Quality First, Price Second: "It doesn’t cost any more to feed a good horse than a bad one."
When we met a lady in an expected place but unexpected circumstances, we began automatically to be on the alert. That was the way it was for us then we met Thene (short for Parthenia). From the first moment, we saw she was unique. She supplied us with more than one aphorism over the years we knew her.
We met her because we’d heard she was a wonderful riding instructor. Our children had a pony, and I hadn’t had any instruction for more than 20 years, so we decided to check her out.
A stocky, upright, white-haired lady in a typical 'house dress' greeted us by the back door of her Victorian house on a pleasant side street. Clearly a lot had changed in the neighborhood since the house had been built. Across a small yard stood what was obviously a small stable that had probably begun life as a garage. The sliding doors were open, and inside we could see six stalls with five equine heads observing over the half doors.
Thene’s personal history enticed the whole family. I still have a picture of my mother, me, and our three children mounted on Thene’s horses. Three generations, and Thene. My husband had to be at work during these times, but he would often accompany me on a Saturday to discuss our management of the pony’s replacement. That way he could offer help with some chores and have the opportunity to talk with her. She gave us a small library of quotable quotes over the year we knew her: "time come, baby come" for when awaiting a foaling or any other anticipated event; "if everybody hung their troubles on the line, you’d take your own off first;" "comparisons are odious;" and other turn-of-the-century aphorisms. She showed us how to put the best finishing polish on a groomed animal with her bare hand. She could explain what to do on horseback in ten words that someone else would take ten minutes to teach.
The daughter of the first veterinarian in the town, she had remained where she grew up, taking care of her mother after her father’s death and her sister’s marriage. She let slip enough about her own youth for us to know she’d given up her first love to do her duty — back during World War I.
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