When we call his name, Peachy perks his ears.
Turning only his head, he usually squints for a moment to make sure it’s Mary and me and not imposters.
If it’s the middle of a hot day, Peachy begins a plow-horse plod across the big pasture.
Sometimes, if it’s cooler, he snorts and trots toward us. About 100 yards away he picks up the pace, as if he suddenly feels younger than the age of his teeth.
When we’re lucky he’ll whinny and run toward us as if he is going to crash through the fence, then he plants his forelegs for a quick stop.
We don’t know the name on Peachy’s papers. He became Peachy to us because he was near the fence one day when we walked through the park eating a couple of juicy peaches. We decided to share them with the sad-eyed horse.
He liked peaches as much as we did.
I had just shown Mary my favorite movie, “The Man Who Would Be King,” in which one of the main characters is named Peachy.
So after the fruit and the movie, we named the big brown horse Peachy.
We didn’t know we were making a lifelong friend, nor did we foresee the taking of treats to Peachy becoming an enjoyable interlude on many of our weekends.
But the next time we prepared to traipse through the park, Mary sliced a couple of apples and put them in a bag for Peachy.
That’s typical of Mary, who buys sacks of seed to keep our bird feeders full, mixes sugar water for hummingbirds and delights in feeding the fish in our pond. She’s also been known to take food to a stray dog or cat and occasionally to adopt one.
Her fantasy (a secret until now) is to be a farrier, so paying attention to an elderly horse that lives alone is understandable.
When we returned to the park armed with apples, we again found Peachy close to the fence. It didn’t take much coaxing to get him to come once he lifted his nose to smell the fruit.
Now, wherever he is in his grassy domain, it takes only one long yell of “Peachy” and he’s on his way, trudging or trotting depending on how he feels.
Sometimes we’ll see a parent with a child or two in the park and invite them to join us. We show the kids how to stretch their hands flat with a carrot or apple slice resting in their palms. Some wonderful gene makes kids love to feed animals.
That was evident in two preschoolers Sunday.
Peachy gave Austin and Aaron Roberts the full show with a snort, a whinny and a gallop across the pasture.
Using nimble lips he slid morsels from their hesitant hands. They smiled and the older boy dug into the bag for more until it was empty.
Mary often surmises that we’ve made Peachy’s day when we bring him treats.
In this case, I think Peachy made the afternoon for a pair of little boys.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@