“Winning a Pony” by K. B. Inglee
When I was a kid there were lots of contests that offered a pony as the first prize. I entered the ones I could, but never won anything. I was pretty young when I began to wonder what happened to all those ponies who were forced to live in the front room of a third-floor apartment or in a city parking lot. I was pretty old when I figured out there was no pony, but probably a cash prize to cover the cost of one.
My parents offered to pay half the fee for riding lessons when I was in first grade. All the adults in my life suddenly had a chore that would pay a nickel or a dime. I was steadfast and never spent a cent until I had saved all the money I needed for the lessons. I rode for three years on that one series of lessons that should have lasted 3 months.
For the rest of my life I snatched every opportunity to be around horses. I wrote my first short story when I was in fourth grade. It was about a young girl winning a horse.
When my daughter, Bodge, wanted riding lessons, I was quick to comply. She stated as a student on the pony I saw as much like the one I had never won. Her name was Tea Cup. It wasn’t long before my daughter was riding the cross-country course at the farm. I was teaching beginning riding to kids and, with one of the other mothers who also rode there, leading the 4H group.
Bodge was 14 when the county 4H leader called me and said our county was up for the Bob Evans horse. Bodge ought to try for it.
Bob Evans offered one of his registered quarter horses to each state where Bob Evans products were sold. The state 4H office decided who got the horse.
This time it wasn’t a matter of dropping a numbered slip into a box. Bodge had to write an essay on why she wanted the horse and what she would to with it. Her riding instructor had to write a referral. We had to prove that we would keep the horse properly. And we had to go to the Bob Evans Farm in Ohio to pick the horse up.
We spent the weekend in Rio Grand, Ohio, looking over the horses that were up for grabs, all registered quarter horses with long pedigrees. “I want that one,” She said pointing to one of two red roans.
But this part of the process was a lottery. Each kid was given a number. Each 4Her got the horse that entered the shoot in that order. The horses were herded toward a shoot. First horse in would be Bodge’s. A little black colt nosed through the group and was about to step into the shoot, when a big pushy mare forced him out of the way.
So my daughter won the horse I had tried to win for my whole childhood. She called her Sausage, in part for Bob Evans, and in part for her color. Sausage (Fools Enchantment on her registration papers) was with us for almost 20 years.
Oddly, I never wrote another horse story.