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Pody's column: Remembering Princess

Several weeks ago I woke up to a dens,e foggy morning commute. Thankful I didn't have an appointment, my thoughts drifted back to another foggy morning over 65 years ago.

I am the oldest of four girls in our family. I was 5 or 6 that beautiful sunny spring Sunday afternoon. We had guests over for dinner after church. Unkown to us, dad had purchased a beautiful Shetland pony, half the size of the other horses, for us. I remember my uncle driving in our yard with the pony, her saddle and cart in his pickup. Dad was grinning from ear to ear when he told us this was our new pet.

We named this adorable grey, white and tan pony, Princess. She'd pulled us around in the cart and let my sister and I ride her. She was so gentle we'd bring her up to the fence and hop on her. When I came home from school, she would be waiting by the gate for a treat.

It was less than two months later we learned why her previous owner got rid of her. She was so determined and smart. If my sister and I got on her back for a ride and she didn't want to go, she would just stop and refuse to budge. Dad had an electric fence wire that was around the garden. In order to get the fence over the driveway, the wire was about six feet off the ground.  Princess soon learned the exact place to go into a trot so the wire hit our forehead and we flipped off.  If three of us were in her little cart she refused to pull us and would even lay down with her little harness on.

She learned to open the door to her pen in the barn and it wasn't long before she could open the barn door during the night. She went in mom's garden once and learned she was not welcome there.

I remember mom going after her with the broom. Sometimes Dad would find Princess out by the stacks of hay bales. She didn't care if we were in the midst of a snowstorm or sub-zero temperatures, out the door she'd go.

Getting bored with the hay piles, she would venture into the alfalfa or corn field come spring. It was my job to find her and bring her home before I got ready for school. Dad would yell up the stairs to wake me, made sure I was dressed and out to find her before he went to the barn.

It was almost a year later I heard dad yell up the stairs on a foggy morning. I dressed, but it was so dark, cold and clammy outside. I held my hands out in front of me as I walked toward the alfalfa field trying to find her. 

I was completely lost and didn't know where I was or where to go. I just stopped and started to cry after what seemed an eternity. I decided I would have to sit down until the fog lifted or dad found me.

I don't ever remember being so scared.

Still crying, I didn't hear Princess come toward me until she stuck her wet nose on my shoulder. I know I jumped a foot.  I held onto her mane and she just continued walking toward the barn. The fog never slowed her down. She would always get back in time for her bucket of oats.

When I got home from school that afternoon, dad was polishing the halter and harness and washing the cart. He and mother had decided after 15 months, it was time for Princess to bring joy to another home.

I had mixed emotions when my uncle loaded her up and took her to her new home. When we were older and the subject of a pony came up, I always said no. I'll never forget that foggy morning.