- by Garry Stauber
Warning: This is a sappy story about my granddaughter and you may wonder why it is
here in HorseTalk. (Bear with me if you will, and hopefully you will understand.) Her name is Faith and she was my first grandchild. But before I get ahead of myself, let me first tell you that I always wanted to be a grandfather. That is because I was blessed with the wonderful Grandfather. His name was Jess. He was one of the most loving human beings I have ever known. I was the oldest of the grandchildren and Jess and I were shadows of each other and seldom far from each others' sight. I miss him dearly. Jess bought me my first horse, Flicka. She was my best friend for many years, until her death. I miss her dearly also.
So after raising three sons, it was quite a surprise to me to have my first grandchild be a girl. I knew how to roll on the floor and wrestle with boys, but wrestling just didnít seem to be Faithís thing. She is a pretty, frilly and cute little blonde haired, blue-eyed girl.
When Faith became old enough to talk she called me Guppa, which latter got abbreviated to Uppa. That really came in handy when she wanted me to pick her up. Since she shortened my name it only seemed right that I give her a nick name. She became Pooh. I often call her on the phone and say, "Who calls you Pooh?" And she will reply, "Silly Uppa!"
When I go to her house Faith always says, "Uppa, letís go play!" Then she will take my hand and lead me to her room where we most often play kitchen. I had not had much experience playing kitchen, but soon found it was pretty much like the real thing except the menu was limited to just a few items, an egg (hard boiled to the point it was plastic), and empty cups and plates. But Faith is always able to cook up some of the most memorable meals I have experienced. This is because the best part of any meal is the company you enjoy it with.
Another favorite time with Pooh is our walks. She loves them and always holds my hand and talks most of the way. She always wants to sit and rest at the bus stop. And she will always stop to gather a few pretty colored leaves to give to her mother when we return. And she always stops at the creek to watch the water flow under the road. These are our little rituals and they are important ingredients to a good walk.
We always walk to the store where I have the chance to buy candy. Sweets aren't normally on the menu when the candy police (her parents) are around, but it is my job as grandfather to bend the rules a bit.
But the one thing that Faith and I really have in common is the love of horses. She has always loved them from the first time she set her eyes on them. I was the first to put her on a horse, but she was so small she could hardly hold her head up. She never passes one on the road without saying "Look Mom, look Dad! a horse!" and adding, "I miss Uppa." She still loves to ride around on my back as I walk on all fours around the house, but her equitation is less than perfect. She loves to fall off as much as she likes to ride. Hopefully she grows out of that like I did at an early age. But my equitation is still less than perfect, which may explain why I still occasionally fall off also. When she falls I bend my arm back and carefully break her fall to the floor. Thatís my job.
Faith is still too young to have her first horse, or to understand what that kind of responsibility even means. But someday, like candy, I will surprise her parents with what we got at the store today. It just seems to be my job.
I hope we will always have horses in common. And no matter how big she gets, I hope I never forget those times when Faith was little, innocent, and my little Pooh. There will probably be a day when a horse doesnít light up her eyes as much as some boy named Chad, Les, or Brad. He will probably have funny hair and who knows what they will pierce by then. But hopefully the time we spent together taught her that I love her and always will, no matter what her passions are in life. She probably wonít call me Uppa all her life, I just hope she calls me. Because, I always wanted to be a grandfather, it just seems to be my job.
Because I hope that Pooh will like horses all her life, I plan to fight as hard as I can to keep as many horse trails open as I possibly can. And I will fight to help communities understand the importance of remaining horse-friendly. I donít want Pooh to have any less opportunity to own and ride a horse than I did. Or Pooh's grandchildren either, for that matter. I want to fight for these rights forever. This is why I work so hard to get others to donate their time and effort to work on trails maintenance and advocacy, because I canít do it all myself. So hopefully now you understand why I am always on my soap box and getting excited about keeping equestrian trails open. Iím sorry, but it just happens to be part of my job.