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Mississippi Man's First Manuscript Makes Chicken Soup by Nancy Brannon It was a writer's dream come true. Tom Maupin had been laid off from work and was surveying some job opportunities on the Internet, when he came across a web site soliciting transcripts for a Chicken Soup book. He considered writing a story about his daughter's experience with a particularly special horse and decided, "what the hay?" He set his mind to writing and in about twenty minutes had completed the story of his daughter's life changing experience. His wife was out of town at the time, caring for her ailing mother, and did not know about the story until it had already been submitted. Maupin had no idea that his story might actually get published, but within two months of submittal, he received an e-mail message that it had made the "first cut," he says. Then three months later he received positive confirmation that his story would be published. His would be one of about 90 stories accepted out of the thousands submitted. "This was my first attempt at writing, so I guess I'd better quit while I'm ahead," Maupin quips. "Old Twist" is the story of his daughter Stacy's special horse experience that appears in the new book, Chicken Soup For The Horse Lover's Soul. Stacy "had a bad experience and terrifying fall with a runaway horse." But a gentle old quarter horse named TWIST helped Stacy overcome her fear, regain her confidence with horses, and get back to riding. TWIST, is a chestnut quarter horse gelding, now officially retired and living on Sweet Dreams Farm in Byhalia, Mississippi. His owner and caretaker, Shirley Mathews, cannot say enough good things about her experience owning and knowing this horse. TWIST was foaled May 4, 1974 and named WIMPY'S LEO TWIST. Over the years of his life he has been a solid, gentle companion to several owners. Mathews bought him several years ago from Penny Shields, formerly of Rossville, who had owned him for 14 years. She was moving up north and did not think TWIST could take the harsh winters. So she searched for a good home for him. Mathews was looking for a horse for her 18-year-old daughter at the time, but was not ready to buy. She decided to "adopt" a horse to see how things would work out with the horse and her daughter. Her daughter fell in love with him and she has owned him ever since. The chestnut quarter horse is Mathews' trail riding horse and she has always found him safe and sure. Maupin and his wife Crystal are avid trail riders, too. They do not go to horse shows or even endurance rides, but strictly trail ride. They do, however, go to organized trail rides and go to places like the Natchez Trace or Chickasaw State Park for the weekend. Maupin says his daughter Stacy "loves animals. We got into horses when she was about 7 or 8 years old. My wife, Crystal, and I both ride, although she gets to ride more often than I do." "TWIST loves to go, to trail ride," says Mathews. In fact, Crystal was the privileged rider to take him on his last trail ride. She rode him for "a gruelling five hours on the Snowy River Road at Natchez Trace in 18 degree temperatures. But he never faltered and he kept up with even the younger horses, at his ripe old age of 29 years." To Mathews, TWIST seems to have an uncanny sense of what's going on and an almost Lassie-like ability to know when something is wrong. She tells an interesting story about TWIST'S "horse sense" on a recent trail ride. Whenever the group goes on trail rides, the horses are always tethered to a picket line. "Crystal's horse got loose once and TWIST whinnied and made such a fuss that we knew something was wrong. He essentially told us that her horse had gotten loose. We caught him, tied him back up and when he got loose a second time, TWIST told on him again!" Mathews says "TWIST is a great baby- sitter for other horses and for children. He has never been aggressive. He has been a great pleasure to me and to a lot of other people. He has been the first horse to ride for a lot of people and always gives them a good experience. I'm really privileged to be his owner." TWIST is retired now, so "all he has to do is eat and graze in the pasture. He has always been sound and very safe on trails. Even now he isn't on any kind of joint medication or supplements, except Senior Diet. He doesn't have any health problems." TWIST, though a little sway-backed and hairy even in the summer, still gets around quite well for an old man. He comes into the barn to check on a foal and her dam and to see what the humans are up to. Who says horses don't have soul? They are, indeed, nourishment for the horse lover's soul.

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