By Tisha Martin
My stomach churned with excitement as Dad drove to Mr. Gentry’s* breeding farm. After an hour's drive, Dad pulled into the driveway that bore a huge sign, "Gentry Farms," in front of a large pasture.
Dad stopped the vehicle at the small house. He knocked on the door. No one answered.
"He isn't here," he reported, getting back into the suburban. My heart dropped. It seemed to swing by one tiny thread. Mom suggested that he might be in the barns out back.
"Okay, we can check." Dad started the car and pulled the trailer down the gravel toward three long barns. He knocked on one of the house-like buildings. There was no response.
"Well, Tisha," he said, getting in, "I don't think anyone's here. I'll check the other barns." He stopped in front of the first barn and ventured inside.
A hired hand stepped out of a stall. She talked with Dad and then he motioned for me to get out. "Mr. Gentry isn't here."
This time my heart crashed. "But he said he'd be here," I reminded, with disappointment on my face.
The lady lifted a black gloved hand. "You could leave your mare here, and I could have John take care of her when he gets back," she offered.
Dad didn’t like it. "No, we'll just bring her another day," he decided.
It was near noon and Dad decided to go eat before we went home. He knew I was upset. "Tisha, Mr. Gentry wasn't there and I didn't feel comfortable just leaving Molly with a hired hand. That’s not a very good way to do business. But, I am really proud of your submissive spirit. I want to reward you for your attitude, so I guess I’ll take Molly back."
Once we were back at the farm, Molly’s nostrils flared as she surveyed this new place. I led her inside the foaling barn. Many horses, thrusting their heads out of the stalls, sent welcome and curious calls. Molly's ears pricked forward with intense curiosity.
The hired lady opened a stall door. "You can put her in here," she said.
I started to walk inside, but the sight made me uneasy about going any further. Piles of manure lay crumpled on soiled straw.
"I'm working on cleaning it out," she confirmed.
I said, "Bye, Molly. I'll see you in a month." As I moved away, she had her nose on the straw, checking it out.
* * *
I called Mr. Gentry every week to see how Molly was doing; he said she was fine. In June, I called to ask if she was ready for us to pick her up.
"I'd wait a few more days just to make sure she's bred," he said. "She got nicked up a bit by the mares in the pasture, so we bred her to a stud in the barn. I think you'll be pleased."
I sighed. It wasn't the stud I had chosen. I hung up. This was horrible. I wondered how "nicked up" she was.
On June 20th, I called Mr. Gentry to say we'd be picking Molly up the next day.
"I wouldn't ride her with a saddle," he advised.
What does he mean by that? I wondered.
As Dad pulled up to the foaling barn the following afternoon, I was not prepared for what I would see. Again, Mr. Gentry was gone.
"Molly," I called cheerfully. I spotted her in the last stall. A smile spread across my face. "Hey, Molly!"
She looked at me as if to say, "Why did you leave me here?"
Then I halted. Tears tugged behind my eyelids. Hoof cuts and bites lined my pony's summer coat from her neck to her hindquarters. A huge knot the size of a small orange stuck out below her hindquarters. "Oh, Molly," I breathed under my breath.
Molly tilted her ears back and swung away from me. I followed her out into the square paddock. "Molly, here, girl." She faced me. I eased up to her, putting my arm around her neck. I slipped her maroon halter over her nose, buckled it, and led her out of the stall. My mind whirled. Mr. Gentry had lied about her condition – she looked horrible!
Molly followed me into the trailer. I tied her up. "I'm sorry, girl."
On the way home, I forced myself not to cry. Molly wasn't 'nicked,' she was ‘beat up!’ How could a man who had been in the horse business for fifty years be so dishonest? I couldn't understand it.
My face stayed dry until I let Molly loose in her pasture. She trotted slowly to her buddy, and they nuzzled each other. I sobbed then. My horse was home.
As I prepared for bed that night, questions of why Mr. Gentry didn't tell me or my parents about what happened to Molly flooded my mind. I hugged Mom before going upstairs.
"Are you all right?" she asked, her arms around my shoulders.
"You're lying," she said, with that knowing expression on her face.
"I'm not all right," I confessed. We sat down. "I just don't understand why Mr. Gentry didn't tell me about Molly. I mean, if he didn't want me to know, he could have told you or Dad."
Mom nodded. "Yes, he should have told us what happened, but some people lie to get money. It was wrong for him to lie, but what can we learn from this?"
I thought hard. All my thoughts and emotions were jumbled like rocks tossed in a can. I couldn't think straight. "I don't know."
"Maybe that your dad does know what is best, even for your animals," she hinted.
I nodded, tears pouring.
"You're right," I whispered. I wish I had trusted Dad’s instincts. I hugged her and went upstairs.
I meditated hard on what Mom had told me. I finally understood why Dad was so hesitant about leaving Molly. In a previous phone conversation, Mr. Gentry had told Dad he would be there to meet us. He wasn't. So Dad felt Mr. Gentry could not be trusted since he had not kept his word.
God gives dads a sense of protection to guide their families, and that is what Dad was doing with Molly and me. He wanted to protect us. But he knew how much I wanted Molly bred, so he consented against his better judgment. God had taught me a valuable lesson that I needed to learn about respect for parental guidance.
*Real name not used.
Tisha Martin lives at home with her horses, Molly and Shantih (foaled in 2002 – the product of the incident in this story). She strives to bring glory to God in every piece of literature she writes. You can write to Tisha through the Letters page of this magazine.
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