by Mary Ann Powell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781434313003
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 06/15/2007
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.55(d)

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By Mary Ann Powell AuthorHouse Copyright © 2007 Mary Ann Powell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4343-1300-3

Chapter One Carol Spencer, blue eyed and golden haired, circled a big, lanky bay gelding whom its seller called Emerson.

At fourteen, Carol was already an experienced rider, but this awkward creature was like nothing she had ever seen. Would this horse be one she would be proud of having at Loafing Hills, her father Ned's farm in the Blue Ridge range in Maryland?

Her father inspected the animal and shook his head. "That's the saddest looking thing on four hooves. Carol, are you sure you ought to consider it?"

The thin, gray-haired man who was showing the colt handed the leadrope (shank) to Carol. The large, fifteen-three-hand horse attached to it observed her curiously and nudged her.

Carol and her father, Ned Spencer, had been on a trip to Georgia to visit his parents when she spied the sign:


"Oh, Dad!" she had exclaimed. "Let's go in and find out what they have to offer. You promised me a horse for myself. They just might have what I'm looking for."

"Well, all right," he had said reluctantly, "but don't you realize we're a long way from home? Anything you get would have to be shipped back."

She laughed. "Of course. We wouldn't ask any poor thing to walk all the way back to Maryland!"

Mr. Spencer smiled warmly. His daughter was dear to him because she was his only family since her mother had lost her life in an auto accident when Carol was only three. He had raised her under the care of Mrs. Donavan, their housekeeper at Loafing Hills farm. From the time Carol was nine, her father, Ned, had made a business of buying and selling horses. These included racehorses. He purchased them from racetracks and retrained them as hunters or pleasure horses. He developed a good market for them and had a brisk trade. Loafing Hills' animals earned fame for their soundness and performance. The work was rewarding, and the Spencers found it interesting and satisfying.

Carol had begun taking riding lessons at the age of ten from a very experienced equitation teacher. She had become a very good, experienced rider, and she dearly wanted a horse of her own.

When Carol saw Emerson, she was immediately intrigued. Though the ungainly colt was only three, his bones were so prominent that he looked misshapen. His belly was distended like an overloaded sack, making his dark coat that rippled over his wide-set ribs, appear to have a washboard effect.

Ned Spencer asked, "What do you see in him, Carol?"

"I think he shows promise." She stroked his nose. It was velvety smooth under her affectionate touch.

"You sure have a lot of faith," her father said.

"Anyone who believes in horses has a lot of faith," Carol replied.

"Umm," Ned murmured. "I dunno, Carol."

"Oh, Dad! Come on now!" She walked the horse a dozen paces. "How do you like his gait?"

"He moves nicely. Shuffles, stumbles, and is about to fall," he joked. "Better hang onto him. He may need you to hold him up."

"Oh stop, Dad," Carol laughed. "Probably he has more worms in him than an acre of ground, but a dose of medicine and a diet of grain will put him in condition. He'll be beautiful!"

Carol turned to the old man selling him and asked, "Where'd you get him? And why is he called Emerson?"

The seller replied with a toothless grin, "Bought him six weeks ago, real cheap, in North Carolina, in the Cape Fear River country, at a little town called Emerson. But it's really a coincidence because I found out his name was Emerson before he was brought to the sale. So, I bought Emerson at Emerson," he laughed. "I have to admit though," he continued, "I was going to peddle him to the slaughterhouse for dog food, but I couldn't get any weight on him."

Carol almost said, It doesn't look like you tried too hard, but she held her tongue. Instead she laid her hand on the horse's neck and said, "I like him, and I like his name too. In my heart I truly believe he will, with work and care, make a great show horse."

Mr. Spencer spread his hands in a gesture of surrender. He rubbed Emerson's neck. "Pack your bags, old buddy! We're buying you a ticket to Maryland."

Ned Spencer explained to Mr. Ladd, the seller, that he and his daughter, Carol, were on their way to Baser, Georgia, to see his parents who were moving back to their home in England at the end of the month.

He handed the seller fifty dollars less than his asking price, telling him, "You know you got a bargain; this horse is not a purebred. In fact, I'm really not sure why we are buying him. Please have him looked at by the sale barn veterinarian and ship him to Maryland in two weeks."

Chapter Two Emerson vetted out sound; the papers arrived with him at Loafing Hills two weeks later at precisely four o'clock Saturday afternoon. A sleek van halted at the house. The driver, as wide as he was tall, bounced from the cab like a volleyball, extending a chubby hand with a cheerful greeting.

"Name's Tom Bently! I come a long ways with this here tail-swisher!" His drawling North Carolina accent hummed with a music that was delightful and unforgettable.

Ned Spencer and Carol introduced themselves and then went to the rear of the van to welcome their guest.

"It's Emerson, all right, Dad!" Carol squealed. "Isn't he wonderful?"

Mr. Bently guff awed. "He's all yores! A high and mighty one. If ya know what's good for ya, you'll call him Mr. Emerson!" he called as he withdrew a portable ramp and led the horse down using a head halter and a rope shank. "I'm surely glad this thing ain't my crittah. Took a few men t'git his rump in this heah van, and the rest of him din't wanna go in it, neither." The horseman snorted and swiped his nostrils on a scruff y cuff.

"I'm shore happy he was willin' to come out. We coulda been heah all day fussin' with his highness. Just see his fancy looks!"

Mr. Emerson stepped down the incline obligingly, saluting his new home with a melodious whinny, wheeling friskily while Mr. Bently carefully maintained a safe distance.

Ned commented, "We'll get him started soon."

"Oh," Mr. Bently whooped, sidestepping the big colt. "I'd put him away purty soon. He's a headstrong one. I tell you, people. I wouldn't turn him out to pasture till he learnt to behave like a gentleman!"

Carol took him and started for his stall with her father, while Bently drove away with his van.

She said, "Mr. Emerson looks scruff y, doesn't he, Dad?" She had to admit it to herself.

"Too late now to change your mind," Ned Spencer told her. "I doubted from the first that he'd be satisfactory."

"That isn't what I mean." She told her father, "He is just the horse I've been hunting for, but he's not yet what I want him to be. He's lost still more weight in the last two weeks. We've got to start building him up, and we've got to get going on this immediately."

Mrs. Donavan, the housekeeper, one of the sweetest and kindest people in the world, made a trip to the barn to pass an opinion on this horse. However, what she saw did not please her at all.

"Carol, dear," she wrung her hands. "I'm afraid you took on too big a job for a fourteen-year-old to handle. You're thin enough yourself, but look at this skinny nag! I can't believe you'd buy anything in such poor condition."

Carol chuckled to herself. Mrs. Donavan was as round as a butter churn and wanted everyone else to be chunky too. However, she was right about Emerson. He was emaciated.

Emerson proved to be the gentlest, appealing horse that Carol had ever worked with. He had a love for being groomed, and he adored being fussed over. He even seemed to enjoy Carol pulling his long tangled mane. When Carol did not give him as much attention as he wanted, he trailed her around and nudged her with his velvet muzzle. In two days he was a devoted pet that trotted to the fence to greet her whenever he saw her.

Mr. Spencer teased Carol. "Whenever I judge anyone's horse and I can't find anything worth praising about it, I simply say," Well, your animal sure has kind eyes!

"Carol, dear, Emerson certainly has kind eyes!"

Before Emerson began looking like a worthy specimen, it took tubing for worms, plenty of good grain, and six weeks of hay and constant attention. At first, his scruff y coat began to fall out; then his undercoat took on a glossy shine. Finally, he grew firm on his hindquarters, ribs, and over his backbone until he was strong and solidly built. He became a handsome, beautifully formed horse.

Ned Spencer was almost incredulous. "Carol, I swear you know your horses better than I do. Whatever you saw in him has proved itself in his development. It's taken a lot of loving care, though, and I don't believe anyone but you could have done it."

At last, Carol was ready to begin Emerson's training. The first lesson was to teach him to lunge on line, where she placed a halter on his head and then stood in the middle of the schooling ring, holding one end of the long lunge line. She snapped the other end onto the ring on Emerson's halter. She would teach him to walk, trot, and canter around her on command.

Carol took Emerson into the ring for a trial session. An hour later, she came to the barn in tears and called her father. "Dad, please come here and help me."

He left his chores and went to see what the problem was. "It can't be that bad, Carol. You're not easily upset. Now, tell me what's wrong."

"Dad, Emerson won't move. He simply stands looking at me." She nearly sobbed.

"Now, now, let's go at this real easy," he soothed her. "You hold your end of the line; the other end is attached to Emerson. Now, I'll walk him around you in a circle. Hopefully, he'll get the idea."

He took the halter and led Emerson around Carol, repeating the word, "Walk," again and again. After fifteen minutes of practice, he turned loose of the halter, but remained in stride next to the horse. Slowly he inched away, allowing the animal to continue, but when he was five feet or more from him, Emerson halted and did not take another step.

"Carol, let's change places," her father suggested. Mr. Spencer got the lunge whip and gently tapped the colt on the hocks, but the horse would not budge. He refused to stir unless Carol walked beside him.

"Well," her father said, exasperated, "I think we had better let it go for today. We'll start in again tomorrow and keep it up for twenty minutes a day 'till he finally learns what we want him to do."

Two weeks later, Emerson still hadn't gotten the idea. He would stand like a post no matter what they did to persuade him to obey. He wouldn't try to charge them or canter off , he simply froze.

In the third week, Carol led him into the yard in front of the house so he could enjoy the fresh grass there while she held the line. She was already tired from the day's lessons. She had repeated the commands: walk, trot, and canter hundreds of times. He just wasn't getting it. She finally gave up trying to educate him to lunge on the line.

"I don't understand you, Emerson," she said to him. "You can't be so dumb you can't follow ordinary directions. You're behaving like a balker, which is a horse that just won't move! Why won't you walk for me?"

When she spoke the word "walk," Emerson raised his head, looked at her with interest, and started to circle her at a walk.

I can't believe this, even though I'm watching it, Carol thought. Why, he followed through like magic!

She wanted to call her father or Mrs. Donavan to see the miracle, but was afraid she would break the spell. It was too wonderful to risk.

Cautiously, she rose to her feet, while Emerson kept circling. "Emerson," she asked him softly, "I love you for this. Will you trot for me?"

He paused for just a moment, watching her with affectionate, gleaming eyes.

"Trot," she repeated anxiously.

Instantly he moved into a springy, balanced trot, with his head down, in perfect form, moving with a rhythm that would take first prize at any show.

Almost timidly, and half out of her mind with joy, she called, "Canter."

His response was rolling, excellent, and as good as any she had ever seen. He first threw out his fine foreleg and then made the transition to a canter with a smooth grace that was positively professional. He had even picked up the correct lead.

He shook his head gloriously, as if celebrating the pride in this accomplishment; and at her command to halt, when she shortened the line, he drew up and faced her at a standstill, his ears up proudly, as if saying, Well, my lady, how do you like that?

Carol was as delighted as if she had taken all the blue ribbons at the state fair. She jogged with him to the barn.

"Dad! Dad!" she called excitedly.

He came running out. "What's the matter? Have you had an accident? Are you hurt?"

"No," she chuckled. "Look, Emerson is lunging like a pro. Come and watch!"

"I'll believe it when I see it," he said soberly.

She moved Emerson to their workout area, but on arriving there, he stood motionless. She tried to get him going, but he wouldn't stir.

"Just a minute," she suddenly said. "He did what I wanted while he was in front of the house. Maybe he doesn't like it out here."

"That's silly," Mr. Spencer said. "A command is a command, no matter where the order is given. He's stubborn and won't do what you tell him to, that's all."

"Oh, yes, he will," she insisted, leading Emerson back to the grassy place in front of the house. "You watch."

Here he repeated his remarkable performance of only minutes ago.

"That's strange," her father remarked. "However, I am afraid it tells me something about your horse that we are going to be sorry to find out. He's going to do exactly what he pleases, what he feels like, and when he feels like it, and that's bad news, really bad news."

Carol discovered this wasn't altogether true, as she worked with him the next few weeks. He lunged any time, anywhere she wanted him to, except in the area where the workouts were usually given. There he stood observing her with a sulky, uncooperative stare.

Now it was time for lesson number two, to teach Emerson how to load into and out of the van. Carol was aware that she had better not attempt this procedure on her own, since she realized Mr. Bently had already had a very unpleasant experience with him. However, she had grown to trust her pet, felt sure that he would not hurt her, and saw no reason she shouldn't try.

Chapter Three Early the next morning Carol schooled six of the thoroughbreds they planned to sell the following month.

It was a beautiful morning, and even though her dad was out of town that day, she decided to attempt to load Emerson into the van. She took him out of his stall, gave him his daily grooming, and then walked him boldly up to the parked van.

"Come on, Mister," she clucked to him, leading him to the van's ramp. To her amazement he followed her like a well-trained dog, right up the ramp, and allowed her to back him quietly into a stall as if he had been doing this all his life. Th e movement was executed without a hitch.

"You certainly surprise me," she told him, rewarding him with a pat. She thought, Dad won't take my word for it, and Emerson will probably never do it for me again.

When her dad returned home, Carol said, "Dad, I want to show you something that's too good to be true. Please come out and stand beside the van."

He obliged and watched in utter amazement as Carol led her horse from the barn, led him up the ramp into the van, and backed him into a stall.

Mr. Spencer said, "Well, he did it that time I'll have to admit. You know, Carol, you must have him charmed with your good looks. You'll have to agree that Mr. Bently was homely!" They both laughed as she hugged her dad.

Even though Emerson was not broke to ride, Carol felt that she wanted to break him her own way and take her time bringing him around to be the kind of horse she wanted him to be. He was only three, so there wasn't any hurry. She could tell he would finish out to be a big horse, over sixteen hands tall, and it was really important for a horse that size to be broken in right.

She began by adjusting a light bridle on him, with a special rubber bit. She then put on the saddle without the stirrups. He was left in the stall with this equipment for half an hour every day for a week.

The following week, she lunged him with the saddle and bridle on.

During the third week, Carol began driving Emerson. Walking behind him, she guided him with a long line attached to his bit on either side, running through rings on the saddle. This would be effective in teaching him to respond to the bit without having to carry a rider, which might make him nervous while he was becoming accustomed to the reins.


Excerpted from EMERSON by Mary Ann Powell Copyright © 2007 by Mary Ann Powell. Excerpted by permission.
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