Me & Horses

I buried myself in books written by Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley long before I could be near horses regularly, aside from the occasional visit to one on a relative's or friend's property. When I was twelve, I started working at a riding stable which also did trail rides. I learned to care for the horses from a lady who loved teaching us. She also started us in Western saddle before we learned English. I rode Western almost a year and returned to it often. 

Her horses were used for public trail rides and for her lessons, so it was our job to bring the horses into the arena and remind them of their cues so they could remain riding horses. We also took out the trails, so during the summer I might spend 5-6 hours a day, a few days a week, in the saddle. We also did all the stalls and tacked up the horses and fed. 

My first horse was a young, green Pony of the Americas: not a good match for me theoretically, but I'd fallen in love with him and was already working as a paper girl and saving quarters in a jar to buy him. My family surprised me with him on my 13th Birthday! He was dun, with a dark dorsal stripe and stripes across the back of his front legs. He had a white patch on his forehead. I think he liked me, too! We had both come to the stable at about the same time. I had him for three months before a barn fire one January night claimed his life, and the lives of 10 other horses.

We rallied as a group after that, and the stable changed location. Meanwhile, my Mom and I tried again: we purchased a tall gray Appaloosa mare who was a little older and more experienced. We named her Misty Morning. Once she learned to trust me, I could ask her to do anything. I think she loved me a lot more than I ever realized. 

I did not enjoy showing very much. Trail riding is a nice break, but I love arena work. I'm not much into jumping- I like working on slowing a horse down, and all aspects of riding. I think my current horse would enjoy dressage. I don't know if we'll ever get a chance to learn it together! But...

He is an off-track Thoroughbred named Dreamport (Jockey Club) but we usually call him Dream. He came to live with us at age 6 in spring 2007. I'd just had a big familial loss, unexpected- he was the answer to having something else to think about. There is no question that he saved my sanity. He lives on my property with me.  

I am glad that before my marriage, I worked for a season at a racetrack as a hot walker, because I know what Dream's life was like for the 2 years in which he raced. They let me gallop a racehorse on the track, once- ponied: a real "bucket-list" moment for me. Then I started galloping their Thoroughbreds on a farm. That was great! 

While my children's father attended graduate school in North Carolina, I rode his major-professor's horses a bit- or brought my children for pony rides on them. I couldn't always ride, because I was expecting a child, usually! 

When we first moved to Vermont, we purchased a Welsh-Morgan pony cross as a foal. Her name was Ebony. She is the only horse I have started, but because of her I began learning Natural Horsemanship. She spent her 4 yr. old summer with a young boy who was learning to train the same way. Then, I used John Lyon's teachings. She was doing great, and we could take her anyplace. But we lost her to a sudden colic in fall, 2011. 

Dream's contract stipulates that he always have an equine buddy, so Ginger, a Morgan-Connemara, came to live with us after Ebony died. (We had a friend's Halflinger here for 2 weeks until Ginger joined us.) Ging' is a little younger than Dreamer and a wonderful mare and a beautiful bay lady. She absolutely fell in love with my daughter, who was only 9 when we brought her here under a free lease. That was the autumn before my children lost their father suddenly in the following spring, 2012. 

My daughter is riding and volunteering at a great, local stable. I'm so happy to see her coming home excited from her work. Although we have our 2 horses 'in the backyard,' I think the stable environment is good support. Also, at her age, riding a bunch of different horses really adds to one's skill as a rider. My daughter is enjoying riding, but her passion also seems to be doing groundwork with the equines on the farm. 

A couple of my sons really liked the horses. We did some riding when they were younger. I was usually a busy Mom with toddlers and babies- so I hope any who need to, find their way to horses again. 

If you love horses, when you look back, you may see the story is a lot more cohesive than you might think. I guess they have always been a part of my life, in one form or another. One of my favorite quotes about horses is: they have no pretense. To me, that makes being around them really, really safe-- because what you see is what you get!

Zechariah 1:11

11 Then the horses spoke to the Lord’s angel standing among the myrtle bushes and said, “We have walked here and there on the earth, and everything is calm and quiet.”