By Olga Kaczmar, Newhall Community Contributor
When I purchased my Newhall house, with horse keeping rights, I couldn’t afford a horse of my own. I ran an ad: ‘Free board if you share your horse’. Michelle answered that ad and said she had two horses; I could take both. I have always wanted to own big horses. I couldn’t afford to feed two horses and chose the taller of the two, a gray Arab/Quarter Horse mix, rejecting the Pony of America (POA).
Michelle had called me several times saying that Mariah, the pony, was lonely and missed her companion. I didn’t want a fat pony but Michelle convinced me she was an excellent ride; that I could give lessons on her and she could pay for her own keep.
After a few months of bliss, riding the hills on Zapata, the Arabian; I began to share him with a riding student, who paid his feed bill. This opened a new opportunity for Mariah, the white POA which I had turned down earlier.
Oh dear, she was fat! I started to exercise her and to my amazement, she was a real sports car (low to the ground, fast, quick on turns), a ‘mountain goat’ on mountain trails; very obedient, very smart, very much a personality – all the advantages. Wow!
This horse just kept impressing me. She won Second Place at Los Angeles Area Trail Trials; trophies at parades; quickly learned barrel racing; jumped over fence obstacles; pulled a cart; and was as safe as can be. She made up for short legs with a big heart. She thought of herself as the lead horse, and the other horses agreed and followed her on trail rides.
After a year or more passed, Michelle broke her emotional attachment to Zapata and Mariah and now wanted me to buy them.
My riding student purchased Zapata and I agreed to let Michelle find a buyer for Mariah, the POA. When Michelle informed me a buyer came forward, I said fine. But what a surprise my emotions had in store for me. I couldn’t stop crying. I wept all day at work and told myself I was being silly, that I wanted a big horse for myself.
No. In fact, I wanted Mariah! She had become my friend and I couldn’t let her go. I put her on my charge card. We had the best times, riding trails and taking my students to horse shows and parades. This pony was a do-anything ‘sports car’. And after showing her off, everyone wanted to buy her from me for their children.
One year, Laurene Weste, mayor at that time, was giving out Certificates of Appreciation to the members of the Trail Committee. We met at the dedication of South Fork Trail at Railroad and Magic Mountain Parkway, tied our horses at the rail, and listened to speeches. When I looked over to the horses, Mariah was walking away. She untied herself. I tried to catch her, but she took off running home. I ran after her. All this fresh green grass growing after the rain and she didn’t stop to graze. I was out of breath and slowed down to breathe but she kept on. This was so unlike her to leave me. I walked home alone.
I heard the ambulances on Railroad (previously San Fernando Rd.) and my heart sank. ‘Oh my God. Please. Please. Don’t let her be hit by a car.’ My Airedale terrier was killed at this spot the previous year. This can’t be happening to me again.
I finally reached Railroad Ave. and looked. Nothing but speeding cars… left and right. No horse was hit on the road. What a lucky break. But where is she?
A screen shop was located in a trailer alongside Railroad. I went in and inquired whether they saw a loose pony. “Yes,” the lady said. “She crossed the street here and went into the wash. By herself….She waited for the cars to pass and then crossed herself.”
“Thank you, Lord,” I said. I ran all the way through the sand wash and Mariah was at the back gate…waiting for me to let her in.” Although elated, I cried because I was emotionally drained. I had a big alcoholic drink and went to bed. I was done with the day.
Mariah remained with me for another 10 years. When she became too old to carry my weight, my small students learned on her and later graduated to a bigger horse. They kept her well-exercised, muscled up and took her to horse shows. Shown in this photo, she won four ribbons over the sleek expensive horses at a schooling show.
Unfortunately she broke her leg in her corral and I had to put her to sleep at 40 years old. Gone but not forgotten. Mariah was the best.