A horse carriage ride isn’t something everyone has a chance to do every day, or even once in their life for that matter. In fact, most of us probably consider it quite a luxury.
What if you were a child displaced from your family due to situations beyond your control? A carriage ride would probably be the furthest thing from your mind. Well, this was not so for several children visiting the SLO Farmer’s Market one evening with their guardians while displaced from their own family units.
You Took Us for Free?
“How much are your carriage rides?” asked a woman, surrounded by several children enjoying the weekly San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market.
“Our Farmer’s Market price is just $5.00 per person for a 20-minute ride,” I replied.
“Oh, What’s the price for the children?” she asked.
“How about two for the price of one?” was my bargain response. The woman thought for a minute and said she might return. Meanwhile, two of the children with her greeted Shasta and pet his nose while we talked.
“We might get to go! We might get to go! Expressed one girl gleefully as she jiggled up and down with excitement.
A few moments later a different group of four adults got in for a ride. Just before I stepped into the driver’s seat, the woman with the children approached me. “These children are from Transitions, the emergency shelter for children from families in distress. Could we go for a short ride? They really want to go. I’ll pay for it out of my own pocket.”
“Sure. We can go. I’m taking a group out now and we’ll be back in 20 minutes. Wait here for us.” I replied.
“OK! We’ll be waiting right here!” she said with smiling eyes.
The group of children and their guardians were waiting for us as we returned. The four adults who just enjoyed a ride stepped out of the carriage. I handed them their bags of produce from the driver’s seat, thanked them and said goodbye. Almost immediately the children jumped into the carriage. The two women guardians were discussing who would ride in the carriage. They decided to let the children ride “alone” while they walked along beside. They were never to let the children out of their sight. Meanwhile the children were bouncing around on the carriage seats and laughing.
A glimmer of appreciation shone on each young face as Shasta took us for a short ride. The two guardians followed along waving and talking with the four children. Upon our return the woman asked how much she owed us.
“Oh nothing, it was our treat!” I had made this decision while watching the pure joy and excitement released by the children in the carriage.
“Really?” she exclaimed. “Yes,” I replied, smiling.
“Oh this has made the children’s day. In fact, it will probably make their week! They will be talking about this for a very long time!” she replied graciously.
One of the boys overheard me say that there was no charge. He looked up saying, “You mean you took us for free?”
“Yes,” I explained, “because you are special.” The boy simply smiled. One of the girls overheard that conversation and exclaimed, “You are SO nice!”
As the group turned away the boy grabbed one of the guardian’s hands. She turned to me, raised up her hand with his hand and quietly said, “He has never done this before!”
Sometimes all it takes a is little human kindness to change a heart or a mind. We all come from different places and circumstances, but the more that we can give of ourselves to one another, the better everyone will be for it. The horse community shows this every single day.
This is the full story from a soon to be published book: Carriage Capers – Magic Moments Leave Marks on our Hearts. Stories of a Horse Carriage Driver in San Luis Obispo County by Sharon J. Jantzen