The first magazine article I had published happened quite by accident, quite frankly writing was never something that occurred to me. It all started while reading an article in Equus Magazine about horses and emotions and whether they had them or not. This subject was one that I felt quite passionate about being of the strong opinion all animals, horses especially, did in fact have feelings. Immediately something I had witnessed among a group of horses while running a large boarding stable in Missouri came to mind and I felt compelled to write a letter to the editor and share the story. It was the story of a loving friendship between a gelding that I owned, Barney, and a geriatric paint horse, Chief, which were a most unlikely pair. At the end of the story Chief dies and Barney mourns terribly. The last line the article said the I believed Chief was once again young, fit and healthy and galloping across the rolling green hills of heaven.
As I sat down and started to write, the letter evolved into more of a story than a letter, in both length and content. When the letter was finished I addressed the envelope and doubting anyone would read it, I half-heartedly put it in the mail box. A couple of weeks passed and I actually had forgotten that I had mailed the letter. Then one afternoon when I came to the house to have lunch there was a message on the phone from the editor asking me to call her back because they received the letter and would like to buy it for publication. I was stunned, to say the least. It was the last thing I ever thought would happen. I was shaking like a leaf as I dialed the number to return the call, I was a nervous wreak! I didn’t have a clue what to say when they answered. I didn’t want to sound like an idiot and wanted to present some degree of professional decorum, but had never engaged in this type of conversation before. I didn’t have much time to ponder the matter before the phone was answered and I just started talking and by the grace of God I managed to make it thru the conversation. I agreed to their proposed terms and my article was slated for publication in February 2006 . To say that I anxiously waited for the day the magazine hit the stores would be an understatement, but the day finally came and I was amazed how awesome it looked in print. Not to brag, but there was even a picture of me with one of my horses included! But it didn’t take long for the excitement of the moment to wear off and life went on. There were still stalls to clean, horses to break and mares to foal.
A couple of weeks later I received a big envelope in the mail from the magazine. They had sent a copy of the magazine along with some letters from readers, (that was the old days when people still mostly wrote letters rather than e-mailed them). One of the letters they had sent caught my attention and as I read it, it caught my heart as well. It was from a young girl who had lost her father to cancer. He had a horse named Ginger whom he loved very much and Ginger loved him. He and Ginger were best friends and almost always together and when not riding, Ginger was pastured close to the house where a huge tree provided her a shady place to pick grass and keep an eye on the families activities . As her dad became sicker and was no longer able to go to spend time with Ginger, he would sit on the front porch in his rocker and Ginger would come as close as she could and stand to be with him. As his time grew near, he gave his young daughter Ginger and asked her to take care of her for the rest of her life and gave her instructions that when her time came she was to bury her under her tree. After her dad passed she said for the longest time Ginger would stand at the fence by the porch and just wait for her dad to come out. She said Ginger was sad. The reason she had written to me was she wanted to know if I really believed horses went to heaven when they died. Did I really think that Ginger would go to heaven when she died so she could be with her dad again. Tears just rolled down my face and I could hear how broken her little heart was thru her written words. And it was then that it hit me how profoundly God can use us to make a difference in a stranger’s life, how God had used me to help ease the pain that touched this little girl at way to young an age. Immediately I took pen to paper and wrote her back and amongst other things, I told her that yes, I believe with all my heart horses go to heaven and that Ginger and her daddy would be back together again one day.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.