One almost cool summer evening as the News ended we heard CLOP, CLOP, CLOP coming from our new cement driveway. Doug and I looked at each other, wondering what was happening out front, when the screen door opened and Fred Haberkamp astride his horse, Lady, rode into our den.
Acting as though this was a common occurrence, he said, “Virginia, I thought it would be a good idea for Lady to come to take your children for a ride.” I said, “That’s a lovely idea but they don’t know how, but first let me introduce you to my husband. Doug, I’d like to introduce Fred Haberkamp to you.” After they shook hands, Doug said, “I think I know who you are as Virginia has mentioned your name, explaining that you had stopped in at the store where she works part-time. But what is this about our children getting to ride on that beautiful horse?” He gestured toward the horse and, just like Fred, acted as if it was an everyday occurrence for a horse to be inside our house.
Fred said, “I’ve seen your older boy, Doug, on a horse at the Turner Farm so I know he knows how to ride. What I suggest is that he ride Lady around the block while I walk at her head so she will know it’s OK for strange hands on her reins. When we get back I’ll put the younger boy, Andy (?), up and let him hold the reins while I walk beside him, telling him how to direct Lady for a trip around the block. Then it will be your girl’s turn, but I will be up, holding her in my lap and I’ll do the steering. Is that OK with you and your husband?
Of course I said it was OK by us both, as I knew Fred and Lady at first hand by being acquainted with him at the hardware store and knew he was well-liked by everyone.
So the plan evolved as he had set forth, after he had adjusted the low stirrups up to Doug’s leg length. The rest of us stood around on the lawn. Andy and Kathie were so excited they were almost jumping up and down.
When Doug got back, he dismounted with a leg-over and a jump as though he did it every day. But he was excited and very happy as he thanked “Mr. Haberkamp” who was readjusting the stirrups. Doug stepped over to Lady’s head, patted her on her cheek and then kissed her on her cheek and whispered something into her ear. Then it was Andy’s turn but he needed a boost up onto the saddle as he reached for the reins.Fred stood beside Andy’s leg and started his first instruction---turning her around to face toward the street and turning her to his left to continue on around the block.
I asked Doug if he would tell us what he had said to Lady, and he said, “I thanked her for allowing me to ride on her back. I was told that was the thing to do after a ride like that.” As though he did it every day! Then he shook hands with Fred and thanked him for a wonderful time! When Andy returned and was lifted from the saddle and had hit earth, he did as Doug did, thanking Lady and then Fred. (I was surprised that both boys were so polite without my saying a word!)
Then it was Kathie’s turn. I was concerned that she would be too shy or afraid to ride that huge horse. Not our Kathie!!! She was more than ready to ride. Fred took her up in his arms and set her in front of the saddle, mounted and pulled her close to his body, turned Lady and away they went. She was beaming, the happiest girl in the world!
When Fred lifted her down, she said (very matter of fact) that she wanted to thank Lady. So Fred carried her to Lady. She put her arms around Lady’s head, kissed her and whispered in her ear—just as her brothers had done. Then she turned her head to Fred, kissed him on his cheek and said, “Thank you very much for all our rides. It was wonderful!”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Doug and I thanked Fred profusely and asked him to come in to have some coffee, but he said he had places to go so he shouldn’t. Onto his horse he stepped, turned her head and away they went.
I was told later that Fred rode up to Prospect and Pine, went up to the Schmidt’s breezeway room door, walked Lady in where she went closer and looked down at the playing cards on the table where the Schmidts and Giesekes were playing a game, studied the cards for a moment and then blew a loud “OOMPH” blowing the cards into confusion, backed off to stand quietly while the humans finished the visit off with a little conversation, and then backed out the door to go home.