To start with, this little story isn’t really about ancient history since it just happened a couple of months ago. It really is not my story; I’m just the one who gets to tell it. There has been quite a bit of local interest in this story and folks thought it should be shared with the readers of this blog. This little tale includes my wife, Carolyn, and our neighbor and a few other people, but in the end, it really is the story of a horse.
The horse belonged to our neighbor. It is a seven-year old mare, a beautiful Paint. It is broken to ride, has an interesting personality and loves to romp and run in the pastures along Highway 82, across the road from Bear Creek, just east of La Farge. The horse’s name is Holly. Holly used to be with two other horses in the pasture looking out over the creek, but by last winter, she was alone. That is not a good thing for a horse as they are social animals and like to be with other horses.
Carolyn started to help take care of Holly the horse due to the declining health of our neighbor. Last winter, Carolyn arranged for a supply of hay to be brought in for Holly and she fed the horse grain and watered it through that cold season. Carolyn has had an affinity for horses every since she had a horse as a girl growing up on a farm on Camp Creek east of Viola. She likes being around horses and has a way with them. She’s not quite a “Horse Whisperer”, but Carolyn has been able to handle some mighty skittish horses that others can’t.
(I, on the other hand, am generally terrified of the critters. That terror may stem from my last time on a horse over forty years ago, when while riding sideways in the saddle and perpendicular to the ground (which is really a bad position to be in), that horse misinterpreted my “WHOA” for “GO” and tried to peel me off on the nearest gate post at a high rate of speed. Alcohol may have been a factor in that episode, but tragedy was averted and my Roy Rogers days were over.)
Just to the east of Holly’s little pasture and across the driveway, four other horses are on pasture. Being alone, Holly yearned to be with the other horses. During this past summer, she started getting out of her pen on a regular basis to go over and see the other horses. Holly would stand at the pasture fence and some of the other horses would come over to visit. They would talk horse talk, nuzzle each other and just hang out together like horses do. Unfortunately, sometimes Holly wandered out onto the highway, which became a problem. Eventually at the end of September, she was moved over to our pasture east of the house, which had more secure fences. It was a move that was not popular with Holly. She was further away from the other horses and would pace along the fence and gaze longingly at her erstwhile horse pals.
As time went on, our neighbor’s health continued to be an issue and it was decided that Holly should have another home. So her owner and Carolyn started to look for a buyer.
Many people driving by on the nearby highway had admired the Paint horse in our pasture and when the word got out that the horse was for sale, people started calling and dropping in to make an offer. In mid-October, Carolyn made some calls and a family stopped by to look Holly over. They walked her around and even got her to cross the drainage ditch in the lower end of the pasture that nobody else could get her to cross. They talked with Holly’s owner and a deal was made for them to purchase Holly for their teenage girl to ride. No money changed hands, but the family assured Holly’s owner that they would be back in a week or so with a check and to pick up the horse.
In the meantime, Carolyn continued to care for Holly. She supplemented the sparse pasture grass of the fall season with horse treats for Holly – 12% Sweet Feed, which the horse came to relish on a daily basis. As October turned to November and then December, Carolyn brought over hay from the neighbors to feed her horse. Eventually after weeks of waiting, the family who had intended to buy Holly had to back out of the deal. This was on December 5th. Carolyn and our neighbor had a couple of back-up buyers, but all of those potential buyers fell through as well.
Winter was coming fast and Carolyn seemed to have a horse to care for if it could not be sold. She made many more calls and finally a lady from La Farge bought Holly. This was on December 15th. Money changed hands and on December 22nd, Holly was walked into town and over to a pasture on the north side of La Farge located in old Seelyburg. There, Holly had the companionship of two other horses and come the spring season, another teenage girl would be riding her.
It snowed most of the day here in the Kickapoo Valley on Sunday, December 23rd. It was after eight o’clock that night when there was a knock on our front door. A pickup was parked in the driveway and when I answered the door, the man said, “Your horses are out”. I said, “I don’t have any horses”. Another man standing in the driveway said, “We were driving out from town following these two horses up the highway and they turned into your driveway”.
Thinking they were two of the four horses on pasture to the east, I told the guys they belonged at the next place down the road. The men said OK and started back down the snowy driveway. Down by the barn, we could see two horses running around in the dark, but they soon got in behind the pickup and headed out to the highway and over to the neighbor’s place.
Carolyn got on the phone to contact the people who rented the pasture and owned the other horses. Soon after, our neighbor called to say that Holly had returned and had brought a friend with her! It was a Christmas miracle or perhaps a Christmas headache or maybe something in between! By this time the owner of the other horses, who were in their pasture, came and put Holly and friend into our pasture. Carolyn called the lady who owned the horses – the second one was a buckskin gelding that went by the name of Buck – and she went up to Seelyburg to check on her third horse. She found the hole in the fence where Holly and Buck made their escape, fixed the fence and then followed their trail in the snow down Mill Street. The horses had checked out the sheds at Nuzum’s but found nothing open, so then headed up La Farge’s Main Street and followed Highway 82 out to our place on Bear Creek. The next morning Holly was at the pasture fence, noodling with Carolyn for some of that 12% Sweet Feed. Buck the tagalong gelding, a true annoyance to Holly by this time, lined up at the food trough as well.
The horses spent the week of Christmas at our place. Carolyn had to make another hay run to keep the two horses fed properly. On December 27th, Holly and a very reluctant Buck made the walk back into La Farge and over to their digs at Seelyburg, where, I am happy to say, they still reside.
I drive by that Seelyburg pasture occasionally to make sure that Holly is staying put. My pickup putts a little loud due to a needed muffler and I think Holly might recognize the truck. There is still a bale of hay in the back of the pickup and as I drove away, it seemed that Holly the horse was paying serious attention to my departure route.