These are a few of my favorite things:
H is for Horses.
|I ♥ horses!|
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love horses. I suppose it was typical of many other little girls, but no other little girls that I knew, growing up in a suburb of Detroit in the ’60’s and ’70’s, loved horses like I did. I wanted nothing more than to live on a little farm and have a horse…or two. I loved horses then and I love horses now.
I loved every breed of horse, but I had my favorite. Being a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and, if you know anything about her, you will wonder why I didn’t choose the Morgan horse as my first love.
Laura looked up, surprised to see the brown Morgans. Young Mr. Wilder stood by the buggy, his cap in one hand. He held out his other hand to her and said, “Like a ride to the schoolhouse? You’ll get there quicker.”
He took her hand, helped her into the buggy, and stepped in beside her. Laura was almost speechless with surprise and shyness and the delight of actually riding behind those beautiful horses. They trotted gaily but very slowly and their small ears twitched, listening for the word to go faster. – Chapter 16, Name Cards – Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I had a great respect for Indians though and, because of that, I fell in love with the Appaloosa breed.
Laura was excited about the ponies. There were black ponies, bay ponies, gray and brown and spotted ponies. Their little feet went trippety-trip-trip, trippety-trip, all along the Indian trail. Their nostrils widened at Jack and their bodies shied away from him, but they came on bravely, looking with their bright eyes at Laura
“Oh, the pretty ponies! See the pretty ponies!” she cried, clapping her hands. “Look at the spotted one.” – Chapter 24, Indians Ride Away – Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
And guess what! I was lucky enough to see my dream realized, if only for a few years.
When I was fifteen, my parents made the decision to move out of the city to the country and I could get a horse! My father was raised on a farm and those roots ran deep. He loved country living as much as I did (and still do). Some of the best memories with my dad are those that we spent together in those years of “farm” living.
My parents first rented a house on what used to be a large, working farm. I was in heaven. When I look back on my childhood (or maybe teenagerhood), the months spent there were some of the best. This farm had the cutest little farmhouse with window seat in the kitchen and a converted attic bedroom that I shared with my sister. It had an old hip roof barn with a huge hayloft that was ideal for hiding or daydreaming. There was a chicken coop, which we very quickly filled with chickens! And…out by the road was a white picket fence. I fell in love with this place the very first time that I saw it.
The best part? The owners had two very large horses (part draft horse) and a pony. I was told that we could ride them whenever we wanted as long as I took care of them. Words can’t even describe how happy I was.
We very quickly found out that these horses were not the best riding horses and they were very gun-shy. My sister and I found this out the hard way, on what started out being an enjoyable trail ride through the woods…until we heard gunshots. The horses ran all the way back to the barn. My sister was thrown, badly injuring her knee. I don’t know how I stayed on and was very thankful when the horses stopped short of jumping over the fence when we finally reached the barn.
It was after this that my parents bought me Rachel, my spotted pony. She was a small, gray dapple Appaloosa and I loved her.
|My little Rachel. I loved her despite her quirks. ♥|
Now I wanted the whole horsey experience. We found a riding instructor, who also happened to lead a 4-H group. I spent much of that summer staying with this family learning all I needed to know about everything horses. This family took me in and trained me. I took lessons from the parents and oldest son, I trail rode with the daughters, and they all became my friends.
|If you know anything about horses, you will know that that’s a beautiful Arabian nearer the camera. I was riding my trusty mare, Rachel, in the opening parade of the 1976 Armada 4-H Fair.|
When I look back on that spring and summer, it’s like I was living a dream. I compare it to being on an extended vacation. I embraced my life. I lived in the country, I lived on a farm, I loved the little house that we lived in with the attic bedroom. I spent only the last two months of my sophomore year in high school going to the school there. This was so very difficult for a shy person like me, but even the kids were the friendliest I’d ever met. I made friends very quickly and even went on my first couple of dates. The whole time there was magical…
|Rachel and I leaving our halter class at the Armada Fair. My mom didn’t seem to take pictures during my riding classes.|
My parents wanted to buy a house. So, the hunt began and a house was soon found. I would have to switch schools for my last two years of high school. I had to leave my 4-H group as we were moving to a different county and the other was too far away. I would still have my Rachel though!
|My mom made this beautiful “thank you” cake for the family who were my instructors/trainers/mentors/second family for the summer of 1976.|
We made the move and, over time, other horses came into my life. I loved them all. I wanted to spend my life working with horses. I was so very naive. But, at that time, horses were my life and my life was all about horses.
|Pokey was actually my sister’s horse. She boarded with us and I showed her. And I broke my arm being thrown from her. I’ll save that story for a whole ‘nother post!|
I joined the equestrian team in my last two years of high school and competed.
|Chief was my baby. I got him as a yearling gelding. It was my intention to train and show him. I only ever ended up showing him in halter classes.|
I must confess. I never showed well. I loved my horses. I loved to ride. But I got the worst butterflies when I showed. I loved it and I hated it. But I really did love it. I loved being a part of the horsey circles!
|Chief loved a good roll. This is from a snowy day, but he really loved a good muddy roll. Very difficult to keep a mostly white horse clean when he loves to roll in the mud!|
|Leaving a halter class with Chief. I had such high hopes.|
In the end, as life would have it, things happened and the life we had there on that little horse farm weren’t so rosy as they had started out. It had a profound effect on me and I made many mistakes. And I had to end up giving up my horses.
|Sparkles, my Appaloosa mare, was supposed to be the beginning of my “real” horse farm. I wanted to eventually breed her.|
You know, I can’t have any regrets though. If I wouldn’t have met the wrong boy and gotten married, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant with my beautiful daughter. Nothing could ever make me regret the way my life changed because of her! And, because of becoming a mother who loved her baby so very much, I found the courage to grow up and leave an abusive relationship. The path I took then lead me to being introduced to Jim and living my happily ever after. And that’s another story for another day! ☺
I spent many years, while having such good horse memories, trying to bury that lifetime. One day I finally realized that, with or without horses in my life, I will always love them. Nothing can change that.
Oh, my future horse plans? Besides giving a home to a rescue horse, I want to write a horse book. Just like the ones I enjoyed when I was a young girl. It may never be published, but it is my goal to write it, if only for myself…☺