Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The "Real" Panda

I occasionally get questions like "Do you have a horse, Mrs. M?"
I did not have a horse as a child. We lived in Tacoma (Jenny Grant's hometown, by the way). A city girl. But we moved to the country, had an acre, and began to accumulate all kinds of livestock: chickens, sheep (bad choice), milk goats, day-old calves (one at a time), and . . . at one point in our lives . . . a horse.
Her name was Pandora (Panda for short), the Grand Champion of the King County Fair, owned by a teen's family in our church. When the teen girl grew up, our friends offered Panda to my 11-year-old daughter, Kristel. A quick "yes" settled that and they walked her to our home--about 2 or 3 miles on the opposite side of our small town. Yes, they walked/rode her through town. No big deal. They drove tractors and manure-spreaders down our road on the edge of town often.

Kristel and Chad played with Panda. In the picture you can see--if you look closely--a braided tail and braided mane--with ribbons. Across the street, a huge hay field beckoned, where they could ride and gallop to their heart's content. Not ever bothering with the saddle, petite Kristel just jumped up, grabbed Panda's mane, and slid on with the easy of a gymnist (which she was).

Panda was 14.2 hands, so she could show either pony class or horse class (we didn't mess with showing. Panda was a pet). She was 23 years old when we got her and was adept at getting into mischief. One Christmas Eve, arriving home very late from the grandparents' house, we checked on our livestock, only to discover that Panda had knocked the faucet handle off, thus flooding the shed floor in inches of water. What a mess! Another time, she relaxed, but her foot "relaxed" on Kristel's foot, and no matter what we did, we could not get that 1,500 pound of horse meat to MOVE!

Our rural neighborhood was doomed, however. Soon, a development would go in--both behind our acre and across the street in the "riding" field. Winters in the Puget Sound are wet. Mud went up past Panda's hocks. It was time to return Panda to her former owners, who happily took her back. So we walked her back--through town and then on the old railroad bed.

Kristel still continued to go over to Panda's old home and ride. This picture shows her at age 14, giving her 2-year-old brother, Andrew, a ride. Finally, Panda and her family moved to Eastern Washington, where she lived to the ripe old age of about 34! I named Melinda's horse Panda, in her honor.
  photo MrsM_zpsa9f216b8.png


  1. How fun. I have yet to ride a horse by myself (I rode behind the saddle with a friend several times on her horse, but never alone). Perhaps someday . . . Until then I'll just have to imagine it. :)

    1. I am 13, and just recently learned how to walk, turn, etc by myself. I am sad that I missed so many years, but it is so much fun! Snap up every chance you get!!! Bareback is also a lot of fun. I really hope that you get the chance to learn. I feel your pain exactly.
      ~ JT

      What I did when being led around was work on my posture, so when I got to ride without someone leading me around, I barely had to work on my posture!

    2. Ah, horseback riding is so much fun. I really hope, Rebekah and Anna, you get a chance to ride someday. You'll enjoy every second of it. :)

      As a horse trainer I've been blessed to have ridden a lot of different horses and different types, as well as having more than my fair share of dumpings. :)
      Our winters here are so cold that we have to ride bareback, otherwise you'll basically freeze. So I had no choice but to ride bareback during the winter and it really helped me become a good rider. :) Now all of my students I start our bareback before they're even allowed to put a foot in the stirrup so they realize that riding is not a sport where you sit on the horse and let your feet hang down, it takes balance!

      Love the story about Panda, she's such a cute horse. My sister's horse is that size, so when I ride the Thoroughbreds and Sport Quarter Horses I'm training with my sister, her horse looks like a pony. :P

      Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed reading this. :)

      -Calamity Rene

  2. That's really cool to hear the story behind Melinda's horse!! Sounds like your family had a lot of fun with Panda. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Fun! I've ridden a pony bare back, and she tried to buck me off, but I held on :-).

  4. That's so cool! There's nothing like ridding a horse at a full gallop!!!! I've only done it a few times though:( my horse isn't rideable yet!!!!! But I'm training her every chance I get!!!

  5. I love it! Wish I could have a horse... :(

  6. Mrs. M will you post the winner of the giveaway tomorrow?


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