“Our library books are due. We better take them back to the library.” My mother was referring to the small Richmond, California, Public Library branch near our home.
“Let me saddle up Pacer,” I replied. Always eager to visit our library, I gathered my books and ran out to the corral, where Pacer stood under the shade of a peach tree.
Once a wild mustang, Pacer’s lineage went back hundreds of years. White, with a long white mane which sparkled silver in the sunlight, his appearance was dazzling. I named him Pacer after a wild horse in a library book (The Pacing Mustang in Wild Animals I Have Known by Earnest Thompson Seton) my dad read to me.
Pacer saw me approaching, pricked up his ears, and whinnied, hoping for a treat. I grabbed a halter and entered the corral. Patting Pacer’s neck, I gently placed the halter over his head and led him to the hitching post. I pulled the red and white striped Navajo blanket off the fence, placed it on his back, and tossed the saddle over him. I mounted and rode off waving to my mother telling her I’d meet her at the library.
At first we went along at a gentle lope, but Pacer wanted to move out, tossing his mane and moving sideways. So I let him run, flying with the wind across grassy fields. I felt his powerful muscles engaging as his stride reached out, eating the earth as his wildness came back.
Minutes later we arrived at the library. When I pulled him up, he kept stomping and pawing as I calmed him. “Easy, fellow. Good boy.” He settled down. I dismounted and tied him to the porch railing.
Inside the library several boys and girls looked at books. The librarian smiled and asked where my mother was. I told her I’d ridden my horse ahead of her.
“You rode your horse over here?” She and the children all dashed outside to see my horse.
The boys and girls came back in laughing. One boy glowered and said, “There ain’t no horse out there.” I ignored him and continued looking through the books.
I checked out my books, placed them in my saddlebags, mounted Pacer, and galloped home.
Any eight-year-old horse crazy kisd would be proud to ride their own horse to the library, even if he was made of a wooden stick, painted white, with a horse-shaped head, curtain trimming mane, and dog leash reins.
Doris McFadden is a wolf activist, dog trainer, and educator. Throughout her life she has embodied the Spirit of the Wolf, the Voice of the Raven, and the Courage of The Lone Ranger. Remaining an inspiration to all who know her, she teaches dog training, offers workshops, and follows her lifelong interests in animals, the environment, and a creative life. Author of Wolf Howl Raven Speak: a Collection of Poems, Stories, and Dream she lives in Camp Verde with Sirius, her retired racing greyhound.