Tom the Wonder Horse

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Tom the Wonder Horse Talks to a Psychic

Copyright © Judith Shaw

Tom the Wonder Horse was nineteen. He was probably the oldest gelding ever to cross the Pacific, but leaving him in Australia was unthinkable. In fact, if we couldn’t take Tom, I wasn’t going either.

But Tom wasn’t right. He’d survived the trip from Australia—although it took years off his life—and, once he got over being pissed off at me for abandoning him, seemed to settle down. I rode him out and about every day, sometimes with another horse, sometimes alone. He was a little anxious, but seemed pretty much okay. Still, he wasn’t quite right, and I didn’t know what was wrong.

The change of circumstances, moving from Australia to the Berkshires, had an impact. Being boarded out instead of living at home took a toll as well. I’d had the vet out, and nothing seemed to be wrong, but still. . . .

Finally, a friend, sick of hearing me obsess about my old boy, suggested that I get in touch with a horse psychic. I’m not really a New-Age-touchy-feely sort of person, and Tom certainly wasn’t, but I was ready to try anything.

This was the deal: I was to write down a list of questions and concerns that I wanted Tom to answer. Then, while someone videotaped the whole event, lead Tom around in a twenty-meter circle and ask the questions out loud. I was then to mail the video and a check for $40 to the psychic, who would give me a time to call her on the phone. I needed to be prepared to write down Tom’s answers.

The only information I gave the psychic was Tom’s name and age, where we lived, and my name.

It all sounded a little hokey to me, but I was committed.

At the appointed time, I called her on the phone. The first words out of her mouth floored me: “Is there someone living with you called Ron?” She asked. “Tom wants to know where Ron is. He said they were really good friends, but Ron hasn’t been to see him.”

Ron is my husband. In Australia, Tom used to follow Ron around with his chin on Ron’s shoulder. When I rode out with Tom in the national park, Ron would often come along. When Ron walked, Tom walked. When Ron jogged, Tom trotted. And if Ron ran, Tom would canter. Ron always called these outings “being on punishment detail,” but it was obvious the two of them enjoyed being out together.

I told the psychic to tell Tom that Ron would be around soon, and that we would be moving him to our house as soon as we could. The next day I began work on a two-stall shed for Tom and a buddy to live in.

Tom the Wonder Horse with Barnaby

Tom and Barnaby, communicating without a psychic

The next thing she said was another surprise: “Tom said to tell me about all the times he saved your life.” So I mentioned a few, including the time a C130 buzzed our back field when I was working Tom.

I saw this monster plane flying at treetop level over the paddock and assumed I was a dead woman. When the plane flew overhead, Tom would freak out, spook and dump me, and I’d probably break my neck. In the event, he heaved a huge sigh and ignored the plane entirely.

Many of Tom’s life-saving feats involved ignoring whatever terrifying event was coming our way, and I got to know that sigh very well over the years. What I didn’t know was that Tom was just as frightened as I was. He wasn’t phlegmatic; he was saving his mom.

I had several more consultations with the psychic over the next few years, sometimes with hilarious results. In one episode, I asked if Tom—who was getting a little creaky—minded if Ron rode him while I rode a new (and much too much for me) horse named Monty. “It’s fine,” said Tom. “I don’t mind if Ron rides me. But tell him to stop wearing blue jeans. They hurt.” How could they hurt, I wondered. Ron is riding in a big old Western saddle. “No,” said Tom. “They don’t hurt me, they hurt him. Tell him to get a proper pair of riding britches. No one will know!

One of the funniest lines came during that first consultation. The psychic asked about the time Tom and I were riding along the edge of the woods when a whole pack of . . . something . . . came boiling out of the woods and, instead of running away, Tom just stood there and sighed.

“I couldn’t work out what the animals were,” she said. “I asked if they were deer. Tom said no. Rabbits? No. Dogs? No. So what were they?”

“Kangaroos,” I said.

“Kangaroos! You were in Australia?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s where Tom comes from.”

“Oh,” she said. “Now I get it. That’s why he sounds like Crocodile Dundee!”

I’d love to hear your feedback in the Comments section below. ~ Judith

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14 thoughts on “Tom the Wonder Horse

  1. Heidi

    Judith, your Tom certainly was the Wonder Horse! He and Sterling and Cathy’s Chief are all galloping around together in beautiful green pastures up in horse heaven! I miss those days…

    1. judith Shaw

      It’s wonderful to hear from you! Yes, we still miss them, don’t we. Writing about Tom helps a lot.

      Thanks so much for reading the story.


  2. charlotte finn

    Judith, Tom is indeed a wonder horse and you an accomplished writer. I can just imagine what Ron said when you informed him that if Tom didn’t come to America, you weren’t coming. It was a package deal. Your psychic fascinates me. I would have loved a bit more detail. Keep writing.

    Fondly, Charloltte

    1. judith Shaw

      Thanks, Tamara, so nice to hear from you. Tom the Wonder Brat is still a work in progress, but il see what I can do to speed the process.


  3. Mary Garabedian

    He saved both our lives…he got us down from the mountains every time. As you would say, he had a good map in his head. I’d probably still be up on Perry’s Peak if I’d depended on Rocket!

    1. judith Shaw

      Tom could always find his way home. Thank goodness! With my mapping deficiency, you’re right. We could still be on the mountain.

      Thanks for the feedback. It brings a lot of memories with it.

  4. Denise

    Judith, you made me cry.

    I know you remember that I went to visit Tom once he arrived in the Berkshires, and before you, Ron and the kids arrived. I gave him some carrots and he looked at me like, “who the heck are you?, and where is my family?”.
    He was soo sick. But what a trooper!
    I love the Psychic story!

    1. Judith Shaw


      Thank you again for looking in on Tom. That trip just about did him in, but we had six more years together because of it. His future as an older horse not 100% sound didn’t bear thinking about. I’m so glad you read the story. Writing them brings him close. More are on the way.



  5. Diana Ladden

    But, wait, now we all know that Ron has proper riding pants!

    Great story! Tom was a true individual. Love the build-up to Croc Dundee!

  6. Jane

    Oh, my word! How neat is this? I love the story and would give an eye tooth to meet that wonderful friend.
    How much happiness can one have with their animal buddies! Thanks for including me on your route to fame.

    1. Judith Shaw

      Dearest Jane, You are my biggest fan. Thank you!

      Tom really was a Wonder Horse, and I miss him every day. Writing these stories helps a lot.

      One day soon I’ll finish “Tom the Wonder Brat,” and you’ll see a different horse altogether.
      Love, Judith


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