Virginia couldn’t believe her eyes, there were horses tied up to stalls across from the big red barn. There were girls leading kids like her behind them on horses, they were going fast too! She had to ride them and wouldn’t leave the park until she did.
Once they parked Willem, Virginia’s brother, took off towards the train station that sat across from the horses, while Virginia struggled to unbuckle herself from her carseat. Once her mother set her free she scampered in the opposite direction towards the horses.
George ran after Willem, refusing to go near the horses. He wanted nothing to do with those dumb animals. Instead, he joined Willem in line to ride the train while Helen chased Virginia down.
“Ginny sweetie, I don’t think you’re old enough to ride the trot horses, but you can ride the ponies”. Helen said softly as she looked at the sign reading “Four years and up.”
“I don’t want to ride the ponies! I need to ride the horses!” cried Virginia.
“But, you’re too young and small, those horses are huge! You would like the ponies much better.”
“No. They don’t go fast.”
“Then I guess you won’t be riding at all.” Helen said, already sick of negotiating with a two year old.
At this, Virginia threw herself on the ground and the crocodile tears started to spill. She felt crushed but remained unwilling to give up.
Helen let the child bawl for a minute and when the episode did not seem to have an end, she picked her up and whispered sternly, “You knock it off right now or you’ll never ride the horses”.
Virginia sniffled and looked longingly at the creatures tied up on the other side of the fence. Helen shook her head and stood up, she grabbed Virginia’s hand and stepped in line. Immediately, the little girl turned back into a beaming firecracker about to explode with excitement.
Pretty soon it was their turn, “She’s just small for her age.” Helen said to the teen working the cash register. With a shrug, he let them through the gate where a young worker met them. She led Helen and Virginia to the lineup of horses and stopped beside a tall black horse. Virginia felt something rise up in her chest; she had never felt anything like it before. The worker lifted her on the black horse and Virginia started firing questions, “What’s his name?” “Is Blackie a boy or girl?” “How old is she?” Suddenly, the horse picked up the trot and Virginia forgot about her questions. All she could think about was the wind blowing in her face and how fast everything moved passed her. That same feeling came back, but this time it took her breath away.
Helen anxiously watched her daughter get pulled behind the worker and her horse. “What if she fell off? She is so small, especially on top of that horse. She’s powerless.” Helen was starting to get sick to her stomach thinking about these things, she looked away towards the train station hoping to get her mind off them. She turned her gaze back to her daughter and to her horror the horse was running, or going faster than it had been. But her heart unfroze when she saw her daughter’s face, she had never seen her child so full of joy.
The ride ended too soon and the worker lifted Virginia off of Blackie. Virginia wanted to stay and pet Blackie but there was another child waiting for their turn. So, after a pat on the neck she ran as fast as she could to her mother who was waiting on the other side of the fence. Virginia could hardly contain her excitement; she had so much to say but did not know how to say it.
Helen watched her daughter run towards her, her face beaming. “How was it?” Helen asked her daughter.
Virginia’s eyes were wild and her baby-toothed grin took over her face, “I went so fast my hair blew back!”
Helen smiled and took her daughters hand, leading her away from the horses and towards the train station where dad and Willem waited. Helen had prayed but she knew she was wrong.