For the last four years, I’ve been involved in politics, protests, and purpose. I know more about this president’s* administration that I ever thought possible. It’s been a lot of bad news, punctuated occasionally with positive news for the side of good and for human rights. It’s been rather exhausting.
Just last week, I saw this picture (above) of a horse and young rider, nose to nose. The picture is not epic, just a girl and her horse. But something happened to me when I saw this photo. I started to have flashbacks; I was brought to tears. I realized what I’ve been missing is HORSE.
I exchanged messages with the originator of the post, and it turns out – that family is from North Dakota!
I remembered a lot of incredible experiences I’ve had over the years, hence…
My History With Horses
I remember watching this Philly-area TV show when I was about 5-6 years old. I remember Mom and Ang buying me a Sally Starr costume – vest, skirt (complete with fringes) and boots. I wore that outfit to bed. Mom didn’t want me to wear the boots to bed, Ang said, [sic] “Let her.”
Patches in the backyard
When I was about 8 years old, Ang rented a pony for my backyard birthday party. We had a pony in the backyard in suburban Wilmington! People came from far and wide. The pony’s name was Patches (skewbald or piebald, can’t remember which). But he was in my backyard.
Truitt’s Farm, Suburban Wilmington, Delaware
Just a mile or two from our home, there was a riding stable. The trail was short, but there was a barn with ponies and horses. Ang was scared of horses, but she took me anyway, probably because I begged. I rode. One time, I said I wanted to go bareback. She thought it was a bad idea. She was right. At the first turn in the trail, I lost my grip and fell into a pile of horse—t. I ruined a sweater.
Racetrack, in Maryland
I remember a time I went with Ang to a racetrack in Maryland, guests of her boss. Ang told me, “You pick the horses, I’ll place the bets.” My picks were personal – because I thought the horse was pretty, or I liked the name listed in the program. I picked seven winners (win, place, show) that day. Ang kept the bills and she gave me all the change.
Pony Club, Suburban Wilmington
Ang’s boss (same one from the racetrack) at the DuPont Company had some muckity-muck position in the DuPont Pony Club. I think Ang pulled strings to get me in, because otherwise, we’d never be able to afford it. I attended the DuPont Pony Club for three summers.
I learned about breeds, how to care for horses, how to curry, brush, comb horses, pick hooves, how to bridle and unbridle and saddle and unsaddle, and how to care for tack and barn equipment. Total bliss.
Maine Draught Horses
I lived in Maine briefly in the late 70s. A neighbor had two Percheron draught horses, and I was able to visit them occasionally. I got on once – with the aid of a stepladder. Those beasts were so huge, I felt like I was doing a split.
Carousel Farms, Delaware
Formerly the DuPont Pony Club mentioned above, now trail rides and instruction. It was nice to ride, but carefully orchestrated so not as fun as free range.
Thoroughbred in Maryland
I once rode a retired racehorse somewhere in Maryland – the Where and Why and What-fors are sketchy. I mounted, and it was like zero to a hundred in a car, only no seat or seatbelt. Actually, no steering wheel either – I lost the reins. Come to think of it, I lost both stirrups, too. It was terrifying and thrilling.
Campbell Soup Heiress
Somewhere in my late 30s/early 40s, I worked for a Campbell Soup heiress in Pennsylvania (filthy, stinking rich). Our crew cared for over a dozen horses, all with fancy, snooty show names. I never got to ride there, but it was good therapy, to curry, brush, bathe. And muck. And one of the most physically exhausting jobs I ever had.
In New Mexico
I hadn’t been on a horse in over a decade (probably closer to two decades). I went on a ride with a private owner, up around Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid). I remember we rode through town, right down the main street. Again, the galloping scared me, but I’d been out of practice for quite a while.
For those who have exercised muscles believed long dead, my thighs had a fire-breathing vengeance against me days later, and I thought I’d never walk normally again.
I’ve been bitten by horses, I’ve been stepped on and kicked, I’ve been squished up against the stall wall, and I’d still rather spend a few hours with a horse than with most people.
Do you have any experiences with horses? Share pictures!
Do you prefer English or Western?