Whinny was feeling good! She had just completed 3 months of intensive training to become a police horse. Tonight was her last night in the training stable. Tomorrow she would go back to the city and Valerie to start her job as a police horse. Valerie was a policewoman and would be Whinny’s partner. She was also Natalie’s cousin. Maybe she would even see Natalie, the daughter of the farmer who cared for Whinny’s Mom, Momoa. After all, it would be Natalie’s 7th birthday tomorrow, maybe she would enjoy seeing Whinny again! Maybe the farmer and his wife would bring Natalie to town to see Whinny’s first day at work as a real police horse.
Almost 3 years ago, Whinny was born on a farm in Missouri to the mare Momoa. For the first 2 years of her life, she had roamed freely on the farm, side by side with Momoa. She had enjoyed being groomed and loved by little Natalie, the farmer’s daughter. But as the months went by, Whinny learned that not all horses lived just to be companions to humans, many had real and important jobs. When the farmer decided to sell Whinny, she made up her mind to run away and do something with her life. She escaped from the trailer carrying her to her new owner, chased a police car and cornered the criminal they were chasing. As a result, the police chief wanted her to become part of the city’s mounted police and she was sent off to the 3 months of training. Now she would be going back to her home town to start work.
The next morning, Whinny awoke to the sound of Valerie’s voice. She was talking to the trainer in the stable. Whinny perked up her ears and nickered to draw Valerie’s attention.
“Hello Whinny! Lets get you ready to come home, shall we?, Valerie said as she collected Whinny’s things and patted her neck.
Soon they were in the trailer, speeding down the highway to go back to Missouri. When they arrived, and Valerie led her from the trailer, the entire mounted police force was waiting to greet her, including the Chief. There were speeches, welcomes, presentation of her police badge and buckles as well as an orientation that explained her pay and vacation as well as her duties and what would come next. There was also some good natured teasing by the older, experienced horses.
She learned that there would be still more training, as well as a trial period. “Yikes! I could still be turned down for this job”, Whinny said to herself. “If I don’t do well in the city traffic and training with Valerie, they will send me away.”
After a full and tiring day, Whinny was finally settled into the police stable with the other police horses. Her eyes were drooping shut when she heard an excited shout. “She’s in here!” from a little girl’s voice she used to know well. Natalie had come to see here and was very excited. Whinny was petted and groomed yet again with the gentle hands she used to feel each day on the farm. She nuzzled Natalie and showed her the police badge and buckles. Natalie told Whinny all about what she had been doing since Whinny went away – starting school and meeting lots of new friends. She also described her 7th birthday party and all of the presents she had received. Whinny neighed a happy birthday greeting to her and nodded her head up and down to show she was happy for Natalie.
On the job training started with Valerie in earnest the very next morning. A police horse for this city must be able to stay calm even when surrounded by all the noise and traffic and people in the city. The horses got petted a lot and had to be careful when the little ones and pets reached up to her.
Valerie rode Whinny on her traffic beat all day long. They walked on pavement for hours. Lots of people waved at them. There were horns, squealing tires, radios, people talking on their phones and with each other.
At every block, Moms stopped Valerie and asked if their kids could pet Whinny.
Once a huge dog lunged at her. Luckily the dog was on a leash and couldn’t bite Whinny. A couple of times, Whinny got scared and started to shy away from the noise or the animal or person. When that happened, Valerie soothed her, patted her and taught her that it was OK. Whinny just had to learn to stay calm, no matter what, or she wouldn’t get to be a police horse, explained Valerie.
For a month, Whinny and Valerie patrolled downtown. Every day, Valerie showed Whinny something new. One day, they had to march in a parade. Another day, they had to stand in the middle of the road and direct traffic, until the traffic signal was fixed. Yet another day, they got to go to the school where Natalie attended – to tell the kids about what a police officer and horse do. Whinny grew tired of all the training. She wondered why she had ever wanted to leave the pleasant farm and her Mom. “Will this everlasting training never end?” she wondered.
As part of her training, Whinny had to learn how to walk slowly shoulder to shoulder with the other police horses and roll a huge rubber ball around. It seemed a silly thing to do. “Why do I have to learn this”, she asked herself, “am I training to be a soccer star?”
She was discouraged. She had wanted to be a police horse to do important things and here she was just walking up and down the streets or rolling a ball around, always trying to learn something else new.
It so happened that there was a holiday during the month of Whinny’s training. On that holiday, the city held a festival. They closed off the downtown streets, put up tents and carnival rides. There were bands, parades, picnics, games and children with pets running all around.
There were also some people demonstrating their dislike of the city’s policies. They carried big signs, marched around and shouted at the other people. They were unhappy and angry at some of the city officials who were there.
Whinny and Valerie, along with four of the other mounted police, were assigned to make sure the crowds didn’t get out of control. Whinny walked shoulder to shoulder with the other horses to keep the demonstrators from marching into the area where the children were playing. But the protestors kept trying to move forward, pushing and shoving and yelling and thrusting their fists in the air.
Whinny was scared. She had never seen humans fighting with each other. There was so much noise and so much movement that she wasn’t sure what was going on. But she stood tall and still, slowly moving forward, shoulder to shoulder with the other horses, to keep moving the demonstrators back away from the kids.
At the end of the day, she was proud that she had helped to keep the children safe. Now she understood the reason for all of the training she had endured during the month. It was sometimes tedious learning new things, but each new skill added to her ability to do a better job. When she did a better job, she was given more and more responsibility and was able to do advance her standing and satisfy her desire to do important things.
The moral of this story is: You must keep learning to reach your goals. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school, it is a lifelong activity.