Last night as I drove home from work, I noticed a man with a white bucket walking alongside the road. Given the temperature and the fast-setting sun, I thought this was a little foolish.
The car ahead of me slowed down considerably. I was a bit irritated. Sure, I realized it was important to reduce speed and move over so as not to hit the pedestrian. Still, I wanted to get home. I was further annoyed because the car continued to slow even once we had safely passed the man with the bucket.
The sedan in front of me was almost to a crawl when the driver turned on his four-way flashers. I realized that there must another reason for the driver’s caution.
The obstacle came into view once the car preceding me moved into the other lane to pass. Six ponies were trotting down the highway. Now, I spot horses traveling the roads almost every day that I drive to work, but they are usually attached to an Amish buggy. Even Mustangs have drivers. These ponies were riderless and unaccompanied by humans. If that man with the bucket was their owner, they had far out-paced him on the two-lane highway.
The ponies had shaggy coats and surprisingly wide bellies. Their manes and tails whipped in the wind. A black one seemed to be their leader. I kept my eye on him. He would slow and turn his head to the side, so the others would slow, too.
I realized that I wouldn’t be able to pass this small herd. They could veer into the other lane at any minute. I didn’t want to run into one of the animals, so I just slowed down to stay behind the unpredictable creatures.
They were approaching a small village. I wasn’t so much concerned about them getting lost in this far-from-booming “metropolis” as was about the intersection in the heart of the township. A traffic light halts vehicles where two state highways meet, but I suspected that ponies don’t know that green means “go” and red means “stop.”
A half-mile out from the village limits, the ponies decided to stop on their own. I did, too. The black horse looked around as if uncertain where to lead his rogue band. Just then, a man driving a truck heading north spotted the ponies and pulled into a towing company’s lot. He got and slowly walked toward the herd. I could see him whistle and watched him clap his hands. The black pony turned around, so the rest followed suit. They began to trot northbound. When they were past my car, I smiled and waved to the good Samaritan and resumed my commute.
I glanced in my side view mirror as I accelerated and watched the ponies get smaller. Soon, I was in the village and they were out of sight. Several minutes later I was home.
I hope the ponies made it home, too.