Monday, February 23, 2009

How It All Started

I had the horse bug for as long as I could remember. I grew up loving horses, collecting posters and figurines. I begged my parents to take me riding to no avail. Every farm we passed in the car I would press my face against the glass and just dream of being with them and riding them and trying to figure out what breed they were. I was obsessed with reading as much as I could about horses. The Saddle Club and the Thoroughbred series were a main stay in my book case. It wasn't until I was almost 11 years old that my grandfather knew of a woman locally that taught lessons and he told my parents about her. I was so excited about riding. My parents bought me rubber riding boots and I was convinced that they needed to be broken in and went all around outside and in the house wearing them. I didn't have a helmet of my own and only had my bicycle helmet to wear. The day of my first lesson arrived and I was waiting anxiously. All of a sudden the phone rang and it was my instructor calling to say that she had to cancel my lesson because her son had gotten in a soccer accident. I was crushed and immediately shut myself in my room and cried. It was devastating to have to wait another whole week before I could see, feel, touch and best of all ride a horse.

Finally I put on my rubber boots and it was time for my lesson. It was a small farm with only 2 horses. They were arabians. On the drive to the farm my mom told me that the first lesson would be learning how to groom and tack up and that I may not even ride at all, I had fully prepared myself for not riding, but the prospect of just touching their soft bodies and looking into their eyes of heaven enough. I was to ride a 14.2 hand bay arabian mare named Davah who had one eye. I was told that she lost her eye in a freak accident several years ago. I didn't care, I thought she was beautiful. I learned about grooming and leading a horse. I learned how to lift the County dressage saddle on her back and do the girth. The bridle was a complete mystery to me, but I watched in fascination. With eyes wide and a shaky voice I asked my instructor if I was actually going to ride, she looked at me and laughed and said "ofcourse". I had never been on a real horse before. My only other contact with equines was pony rides at the fair that I kept going back to even after my parents wouldn't give me any more money to do and just watch the other children ride.

Sitting astride a horse, and an arabian nonetheless was an exhilirating experience. I attentively listened to my instructor and tried to make my body do all of the tasks that were asked even though they seemed so hard. I remember trying to find my balance as the horse lurched forward at a walk. I was on the end of a long line which for an entire year I thought was called a "lunch line" After that first lesson I was riding high. My dream was finally coming true. As we put Davah away together I looked at her eagerly and asked her if I was ever going to be a good rider someday. She paused for a brief second and said that I would probably never be a great rider, but she would make it so I could stay on. Now everyone that I tell that to now thinks that was the meanest thing she could have ever said, but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. her words are what lit the fire under me and kept me wanting more and to learn more and ride anything that I could. I look back today and realize that I had absolutely no natural talent for riding. But it makes me proud to know that everything that I have learned has been the hard way and well earned. I continued to take lessons for a whole year and then started to earn lessons by doing chores at the barn as her herd grew. I clearly remember lugging water buckets half full twice because I couldn't pick up a full one. I never got my first horse of my own until I was 23. I was lucky enough to half lease a horse at the barn for 6 years previous that I considered my own. Horses have and always will be my life blood and the thing that keeps me ticking on the inside. SOmetimes when I get busy or riding gets to be just one more thing on the to do list I need to slow things down and remember why I love these crazy things in the first place. and no guy that I meet or get involved with will ever take their place in my heart.

5 comments:

cdncowgirl said...

I too was horse crazy from an early age, in a non-horse family.
I distinctly remember watching eagerly for a glimpse of a horse anytime my parents were driving in the country.
Everyone thought it was 'just a phase' and that I'd grow out of it... ummm NO.

Laura said...

Me too - horse crazy central! lol I had books, toys, everything you could think of....

Sounds like you got started in a great barn and grew with them. I think leasing is a great way to get started...

I tried to tell myself that horses were a phase that I went through as a kid, but as it turns out, I just couldn't stay away!

Samphony said...

It must be a genetic thing with all of us. I had the bug bad as well and still do. Rode a "stick" around the yard for my horse until my friend actually got a real one. I pretty much became part of her family at that point. I'd also hang out in the belt rack at JCPenny just sniffing the leather when we'd go school shopping. At 28, I leased a QH for a year then moved away to Maine. I bought that horse, my first, at age 32. Added 3 more eventually over time and don't see myself without them for as long as I am able to tend them.

Mickey said...

awww, sweet story. I'm a horse nut too, and always will be. I'm right there with ya! :o)

SillyPony said...

OMG this story is freakishly similar to how I got started riding! But my Dino was a gray Arab gelding who still had both is eyes and I rode in a bareback pad the first lesson. Weird!