Full Circle Taffy

Visiting her uncle’s ranch in Eastern Oregon, little ten year old Carolyn couldn’t take her eyes off the beautiful deep orange, almost sorrel palomino pony in the corral. Her white mane and tail floated in the breeze, fascinating Carolyn. Taffy was a surprise foal out of the uncle’s mare and an unknown stallion. “Could I ride her?” Carolyn asked. The next 8 hours were pure joy for this little rider as she clung to Taffy’s broad back, walking her around the property, never wanting to dismount because she knew it would be the one and only time she’d be on her.

Carolyn’s aunt called her into the bathroom just before dinner to get her settled in a bathtub of nice, hot water. “You’re going to need this!” she explained to the unsuspecting child. “ I never bathe before dinner!” exclaimed Carolyn. “Well missy, tonight you do!” Sure enough, she realized that the warm water was soothing to her sore behind. The exuberant partnership of the day certainly had its consequences.

A Christmas morning tradition at Carolyn’s home was a treasure hunt for the kids. They would follow clues around the house to discover their presents. The last clue for Carolyn was to find her red boots and go out to the barn. What an odd clue, she thought, but it must be something pretty fun to be all the way out there! When she opened the barn door to peer inside and search for her present, she came face to face with Taffy! Her father had arranged to buy and transport this beautiful creature to their property for her!

Carolyn quickly learned to care for Taffy as she had contracted pneumonia during the cold, wet ride across the state. But Taffy was strong and recovered in due time. Carolyn rode her every day, rain or shine, learning horsemanship as she and Taffy bonded. They hung out at a nearby 4-H stable to watch lessons and picked up a few pointers as the paying students went through their paces.

“If you have a horse, you have friends!” Every youngster enjoys being around a horse, especially if they don’t have to be responsible for it. But Carolyn learned responsibility by caring for Taffy and shared her with her friends. Taffy was a good listener in the daily conversations she afforded Carolyn. Those conversations continued, eventually not daily, for 24 years until Taffy became too crippled with arthritis to enjoy living anymore.

A 20 year hiatus from horses ensued; life, career, family consumed all of Carolyn’s time. Then one day she and her mother were on a road trip in Central Oregon, taking the back roads, when they unexpectedly encountered a cattle drive with 500 head of cattle and a multi-generational family work force. It was like entering a time warp into the wild west, complete with dusty cowboys working the cows on horses and a bull staring down her mom through the car window. Despite the cowboy’s request to move on, Carolyn and her mom sat enthralled with the whole scene. The cowboy finally issued a stern command for them to get out of the herd, but Carolyn couldn’t resist negotiating one final feature. “I’ll leave if you say ‘git along little doggy’ for me!” With smirking compliance, the man called out to them “git along little doggy” and then again as they accelerated down the road.

This chance meeting of horses ignited a desire in Carolyn to connect with them once again. She located a beach riding facility near her home and rented a huge, black Percheron for $1 per minute. The hour ride was all the fuel she needed to search out other riding facilities. Waffle, Little Feather and Eric were the mounts she requested by name. Carolyn even traded taffy candy from her store for riding time! The desire to own her own horse exploded when she was offered Hobbs for free, to a good home.

Hobbs was a registered quarter horse, a blood bay by color, but by no means free. The expenses mounted as he had to be delivered from out of state and then boarded. He needed new tack of course, and then showed signs of not thriving, so his feed had to be increased. He was moved to a ranch near Astoria where there was better herd management and personal care, but the cost per (three) rides amounted to $1,600 each after only two years of ownership!

Carolyn realized that horse ownership was not a suitable situation for her at this stage of life. She located a family horse ranch in Sandy that was willing to take Hobbs for the remainder of his years and care for him and ride him. She visits occasionally with her bag of carrots just to see his happy state. Carolyn uses rent-a-horses now when she has that urge to ride. The only taffy she now knows is the complete line of saltwater candy she stocks in her Seaside candy store, the Buzz on Broadway. And the best part of all is the little 8 year old granddaughter who now rides Hobbs. She’s getting her start with horses and the Taffy circle is complete.


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