Walk to School Day

“Do you think you could help me out next Wednesday?” The voice on the phone belonged to Lisa Powell, owner of Velvet who lives with Chavali. “The kids next door want Velvet to walk to school with them. It’s walk your kid to school day. We are all going to meet at the corner of Fremont and Edith at 8:15 and, well, I’m not exactly a morning person. I’d love to do this, but I think I need your help.” That is how 7:30 this morning found me tacking up Velvet for Lisa.

To my surprise, Lisa, who’s idea of rising early is 10am, showed up just after I got the girth secured (around 7:45). She said, “why don’t you go get Chavali?” It was a rush, but ten minutes later, pretty, pretty pony Velvet and pretty, pretty, pony Chavali were hoofing it down Robleda amongst a growing crowd of very excited kids on foot, bike, scooter and roller blade.

Not all of the kids were interested in the horses. Some of them didn’t even notice they were there. But as we waited for the group to assemble, there was a constant chorus of oohs and aahs from those who did. The kids who live next door to Lisa were beaming with pride as it was their neighbor who owned the beautiful, friendly brown and white horse.

Unfortunately, Chavali was not nearly as well behaved as Vevlet. The balloons made her snort. The boys playing tag in the bushes (behind her) started her prancing. The flapping, fluorescent school project gave her heart palpitations. But the topping on the cake was the police motorcycle.

We stayed behind and waited while Lisa and Velvet walked calmly with the kids and were thusly bathed in glory.

Having promised Lisa a trail ride afterwards, I did follow after about ten minutes. The parade to school was still in progress and as we walked, we were passed by a dozen cars, kids in the back seat, noses pressed to the window and eyes wide with delight at the sight of a horse. The motorcycle officer had positioned himself at the major intersection nearest the school. No longer surrounded by a sea of children, Chavali was able to sniff the motorcycle to her hearts content and decided it really wasn’t going to bite her. The officer, his demeanor softened by, I assume, the natural warmth and enthusiasm of the children, actually deigned to talk to me. He said that riding a horse was definitely the best way to travel, even though, I had long since dismounted and, with Chavali jumping around as if she’d just stepped on a hornets nest, had no intention of getting back on for quite some time.

Standing at the edge of the school waiting for Lisa to finish up, every five seconds, from all around, the words, “Oooh! A horse! Look! It’s a horse! Look over there! There’s another one!” resounded in my ears. Kids, bright eyed and with full hearts kept bounding up. But the bell sounded and as quickly as they had appeared, they disappeared, leaving the streets of Los Altos Hills again to Lisa and Velvet and Chavali and myself and the normal assortment of pickup trucks, UPS vans, joggers, dog walkers and gardeners.

The morning had been fun, but Chavali was a wreck. It took half an hour for her to calm down and even then she wasn’t really calm as I found out when we started to canter and she decided to throw a bucking fit.

Hungry, tired and more than a little stressed at having very nearly landed on the pavement, I still felt happy. Right before leaving the corner of Fremont and Edith, one girl, truly gaga, had stopped Lisa and Velvet right in their tracks. “I love horses! I take horse lessons but my mommy doesn’t like to pay so much money for them.” (She stuck like glue to Lisa and Velvet the rest of the walk to school.) Her face radiated like the sun, full of joy at being in the presence of a horse. Isn’t that what life is all about?

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