(All material on these pages is legally copyrighted, whether listed in this manner or not, and may not be copied or shared without express permission from myself, Cindy Chandler Pye.)
Here I will be adding some of the short stories I wrote for children through the Institute of Children’s Literature writing course I have completed.
This story is based on a real event that I took part in along with Marty, my first best friend at a new school, her family, and our Agriculture class. I was a farm girl, so this Agriculture class was a natural for me. The trail ride was one way we raised money for our horse riding club.
AND WESTWARD WE GO
Dedicated to the late Barney and Sheila Rogers,
Martha Rogers Fong, and Michelle Rogers Welsh,
Jimmy and Barbara Monzingo
Cricket and Buddy
The early summer morning was sunny but cool. Cindy was very excited about this day. As she got to the schoolyard to meet the trail riding group, she had one thing on her mind. Where was Marty? She was supposed to bring her extra horse for Cindy to ride. There were so many horses and riders already here. What if Marty forgot?
The day before at the barn, Cindy’s daddy told her, “Keep the water on Cricket’s ankle. The sprain is better, but it is still swollen. This cool running water from the hose will soothe her ankle and help the pain, and hopefully help the swelling some, too. I’ll be back in about thirty minutes to check on you.” With that, her daddy went to take care of the other horses and farm animals.
Cricket didn’t put much weight on the ankle, so Cindy could tell it hurt. Why did this have to happen this week, of all times? Why? All she could think about was how she was going to have a horse to ride on the trail tomorrow? Marty had said she had an extra horse. Maybe; just maybe…
“That looks better. We’ll just have to rewrap the ankle and keep the bandage on there for support. You can turn the water off and put the hose away for today,” Cindy’s daddy said, as he slowly led Cricket into the corral.
“Does that mean I can ride her on the trail tomorrow? Please? We even got sponsors to pay for the number of miles we ride. It’s to raise money for our horse club.” Cindy pleaded.
“No, I’m sorry. I’ve been saying this all week, that Cricket’s ankle would not be healed in time. You cannot ride her at all. No one can ride her until I say she is healed completely.” He answered.
“Well, then will you call Mr. Barney, since he said I could ride Marty’s extra horse? Please? They will even bring him to the school with their other horses.”
“All right. I’ll call him.” When they walked into the house together, her daddy made the call.
“Barney? This is Ralph. How are you doing?
“Hi, Ralph. Oh, I’m doing just fine. How are you?” Barney asked.
“Fine, just fine. I’m calling about the offer you made for Cindy to ride Marty’s extra horse tomorrow on the trail. If it isn’t too late to accept your offer, Cindy still needs a horse to ride. Would you still be able to bring the horse for her to ride in the morning?”
Barney answered, “Sure, sure. I was just thinking about calling you to see if she still needed a horse. We’ll load Buddy up with the other horses, and bring him, too. Sheila and I are riding with the group as chaperones, so we will be right with them. I’m glad she will be able to go.”
“Well, we sure appreciate the loan of Marty’s horse for the day. It really means a lot to Cindy to be able to go on the ride with Marty. We will have Cindy at the schoolyard to meet the group in the morning. Thank you, again, Barney.” Ralph said.
Barney said, “You’re welcome. We’re just glad she can come and glad to be able to help. We’ll see Cindy in the morning.”
Here it was; the day of the ride. As Cindy got out of the car her mama said, “Goodbye, Cindy. Have a nice ride. I think I see Marty’s family over on the other side. I have to get to work. They will bring you back to town in time for me to pick you up here at the school when I get off work. Have fun!”
“I will!” Cindy hugged her mama and turned, waving goodbye, yelling over the noise to be heard.
Cindy wandered through all the horses and horse trailers making her way to the other side of the group of people. The familiar smell of leather saddles, tack, and horses made her feel more relaxed and not so nervous. Those smells along with the fresh breeze gently brushing her face seemed like the promise of a great day.
“There you are! I was wondering what happened to you! We got Buddy all saddled and ready. Mr. Monzingo said not to get on until he gives us our instructions for the ride. He said to leave the horses tied to the trailers, but that we could bridle and saddle them. Let’s go see what he has to say and then come back and get the horses.” Marty said. She was so excited about the ride, but especially that her best friend could go with her. She and Cindy had been best friends since Cindy had first moved to this school, and didn’t know anyone. They were really more like sisters than best friends.
Mr. Monzingo, the Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor for the group began, “Stay with the group and only on the right side of the road no more than side by side by twos. Walk your horses. If you get faster than a walk, you will be put in the back of the group by those chaperones. Make sure you have your lunches and canteens of water. We will stop around noon to water and feed the horses and eat our lunches. You will be shown where to tie them to rest during lunch. Our ride will end at Harper Elementary School in Minden. Drivers will have the trailers there ready for the horses and everyone to ride back here to Homer High School. Are there any questions?” Mr. Monzingo completed his instructions.
“When can we mount our horses?” asked one student, anxious to be riding. Everyone laughed, including Mr. Monzingo.
“If there are no other questions, I’ll pray for our safety, and we will mount up. My wife, Barbara, and I will take the lead, so no one mosey in front of us. Take your hats off, gentlemen, and let’s bow. ‘Dear Lord, we ask you to be our guide and our guard today, keeping riders and our horses safe. Bless this day with good fellowship and a successful ride. We give you the honor and glory, in Jesus’ name, amen.’”
Everyone walked as fast as possible without spooking the horses. In no time they were all mounted, and the trail ride began. Horses snorted and shook their manes. Some pranced out of the school parking lot. This being the first time Cindy had ever ridden Buddy, he stretched his neck trying the tension on the reins. Marty and her parents told her more about Buddy’s personality.
“Buddy has plenty of spirit. He may try you briefly just to see if you are paying attention to what he does. If he does that, just lean forward and speak firmly to him to stop and pull back on the reins to keep his neck tight enough to make him be still. He’ll understand you are his boss today. Buddy is a safe horse, so don’t be nervous. He already likes you.”
Buddy did stretch his neck a couple more times, but he behaved very well. Just as they started riding, Cindy leaned forward and patted Buddy on the neck, and said to him, “Thank you for letting me ride you today. You’re a good boy. I will have a treat for you later.” Cindy and Buddy were fast friends before they had gone very far. Today’s ride promised to be great fun.
Marty and Cindy rode side by side in about the middle of the group. “I’m so glad you could still bring Buddy! I was so afraid I wasn’t going to be able to ride today. Is that Comanche you are riding? I can’t remember all of your horses’ names,” Cindy said. Looking around she realized that all of Marty’s family were riding that day, including her younger sister, Michelle, and her brother, Daniel.
“Oh, I’m so glad it all worked out so you could come, too. It’s a shame Cricket’s ankle is still lame. Buddy is not the same as riding your own horse, but I’m glad you can ride my horse today. Yes, this is Comanche. Mama is riding her Trixie, Daddy is riding his Black, Michelle is riding her Dunn, and Daniel is riding Miss App. They were all happy to take a trailer ride this morning,” Marty responded.
Cindy laughed, “Cricket and Ginger love to ride in the trailer, too. They mouth the top rail with their lips making them look like giraffes. Betty hates to ride, and Daddy is the only one who can make her get into place in the trailer. Our other horses don’t mind riding at all.”
Conversation continued in this manner as they rode, and visited a little with Mr. Barney and Mrs. Sheila when one of them rode forward, each at different times to check on Cindy and Buddy. Marty assured them that Buddy had decided he liked Cindy.
As they got near the halfway place for lunch, they got off the horses and led them over tying them to the running line secured for that purpose. Cindy got her leather lunch pack from the saddle bag and her canteen where she had looped it around the saddle horn. She got an apple out of her pack. Walking over to Buddy, she asked Mr. Barney to cut it in half with his pocket knife. “You are going to be Buddy’s best friend after this. He loves apples. Carrots come in second place with him; apples are first,” Barney smiled at Cindy.
Buddy stretched his neck toward Cindy’s hand and took the apple half from her flattened open hand. He crunched the sweetness as she hid the other half in her lunch pack. Buddy stomped a front hoof and pawed the ground as she walked off to eat lunch with Marty, Mrs. Sheila, Michelle, and Mr. Barney, while Daniel ate with his friends. Marty’s mama had packed a light blanket in her saddle bag for them to sit on under a thick shady White Oak tree.
Mr. Barney asked the blessing for the group after asking the young men to take their hats off, “Dear Lord, we thank you for this food we’re about to eat, and ask you to bless it. Thank you for keeping us safe this far, and for taking us the rest of the way with no one and no horse getting hurt. Amen.”
With that, Cindy dug into her ham and cheese sandwich while Marty started on her own ham and cheese. “What else did you bring? Don’t tell me you brought an apple, too,” Marty said. They laughed as they polished their apples and began enjoying the sweet juiciness.
“Well, Cindy, what do you think of Buddy? He seems to be doing well for you,” Mrs. Sheila asked.
“Yes, Ma’am, he’s really easy to ride. I think we are good friends now. I’m so glad I got to come along. Thank you, Mrs. Sheila and Mr. Barney, for bringing him so I could ride today. I was really afraid I was going to miss this trail ride,” answered Cindy.
Mr. Barney answered, “You’re just as welcome as you can be. We were glad to have an extra horse so you could come. We couldn’t allow you to miss out on this when we were able to help.”
As lunch remnants were picked up, packed away, or thrown in the trash everyone mounted their horses again after another drink of water. The horses seemed eager to be back on the trail as much as their riders. The day was getting warm by now, but it was still bearable. They had gone about fifteen miles and were a little over halfway to the end of the trail.
Mr. Monzingo rode along the double line of horses making sure everyone was ready to finish the ride. Smiling, he said, “You think you two girls are going to make the rest of the trip all right?”
Marty spoke up, “We can make it better than any of these boys can. You know that, don’t you?”
Cindy agreed, “That’s right, there aren’t any better riders than Marty and me. They might be as good as we are, but not better.” They all shared a laugh.
Mr. Monzingo replied, “You know I was kidding with you. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to ask. I knew the answer to my question, and you two are right about that. I have no worries about it.” With that, he nudged his pinto, “Pistol,” back to the front.
Mr. Barney rode Black to take his place in the back of the line. As he slowed Black to walk briefly by the two friends, Mr. Barney said, “I heard that conversation, and agree. These boys have nothing on you girls as riders. You can be proud of that. We know you worked hard for that respect. I’ll see you at trail’s end.”
When they all rode into the Harper parking lot at the trail’s end, sure enough, there were the horse trailers with the drivers waiting. Some of the horses walked straight to the back of their trailers. Others just stopped somewhere close. After Cindy got off of Buddy, she kept her promise and gave him the other half of his apple. He enjoyed it until it was gone.
This had been a great day. Cindy rode with Marty’s family back to their school in Homer. Just after everyone had gotten there and some had already left to take their horses home, Mrs. Martell, Cindy’s mama drove up. She got out and walked over to Marty’s parents.
“How did the ride go? Did everything go alright?” she asked.
Mrs. Sheila answered, “Everything went well, and the girls had a great time. I think Buddy will be happy to take Cindy riding anytime. With treats like apples, he would take her anywhere she wants to go.”
“Mama I’m so glad I got to go. Buddy likes me, and I had a great time,” Cindy added.
“Maybe Cindy and I can get together and ride our horses sometime. With some of our parents, of course,” Marty said, hopefully.
“Well, I’m sure she can do that sometime. We will have to make plans for that,” Turning to Cindy, she said, “We need to go. I have to get home and cook supper.”
Cindy and her mom thanked Marty and her parents again and looked for the Monzingos, “Thank you Mr. Monzingo and Mrs. Barbara for putting this ride together for us.” They waved to all of them as they left.
All Cindy could think of as she rode toward home with her mom was when she and Marty could go on that next ride. Hopefully, they wouldn’t have to wait too long.
Copyright by Cindy Chandler Pye
This story was one of my first assignments in the writing course. My prompt was to choose a few words from a list and build a story around the selected words. Living in the country in my childhood it was safe to go to sleep with the windows wide open. I went to sleep most nights with the music of nature as my lullaby. Susan became my second best friend at the new school I went to and this story is about an adventure we might have had if we had thought of it.
Dedicated to Mama and Daddy
Susan Cole McVay
Rose and Al Cole
“SH, we don’t want the frogs to hear us,” Cindy whispered.
“Okay,” was the excited whispered response.
Cindy and her friend, Susie were on their way to the pond for an adventure. It was spring, and Cindy had heard the frogs singing every night, but hadn’t seen the sly serenaders yet. Susie was sleeping ever, and they had decided it would be fun to wait until after dark on this full moon night and walk down the cow trail to the pond with Cindy’s Daddy. Their plan was to get there as quietly as possible so they could catch a glimpse of the green chorus line before it plopped into the murky pond water and disappeared.
“You girls walk on the trail behind me. Maybe we’ll see those little green singers tonight,” Cindy’s Daddy instructed. “Listen on the way, and see what else you hear, and see if you can guess what it is. Don’t talk, though. You’ll just have to think about what the sound might be, or you will frighten the frogs away before we get to the pond.” As Cindy’s Daddy led the way, the girls were delighted with some of the night sights and sounds. A horse in the pasture flicked its tail at flies and stomped its hooves for extra measure. Fireflies, or “lightning bugs,” as Cindy knew them, blinked their light all over the night. Crickets made their squeaky, raspy sound in the tall grasses. A Whippoorwill called, “whip-or-will, whip-or-will” in the distance; then its mate answered back. The birds continued their conversation while the girls enjoyed listening in. A Hoot Owl called out its “Whoo-oo, Whoo-oo.” Then they heard the sigh of its wings and saw its dark shadow in the sky as it glided through the air, heading for a meal it had spotted somewhere nearby. As they neared the pond and hid in the brush at the edge, they could still hear a few frogs singing. Some of the frogs had hushed, and a few had plopped into the water when they were intruded upon by Cindy, her Daddy, and Susie. Now they wanted to sit still and wait until more of the frogs came back out to join the others.
In the quiet, they heard a fish catch a bug from the surface of the water with a “blurp” sound, and then another “blurp.” That fish was having a good meal. They could see the horse now silhouetted against the moon as she stood on the hill above the pond. Several cows were huddled in the pasture as they slept. There was a slight breeze; just enough to make tiny ripples on the water. The moonlight reflected on those ripples looked like little mystical boats. A soft breath of night air brushed the girls’ faces and made the soft green leaves of nearby trees rustle with a sigh. The southern night air was just cool enough to feel refreshing after the day’s warmth.
Cindy thought, “I would love to spend the whole night here and sleep in the night air. It would be fun listening to the sounds singing me to sleep.”
Cindy and Susie only had to wait a little while before they heard more frogs come out of their bashful hiding. They smiled at one another as they could imagine the little singers with their green “tuxedos,” and bright white “shirts” lined up on the dam of the pond; just at the water’s edge in case they needed to quickly escape again. Soon they heard an assortment of croaks, so many different pitches and textures it truly sounded like a symphony of nature. The smaller frogs had a high sound that sounded a lot like, “knee deep, knee deep” and the larger bullfrogs had a lower sound that was a lot like, “whomple, whomple.” There were also frogs with voices in between the others whose call sounded like, “greeeeet, greeeeet.” It sounded much like a choir in which there are people whose voices are high, some whose voices are low, and even others whose voices are medium in sound. They smiled at one another and wondered what, or “who,” the director might be.
“It would be such fun to use a stick like a conductor’s baton, and act like I am directing the chorus line,” Susie imagined. She knew if she did that, the frogs would jump with a big plop back into the water, and that would end the music. Both girls would much rather listen to the beautiful serenade they were hearing. They decided they preferred to just hear them closely rather than actually see the talented singers. They spoke not a word for a long time, as the big full moon slowly drifted across the dark sky.
Finally, Cindy’s Daddy whispered, “Come on; it’s time to go back home. The moon has moved almost all the way across the sky. We have to go now while we can still see by the moonlight.” Regretfully, they all quietly bid the chorus line goodbye; until another time.
Cindy, along with Susie, quietly stood and followed her Daddy back up the cow trail. The frogs hushed when they heard them get up from their secret hiding place. As the friends got about halfway back up the trail, they heard the shy frogs singing them the rest of the way home, “Whomple; Knee-deep, “Greeeeet.”
They would not soon forget this nighttime adventure. They had enjoyed front row seats to hear nature’s music under the best lighting nature had to offer at night. Plans were coming together in each of their minds for another nature adventure under the nighttime sky; hopefully under the next full moon.
© Copyright by Cindy Chandler Pye