So I wanted a pony or horse and loved them and couldn’t figure out how I had missed out on Sundae because I’d been too small to appreciate her.
I took some riding lessons, but found going around inside a barn while a lady shouted at me and spending an hour cleaning tack and things was not for me.
There was a pony/horse riding place not too far from my house that was much more satisfying. For the hefty price of $5 you got to take the pony and/or horse of your choice off into the wilderness for an hour.
This was great.
When the neighbor girls and I could wrangle $5 out of our parents and convince them to drive us there and pick us up an hour later.
Which was not nearly often enough.
When you live on a long five mile stretch of road with less than a handful of houses on it, you tend to know every inch of it. It had not escaped our attention that a certain old man owned a lot of land nearby but did not live there. It was fenced in.
We were intrigued.
So we crept down the path in the woods to see what we would find.
And there they were. Two perfectly lovely horses housed in an old ramshackle barn in the middle of the woods in a tiny meadow.
We were in love.
And started scheming. Now there wouldn’t be much of a spot to hide these horses if we stole them and brought them home.
So we decided to just steal them temporarily.
It is not that easy to get on a horse without any kind of equipment when you are not yet very tall. The trick was to lure one over to the ladder or short wall in the barn and then try to leap on top of them. Sometimes our efforts did not get much beyond this.
But the times we did manage to get on one and steal it away—oh, those were good times.
The neighbor girls and I would ride our bikes down, hide them in the bushes, and sneak down the path to “our” new horses.
Even getting thrown off a horse you’ve stolen for the day is immensely satisfying.
Then one day we heard a noise.
Footsteps down the path and some sort of “whump, whump, whump”.
The Old Man appeared. Hitting his leg with a sharp, whippy stick.
Someone hadn’t hidden their bike well enough.
We were pretty sure that we were going to get whipped within an inch of our lives which probably came from reading far too many books as none of us had ever experienced anything like it personally.
Instead, he gave us a talking to. A very, SCARY talking to using the stick to emphasize his points.
He convinced us that there was a rabid bull in the woods that would surely kill us dead if we stepped one foot over the fence ever again.
My life as a horse thief was over.
But it did lead to a fascination with thieves in books, particularly ones who are actually good at it and don’t get caught by old men with sticks.
They occasionally even pop up in my novels.
Novel thieves are SO much more clever than I.
Love to you all,