We moved to Texas and discovered that horses were surprisingly hard to find. Dad and Mom were busy settling into our new city, and I was adjusting to a new school and making new friends. For the first few months my horse cup ran dry. I don’t really remember a whole lot about those days, maybe because I wasn’t quite myself. After a little while we moved to a different house, still in the same city. As we were driving to the new house one evening, I saw something I almost couldn’t believe.
A beautiful gray horse stood calmly grazing in a pasture in the middle of a neighborhood that was in the middle of a city! At my exclamations my mom explained that the horse must be under a “grandfather clause” that enabled his owners to still keep horses there even as a neighborhood popped up around them.
Within the next few days, I had made my way over on foot to meet this new hoofed knight in shining armor. To my delight he agreeably ambled over to the wooden fence, letting me pet his beautiful flea-bitten gray coat. With coloring similar to Glo I was instantly even more in love with him than I would have been anyway.
It became a daily event to go spend time with the horse who I soon learned was named JJ. My wonderfully understanding parents had introduced themselves to the owners and gotten permission for me to pet their horse they called JJ. JJ was a quarter horse with a stocky build grown squishy from days filled with lazy eating.
His big brown eyes kindly accepted this homely new girl who regularly came to visit him. His fuzzy ears listened quietly as I shared the secrets of a fifth grader struggling to make friends in a new town. At least I had JJ, and as I quickly learned from the mean-girl-drama that soon filled my life, at most I had JJ. He didn’t tell my secrets, he didn’t judge my clothes, he didn’t decide to be nice one day and mean the next.
I could trust JJ for more than just being a good listener, though. He was always there for me, always waiting in his pasture for me to come to the fence, always munching quietly on his grass as though nothing was wrong in the world. One day after JJ’s and my bond had grown quite strong, I got the riding itch . . . bad. It had been so long since I had been on a horse that I couldn’t take it anymore. JJ had sidled right up next to the fence to get a better angle on a particularly juicy patch of grass, and I couldn’t resist. I softly climbed onto the fence and slid onto JJ’s bare, sun-warmed back. I held my breath slightly, prepared to leap off if JJ violently decided he didn’t want me there.
To my relief, surprise, and joy, JJ couldn’t have cared less that a skinny little girl had clambered onto his back. He continued to munch, amble, and munch some more while I sat contentedly on his back. Who knows how long we sat there, horse and his adopted girl. I only remember the joy I felt at once again experiencing that magic trust between horse and rider. I took several more secret bareback rides on JJ after that, learning how to guide him with just my seat and legs. We moved again soon after several sunny rides through the pasture, and I had to give another horse a tearful goodbye. JJ gave me so much- friendship, security, and of course, trust. I will forever be thankful to him.