“No! No” she cried out while clinging to her father’s pant leg.
“Have to do it,” he said gruffly. “Mother, take care of this.”
“Let’s go inside and let dad finish up loading Ginger. He is going to a good home. Please stop crying, dear. It is hard on all of us,” her mother said patiently.
“I don’t understand,” the girl responded while continuing to weep. “My horse, my beautiful Ginger. Why is dad doing this?”
The horse was a co-operative creature and easily mounted the ramp into the gated truck. The hinged barrier clanged shut behind him. He turned his head and saw the young girl’s small figure in the distance. Her posture was one of dejection and he sensed the waves of sadness projecting from her. What was happening? The two of them had always been a team, going easily over hills and valleys. They would stop in meadows of wild flowers and drink sweet water from creeks. She even made garlands of the flowers, which she hung around his neck, while murmuring honeyed phrases to him. He was so proud of her flowers offered with love, that he would have an extra spring in his gait all the way home. Ah home! He had a large stall, in the barn, which the girl cleaned daily. She made sure his straw bedding was fresh, as well his water. The hay was good quality and he relished his treats of carrots and apples. He had never known any other life. The truck was now in gear and headed towards the highway. The years flowed on, as her parents continued struggling to make a living from the farm. She still thought of Ginger but had finally acknowledged their reason for selling him. They were poor people.
Finishing high school, she got a job right away with the Buckerfield store, as she knew a lot about feeds and farming. She lived at home and contributed to the family income. Also, she was now driving the truck into town for her work or sometimes her dad would drop her off. The arrangement worked for all of them.
Then, one day at Buckerfields, she overheard a conversation between two men. The one was complaining about feed prices – saying he had five horses to feed but is considering having to get rid of the oldest one. Also, a lot of work and his wife wasn’t up to cleaning the stalls plus look after their large house. Hesitating, she approached the man, telling him she was experienced with horses and could offer clean up services after work and week-ends. She did not seek financial aid but would like the opportunity to be with horses again and ride occasionally. The man was quick to accept her offer.
She arrived at his farm on Saturday morning. He introduced his wife and then took her out to the pasture area, where the horses were lazing about. She was sizing them up, when a soft whinny caught her ear. That horse was slowly moving towards her and then she realized it was him – her beloved Ginger. All the intervening years could not halt the tears cascading down her face. The man appeared to not notice the exchange between the young woman and the horse.
“Yeah, he said, indicating Ginger, this one was a good useful horse in his time but has slowed and become a liability now. I’ve just been putting off shooting him.”
“Oh no! Oh no!” she managed to exclaim through her tears. “He is mine. He has always been mine. Dad sold him when I was young but I never gave up thinking and wondering about him. I can see he had a good place here but is no longer wanted. What will you take for him? I’ve got a steady job and will pay whatever.”
The man was shaking his head and gently said, “No funds are required. You can have him. Maybe you can help my wife out in the house the odd time. That would be payment enough.” “Yes, yes, she responded, call me anytime.”
The next day she arrived with her father and the truck. Ginger was easily loaded. But wait – she gets in beside him, her eyes shining with pleasure. They are on the highway now and the horse looks back towards the farm, where he has lived the last ten years. She is looking ahead and says, “Ginger, we are going home.”