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A Few Hands of Trouble

Posted on by Paige Nelson / Leave a comment

Growing up on a large cattle ranch taught me what I needed to know about horses. I have been riding since I can remember and have always loved it.

Even so, I don’t know everything, and for the most part I’ve worked with full-sized horses, so when I brought home my first miniature horse, I thought she would be similar to the quarter horses I grew up with. Guess what? I experienced a miniature paradigm shift.

I found Sage in the local classifieds. She was just what I had been searching for: a miniature with nice coloring, close to where I lived, and an asking price of $300. My husband had mixed feelings about ownership of a miniature horse. In his very logical engineering mind, it was ridiculous to purchase a miniature. Why not buy a full-sized horse I could ride?

Anyhow, I wanted one.

She lived seven miles from my house. It was a nice spring day in May when I went to see her for the first time. The seller, Nancy, and I walked to the horse pasture. Sage was engaged in a game of speeding around her corral at breakneck miniature speed. She and her playmate would give each other “the look,” take off sprinting the length of the pen, throw in a few six-inch-off-the-ground bucks, and then whirl around to do it again.

I melted. She had a gorgeous deep brown body with long, flaxen mane. She had great movement in her front legs—a little less so in her hind end, but it didn’t seem to affect her as she ran, jumped, and bucked her way around the pen. Her thirty-eight-inch height was taller than I had been hoping for, but her perfectly shaped head and round muscled rump was enough for me. Continue reading

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Professor Dog

Posted on by Ward Stevens / Leave a comment

Last February, I stumbled on something you don’t see every day. During a National Assessment of Educational Progress-related visit to South Fork Elementary School in Rigby, I approached the front desk and an Australian blue heeler trotted out of the principal’s office to see who had entered his domain.

 “What an unusual dog,” I remarked as I took a chair in the office of Principal Yvonne Thurber.

“I don’t know about him being unusual, but he is special,” she responded. “When I was working at Eagle Rock Junior High, a little girl came to school in tears one day. I asked her what the problem was. She sobbed, and told me her dog had just had eleven puppies. She had found a home for all of them except one and was afraid she would have to drop him off at the dog pound. Being an animal lover, I couldn’t let her do that. They might put him to sleep. I took him home and gave him the name Kooskia.”

“Here’s a question I’m dying to ask,” I said. “Why is he at school?”

She sat up straight. “He’s part of our PAWS reading agenda. It’s a program that helps parents motivate their children to read at least twenty minutes every day through competition between two teams, the Cats and the Dogs. At South Fork Elementary, Kooskia might just be a young reader’s best pal.”

“Really? Why’s that?”   Continue reading

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