Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mamma Never Knew

My sister and I were sitting in my front living room sharing a cup of tea and memories. We enjoy reminiscing of when we were young, often comparing our children's lives with our own childhood. One of the things that continually amaze us is how much more freedom our parents gave us as opposed to the amount of freedom we give our own kids.

“You know, Shawna. We don't let our kids out of our sight. I know where Derek is all the time. There's no running off with neighborhood kids for hours on end. Where were mom and dad anyway when we were kids?”

Shawna stretched out onto the sofa across from the chair I was sitting in, took a sip of Darjeeling and said, “They let us out in the morning and called us in at night.”

This got me to thinking of all the things I did when I was a child that, to my knowledge, my parents never found out I did. Playing with the horses across the street comes to mind.

When my family was stationed in Bitburg, Germany we lived on the edge of the army/air base there. Catty corner across the street from our building was a horse pasture. I loved to visit the horses and pick long-stemmed grass for them to eat out of my hand. Sometimes I would bring carrots, sugar cubes or even an apple for them to eat.

By the time I was eleven, I had gotten so comfortable with these beautiful creatures that I would climb over the fence and walk around with them. One horse in particular was my favorite. He was a tall black horse of breed I know not and I named him Midnight.

My friends and I would spend all afternoon walking around the pasture with the horses. Midnight would follow me around, nibbling on my shoulder. In my mind, he was my horse.

Well, one day we got it into our heads that one of us needed to ride Midnight. Midnight turned out to be an unbroken horse, as we were later to find out. Day after day Midnight would quietly stand, presumably unaware of our intentions, as we would try to hoist one of us up onto his broad back without success. Without success, that is, until we were joined by a new girl who had just arrived from Texas. We all agreed to try to get her to ride on Midnight. It's hilarious to recall now, but my friends, Terri, her brother, Michael, some others whose names I don't recall, and I faked German accents to persuade this Texan that we were kids from the German farm who owned the horses and already knew how to ride them, but would she like to try?

So with one hoist from us, she expertly climbed atop Midnight's back. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the moment in time when we discovered that it was highly doubtful that Midnight had ever been ridden before. If chaos had ever been bound before, it broke loose now. Everything happened in a blur and it will actually take longer to write down what transpired than it took to occur. Midnight took off bucking and snorting. I had the misfortune of being in front of him and I turned and ran for all I was worth. It took me very little time indeed to comprehend the foolhardiness of trying to outrun a horse. I think it was when his hoof hit the bottom of my foot that this particular epiphany struck. My difficulty lay in that I had a fence on one side of me and Midnight behind, a little to the right of me. The fence blocked my only means of escape unless I wanted to take my chances throwing myself in front of the horse, in the remote possibility that he would leap over me rather than the likely possibility that he would grind me into the ground as he galloped over me.

God was truly with me that day because without thinking I grabbed a fence post and clung to it as Midnight thundered past me. Luckily, the girl from Texas knew how to ride bareback and even better, she knew how to fall because she did not stay very long on that horse.

To this day I don't think I've ever told my mom about that incident. Not because I was trying to hide it from her but because it simply never occurred to me.
My foot was sore for a few days and shortly after, we moved back to the states. Since then, I've never been much involved with horses until my son started riding last year. Going out to the ranch every week has renewed my interest and rekindled my love for one of God's most beautiful creatures. So much so that I've begun wondering how much it would cost to get a horse.

If I ever get a black horse, I think I'll name him Midnight.


  1. Great story! We all have those childhood moments that our parents never heard about. I love the part about faking German accents. When we're children, we feel like we can pull anything off! (Oh sure...be German...no problem!) Glad to hear you are enjoying horses again.


  2. Sharon, you might be surprised to know that your story is fairly close to one of my own. We kids also had so much freedom to come and go, and go, and go...sometimes miles away, seemingly without much concern from our parents.
    I, too, went to a horse pasture a long bike ride from home with another horsey friend. We foolishly climbed aboard and the horse didn't buck..hardly moved..so we snapped off a low branch and hit the horse like a cowboy might. then we got bucked off. I landed on soft ground. my friend ended up with a concussion. it was very scarey,and God must have been protecting us because we somehow managed to get home. my friend didn't recognize anything but me during the ride home, so I had to keep her moving with a lot of talking. I think my parents did find out about this one, though. I know hers did.
    bye the way, we didn't need to sprechen zie Deutch.

  3. That is hilarious. You hit the horse with a branch and lived to tell about it.
    The Bible says that the angels of children are always in the present of the Father. Now we know why most of us make it to adulthood.

  4. Great story! Do tell more!! I know about the playing all day and then getting called in for supper -- and every child knew their own signal. Ours was a two tone whistle. Mom would whistle out the front door and then whistle out the back door and we'd better come from wherever we were!!
    (This post is from my friend Karen who couldn't post it from her computer so she asked me to post it from mine.)


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.