I USED TO BE SCARED OF HORSES. And if you’ve ever seen a horse yawn, you’ll understand why. I was never going to get within biting-distance of such evil brown teeth. But my daughter had always longed for, prayed for, begged for a horse. And against my better judgement, she finally got her way.
A frisky young gelding joined our family, and we joined the local pony club. “It’ll be no trouble,” my daughter lied. “I’ll pay for everything myself.”
I vividly remember getting dragged out, early one Saturday morning, to help her prepare for a Ribbon Day. It was still dark, 5:30am. And I was made to stand there and hold the rope while her horse ate our household’s last carrot and had its mane brushed, its tail plaited, and its nose wiped with the pink towel out of our bathroom.
I had always dreamed of being Super-Dad. But that morning I was Super-GRUMP. “This is dumb!” I kept muttering. “No man should be punished like this, ordered from his bed in the middle of the night, and bossed around by a shampooed horse!”
But my daughter grinned up at me from under the beast, where she was picking yuck out of its muddy hooves.
“I sorry it’s so early, Dad. But thank you. I’m really glad you came.”
A warning-bell went off inside my head, and a voice (it might have been the horse) started talking in my ear: “Hey, man, you’re so lucky! How many dads get to do something like this with their 14-year-old daughters? Take that grim look off your ugly face and make the most of it!”
The horse snorted wetly, shoving at me with its whiskery chin. And as the sun came up that Saturday morning, my self-talk continued: “It won’t always be this way … your daughter won’t always be 14. But right now she needs her dad … and today she’s all yours! If you think about it, that horse is doing you a FAVOUR!”
So, pulling myself together, determined to be grateful rather than grumpy, I stomped off through the long grass to the clubhouse where I bought a stale pie for her and me …
… plus an apple for the horse.
JOHN (GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER) SHOVELLED HORSE-POOP FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS – BUT NOWADAYS HIS GIRL’S HUSBAND AND DAUGHTER HAVE THAT DUBIOUS PLEASURE.