Sunday, January 30, 2011

Passu - My "Little Friend"

I trudged up the concrete steps to the line of waiting yellow school buses. The smell of diesel fumes wafted through the air, turning my stomach. It was going to be another 40 minute bus ride home, I would most likely be motion sick by the time I arrived at the bus stop. Usually the short walk from the bus stop to my house would cure me of the nausea. Still, I hated riding the bus. Actually so far I hated everything about the 6th grade. I was one of the smallest kids in the school, and I always felt like I had a target on my back. I was an outcast in a small affluent town. No one was impressed that my dad was Chief of the Boat of a Naval Submarine. I didn’t wear designer labels like the rest of the girls my age. My bad haircut was growing out and looked funny; I had no self-confidence when I was around the other kids. Puberty was just beginning and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t survive it.

I kept my eyes down as I trudged up the stairs, looking at my feet was safe, making eye contact was not. Suddenly the familiar sound of a car engine caused me to stand up straight. I knew the car before I even saw it across the street. It was mom’s copper colored 1978 Dodge Aspen station wagon. I loved the sound of that engine; it meant I wouldn’t have to ride the bus home. I had stopped expecting the car to be waiting for me outside the school shortly after I started middle school. Mom had explained that it was too far for her to drive every day to pick me up. The elementary school was a short distance from our house and only a few minutes out of her way. I suspected that dad had something to do with the end to my car service home. He often accused mom of babying me, nothing like a daily nauseous bus ride to help me grow up fast. I plopped down in the front seat, throwing my book back at my feet. My younger brother screamed from the back seat. At 4 years old he hated being strapped in. He was known for undoing the buckles of his seatbelts and climbing into the rear cargo hold of the wagon halfway down the road. I smiled at him and mom, I didn’t care where we were going, I was just happy to not be in the line of waiting yellow buses.

Mom told me we were going to look at a horse, which really took me by surprise. My parents were not looking for another horse for me as far as I knew. I had been riding my sister’s horse Suki, as I had outgrown my pony Misty. I still fit the 12.2 hand pony physically, but I had come home from a week of summer camp and refused to ride her after spending entire camp session riding their big draft horses. My older sister had moved on to other things and no longer had any interest in riding. Suki had been taking up space in the pasture, so she seemed like a natural progression for me. The only problem was that she didn’t jump. She was a Morgan/Quarter Horse and a stubborn one at that. She was in fact named after a mule. I had just starting jumping on Misty before my parents sold her to the neighbors as a first horse for their daughter. I didn’t mind riding Suki, but my parents could tell she wasn’t the right horse for me. The horse we were going to look at was listed in the classified ads of the local paper; she was a 19 year old Quarter Horse/Welsh Pony cross. She was a been there done that Pony Club mount and she was free to a good home – a price even my parents would agree too.

The farm we pulled into was surrounded by lush green empty pastures. We were met by a college aged girl, who explained that the horse we were looking at was the last one to go. She and her sister were both going to school away from home. The other horses had sold, but this one needed a special home. Her name was Passu – it was Blackfoot Indian for “little friend”. She was 14.1 hands, dark bay with a white blaze down her face. While she wasn’t the prettiest horse out there, she was by far the kindest. Passu was in a smaller dry pasture closer to the house. She was a founder risk out on all that lush green grass. The college aged girl lunged her for me. She then slipped on a headstall with a snaffle bit and had me get on bareback. Passu was very responsive to my aids. She was easy to ride compared to the horses I had at home. After a few laps I headed back to my mom with a big grin on my face and proudly announced that Passu was perfect. I had assumed that it was a done deal. Passu’s owner informed me that we were not the first people that had come to look at her. They had received over 30 phone calls since placing the ad in the paper. There was another mother and daughter coming to look at her later that day. Quick on my feet, I jumped into a diatribe about how well I would take care of Passu. I told the girl about our farm, the pastures were large, but Passu would be out with other horses. I would make sure she didn’t founder. We also lived near 120 acres of trails and I would be sure to ride her every day. I would also ride her at the local playday horse shows, something she had done for years with the two girls she grew up with.

My monologue must have worked, because a few days later Passu was dropped off at our house. Now that I look back on it, she was one of only three been there done that horses I have owned. She carried me to countless playdays, pony club events, mounted meetings and riding lessons. She was the confidence booster I desperately needed. I rode her for two years before stepping up to my next mount. She took the best care of me on countless adventures. My mom knew that when I headed out on a ride, I would always come home safe. Passu was the reason I survived puberty and the harshness of middle school. She was indeed my “Little Friend”.


  1. A very sweet story - she sounds like she was well-named!

  2. Middle school was torture for me too. How I wish I'd had a Passu to help me survive. This is a heart warming story. I'm glad you had her.