Did you know that today is The Day of The Horse?
Hmmmm... on my calendar that comes 365 days of the year (and I'm noticing that Little Bird has the same calendar as I have).
I don't remember not wanting a horse. Every mechanical horse had to be ridden (and I knew were they all were...). Favorite ride at the carnival? The ponies of course. Favorite toy? Model horses... Breyer and Hartland, and just about any other I could find.
You tell a gelding,
Ask a stud,
Discuss it with a mare.
And if it's a pony...
you pray to God Almighty!
I probably learned more about 'staying on top' from that snotty Shetland than any other horse... from my very first ride on him.
That first time was supposed to be just a lead-line trip around the stable yard. One of step-grandfather's grand kids was leading Midget with me happy to my bones. Then that snotty pony jerked the line out of his hand!
Off we went to the pasture. I was younger than in the above photo and was afraid to 'bail out'. Whenever anyone came close to try to catch him, off we went at a canter. I was a little bit afraid but that rapidly changed to ecstatic... this was WONDERFUL!
That day was my first riding lesson. Step-grandfather walked out to the pasture; staying just outside the zone that sent Midge off, he quietly told what I was to do in order to control the pony. It wasn't too awfully long before I had that brat trotting in figure eights.
After that many rides were taken... and never again on a lead line!
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a (wo)man.
It didn't take long before I was too tall to ride Midge any more. He was given to a family with small kids and I graduated up to riding Bozo, Step-grandfather's grade Quarter Horse gelding.
Since I was too small to hoist the heavy Western saddle onto his back, I did without. Bozo and I were all over that farm. As I grew more confident in my ability, I was soon hopping over fallen logs and narrow ditches. Yes... bareback. I could stick to him like a burr!
"A girl's place is on a horse."
I've told Himself that Dutchman is the reason we are married. Not my horse, he belonged to a classmate... who became a friend largely because she had him. Said friend ended up marrying Himself's brother and we were both in the wedding party. Fourteen months later we were married.
"Throw your heart over the fence and your horse will follow it."
After we married, we lived at Ft. Bragg for four years. During that time I took 'hunt seat' riding lessons on a schooling horse. Cam had a nice jump and a cast iron mouth. Riding him was like trying to hold in a tractor!
"If you've never fallen off a horse... you probably haven't been riding long enough."
Storm (aka Bud)
Once we came to Ft. Campbell I started volunteering to work at the stables for free riding. At that time it was great. Miles and miles of trails through the woods and you could go out without a guide.
I got the chance to 'lease' Storm in exchange for preparing him to be one of the stables new trail horses. I got him just a week or so after Himself was deployed to Desert Storm (his unit was one of the first in). Having Storm gave me something to do.
The above photo was taken about an hour, maybe two, before my first 'horse wreck'. I was coming back from an organized overnight trail ride. One of the stable employees broke every rule in the book... she let friends come along free... and one brought a stallion. At one point the stud was freaking out over a mare who had come into season. Storm had not been all that long been a gelding, and thought he had something to add to the 'conversation'. He was seriously trash-talking at the stud. I got him away to the back of the group when the stud must have said some thing like "Yo mama was a plow horse!". Storm yelled back... both reared up and Storm, who was on an incline KEPT going up... and over. I bailed as fast as I could but he ended up landing across my left hip and thigh.
My first trip to the ER and he had to be trailered back to the stables. Saddle was busted all to pieces.
Long story short, I had no breaks but was black/blue/green/red from calf to shoulder blade, with a damaged nerve sheath that runs under my hip. Storm was lame for a couple weeks. Five weeks later I was released to ride again. I continued training Storm for another 5 months, then he was placed out on the stable line where he was considered a very well behaved mount.
"Every rider has that one special horse... that one horse who changes everything about them."
My once-in-a-lifetime horse.
Plain as a mud fence, with a bull neck and a Roman nose.
She would do anything for you and had more sense than most people I know. She could be sassy when I rode her, but put a child up on her and she was a gentle as you could ever want. There's not a horse on this planet that I would have taken over her. I lost her to laminitis.
The hole is still there in my soul.