by Penny Wilson
Red Wing was a sorrel mare who lived on Pasley Island for many years with her friend Dolly, a black mare. They had 350 acres of lush meadows and thick forest that was free range for them. They had a barn that they could go in and out freely for shelter and a store of oats was kept there for them. We used to bring them salt blocks, but they preferred to go down to the beach for the natural salt of the ocean.
In the two months of summer, the children of the summer people would catch Red Wing and Dolly and ride them bareback around the island. The children got as much exercise searching for them as they did riding them. Sadly, Dolly eventually died of old age and Red Wing was all alone. This was very sad because horses thrive on companionship.
Two years went by. Red Wing aged and appeared to be failing. I was really worried about her. I spoke to my riding instructor Rena Sutherland and told her my concern about Red Wing. She had a young dark brown gelding called Star. He had been hit by a car and had a long ugly scar on his off-hind leg. He was sound but was not able to keep up as a regular school pony. Mrs. Sutherland said the summer riding on Pasley would be alright for Star. The big problem was how to get him there?
My father knew the owner of a landing barge that was used to take heavy equipment up the coast. We called them and made arrangements to pick Star and me up from Spanish Banks at high tide – Saturday, 3 pm. Merril Hoyt, our contract hauler, brought Star to Spanish Banks. I waited on the beach for the landing barge. Children came up to me and wanted to pat Star and ask what I was doing. Standing on the beach and looking to the ocean, I told them the story…. and continued to look out to the ocean. 3:30 came and went. By 4:30, the tide was receding. I asked a nice lady to hold my horse while I went to a restaurant to call my father – no cell phones in those days! We checked with the landing barge captain. He said they’d had trouble loading the equipment and missed the tide, he said they would pick me up at Spanish Banks at 4:30 a.m.
What was I to do? I couldn’t stand on the beach all night! I phoned Mrs. Sutherland who told me the nearby Jericho Hill School for the Deaf had a small barn and stall for one horse. She agreed to call them and ask if they could put Star up for the night. I called my father, rode Star up to the school settled Star with hay, water and oats. They were very helpful!
My dear father made me breakfast at 3 am and drove me to the school to fetch Star. The problem was, no one had told the night watchman about Star being a guest in their barn! I was leading him out of the barn when the watchman rushed at me screaming that I was stealing the horse! I leaped on Star’s back and galloped down the road toward Spanish Banks – making it safely to the beach. To my relief, the landing barge appeared and we loaded Star aboard, cross-tying him on the back of the barge, and steamed away down the Sound. The sea broke over the barge’s bow and I put my father’s army greatcoat on Star. Despite the fact it was a scary trip, he took it all calmly.
Finally, the barge arrived in Pasley Island’s North Bay, cruising into the beach. I lowered the loading ramp in the bow and lead Star off the barge. Suddenly, up in the orchard meadow, Red Wing appeared. She squealed, striking out with her near forehoof – to establish that she was boss – then nuzzled Star, acting very thrilled to see him. They galloped around the meadow and took off into the forest. They then spent many happy years together.