I can't pinpoint the moment that I
became obsessed fell in love with horses. It might have been when someone pointed to a picture of a horse when I was a toddler. I'm not sure my parents could even tell you. But I was one of those madly in love with horses kind of kid. And I couldn't have one for the longest time. For some reason, the city frowns on you keeping one in your backyard. Not sure why . . .
I used to ask Santa every year for a horse and each year I was denied. I usually got everything else I asked for, but thankfully for my parents, Santa realized that horses cost a lot of money and when I was little, we didn't have that kind of money. Or space.
I was the girl who always had a horse book in my hands. I read the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley dozens of times. If it wasn't about horses, I didn't read it. At least, not until I was about 12. I was a sponge when it came to learning about them.
When I was 13, my parents decided to move out of Redding and find a place that had a few acres for some elbow room. The house they chose has a corral with a two stall barn and attached tack/hay room. From the minute we drove in I knew it was home and that somehow I'd finally get that horse I'd always wanted.
My grandparents had gifted me riding lessons when I was about 10 or 11. I don't think you could have found a happier kid at the time. I was on cloud 9. Eventually it got too expensive and I had to stop going. After we moved to the three acres, my parents found another gal that taught horseback riding. When it, too, became expensive, my parents asked if I could work for my lessons by cleaning stalls and whatnot. Their idea was to work my ass off and make me realize I didn't want to deal with the mess and work that comes with horse. Boy did I prove them wrong. Whatever that woman threw at me, I did it. I mucked stalls - nasty stalls, with the smell of ammonia burning my nostrils. And still I wanted to ride and I wanted my own.
That instructor caught wind of a horse for sale, an Arabian mare named Kassie. She herself hated Arabs, instead preferring Morgans. However, this horse was her exception because she had helped the owner train it. I went for a test ride and fell in love. My parents bought her for me, and I owned her for 6 years. We even got a baby out of it, as we bred her a year later.
I eventually had to sell Kassie when I moved off for college. It broke my heart. The little one, O'My, was sent to live at Papa D's ranch. I get to see her now almost every morning. She's about 14 now. In fact, she just had a birthday yesterday.
Having my horses taught me hard work. Every weekend I was out cleaning the corral, creating a big manure pile in one corner. We'd give the pile away to friends who wanted fertilizer. My horses made some good shit. Rain or shine, I'd do my chores. I rode nearly every day in good weather. They were my responsibility. My parents pitched in only when needed, like when I was gone one summer for a school trip. I took a few falls, and got right back on, no matter how freaked out I was. My ego was always more bruised than my butt - which I always seemed to land on. Better than my head, I suppose.
My enthusiasm may have waned a little over the years, but I love horses just as much as I did as a kid. I just realize now that they cost a lot of money - to purchase, to feed, and buy supplies for. Hopefully when the weather gets better and the ground isn't so apt to break an ankle, I might get to ride one of Papa D's horses, Cloud. I know she hasn't been ridden in quite awhile, but she's in her late teens, and a good age for me to "get back in the saddle".
I love all animals, but there's just something about horses. I can't quite put my finger on it. They're beautiful, majestic, kind, and cuddly. I love their smell. I love the smell of a barn. I love the smell of a tack store. After the bites, the attempted kicks, the being stepped on, the falls, the attitudes - I still love them. There's not much that can top a horse hug. Or a horse kiss. Or a horse pillow.