Illustration by Jean Abernethy
The lights flickered on in the barn that morning, and I heard the familiar shuffling of all the other ponies in the barn. Jack, the pony next to me who the girls in the barn refer to as “impatient,” begins his daily ritual of trying to kick down his stall door until our grain is served. I feel my own excitement start to build as I hear the grain being dropped into buckets down the aisle and let out a high-pitched whinny. I can’t help myself—breakfast is one of my favorite times of the day!
Finally … FINALLY … the girls reach my stall.
Is it just me or have you guys gotten slower?
I nudge one of the girls as she pours my grain into my bucket, and she pushes me away.
I dig into my bucket with excitement. I really like this barn. The breakfast is great! Then, I head outside to play with Jack … although I must admit he’s not much fun. Then, this little girl who always wears her hair like I wear my tail at the events where I get ribbons comes to brush me and ride me and feed me treats. Then it’s dinner time!
Every day is pretty much perfect, and I’m a pretty happy pony. I’m so glad I never have to leave this place.
After a fun morning of playing “follow the leader” with Jack—he’s always the leader—I can’t wait for the little girl with the fancy hair to arrive. Just then, I see her little head peeking into my stall.
I couldn’t wait to see you!
I press my nose up to the front of the stall to try and get closer to her.
You look kind of different today.
Her face and her eyes are redder than normal. She pushes open my stall door, but instead of putting my halter on like normal, she puts her tiny arms around my neck and squeezes me. I love when she does this, so I try to stand perfectly still so she doesn’t stop.
“I’m going to miss you so much,” the little girl says into my neck. I’m not quite sure what she means by this, so I just keep trying to stand perfectly still.
“You’re the best pony in the whole world,” she whispers, and again I just try to stand like a statue. The little girl stays with me for a little while longer and then leaves for the day without ever taking me out of my stall.
That was weird.
I can’t think about it too much longer though, because the girls have started to feed dinner. The only thing I love more than breakfast is dinner!
The next morning the lights flicker on again, and I whinny with excitement for another amazing day ahead. The girls move slowly as can be down the aisle as usual, and I am practically spinning with anticipation by the time they get to me. They pour grain into my bucket, and right before I dig in, I notice the goo mixed in.
“A little ulcer medicine before your trip today, Tucker,” says one of the girls.
What trip?! I hate this stuff.
I turn up my nose but reluctantly decide I’m too hungry not to eat it. One of the girls pulls Jack out of his stall, but not me, and I really think they’re starting to lose their minds around here.
Hey! You forgot me!
I whinny after them. Instead of turning around for me though, another girl comes into my stall and takes me to the area where they always brush me and put my saddle on. She starts grooming me and puts the fluffy pads around my legs, and I realize I am getting on the trailer.
Where’s the little girl?
I swing my head around and start to dance. She’s usually always here before I get on the trailer! As they lead me out and load me onto the trailer, I’m starting to really worry. Not only is the little girl not here, but none of her friends are here, and even worse, I’m the only pony on the trailer! Things are not good at all, and I have no choice but to anxiously paw the ground as they close up the trailer doors.
After what seems like forever, the trailer slows down and pulls up a long drive. I could not be more worried by the situation. I put my head up as high as possible and prick my ears trying to see or hear anything that’s going on outside. I finally feel the moving stop. The doors open, and I see a group of new girls waiting at the bottom. They don’t look like the girls at my home. I know I told them they were feeding us slower lately, but I actually did like them a lot!
“Hi Tucker.” One of the new girls walks up to me.
Who told you my name?
I prance off the trailer with her. “Welcome to your new home,” the new girl tells me.
I leap in the air. The new girl doesn’t yell at me when I do this. I do know it’s naughty, but I don’t want a new home! I liked my old home. I liked the breakfast there and playing with Jack and my little girl and the dinner there, and my old home was white, and this home is red, and it’s bright, and … I am so scared!
I continue to jig after her down a long walkway with strange ponies until she stops at a stall and leads me in. The stall has fluffy shavings, hay and water like my old stall, but Jack doesn’t live next door like he did at my old stall. I press my nose against the divider trying to see the pony next to me, but he doesn’t even seem to care that I’m here, wherever “here” is.Illustration by Jean Abernethy
The next morning the lights flicker on again, and for a second I think I’m back at my old home. But then I realize Jack isn’t next to me kicking at his door, and I hang my head in disappointment.
I don’t even want the breakfast here. I don’t pick my head up when one of the new girls drops grain into my bucket. She softly rubs my neck before she walks back out.
After a little bit, one of the new girls comes back to take this little pony outside to a paddock, but I’m all alone, and I miss Jack, and I don’t even feel like playing. Instead, I just pace up and down the fence hoping one of the new girls comes to take me back inside.
Suddenly, after pacing for what seems like hours with nobody caring, I see two little girls walking toward me. I stop pacing and stare at them. One of the little girls is the same size as my old little girl, and the other girl is even littler!
They keep walking all the way up to my fence and stop and smile at me.
“Hi Tucker!” They hold out their hands, which have peppermints in them.
How’d you guys know I love peppermints?
I take them very gently from their hands, making sure I am extra-gentle with the
“Did you know you’re our new pony?” the smaller girl says, and I stop chewing on my treats. I am not sure how I feel about this. I still don’t know if I like this strange place, and I miss my old little girl so bad.
“We heard you’re maybe scared about being here, but we already love you so much and promise that you’re going to love it here.” The bigger girl climbs up on the fence and strokes my head.
“Yeah, we promise!” The smaller girl climbs up too and rubs my nose. The girls sit with me and rub my head and laugh with each other and sneak me some more peppermints.
After a while with them, for the first time since the trailer ride to this strange place, I start to feel happy again. I even begin munching on the grass, which tastes delicious here. Maybe this new place isn’t so bad. I start to think that even though I miss my old home, and Jack and my little girl, that this new home could be really special, too. I could teach BOTH of these little girls how to ride me, and they already seem to love me so much!
After a while, the little girls tell me it’s time for them to leave, and they both give me a kiss goodbye. One of the new girls comes and leads me into my new stall and gives me a big pat.
“You’re a very sweet pony, Tucker. I’m sure you’ll like it here soon.”
That was nice of her.
I hear the dinner grain coming. This time when they pour it into my bucket, I decide to dig in. It tastes exactly like the grain at my old home!
After I finish dinner, I let out a soft-but-happy sigh. I have officially decided this place isn’t so bad after all. I lay down for a little rest and think about how I can’t wait for the lights to flicker on tomorrow morning.
This short story about a pony finding a new home with two little girls appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!
Vivian DiSesa is the stable manager of Stonegate Equestrian Stables & Annex, LLC located in Adams County, Penn. The farm breeds Welsh, Welsh cross, and North American Sport Ponies. DiSesa graduated from Centenary College, where she majored in Equine Studies and competed on their Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team. When not working with young ponies or developing young riders, she enjoys spending time at home with her fiancé and two pugs, Piper and Pixi.
Cute story! We often forget that change is hard for horses too!
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