"Why can't you be like other women and prefer diamonds over horses?" This was Soldier Man's response from half way around the globe in Afghanistan when he learned that I had, indeed, purchased a wild horse.
Earlier, our grown daughter had accurately remarked, "Dad won't be happy, but he won't be surprised either."
"Well, I guess this will have to be both your birthday and Christmas present, " he said, knowing that my birthday had been the day before and that no gift was in the mail. My husband has always had trouble buying me gifts, probably because I don't feel the need for traditional stuff women like to receive.
Enthusiastically I replied, "This is a wonderful gift; thank you so much!"
I could hear the softening in his voice when he said, "Well, it's going to have to be your birthday present, anyway."
"Just be thankful it's a wild horse I'm chasing and not wild men!" I grinned over the phone.
When Soldier Man left for his one year tour of duty in Afghanistan, my friend, Mya, took it upon herself to make sure I would not sit home and sulk. Weather permitting, the two of us were off riding our horses whenever schedules and family allowed us to get away. During the summer, I noticed in an equine paper that there was going to be a wild horse auction in the fall some time. I called up Mya, "Mya, please convince me that I should not go to this auction."
"I think it's a great idea! That will be my birthday present to you."
Okay, it didn't take much to convince me, but we were going to leave the trailers at home. We eagerly waited for it to be announced when the auction would be. October 23rd, the day before my birthday, I arranged for a replacement at work for that weekend. " Remember, we're not taking a trailer with us, Mya, this is just a fun get-away weekend, we'll think of it as entertainment. Together, we could not think of a better way to spend a weekend.
"Bonnie, I'm hauling my trailer down. I know you, you'll buy a horse and I'll have to come all the way home and back again to get it. Besides, even if you don't buy one, maybe I can help someone else out by hauling for them."
We got to the auction ring several hours before the start of the sale. We carefully looked over each pen, made notes of horses we would like to own, visited with other enthusiastic and curious onlookers, and marveled at the unique colors represented by the herd. Could we manage one of these beautiful bachelor stallions and did we have the appropriate area for them? It was a no-brainer that we would be taking a least one apiece home, if not more, but decided we probably should stick with one of the younger horses.
We sat in the crowded arena nervous and excited for the bidding of the wild horses to start; we had an opportunity to take home a registered Quarter Horse weanling for next to nothing, but we wanted one of the mysterious, often forbidden animals that we had viewed from a distance in the Park. The bidding was competitive, and we realized , if we were serious, we would need to spend more than we initially planned, if the dreams we had formed were to come true. In the end, Mya purchased Cinnamon, a one year old pretty little sorrel as well as a weanling filly, Lindbo, a five month old gray overo filly with one blue eye, neither of which had been on our list to buy. I purchased number 364, Sugar, a red roan yearling that reminded me of a filly I had owned and lost to colic.
These horses were raw beauties that we felt honored and a little scared, for more than one reason, to be taking home. Nightfall had come but in our excitement we had no problem staying awake on the long drive home. We strategically planned how we would house these horses and honor our commitment to care for them, these powerful creatures that had neither known barriers nor the gentle touch of human hands. We wondered and laughed over what we had gotten ourselves into this time.
"Do you realize, Mya, that we purchased Cinnamon and Sugar?" We hadn't until this moment in our drive home. We both knew coincidences didn't happen without reason. "It was meant to be!"
When the North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry was up and running, I wanted to choose a name that reflected my horse and the significance of the event. I wanted to keep her Park name and chose "Autumn" to reflect one of the best birthday events ever, and "Diamond" in remembering the conversation with my husband. Thus "Autumn's Sugar Diamond was formed.
Afterward: My husband recently returned from Afghanistan. He was pleasantly surprised that my wild horse didn't seem wild at all. One of his concerns for me was that I would get hurt working with her. I found this very sweet since this was the first time in 27 years that he had voiced worry about me getting hurt around horses.