I met Snickers the day I returned Cinnamon to Tom Sawyer Day Camp. It was 1983 and I was fourteen.
One of my classmates had leased Cinnamon during the previous school year. By December, she'd lost whatever interest she'd had in riding, and I had taken over Cinnamon's care. It had been a wonderful six months, and the only thing that made losing Cinnamon bearable was the fact that I, too, was going to spend the summer working at Tom Sawyer.
At that time, the Tom Sawyer horses were boarded in a pasture at Flintridge Riding Club in La Canada, California. There were nearly thirty horses in the pen, but my eye was immediately drawn to little Appaloosa pony. Her bright chestnut coat was heavily roaned, making her look almost pink. She lifted her head and fixed one white rimmed eye on me. My heart skipped a beat, and I thought, "Oh, if only Dawn had leased that one!"
Immediately, I banished that traitorous thought. Cinnamon was such a nice pony. I would never wish away my time with her. Besides, on closer inspection, the new pony wasn't all that special. She was really small with a common head and a ewe neck. She wasn't nearly as pretty as Cinnamon. No pony was. Cinnamon was the best.
All of that was true, but still... I couldn't stop thinking about the roany pony. She was the first horse I asked about when camp started the next week.
"Oh, that's Snickers," Ginger told me. "She's a knot-head."
That seemed to be the general consensus. None of the returning staff had anything good to say about Snickers. Because I desperately wanted to fit in, it wasn't long before I, too, adopted the party line.
And you know, she kind of was a knot-head.
But... I like knot-heads and secretly I continued to like Snickers.
As the summer drew to a close, prospective leasers came to try the camp horses. One by one, all the "good" horses found winter homes. Cinnamon was one of the first to go. That was no surprise. She really was a nice pony.
Fortunately for me, Snickers was not a nice pony. She was a knot-head, and no one wanted to lease a knot-head. Eventually she and the seven other unclaimed camp horses were trailered to their winter home at Siason Stables in Duarte. I went with them, and for the next nine months, Snickers was mine.
To be continued.