Sometimes Stuff Happens



On Monday morning, I walked up the hill to the barn in the dark. We’ve definitely crossed the line in terms of why-hasn’t-daylight-savings-time-begun-yet, and it was the first morning I really needed a flashlight. I know my way pretty well, so instead of going back inside for a light, I continued up the hill to the pump and turned on the water so I could fill the water trough. I have one horse who likes to spend his downtime dragging the water trough around the paddock until it dumps over and creates a puddle to splash in. So, most mornings I try to top off the trough so it’s too heavy for him to move.

As I dragged the hose towards the trough, I saw a movement outside the paddock fence. It was something large. In fact, at first glance it looked like two somethings. I could make out two white splotches in the dark.

Before I could truly panic, the white splotches snorted and trotted a few feet away, kicking the fence board in its own panic at the sight of me. It was a horse. Outside the fence. But it wasn’t my horse. I could just make out the shape of a paint horse—brown and white. I’ve always wanted a paint horse, and for just a moment I thought, maybe it’s a magical gift!

I took a step towards the horse. “Hey buddy,” I called quietly. He retreated further.

I went into the barn and got a bucket of grain. My horses were pacing in their stalls and banging on gates, anxious to get outside and meet the interloper.

Back outside in the dark, my new buddy hadn’t gone far. When I shook the feed bucket he took a few tentative steps towards me. I shook it again and he walked over and put his nose in the bucket. I slipped a rope around his neck and brought him into the barn. Pretty little guy with nice tidy feet and a well cared for coat. Someone was definitely missing him and the only someone I could think of in the near vicinity who might have a horse as nice as this was Brad, my cowboy friend over the hill. Brad lives less than a mile away as the crow flies or the horse runs (turfing several neighbor’s yards on his way I was sure). By road it’s closer to two miles.

I texted Brad, You lose a horse?

The reply was immediate- YES!

It was still dark when Brad’s pickup came up the drive. I’d told him the horse was fine. I’d put him in one of my stalls and figured Brad would ride over later in the day to get him. Instead, Brad put a halter on the horse, tied him to the back of his pickup truck and led him home with his flashers on.

“I’ll go slow,” he told me as he left.

Only in Pennsyltucky, I thought as I went inside to start my day.

My youngest son asks me almost every day, “Is anything happening today?” My reply is almost always, “The regular stuff.”

I asked him once why he always asks this—is he expecting me to say something like, “Well, actually today we’re going skydiving!”

He told me, “You never know. Sometimes stuff happens.”

And he’s right. Sometimes stuff happens. Sometimes strange horses appear in your routine.

When he was little, we surprised the kids with a trip to Florida to go on a cruise. We’d alerted the teachers, but we didn’t tell the kids. We did this partly because we thought it would be really fun to surpise them, but the bigger reason was that Ian gets migraines and they are usually brought on by stress—good and bad stress. He’s missed birthday parties and field trips because his excited stress brought on a migraine. We figured flying to Florida to go to Harry Potter World before boarding a cruise ship to central America might have the same effect. So we didn’t tell him or his siblings.

On the morning of the trip, when Ian got up, I said, “How about instead of going to school today, we go on a cruise?”

It took him a minute to realize I was serious and then his joy made all the secret plans worth it.

Now, six years later, he still gets up most days and wonders if today something special is going to happen. I love that about him, even as I give him my grumbly answer, “The regular stuff.”

It’s an exciting way to live. Having a horse surprise me before breakfast reminded me that you never know when the day will bring more than the regular stuff.


Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

7 thoughts on “Sometimes Stuff Happens”

  1. I live so vicariously through your posts….in other words I love them. You are living the life I had always dreamed about as a child .. a real “cowgirl” and animal lover. Keep up the posts and all your good works.


  2. Wow what a great picture you paint–the morning, the horses. Loved this post. Thanks for the reminder that my “regular stuff” is very different from others’ “regular stuff”, even if they are moms and animal lovers like me! 🙂


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