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Horses and Ice Cream

by Caitlin Yoder

Published: Friday, July 12, 2019

Cowgirl to the Core

Before I had my driver's license or a car of my own, my horse served as my transportation. The most important destination was, of course, the local ice cream shop, Lucy's. My friends would come over in the summer and we would saddle up some horses and make our way down the road.

I made the trip countless times and many memories were made en route to Lucy's. We used to ride there so often that we were considered regulars. One worker asked if she could feed our horses ice cream, but I don't think they would have enjoyed the sweet treat as much as I did.

It didn't take long for my horse to know the path by heart. She was a smart girl. On one trip, she even took off her own halter and took herself home. I hadn't even gotten half way through my ice cream when I saw her happily trotting down the road.

That horse even had the courtesy to halt at each stop sign and wait for traffic before crossing the busy road. I wasn't happy at the time, but I can't help but appreciate her awareness of road safety. Luckily, we all made it back home safely.

Our house wasn't far from the fairgrounds. When I was in 4-H, we had practices each week leading up to the fair. I didn't have my own trailer. Sometimes Dad would take my horse to the fairgrounds for me, but I preferred to ride my horse to workouts before the fair. I got in extra horse time, and by the time I got to the arena, my horse was already warmed up and ready to go.

Even when I did have access to a truck and trailer, I would end up riding my horse instead. It helped her become less likely to spook during the truck pulls, parades or other things during fair week. While some horses became anxious during the fair parade, my horse walked along calmly, not thinking twice about walking down the road with loud fire trucks, tractors and cars rumbling down the street.

Living so close to town is convenient for many reasons. We are far enough away from the road, but when a few emergency groceries are needed for milk and cookies, it only takes a few minutes to drive and get them.

The first few years after obtaining my license, I didn't have a car of my own. When the extra truck was unavailable, I sometimes had to find other ways to get myself around. On one summer day, I was going stir crazy. I saddled up my horse and rode into town. I took him through the McDonalds parking lot and across the road to the grocery store.

After I bought what I needed, I stuffed my saddle bags with ingredients for my favorite chocolate chip bars. When those were full, I hung the last few plastic bags on my saddle horn. My horse barely even budged as they crinkled and rubbed over his shoulders.

There were many more things going on in town compared to our quiet spot tucked away by the woods. The trails I usually rode were always tranquil, but my horse didn't seem phased by the change of scenery. He simply went wherever I pointed his nose.

I never truly appreciated that horse and how well he handled my crazy outings. Many horses would shy away from the plastic bags and cars buzzing down the street. Although I don't always have the time to ride my horses into town, I still try to expose them to things that will help them handle scary situations.

My dad still takes horses through local parades and I usually ride along. We make sure each horse has been to town a few times, and won't shy away from anything in the street. Although I prefer the quiet, peaceful trails, I can't deny that the parades help make safer horses that are less likely to react when something new spooks them.

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