Cleric blushed deep red. “I most certainly am not kidding!”
Anna snorted as she continued to gape at the three-quarter sized blue roan pony standing there with his ears pinned back, and his foot cocked and ready to kick out at the slightest provocation. “Clara, there is no way that pony would make a suitable mount for Colton.”
“That is the one.” Cleric insisted vehemently.
While Anna looked as if she thought Cleric, whom she knew as Clara, had taken leave of her senses, I knew Cleric believed this pony would make the perfect mount for Colton because Colton’s deceased pony, Peaches (AKA Mystery), had told Cleric this in a dream. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/a-new-mystery/
As if he knew we were talking about him, the pony gave us a baleful look. He neighed loudly, then walked over to the fence and stared at us sullenly.
Anna frowned. “How can you possibly believe a pony with such a sour disposition could work with Colton?”
A nearby man walked over to us. “Old Blue there isn’t all that bad.” He reached over the fence and patted the pony. The animal’s demeanor didn’t change much, but he tolerated the man rubbing his head and scratching behind his ears.
My Gypsy walked over and stood next to the man. “You sound as if you have had experience with the animal. Is he yours?”
The man nodded. “Well, actually, he’s my daughter’s pony. Or he was.”
I gave him an appraising look. “What can you tell us about him, Mister . . .?”
“Denver. John Denver. No relation to the singer.” The man smiled ruefully as he held out his hand.
I shook his hand and made the introductions, then repeated. “So, what can you tell us about the pony?”
“Well, I can’t tell you too much, really. He was being sold with no prior history at auction about five years ago and I bought him. I don’t know why. He certainly wasn’t a looker or a charmer. But my daughter begged me to get him, so I did. I just couldn’t say no to her.”
I smiled, and John continued. “He was the best thing that ever happened to my daughter. She was handicapped, you see. She couldn’t walk, but Old Blue didn’t care. He was always so gentle and patient with her.”
Anna raised her eyebrows. “Your daughter is handicapped?”
John hung his head, and when he spoke, his words caught in his throat. “She was. Casey passed away six months ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry for your loss!” Anna and I murmured our condolences.
“Thanks.” John swallowed hard. “I’ve kept Blue around since Casey’s death. I just couldn’t bear to get rid of him. But lately I’ve been seeing a change in him. He’s growing more and more sullen. He doesn’t eat, not even treats I try to give him. He doesn’t run around the field with my gelding. He just stands by the gate, as if waiting for Casey to come and ride him.”
The man sighed, and his voice cracked again when he spoke. “He always took such good care of my little girl, and he always seemed so happy to be around her. I can’t stand to see him so depressed. I figured it was time for him to have another child to take care of. I put an ad in the paper to sell him, but only a few people responded, and Blue really didn’t impress them. So, I figured I’d try my luck here at the auction. But that might have been a mistake. The way he’s been acting, I can’t see anyone bidding on him.”
Cleric stepped forward. “We must have that pony.”
Anna frowned, but before she could say anything, Cleric grabbed her arm. “Anna, this pony has already worked with a handicapped rider. I’m sure he could be trained for Colton.”
John looked at Anna. “You have a handicapped child?”
Anna nodded. “My son, Colton, is blind. His pony, one that had been specially trained to work with a blind rider, passed away from age-related ailments a few months ago.”
“And you need to find another pony for Colton.” John nodded his understanding.
“It’s not that easy.” Anna pursed her lips and scowled. “It can’t be just any pony, not even a pony that’s trained to work with riders suffering other types of handicaps. It has to be one specifically trained to work with a blind rider.”
John continued to nod. “I understand. It’s a shame Old Blue here isn’t what you’re looking for. I think it’s pretty obvious he won’t be finding a good home here tonight.”
Cleric wrinkled her brow and tugged on Anna’s sleeve. “He can be trained. I know he will be the perfect mount for Colton. You need to take this pony home with you.”
Anna shook her head. “I think you’re wrong, Clara. A pony that sour does not have the proper disposition to work with a blind rider. Besides, Colton isn’t ready to think about a new pony.”
John cleared his throat and ducked his head. “If it’s Blue’s disposition that scares you, ma’am, all I can tell you is he was a different animal with my Casey. He was a happy pony, always eager to see her come to the barn to ride. He’d whinny and run to the gate as soon as I wheeled her out of the house.”
Anna sighed. “Well, maybe he has a better disposition than he’s showing here tonight, but as I stated, Colton isn’t ready to think about a new pony.”
“Maybe not right away, but if he got to know Blue, that might change.” John looked at Anna and then at the rest of us, silent pleading in his eyes. “I really want to make sure Blue gets a good home. He deserves that for all he did for my little girl. If you’d be willing to take him, I’ll withdraw him from the bidding tonight. You can have him, free and clear, just as long as you promise to return him to me if it doesn’t work out with your boy.”
Cleric almost jumped for joy. “You cannot ask for a better deal than that, Anna! And you will see I am right about Blue. He is the pony Colton needs.”
Anna stared at the pony, then looked at me and the rest of our companions. We all nodded our encouragement. Anna sighed and shook her head. “I must be crazy to even consider this sour animal.”
“But you will take him, will you not?” Cleric smiled.
“I suppose it won’t hurt.” Anna turned toward John. “Okay, I’ll give him a month’s trial. If he and Colton don’t get along by the end of that period, you’ll be getting him back.”
Will Colton and Blue get along? Will Blue be able to be trained to work with Colton’s handicap? Be sure to come back again next week and see what is happening. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.