BRODY: An odd couple who couldn’t be broken up

When we lived in Winchester, our big white house on the hill sat majestically in front of the barn. 

In the barn were seven horse stalls.  As much as I adored my historical home, it was the barn I was drawn to.

Every stall was the home of beautiful horses, a nice tack room, a foaling stall, and I absolutely adored working in the barn with the animals. 

We had a resident horse named Ginger, a 5-year-old mare who was extremely sweet, laid back and had a penchant for peppermint. She would do most anything for a peppermint or for company.

If you wanted to see her run, all you had to do was to clap your hands, and she was off like a shot with the broadest smile on her face. 

She also would want a kiss on her nose, and she would bend her pretty head down to make it easier to kiss it. 

The only emotion I have seen her display, other than joy and that sense of freedom, was absolute terror at the sound of thunder or a gunshot. 

There were people behind us, who, on nice weekends, enjoyed target shooting. When they did this, poor Ginger would freak out. She would be in a salty sweat from head to toe. Her joy-filled running became fright-filled.

But most of the time, she cruised the field eating and frequently napping. In other words, Ginger was basically an uncomplicated and pleasure-giving mare who, the moment she saw me walking up to her, would make a beeline to the fence, already salivating in anticipation of the taste of peppermint.

This description of our Ginger was pretty accurate, except on one occasion. It was fairly warm and dry and the sun was shining so invitingly.

I looked up toward the paddock, and she was nowhere to be seen. Really, it did not matter, because if I started walking up there with peppermint in my hand, she would appear instantly.

I walked. No Ginger. 

I walked some more. No Ginger! 

I walked some more. No Ginger. 

I called, “Oh, Ginger! Here I come! Do you want your peppermint?” (I do this talking to my animals fully believing they understand, if not my words, my intent.)

When I got all the way to the fence, Ginger was there. I saw her. And there we were. 

There was our chestnut mare, always ready for candy and a nose-kiss. There she was clear to the back fence, just standing stock still.

I knew she heard me call her, but she paid not one whit of attention to me.

And why? There, on the other side of our back fence was a cow!

Actually, there were maybe 10 cows grazing away, and my poor Ginger was absolutely transfixed with the sight of the cows.

Now, whether or not they had been there before that day, I do not know. But, on closer inspection, I saw one nondescript cow just over the fence from where Ginger stood.

I called, “Come on Ginger!  Get your treat.” I kid you not, she reluctantly turned away from the cow and began to slowly walk toward me. I suspect out of pure kindness to me. 

She got about halfway between the cow and myself when she stopped dead, looked me full in the eye and promptly turned her sweet face away from me and returned to stand as close as she could to that cow.

I was flabbergasted! I mean, on closer inspection, I gotta tell you — that was one ugly cow. She was way too fat. Her coat was splattered with dirt and other smelly stuff, her eyeballs were lacking in imagination or anything interesting to talk about. 

But, buddy, Ginger couldn’t have cared less. 

I mean, who can account for anyone’s taste in a mate, a friend or whatever? It was clear that Ginger had fallen head over heels in love with a cow; a cow that in my mind, was too overweight, ill-groomed and with not one discernible asset. 

Feeling hurt, I called her again, “Ginger, come here! Don’t you want your peppermint? Anyway, listen: That cow is not good enough for you.”

Do you think she even broke eye contact with her new love?  Do you think she was even tempted to leave her and come to me for a measly little piece of candy? 

She absolutely was not, and after a few more tries, I turned back to the barn — the peppermint still wrapped and in my pocket and me feeling rejected.

It was quite a blow. And for one solid week, these two had resumed their stations each day — practically nose-to-nose over the three slotted fences that divided them. Only twice did I try to woo back my Ginger, but to no avail. They were one odd-looking couple, but, as I said before, who can account for one’s taste? I guess so long as the fence stands between them, there is no harm.

Ginger was soon to be bred, but in the meantime, the waiting was making me and Ginger feel sad. My beautiful mare was lonely.

I just wonder, should I have gotten her a goat?

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in The Sun for more than 25 years.