I hope you enjoy this story. It is based on a true event in my life when I was a little girl growing up in England. Week after week I faithfully biked to some stables two miles from my house to clean out stalls just so I could be with the horses. I saved my pocket money until I had enough to take Misty out for a long ride to a beautiful park.
But then Misty was sold to another girl.
I never gave up my yearning for my own horse and eventually I owned three beautiful horses, Sugar, Baby Doll, and Rocket.
I'd love to hear from you. Use the contact form.
Best Wishes, Christina
If you like Misty, you might enjoy Champion now available on Kindle.
Win a free copy of Emily's Shadow, a young adult novel published by Double Dragon: book details and directions--competition runs until March 17, 2012
Read the story here
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Houses and buildings towered over the muddy riding ring, sometimes casting long shadows. All day long, Misty lugged people on her back around and around, often sandwiched between other horses. The little pony laid her ears back.
Many of the riders tugged on her mouth and kicked her sides to make her go faster. She wanted to please, but she didn't understand why she wasn't taken to green pastures to gallop. She wanted to run with the deer like she used to, and she wanted to swish flies off a friend’s rump, and she wanted to squeal with other horses. The animals here lived in stalls. There was no opportunity for herding and no loyal friends. Winter was approaching and it would be rainier and muddier than ever. The few strands of grass she occasionally snatched from beneath the fence would be gone. She kicked out at the horse behind her. How she missed the sweet fragrance of fresh spring grass!
This was the sixth ride of the day and Misty knew it would soon be over. Perhaps there would only be three more circles. She eyed the little girl with the golden hair who’d come out to lean on the railing and watch her. This girl often came to muck out the stalls. She always made a big fuss over all the horses and Misty liked her.
The golden-haired girl took Misty from the last rider and removed her saddle and bridle. What a relief it was to get rid of the snaffle bit that was rubbing against her tongue!
Misty meekly followed the girl up and down the lane that led to the main road, glad to have a chance to cool down. Then the girl tied her in the stable yard, and took a long time brushing her legs and picking out her hooves. She even scratched Misty’s back with a curry comb. When the girl stroked her face with a soft brush, the pony blew gently into the girl's face, making her giggle softly.
The girl smiled and kissed Misty's nose. "My name's Emily with a y," she said. "A lot like Misty with a y. I've saved all my pocket money. I'm going to take you for a long outing next week to a park where I'll let you eat grass." She led Misty into her stall which was clean and full of fresh straw.
"Bye," Emily said, and kissed her nose again.
Misty watched Emily get on a bicycle and ride away. She nickered to ask the girl not to go, but the girl pedaled out of sight.
The days passed slowly. Misty didn't have much to do. Most of the weekday rides were in the evening, and since it only stayed light until six, she was left alone in her stall. She wanted to stretch her legs, but not with anyone riding on her back. She looked out over the half-door and ached to be free.
When she saw Emily coming, she whinnied, and was rewarded with a chewy sweet that Emily laid flat on her palm. Misty gently took it, and nodded her head up and down. Although she was surprised at how it stuck in her teeth, she liked the sweet flavor and it lasted a good while.
When a double-decker bus rumbled past them, Emily felt Misty's fear—her ears went back, her nostrils flared, and her muscles tensed. She began to prance. "Easy," Emily whispered, gathering in the reins, stroking Misty's neck. She slumped slightly in the saddle to show that she was calm and there was nothing to be afraid of. "It's just a silly old bus," Emily said. The little mare put her ears forward and picked up her hooves as if she were a show horse.
Emily took her into Forest Hill where her Mum worked in a shoe shop.
Mum rushed out to see her and so did the other clerk and the manager. Mum didn't come close. She was scared of horses. "What a pretty horse," she said.
Emily sat up straight, proud of her pony. "I'm taking her to DulwichPark."
"You be careful, darling," Mum told her.
Emily pulled gently on the reins and backed Misty onto the road. Then she clicked her teeth and asked her pony to trot. Right away Misty clip-clopped up the street, with Emily rising up and down rhythmically.
When they got toDulwichPark, Emily rode Misty to a grassy meadow surrounded by rhododendrons with shiny green leaves. She took off the pony's bridle, and loosened her girth. Then, holding onto a lead rope that she'd attached to the mare's halter, she let the pony graze.
A woman out for a walk asked Emily if Misty belonged to her. Emily smiled and looked the woman in the eyes and said that the pony was hers. She didn't say that it was only for the rest of the day.
After a while, Emily led Misty over to the lake where the ducks swam, and let her have a long drink. Then she put the bridle back on, tightened the girth, mounted and circled the park on the sand trail.
Misty broke into a canter without being asked, and Emily hung on and bounced wildly up and down, giggling the whole time.
That weekend Emily rushed over to Misty who was looking out of her stall. A girl was in Misty's stall, stroking the pony’s rump. "Hello," Emily said to the girl, rubbing Misty’s neck. "She's pretty, isn't she?"
"Yes," the girl said, turning around and smiling. "My daddy's going to buy her for me for Christmas."
Emily wanted to walk away. She hoped the girl was lying. Somehow she spoke without the words choking her. "I rode her for a whole day this week," she managed to say. "You are really lucky."
"I know," the girl said. "I saw you riding her on the main road. Daddy and I drove past you. It's because she didn't rear when the bus went by that Daddy is letting me have her. I'm going to take her to a barn near where I live at Hays Common. They have big fields where she'll get to be outside, and I'll see her every day and take good care of her. You won't have to worry about her."
Emily held her breath. "That's good," she managed to say, and went to get a pitchfork to clean out the stall next door. She frantically slung manure into the wheelbarrow. Then she noticed the other girl looking into the stall.
"You can come and visit her any time you want," the girl said. "I'll let you ride her too."
Emily's dad didn't have a car, and Hays Common was a long way to go on a bus, and it was going to be winter and there would be bad weather. Emily smiled sadly.
"My name is Carol," the girl said and told Emily her address.
Emily gave her name and told Carol where she lived. Then she tried to forget her, but she couldn't because Carol invited her to say goodbye to Misty the very next week.
Misty planted her hooves, refusing to go up the ramp into the horse trailer. The last time she'd been in a similar box, she'd been brought to this riding stables. Emily was there stroking her neck and talking softly, but Misty sensed the girl's sorrow and it made her unhappy.
"You'll be all right," Emily told her gently. "You're going somewhere better."
"Yes," said Carol, tugging on the lead rope.
A man got behind Misty and tried to push her into the box, but she resisted until Emily went inside the cubicle and got out a toffee and called her. Misty let Carol lead her inside. She nuzzled Emily. Then she ate the toffee.
She neighed loudly when Emily and Carol left her alone and the door was shut. Soon, she was being jolted all around and didn't know where she was being taken.
After what seemed a long time to Misty, the motion of the truck and trailer stopped, the rear door opened, and she was backed out. Then she was turned loose with several other ponies. They gathered around her, and sniffed her, and one swung his rump towards her and mock-kicked, but after a while they all settled down and left her alone. The grass was still green and it tasted better than candy.
Emily couldn't believe it when she got a letter from Carol inviting her to come and visit over the Christmas holidays only two months away. She wrote back right away, and soon they were writing to one another. Carol told her all about Misty and how she'd made friends with another mare called Star. They were inseparable in the field, and picked flies off one another. Carol said Misty was the sweetest pony ever, but Emily already knew that.
Emily couldn't help but be glad for Misty, especially when Emily was at the riding stables watching the hack ponies being kicked until they cantered, their riders thumping up and down on their backs. These people never came to clean out the stalls, or even put the tack away.
Emily didn't mind doing anything that helped the horses or gave her a chance to be close to them. She loved the way steam came off them when they were hot, the way they tossed their heads, the way they whinnied, the way they ate oats, the way they stamped their hooves, and even the way their manure smelled. Emily especially loved to bury her face in a horse's neck and smell their horsy scent.
The week before Christmas when the time came for her to go to Carol, she didn't have to take the bus to Hays Common, because Carol and her daddy came to fetch her. It seemed a long way in the car and all the traffic lights were red. But at last they were motoring down a country road. The trees on either side were stark and bare of leaves.
Emily was too excited to hear a word of conversation until Carol said, "We're almost there."
Emily checked the handful of toffees in her pocket. They pulled into a lane next to some hedged-in fields. Emily caught glimpses of brown fur through the leafless hedges. They parked near a barn, and Carol fetched a lead rope. Then Carol took her to a field.
Emily saw Misty right away at the far end of the pasture next to a bay. They were both grazing. Carol called Misty's name several times, but the mare kept her head down. "You call her," Carol said, and opened the gate and began walking towards the horses.
"She looks beautiful," Emily said, noticing that the pony's coat was gleaming like polished silver. Emily stepped into the field and fastened the gate behind her. "Misty," she called, her voice soft. She never had been one to shout, but Misty glanced up, and her ears pricked forward. She whinnied once in greeting, but then she went back to foraging.
The girls walked slowly towards the horses. "Misty," Emily tried again as they got close, and held her breath. "Come on, girl," she called one more time, wishing that Misty remembered her, and wishing that Misty was hers. She took out a toffee and laid it on the palm of her hand and held it out.
Misty smelled the toffees. She raised her head to look. Then she trotted over to Emily with her tail held high, and put her soft muzzle against Emily's face and blew her warm breath against Emily's cheek. Then she snatched the toffee and galloped away, racing around the field, her neck arched, her ears pricked forward, bucking and showing off, and kicking up clumps of earth. At last, she came trotting back to Emily and ate another toffee.
The next day when the girls woke up there was a strange hush. When they looked out the bedroom window, a blanket of snow covered the ground.
Emily and Carol hurried over breakfast and soon were at the barn. They cleaned the stalls, but then they saddled up Misty and Star. They trotted their ponies through some woods. Often, snow fell onto them, making them laugh. The horses seemed to enjoy themselves too, prancing gaily, with breath steaming from their nostrils. At last they emerged into an open field.
Emily could hardly believe it, but she was invited back anytime she wanted, and Carol's dad promised to fetch her. Emily dreamed that one day she would have her own horse, and they'd love each other. She planned to always keep a good supply of toffees ready. She buried her face in Misty's mane and kissed the pony goodbye, then she flung her arms around Carol and hugged her. This was the best Christmas ever. She had a new best friend who shared her love of horses.
LINKS for horse-lovers
Ten Yen True--contemporary mystical thriller
Blue Caravan--paranormal fantasy
Emily's Shadow--supernatural fantasy
99 cent specials
Ziggy, a Little Book of Healing--memoir and miracles
Eleven Plus--historical fiction--English schools
Champion, the Dream Horse--a girl, a dream, and family
Misty the London Pony--PDF download