This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Paul Returns

In January of 1974 I went back to college for my last semester with a heavy heart. I'd "lost" Paul and the horses.... But I did have new engagement ring on my finger! The semester flew by as I got lost in classes, partying (hey, it was senior year! LOL), wedding planning, and riding the new QH gelding my fiance had bought me as a wedding gift.
Because I grew up in a small town, Paul couldn't disappear completely and my parents did run into him occasionally. He told them his lease at the barn had expired and he'd had to move quickly. Uh-huh. He did inquire about me, though, which was nice, I guess. When it came time to send out the wedding invitations, I insisted on sending one to Paul. It was neither acknowledged nor RSVP'd.
After the wedding, I moved out of town, my husband got accepted to graduate school and we moved even farther away, and life went on. Fast forward to January 1977.
My parents called to tell me that they'd run into Paul while out shopping and he'd requested my phone number; said he had something to discuss with me. They also said he'd been fighting cancer for quite a while and wasn't looking very good. I was very nervous when the call finally came. What was I going to say? I had so many questions that needed answering.................In typical Paul fashion, he said "hello" and then cut right to the chase. He said he had cancer and wasn't sure how much longer he had to live and he wanted to do the "right thing" for his beloved K.T. He said he had only 2 options - give K.T. to me or put him down. He said (all of this came out in a rush) that I was the only person he would ever trust to take care of K.T. but that if I couldn't take him, it was OK. Paul would have him put down so that he knew K.T. could never come to any harm. And there I sat................I was living in a little dingy apartment in Burlington. Our horses were at my father-in-law's farm in southern Vermont where he graciously cared for them and fed them for us - I couldn't ask him to take on one more. I was working full-time and then working in the evenings at a dressage barn where the board was outrageous and the horses were stalled most of the day. K.T. would be miserable. I had to tell Paul that I couldn't take K.T. but that his faith in me was truly humbling and meant the world to me.
I finally managed to ask the burning question, "What happened to Bret?" Paul hesitated and said, "Owners didn't want him any more. I gave him away to a kid. He's OK. He's got a good home." I said, "Where? Can you tell me where he is?" "No, I'm not going to tell you," Paul replied. "Cause you'll go lookin' for him and I don't want you to get your heart broke." I started crying and apologizing for not being able to take K.T. Paul was stoic, as always and said, "Well, thanks anyway. I know what I have to do. It'll be OK. Bye." Click and he was gone............
That was the last time I ever heard from Paul. My parents claim they never saw an obituary in the newspaper and that would be just like Paul Johnson......gone with no fanfare, no wailing or gnashing of teeth. His wife had predeceased him and he had no children except for K.T.
I had no idea how badly this story was aching to get out. I've held it close to my heart all these years. I mean, it's nothing special. There's no mystery or magic or life-changing occurrence. It's just one chapter in a very mundane life. But it's my chapter and and my life and I'm very happy to have shared it with you.
Paul Johnson gave me confidence. He believed in me and in my ability to relate to horses. He showed me that we need to relate to our horses - all our animals - on a level that transcends that of simply owner/animal. I began to understand that our animals will speak to us if we keep an open and honest heart and mind. You can't fool a horse. I honestly believe that he set me on a new path all those years ago but I diverged over and over again, not really trusting what I learned that summer.
But now I've found my way again. Paul said, "Talk to the horses. They'll listen to ya."
Thank you, Paul Johnson, wherever you are.
To this day, when I drive south on I-91 in Vermont and pass the site where once stood Paul's little barn, I don't see the big, ugly food warehouse........I see a gray barn, a big oak tree in the middle of a green pasture, and ghosts.........The ghost of a big black horse (K.T.) and the ghosts of a small chestnut gelding and a young girl. They're cantering along and her braids are flying out in wild abandon behind her. And a voice whispers, "Talk to the horses. They'll hear ya."


  1. What a lovely story - I'm glad you told it - with the joy mixed with sadness that's true of some of the best things in life.

  2. Thanks, Kate! Remembering these stories from my past has been therapeutic for me in a way. I'm glad you liked them!