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A Little Too Lucky...?
Kaylee had never expected to win the raffle. But here she was, with a horse being sent to her very own backyard! She had no idea what she was going to do with it, or how she would break the news to her parents. She looked at the letter she held in her hands. It was from the Washington County 4-H Horse Association. She had read it probably five zillion times, but she read it once more for good measure.
“Dear Miss Reinhardt,
You have won the raffle for a purebred Paint Horse filly named Lil Sweet Chip generously donated by our partner farm, Blue Ribbon Paint Horses. Your horse is scheduled to arrive the third of this month. Congratulations and thank you for participation in our 8th annual Win a Paint raffle fundraiser.
Director, Washington County 4-H”
So there it was. She’d won the horse.
Kaylee had entered for two reasons: one, the obvious, because she’d always dreamed of having a horse, and two, her cousin Holly had dared her to. They’d been all sugared up on candy and soda while at the county fair and Holly had convinced her to. Kaylee had thought, then, that it was a great idea, but now that she’d actually won, she wasn’t so sure.
And then there was the parental problem. Her mom was a dog trainer, not a horsey type at all. Not only that, but the “two-and-a-half acres” she’d said she had were mostly dog runs and kennel space, plus an old shed in the back. No place for a filly. Her mom would be unhappy, to say the least. And her dad! He was off on a business trip, and if he returned to find a horse in his yard, he might have something to say about it. Kaylee needed a plan, and she needed one quick. Usually, whenever Kaylee needed to think, she went for a run with her Chesapeake Bay retriever, Penny. And today was no different. When she came back, she had an idea.
If I keep her in the shed out back, nobody will ever find out. I can bring her grass and stuff to eat and water and that way Mom and Dad won’t have to know. It’s a perfect arrangement!
While her mom was out, Kaylee snuck some straw her mom used for bedding in the dog runs and built up a nice mound in the shed. She also pilfered a few old pieces of grooming equipment from boxes lying around at the barn where she took lessons. Her instructor, Mrs. Fowler, who owned the stable, had much more old junk than she needed and she kept it in huge containers, which she never looked through. She wouldn’t notice if a few things went missing. When “Sweetie” arrived, Kaylee had just enough time to quickly stow her in her makeshift quarters before her mom got home. The “parental unit” wanted to know what Kaylee was doing with straw in her hair, but she said (to a rather disbelieving Mom) that she had been playing with a puppy.
The “Grand Scheme” worked for approximately 24 hours. It might’ve gone on longer, but while Kaylee’s mom was feeding the dogs the next afternoon, a beagle got loose and when apprehended, seemed very interested in the former abode of the lawnmower and rake. An investigation was launched, resulting in the immediate grounding of the culprit of a horrendous crime: hiding a foal in the shed.
From her room that evening, Kaylee could hear her mom having a “discussion” on the phone with her dad. The foal had nowhere to go, and her mom, out of pity for her, had decided to allow Sweetie to stay in her “stall” for another night, after which she would need to be removed and another home found for her.
For the second time in two days, Kaylee needed a plan, quick. She begged her mom to lift her house arrest for an hour so she could run, then set off for her barn with Penny. When they got there, Mrs. Fowler seemed to know something was up. As if the trauma of last afternoon was not enough, that very same evening seemed to have been the time for Mrs. Fowler’s centennial old-horse-junk-box-looking-through-day. And apparently, she had noticed that something was missing. Mrs. Fowler might look old but she was no dummy.
So when Kaylee came over to ask advice, Mrs. Fowler was prepared. “Um, Mrs. Fowler…I have a bit of a problem.”
“Does it have to do with, say, a grooming kit?”
How does she know? Kaylee thought, in a panic. “Uh, yeah, I’m so sorry! Please don’t be mad at me! I had a good reason! See…” And the whole story came tumbling out. Kaylee ended with “and now I really need somewhere to keep Sweetie. Actually, I don’t really think I can keep her at all.”
“Well that’s funny,” Mrs. Fowler mused, stroking her chin thoughtfully, “I swear the other day, I heard someone I know talking about wanting to take on a few young horses for training. Oh, there she goes now! I’ll introduce the two of you and you can have a little chat about this problem of yours.”
And with that, good old Mrs. Fowler saved Sweetie from a Humane Society trip and Kaylee from everlasting guilt. It just so happened that this friend of Mrs. Fowler’s, Ms. Anderson, was a local horse trainer who started horses for showing establishments and private owners. She agreed to buy Sweetie off Kaylee to train her for resale someday. So, in the end, everyone was happy: Sweetie got a home with a real stall, Kaylee got $2,000 (to save “until she had space and means for a horse”), Ms. Anderson got a great training prospect, and last, but not least, Mrs. Fowler got her precious decrepit grooming kit back.