Her name was Pearl, an ‘ol strawberry roan, retired thoroughbred mare with a legendary fairy-tale like history. I was about 12 years old, and she was at least 10 years older than me, so I had been hearing about this horse’s quests for my entire young life.

But I had never seen her; didn’t even know if she was still in the country. On a whim, I guess, my Dad thought it would be fun to track her down. It didn’t take long to find her, for she had just been running in a pasture not too far from home for the past several years. I went with my Dad to pick her up, and was surprised to find a big, fat, good looking mare, just standing around doing nothing – as docile as most pet ponies.
All the way home my Dad was sharing stories about his youthful relationship with Pearl. He was proudest of the fact that he could even ride her, as she had thrown anyone and everyone that had ever tried; including himself. He said that she was faster than most, but had this unusual quirk of bucking when you first got on her. Once she threw you, you could get back on and ride off on a well mannered horse.
Of course my Dad went on to brag a bit about him being the one that always got back on; while for others it was the sting of defeat. He also had to flaunt the price he had just paid for the horse, half the amount for which he had sold her, about ten years ago.
I just sat there, intently listening to these yams of conquest, while, all the time thinking – there is no way this ‘ol twenty-some-year-old horse is going to throw this young whipper-snapper.
As she gently walked down the ramp, off the truck, I hurriedly grabbed a halter rope so I could jump on her bare-back (no saddle or bridle), and cockily show my Dad how a more youthful, dumb risk-taker would tackle the challenge. No more than just barely mounted, I was all at once flying high in the air and landing hard on the ground. Eating crow was ok, but the taste of dirt and pride was too much!
As, according to script, I jumped right back on and we lazily walked off down toward the barn. Well, both my Dad and Pearl had made their point, but I still wasn’t sure if she was still all that fast.
The county fair was coming up in a couple of weeks, so I coaxed my Dad into letting me kinda get her ready for the county race.
She had never seen a starting gate, so I knew this was going to be an interesting experience. She was old and wise enough to not put up much of a fight when being loaded into the gate, but with the clashing, clanging sounds of the gate opening up, she came unglued. In an attempt to buck, she plumaged and leaped so hard that she threw her hip out of joint.
It was all over, no more bucking, no more race. For a horse that was touted as a winner, the finish line was not to be! He has a plan too, not by chance, but by design.