginger today?

"Yes, I will," his mother answered. "Horseback riding is one of the best ways to exercise your entire body."

"I'm glad," Steven said. "I love to go riding. I can't wait until Rachel's big enough to ride."

"It'll be a few years before we can ride Rachel," his mother explained. "Her bones have to grow and get strong before we can ride her."

"I know," Steven giggled, watching Rachel trotting around the barnyard with her head and tail held high.

Copyright © 1993  Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.