Vol. 10


The First Horse Whisperer

c. 1864; south-central North Carolina, USA

The distinct voices of the soldiers grew louder and louder as the clank of the horses’ hooves pounded ever closer. He was lying so flat on the ground that he could almost taste the dirt. The trickle of the flowing water in the creek and the crackling of the leaves in the wind broke the silence he prayed would hide him well. Daniel Thomas was just a young boy in the year 1864, winning the game of hide-and-seek with the Confederate troops that had come to take him and his horses to fight in the war. Legend has it that Daniel whispered to his horses to keep quiet, and they obeyed.

Daniel was only eighteen, but he knew his three horses were all the family had to plow the fields. Daniel was my great-grandfather’s great-grandfather, and his plight has been told for generations. My dad tells me the story so I can tell my grandchildren.

On a hot summer day in 1864 a few Confederate soldiers came to Daniel’s home place — a small country cabin on several acres. Daniel’s family did not own slaves and were simple country farmers that owned a small tract of land straddling the line between Moore and Montgomery counties. Daniel knew that if the soldiers found him they would take him with the family’s three horses. When Daniel heard from neighbors that the soldiers were coming for him, he grabbed his three horses and headed for the creek to hide.

"The First Horse Whisperer" - Illustration by Josh Weihe: Boy leads horses to hide in the woods as Union soldiers approachOn his way to the creek, Daniel had to scramble through the paths least traveled to avoid the soldiers. He could hear them talking about taking his horses, and he heard them say that they knew he was hiding and they were going to find him. Daniel knew the family land and the paths around the creek like the back of his hand. He led the soldiers on a game of cat and mouse in and around the creek until night fell. The soldiers finally gave up and left.

This tale about Daniel has been told through generations, and hits home with me. My passion is riding and caring for my horses, and I truly understand Daniel’s motive to save his horses from being taken. I whisper to my horses, and I believe they somehow understand me much as Daniel’s horses understood him on that hot summer day long, long ago.

Arden Riddle; North Carolina, USA

Illustrator: Josh Weihe; Colorado, USA


This copyrighted story and illustration may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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