Thursday, February 24, 2011

Commitment


Before I was in a position to buy my own horse, I would rent one at a stable near Griffith Park. Dolly. Dolly had one blue eye and one brown. She had a high proud neck and a high butt, with a slender Arab frame.

I rode Dolly bareback, all up and down the trails. Sometimes in company, sometimes not. Every time I visited the stable the same guy would be there. “Dolly?” he’d ask. Yes, Dolly. He’d bridle her up, give me a leg up, and off we’d go.

I wanted to own Dolly, oh so badly. Clearly, she hadn’t always been a string horse. She could do all sorts of stuff, like the fancy trot, or flying lead changes with a quarter inch lift to the rein. Sometimes we’d just do a lazy walk and I’d drape myself over her neck, bury my nose in her sweaty smells of alfalfa and molasses.

Dolly always held me on her back as though she were balancing a crystal glass, one filled to the brim with fine champagne. And she never spilled a drop. I trusted her completely. Her every step was honest, thrilling, kind.

Truth be told, I almost married a guy, just so he’d buy my Dolly. And maybe I should have – as life’s bargains go, I’ve done worse.

One day I went to the stable and my regular guy was gone. “I want to ride Dolly,” I said. And they brought out a palomino quarter. “No, that’s not Dolly.” So they went back and brought some other stranger. “No, no.”

“Well Miss, we probably have other Dollys. Why not take a look?”

So I walked the shed rows. My girl was gone.

“I don’t know, Miss. Maybe something happened. Or maybe someone bought her. Sometimes that happens.”

When I bought my own horse, Vandy, one thing I made clear to the two of us from the very start: Even if we weren’t a match made in heaven (and we weren’t), even if she didn’t prove to be a trustworthy friend (and she didn’t), I’d never let her go (and I haven’t). I promised Vandy, even if she threw me, bucked me off, even if we disagreed on some very basic philosophies, I’d never give her up. No one would ever call her Dolly.

37 comments:

  1. That brought me tears. Right now I miss Pandora and Brandy like I haven't in years.

    They (animals) come to trust us, too. They expect us to be there. And they usually don't have much choice in the matter.

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  2. There's nothing I like better than a Dolly with a proud neck and a high butt.

    Nice story, Karin.

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  3. Lucky, lucky Vandy. Dakota and I have our ups and downs, but if I didn't have her in my day, every day, it would be like loosing an arm or leg--no, my heart.

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  4. What a story. I will be thinking of Dolly all day. Isn't it the 2nd horse/dog who benefit from the lessons & love learned.

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  5. Wonderful story. Not a horse guy but loved it just the same.

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  6. I think this is one of your best. I can't remember a better description anywhere of being on horseback.


    Also a little gem here in your omission of "could've" in the old saw: " . . . I’ve done worse." One good reason to hang onto cliches is to tinker with them.

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  7. A beautiful piece of writing. I wonder what happened to Dolly?

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  8. Hey, thank you very much.

    PA is right, this started as a comment to Banjo regarding a poem he linked to -- here's the poem: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/Donald-Hall/15420. By the second paragraph, I figured this had better be a post.

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  9. Kinda wish I hadn't read the linked poem. It's beautifully written and it depressed me. Right now I'm reading Gruen's "Water for Elephants." Many people see animals as slaves, but some can't help but see them as fellow souls.

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  10. I had a Dolly too....she was blind in one eye and we use to "sneak" a pail up to her blind side to get on......she let us too.

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  11. The loss of a true and dear friend. I have the same pact with all of my rescue animals, none of whom are really animals, but gentle, trusting souls wrapped in fur.

    Vandy is one lucky girl. And, I'll wager, Dolly enjoyed her jaunts with you every bit as much as you did.

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  12. This made me teary too. Beautiful, Hiker. I hope Dolly ended up with a soul worthy of her.

    Oh, I should've heeded Petrea's warning. That poem is just too sad.

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  13. Your commitment to all the animals in your life is always uplifting, KB. I hope Dolly went on with your guy to greener pastures.

    I've had some heart breakers in my life, several of them horses. Looking back there's nearly always been an animal of one sort or another in my life. And it's worth it, every bit of it, and now I'm learning from a house rabbit that fear is just something that happens from time to time. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  14. I"m a bit fragile right now as you know. DAMN, I'm bawling over Dolly. Friendships are hard to lose, ne'st-ce pas? Maybe I can meet Vandy next time? I have wanted to photograph horses for a long time.

    V

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  15. I don't have a horse or more than one dog (even though my neighbors have horses, a 3-minimum pack of pooches, chickens, burros, alpacas, etc. - unfortunately, Hana has "only child" syndrome). But I love all things equine and canine, and pretty much most anything that's in the animal kingdom. Vandy is truly blessed, and I hope Dolly is too. Your story made me quite teary. Anyhoo, now I'm going to make Hana watch an episode of Animal Cops on Animal Planet with me so she can truly appreciate how lucky she is. It's a 50-50 proposition...

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  16. Sniffle. I hope your Dolly went to a paradise where she was treasured. You and Vandy are both lucky to have each other. And there's no way I'm looking at that poem.

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  17. Since we really don't know, I choose the happy ending.

    WV: Peeksiboo. Dolly found someone quite like me, someone quite like me but with money in her pocket.

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  18. ooo. her eyes, is she angry? And you are right Karin, almost but not quite! Big Olivia says hi..

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  19. Oh man! That was so sad! I love horses. They each have their own personalities. I'm glad you have your own horse now. It's great that she can depend on you!

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  20. Is that pic Dolly or Vandy, or some other gal?? Touching short story. Maybe the "same guy" rode off with Dolly, your former same old ride.

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  21. If she looks mad, it's because I didn't brush and style her for the close-up. Or wipe the oats from her chin. That's Vandy.

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  22. Sweet Vandy! One day I'm going to come across the two of you on a hike - I always hope it's you when a rider comes by. As for commitment, I can't understand people who give their animals to the shelter when they don't suit them. I've heard one woman gave her black cat in as it didn't match the new white furniture. When I see all those pets at the shelters, I wonder how many have been betrayed by owners without enough commitment.
    Is it a coincidence you've put the picture of Albert on the same page? He's so lucky he found you, of all people. Can dogs smell committed people?

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  23. As soon as I saw that picture of Vandy, I worried that something had happened to her. That gave me a scare. There's been so much bad news floating around lately, I've come to anticipate it.

    My guess is that Dolly got to go somewhere much better than the rental barn.

    Once, while renting a much less appealing version of your Dolly in Griffith Park (a horse with a bad cough and no desire for much of anything), I saw Hugh Hefner ride by on an Arab with the bunny shaved into her hindquarters. He could ride. Unrelated, I know, but had to share.

    Oh, that sweet, generous smell of horse. I couldn't imagine a life without it.

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  24. Ooo, celebrity sighting. One time a friend and I were riding in Griffith, and this grand gentleman came trotting down the wash on a great big horse, relaxed, with arms behind him, and hands resting on his horse's flanks.

    He gave us a wide smile and a good afternoon.

    It was George C. Scott.

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  25. I love imagining George C. Scott riding a horse like this--great description.

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  26. "Dolly always held me on her back as though she were balancing a crystal glass, one filled to the brim with fine champagne. And she never spilled a drop. I trusted her completely. Her every step was honest, thrilling, kind."

    Most beautiful.

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  27. The earthquake was a big deal for here and shook up everyone I know out of a sound sleep, but I didn't feel a thing. Since I'm originally from California, I slept right through it. I guess it just made me feel like I was back home. :)

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  28. Sad story, with a happy ending for Vandy.

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  29. I just wish every Vandy had a Karin. They all deserve it!

    Punkin says hi and blows whiskery kisses to his old girl-pal Vandy...

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  30. wolfwatcher, we miss the two of you. Vandy thinks the stable currently suffers a dirth of hunks. Still winning all the ribbons?

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  32. this is the one - and you didn't let her go

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