I carry two sticks when I ride & neither one of them is for hitting my horse. One is a long green twig snapped from a tree on my way out of the barn. I prefer maple or perhaps sycamore, because they have nice big leaves. This stick is for whacking flies. It is a tail for the front end of Dandy, he takes care of swishing flies off of his back-end with his big beautiful chestnut tail. I use my maple twig to keep flies from biting his front end. No biting flies means a happy Dandy. A happy Dandy means no bucking, rearing, or Kentucky Derby races back to the barn.
The second stick is a 4 ft. long whip that is very stiff and heavy to carry. It is a training aide called a carrot stick, this one is used for people & dogs. It is in case of emergencies such as loose dogs who like to bite horses and people who drive their cars dangerously close. That stick puts 4 feet between me and anything that will make my Dandy boy unhappy. Today I didn’t need either of my sticks. The morning was cool with a pleasantly strong breeze which kept the flies at bay. We did not see a single dog all morning as we strolled through Birchrunville. The only car that passed us slowed down politely and gave us plenty of room to share the road.
We follow the road 1 mile, at the end is a beautiful farm with lovely mowed grass. The owners are kind enough to allow riders to pass through and this is the perfect place for a gallop. Dandy usually starts chomping on the bit, he think’s he is Secretariat, the minute that grassy path comes into view. I make him wait until I say GO! Three strides into our 10 furlong run he stops dead in his tracks and begins looking longingly over the fence at something I cannot see. Eyes wide, ears directed to the sound and nostrils blowing, he is looking at something. He’s calm, but I’m ready just in case this curious looking turns into a terror ride for me if something scary appears out of the trees in the distance. And then I see them, cows, five black cows lazy in the shade of the trees. I have not seen those cows for a long time. Those cows were supposed to be beef cattle. Those cows were to be slaughtered at 18 months of age. But there they were living the life of 5 lazy cows and entertaining Dandy who found them fascinating. I knew those cows wouldn’t end up as burgers because I saw the guy spending time with them, feeding them apples. Those cows aren’t beef cattle, they’re pets and they did look pretty standing there under those trees. I want to paint those cows.
Dandy stood there admiring those cows long enough for me to take a good look at this beautiful day. It’s June 15th. The sky is an indescribably beautiful blue, the air is so perfectly warm, and fresh, and clean, and wonderful. I am sitting taking it all in from the back of my old friend, Just Dandy. Heaven. And then it occurred to me. Ten and 1/2 years ago I sat on Dandy’s back, looking at a blue sky just like this one and thinking that it was the most beautiful day I had ever seen. That was September 11, 2001. I let me mind wander back to that horrific day for only a moment because those cows again caught my attention.
I really like those cows. I want to paint those cows.