WINNSBORO — Solemn brown eyes gazed up at the white-hatted cowboy leaning over her.
“Am I dreaming?” asked 10-year-old Lacie Earhart. Her gaze flickered to the crowd of people in her yard — grandparents, neighbors, friends, several strangers — then to the horse trailer parked in the driveway.
Moments earlier, the Pee Dee cowboy announced that he was there to deliver a Marsh Tacky filly to one Miss Lacie Earhart, if she could produce a certain raffle ticket. As Lacie raced back into the house to get the ticket, her mother explained how she purchased it.
The family was at the S.C. Horsemen’s Council Expo in Camden on Feb. 9. One of the major attractions was a yearling filly, donated by David Grant (the Pee Dee cowboy) as a fund-raiser for the horse council. Lacie fell in love with the filly immediately and asked her mom for money for a ticket.
“I told her no, we didn’t need another horse,” said Katie Langdale, a 4-H leader who owns Rosewood Farm in Winnsboro. “Later I gave the girls some money for lunch, and Lacie used her lunch money to buy a ticket anyway.”
Unbeknownst to her, someone at the filly’s booth had told Lacie to pray about the filly, because prayers are often answered.
So Lacie not only slept with the raffle ticket under her pillow for six months, she also prayed for the filly to become hers. On the day the winner was to be announced, she sat by the phone all day, waiting for the magic phone call.
But the day came and went, with no phone call and no filly. The winning ticket actually belonged to Lois Miller of Lexington — sort of. Board member Wendy Manos had purchased the ticket and given it to her friend Lois. Wendy’s name was on the back of the ticket.
Lois already had several horses and had just bred her prize mare to a champion stallion. Her budget wouldn’t allow for still another horse. She and Wendy talked it over with David Grant, the filly’s owner, and decided that a 4-H home would be ideal.
Katie’s name came up because of her work with the Fairfield County 4-H, then the story of young Lacie sleeping with her ticket — and praying every day.
The crew of “Horse Tales,” the television show produced by the Pee Dee Cowboy, decided to surprise Lacie. They loaded up the horse and the camera crew and drove to Winnsboro in pouring rain.
Even wet and bedraggled, the filly — appropriately named Mercy Southern Dream — was beautiful to Lacie. As David encouraged her to lead the young horse off the trailer, the reality began to sink it. “Is she really mine?” Lacie asked. Family members beamed as she led the horse around and began stroking her.
Marsh Tackys — the State Heritage Horse — are known for their kind disposition and good nature. Southern Dream lived up to her name as she calmly surveyed her new surroundings and gently snuffled Lacie’s hair. It was a match made in heaven.
Marsha Hewitt is an Equine Marketing Specialist with the S.C. Department of Agriculture.