A Horse for Laura and Ryan
by David Millican of Spokane, WA
The news came as a complete surprise. “A horse, a real horse, Daddy?” Laura was excited and it showed in her dancing eyes. “I’ve got to tell Ryan,” she squealed, as she clapped her hands together. Ryan was having a quiet time in his room as Laura bounded in without knocking as was her usual habit. Laura was five years old and Ryan would soon be four.
Up to this time the only horse they had was a beautiful Palomino rocking horse that great uncle Doug had made for them in his workshop. It was a fast horse as rocking horses go, and that’s why they called him Lightning. He had a long blonde mane and tail. He was as pretty as a rocking horse could be.
Dr. Mark and their mother Becky had recently bought a home in Spokane that was situated on five acres and had a barn. The previous owner had to move away, but couldn’t take his horse. It would be theirs if they wanted it. Laura’s daddy hadn’t told her about the horse until he had talked it over with Becky and they had decided they would keep it. Now the secret was out. Dr. Mark would learn to ride and care for the horse and would teach the children as he learned. It would be fun and recreation for the whole family.
As Laura bounded in and jumped up on the bed where Ryan was noisily revving up the imaginary motor on his favorite truck, the whole room seemed filled with excitement. “Ryan, listen what Daddy told me just now. I’ll bet you would never guess in a million years.”
“Betcha I could. We’re going to move to Spokane. I already know that.”
“Yes, but that’s not it. We’re going to get a real horse. Daddy said so.”
“We don’t need another horse, we’ve got Lightning in the front room and I can ride him any time I want,” said Ryan.
“So, but you can’t ride a real horse because they are big like for Daddy and Mommy to ride. Daddy said when we get bigger we can ride the real horse. I can hardly wait to see him.”
“Will he be a palomino like Lightning?” asked Ryan.
“How would I know I haven’t seen him yet, or maybe its a her. I wonder how we can tell? Oh, I know, by the name. If it has a boys name it’ll be a boy horse and if it has a girls name it’ll be a girl horse.”
“I think we should name him Lightning like our rocking horse,” said Ryan.
“Well now, Mr. Smarty, how do you know it’s a him?”
Just then their mother walked in. “What’s going on here? I heard you talking about a horse. Laura, did your daddy tell you about the horse that we are getting with the house and barn we will have in Spokane?” She sat down on the bed. “What is that I heard about a Palomino and Lightning?”
“Yes,” said Laura, “Daddy told me about the horse, but we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl horse, Momma. Ryan thinks we should call it Lightning like our rocking horse, but it may not be a Palomino and already have a name. Couldn’t Lightning be a name for any horse, boy horse or girl horse?”
“Yes, you are right, Laura, but what matters more than the name of a horse is how much you love your horse and how well you take care of it.”
“I love Lightning,” said Ryan. “He’s a good rocking horse, and I want to name our real horse Lightning. Okay, Mom, can we huh, can we?”
“Well, I’m sure the horse already has a name, but we will consider that and see if it would be a problem to rename it. We’ll be moving there in just a few days and you will get to see our real horse. Don’t forget she will need a lot of attention and care. It’s a big responsibility to have a large animal like that. They depend on their owner to feed, water and care for all their needs. A horse needs to be brushed everyday to keep her coat clean and healthy. As a family we’ll be doing all of that together.”
“I can help,” they both said together.
“I’m sure you can,” said their mother, “but saying so and doing so day after day are two different things. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. In fact it depends on how much you love your horse.”
“I love Lightning lots,” said Ryan. He was so eager and sincere that Becky just had to hug him tight.
“I know you do Ryan, but we’re talking about a real horse now. Wait til you see him or her as the case may be, I’m sure you will fall in love.”
“Dad, are we there yet?” questioned Ryan. They had been on the road most of the day from Seattle clear across the state and the kids were getting a bit frazzled and anxious to see their new home for the first time.
Becky said, “Look ahead Ryan and you’ll see the big tall hospital where your daddy is going to work. It’s not far now only a mile or two and we turn south and go out of town to our place.”
Dr. Mark was tired too, but excited about the waiting surprise for the kids. “You kids stay awake. It won’t be long now and we’ll be there,” he said.
“You kids are really going to love your new home, I’m sure,” said their mother. “We have to go through town, up a long hill and out a country road and through a lot of trees to get there. We have to sleep on the floor tonight because our furniture won’t get here until tomorrow.”
“Oh boy, I can’t wait to get there,” Ryan suddenly came alive. “Laura don’t go to sleep now,” he said to his sister who had decided to take a nap.
Heading south now the city disappeared behind the hills and trees and they were on Hilby Road. The house was just ahead on the right and Dr. Mark pointed it out. “Look you guys, there it is.” Now they were both so excited they could hardly wait to stop so they would be allowed to unbuckle their seat belts, jump out of the car and go exploring.
“Daddy, open the door so we can go inside.” Laura was a bit impatient.
“No so fast little girl. We are going to the barn first. Come on this way. I want you to see the horse first and she may need some water and feed.”
“How do you know it’s a she?” questioned Laura.
“I think you will soon find out,” he said as he pulled the barn door open to a nice clean straw filled stall. Ryan squeezed by Laura and they both stood there enthralled with a look of wonderment and surprise on their faces. Right there not six feet away was the most beautiful little one week old Palomino colt, standing beside his mother and having his evening meal of milk.
“Well, Ryan there’s your Lightning,” said Becky.