There are Ponies back there!
I grew up in a town near Frankfurt Airport. At that time the house was at the edge of town and behind it were tons and tons of fruit trees. There used to be an old orchard and we children grew up on a diet of pears, apples, plumbs, cherries and whatever else grew back there.
I've been told that the beautiful trees are gone... replaced by streets and houses! It would break my heart and I swore I wouldn't ever go back. It was a beautiful and so naturally wild place and the perfect setting for a child to grow up. It deepened my decision to buy a farm in the country and make sure that my children will not grow up surrounded by houses and streets!
Across from the orchard was a small 'Schrebergarten'. It had bushes around it and you couldn't see into it. I didn't know there were ponies until a friend told me. From then on we were out there all the time. Stefan and Petra were great people. They had three daughters and their names will tell you a little: Tabitha, Lydia and Sarah... They were Jehova's Witnesses!
I was raised to respect others and superficial things such as skin color, religion and Nationality never mend a thing to me. In my high school class there 27 kids. Only six were German... and I don't count mine as one of them! Rumor has it we have Eskimo-Blood in us. I know that my family came from the East a couple of hundred years ago. Some of the men in my family are very dark; especially in the summer. ...Who cares!? I don't! Diversity is the blending of good qualities... and hopefully the erasing of the bad ones!
I loved growing up with the ponies near by. We had a ton of fun!
Mairi and Lotte
I don't remember how we met exactly and who the other girl with me was. This was a longtime ago! But I remember the small buildings they had made into stalls for Mairi the Welsh Mountain Pony (she was a Welsh A, the smallest type) and Lotte the Icelandic Pony mix. Mairi had a foal while I was there. He was a year or two old and I believe named Caesar. He was still gray and as tall as his Mom. She eventually had another foal, but I don't honestly remember the name or what happened to it. Lotte also had a foal while they lived there. Mairi's foals were always born black (and became 'Schimmel' or white horses). Lotte's foals were always brown and white Pintos; no matter the color of the father.
We spend every moment between school and bedtime with the ponies; brushing them, feeding them, spending time with them. I learned to ride by being thrown on Mairi's bare back. Stefan gave me the rains and smacked her on the rear. "Go on! And don't fall off!" I did a few times, but I loved it just the same.
We would hang out with the horses, enjoy Petra's great food, spend time together. We children were a tight bunch and life was good.
But one day they moved away...
Stefan and Petra moved to a 400 year old farm house in Laubach-Wetterfeld. The house had no central heat and was heated by wood-burning stoves. Yes, in the winter it was damn cold. But we would not have missed a school break with the ponies to save our lives!
The house had a small area between the house, the stable and the barn. Otherwise it was surrounded by houses; it's old glory long forgotten and build over. It was within walking distance of the place they had rented or bought for the horses, a Stallion Station, another horse farm with riding academy and the forest. We would sleep in small rooms on the upper floor and eat in this beautiful old kitchen.
After breakfast we would walk down the small stairs in the back and into the horse stable. It was a really old stable with stone walls and feeding places for the horses. I now wish I could have looked into its history. 400 years old!? Beautiful!
The stable had room for three horses in an open stall type setting; no walls. If I remember right Lotte was on the left and a new horse, Ginger, was on the right. Mairi had one of the stalls in the barn. Or maybe there was another stall that I don't remember. Most of the time they were out in their 'garden' anyway. Ponies are robust and don't mind the cold as much as we do.
Freedom above all!
Mairi had another black foal that later died when it's stomach turned over; or so it was explained to me. Lotte had another brown and white foal; I think it was named Patrick. Ginger, the beautiful grayish Appaloosa mare, had a foal too. Her daughter was as beautiful as she was and one day they would have made a great pair.
We children would take the three Mom's and go on hour long trips across the country-side. Up the long fields and down the mountains; we had a blast! Life was never boring and we had plenty of chances for laughter. Like the time when Mairi was suppose to jump and hit the breaks instead; having the girl on her back fly over her head and land on her rear. Or when she run towards a deep ditch, hit the breaks and turned to the side... She was good in getting us off and teaching us to always pay attention on her back. Lotte was more reliable, but about as stubborn as a wall of bricks. Ginger 'klebte' (stuck) to the other horses. You took her out alone and you better were prepared for some harsh maneuvers to get you off her back!
But the fun seemed to only be limited by the days of the breaks we had. We were too young to understand the worries and issues out there. For us life (on horse back) was a great thing.
My first encounter with 'Windhunden'
'Windhunde' or 'Sight-Hounds' are a beautifully elegant species. While I would never have one in North Carolina that doesn't have enough fur to be happy here, I love to watch them. I am more of a fan of the Saluki, Deerhound or my personal favorite Irish Wolfhound, but they are neverless beautiful creatures.
Stefan and Petra had three sight-hounds and a German Shepherd. The hounds lived in the house and Rosie was the watchdog.
Rosie was this beautiful soul of a dog that deserved a bit better than what she was served. We loved her for her gentleness and love she gave us; and tried our best to take her out on walks too. She was older; and grew older with us. Always happy and full of energy she gave us tons of fun and laughter. And protected us faithfully as only a dog can. I still miss her a lot. She was such a great dog. She would have made somebody a awesome family pet!
Bajazzo was a Whippet. He was grayish in color and had the beautiful brindle stripes. He was a shy and gentle boy and always out to please. We spend a lot of time on long walks with them when we weren't riding. We would walk them down the streets of the small town Wetterfeld and in the winter we would wrap them up in coats. He was always shaking. I don't know if he was cold or worried about something. But he got lots of extra love for that.
Barbarella was a spoiled brat with an attitude. They had to keep her beautiful coat short because she wasn't exactly charming when you tried to brush her. She was still young and they really didn't spend much time with the dogs. The dogs had a few mattresses out in the hallway in the corner where they spend their day; unless we took them out for walks around the neighborhood. Barbarella was full of spunk and needed a large yard. We sometimes took her out to the 'garden' and let them lose when the ponies weren't there. She loved to feel her legs and enjoy the freedom of the garden. When we didn't take them there, we would run them up and down the streets to see their coats fly in the wind. And sometimes we did manage to brush her beautiful coat and make her as beautiful as she should have been. Once Fatime and her had gotten into a fight and Fatime ended up with a broken jar. She was a brat alright and so fit her name.
Fatime was the gentle Lady with this beautiful long coat. Since they didn't spend much time on brushing her, we kids would go through the hours-long task of doing that. And hours it took to get the knots out of her. But she would just sit or lay there and let us brush away. She was too much of a Lady to make a fuss over it like Barbarella did. Always gentle and loving she has a special place in my heart.
All good things...
All good things come to an end.
I'm not sure what happened, but somehow the friendship seized and we grew apart. I later heard from somebody that Ginger had died. She had slipped on ice, despite the spiked shoes she wore that broke my toy once and kept it from healing for 3 years (you never know how often you bump your toys until one is broken!). She had broken a leg and was euthanized. Her daughter got stung by an insect and died of the infection. I don't know what happened to the others.
Stefan and Petra got divorced and, to no surprise, he kept the kids. While I often had gone to the church services with them, they had never pushed their believes on me. But it was kind of clear what those were and who the driving force in the house was.
Years later I ended up with a similar relationship they had going; I got married to a man who believed that women shouldn't sit down until the men were served! And now I understand why Petra walked away!
I loved the time there and they were great friends. A lot of things we worry about nowadays didn't have meaning back then. They respected me for who I was and I respected them. They never forced their belief on me like so many say about the Jehova's Witnesses. They accepted me, despite that I was Moravian instead. Religion was important, but they accepted other believes; something I value very much today.
I learned a lot of small and big things during my time there. The riding course I attended in the nearby riding academy in the winter taught me how to be tough and stick things out; even if they are not easy. And trust me, sitting on a horse when it is freezing cold and your hands and toes hurt is not fun. But being special for riding the two miles to and from the course every day made us feel important. I learned to ride better and to finish what I started!
The long trips with the girls taught me the values of friendship and camaraderie. We helped each other through a few tight spots we encountered and we enjoyed our seemingly everlasting freedom to the fullest. I miss the girls who's names I don't even remember! We were interested in shared fun, not in cloth, boys and make-up. And we didn't care where one was from! We just wanted to ride!
Fun we had. And some we created ourselves!
One night I went outside to get some firewood out of the small room beside the barn. I opened the door, picked up a bunch of it, and closed the door. When I stuck my hand into the old-fashioned (remember: it was a 400 year old farm house with very few comforts!) turn-switch to turn the light off, I accidentally stuck it in the outlet instead. I got shocked and the firewood ended up 12+ feet around me in a circle. I bet I stood there forever and just looked like a deer in the headlights!
Or, even after the out-houses in Finland, the experience of having to walk down those back stairs to the small 'out-house' (outside bathroom) besides the bottom of the stairs! Ever had your rear almost frozen to the toilet seat because somebody had spilled water on it in the winter? That was so funny! And no, the only thing hurt was pride!
The diverse things I encountered left lessons learned and memories cherished; as much as the great memories of my youth did!
I hope some day my children look back and feel the same!
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