It was a perfect day. A warm-golden sun played tag with cool-green trees, leaving shadows dancing to music only they could hear. Patty waited with all the patience a 10-year-old could muster while her uncle brought the horse in from the pasture. At their approach to gate Patty gasped. "Oh, Uncle Ed," she cried, "she's the biggest, most gorgeous horse I've ever seen." Indeed the gray mare was very large. She towered over Patty and her big, broad chest barely cleared the pasture gate. 

Ed, smiled at the excited little girl. Patty was almost five feet tall, but she did indeed seem small next to old Dimples. "Aye," he replied, in a lilting brogue, "Dimples is a fine lass, just like you." He flipped one of Patty's braids playfully before handing her the lead rope. "You're sure ye'll be needing no help?" He asked. 

"I'm a big girl, Uncle Ed," she replied, not unexpectedly. Patty stretched to her full height, "I can do it." 

"Aye, I'm sure ye can," Ed replied. He patted the old mare on the neck, and walked away. "You call when you'll be needing the saddle put on." He called over his shoulder, and walked into the old farm house. 

Left with the beautiful horse, Patty started to work. First, she carefully tied the lead rope to the hitching rail just as she had been taught then she picked up the curry comb and made circular motions all over Dimples. Hesitantly at first but with more confidence and vigor as the big horse lowered her head to Patty's shoulder. "You like this, huh?" Patty smiled and began to hum softly as she continued to groom the mare. She worked along the strong neck, down her sloped shoulder and across her broad back, first combing then brushing the big horse. When she was finished she stepped back to admire Dimples. The silver-gray coat shimmered, sending sparks dancing in the air. 

"Uncle Ed," she finally called toward the back door, "ready for the saddle." She knew he was watching and waiting, and sure enough he came outside right away.

Patty watched with interest as Ed placed, first the bright red blanket on the broad gray back, then the saddle. The saddle, which had seemed so huge lying on the ground, became tiny on the big back. 

Ed pulled the cinch up tight and Dimples turned her head and looked at him. "Okay, old girl," Ed laughed, "that'll be tight enough." Next came the bridle, he slipped it over her head and slid the bit into Dimples' mouth. Finally, done. Ed laid the reins over the neck and turned to Patty. "There ye go, lassie. Are ye ready to go for a ride?" 

"Oh, yes, I am," Patty replied. 

"Bring her over here, lassie." Ed said and walked to a bale of hay. "Climb up little one." He said and held the mare as Patty stood on the hay bale and put her foot in the stirrup. In one fluid motion, Patty was aboard. 

"Oh, my," Patty said, looking down. As huge as she had seemed from the ground, Dimples was even bigger looking down. "I feel like a mountain climber," Patty said. "The view is incredible!" Looking across the farm, Patty could see the old red barn, it's color long faded. In the pasture cows grazed there way to the watering troughs and chickens pecked at the ground under their feet. Patty's dream was at her fingertips. To ride free of instructors and the rigid rules of a show ring. To be free. 

Clucking softly and gently pressing her heels against the big mare's side they began to move. Slowly Patty guided Dimples through the narrow gate and was soon in the pasture. The hills of her uncle's Oklahoma farm unfurled beneath them, a verdant green carpet emblazoned with broad strokes of scarlet wild flowers lifting spicy blossoms to a radiant, sapphire-blue sky. 

The horse and rider wound their way down long paths, across green pastures to the river bank. The Arkansas river was grand expanse of moving water, making its way to join the Mississippi. Patty climbed down and stood next to Dimples, watching the water roll by. "Pretty, huh?" She asked, and Dimples nodded her head in answer. At least that's what it seemed to mean. Patty patted the strong neck and looked at the sky. The sun had moved across the sky. "We'd better head back." she said, and picked up the reins and started walking her back toward the old barn, its roof barely visible across the fields. 

Dimples nuzzled softly at her ear, her warm breath tickling the girls neck. The smell of Dimples nearness enveloped her, making her giddy with delight. Patty led Dimples to an old log and climbed back aboard. Slowly they made their way back to the barn and the farm house sitting nearby. Cattle watched them pass, their soft-brown eyes following the progress of the two. Time had lost all meaning to Patty, sitting on top of her world, Dimples and her young rider had raced the wind and won!

The sun splashed them with golden splendor and they were free. Beautiful Dimples. A moving mountain, so sweet and gentle-hearted, a gracious lady who allowed a horse crazy little girl to enter her peaceful world and spend a day in heaven. 

© Tricia Swearingen-Mesojednik

The Dream Ride.
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