Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If Wishes Were Horses.......

If you were a horse crazy little girl (or boy) like I was, then you'll understand my story.  As long as I can remember, I've loved horses.  I begged my mother to ride as soon as I could comprehend what a horse was and when I was eight, after two very long years of ballet (which I detested) I rode two days a week.  Nothing fancy, the area I lived in was not a horsey at all.  My first horse show I still remember vividly.  My instructor told me I probably would not win the walk trot class that was entered but the blue ribbon came home with me that day and the silver plate I won with it still occupies a place of importance on a bookshelf.  The plate is real silver and is adorned with the horse show's initials and year, 1971.

That's me on the right at that show, carrying a bucket of water for Angel Face, the pony of choice that day.  My sister Sally is on the left. 
The fever never subsided, despite my parents' secret wishes. No one in my family was horsey or even terribly athletic way back then. All I wanted to do was ride and show.  Nothing else. Money was not plentiful - we were by no means poor, but I wanted to ride and show and go to all those places I read about in my bible, The Chronicle of the Horse.  That was never going to happen for me.

I read the Chronicle cover-to-cover every week and knew the name of every famous pony and horse of the period - Shenandoah Opal, Gozzi, Ruxton, Stocking Stuffer, just to name a few.   I knew who all the riders were and the places they went. I wanted to live in Virginia where much of my secret world took place.

I begged my parents for a horse. It literally took years but one day my father finally succumbed to his crazed daughter, realizing that the addiction was not going away and that it could be far worse than horses.  My budget was $400.  My instructor pleaded for the fancy $2000 chestnut large pony (ponies were cheap back in the 70's) but father was firm.  Misty was not fancy, she was a very good mover and jumper but pretty, not so much. I was still in horse heaven.  My world became the barn. She was a buckskin Quarter Horse pony, only four when I got her, but the few years I had with her were pure bliss.


I mucked stalls to help pay for her keep.  We did not get to show much, there were very few shows in my area back then but when we did, we always brought home ribbons. My dad loved to show them off to his friends.  It was a golden time in many ways, innocence, longing for a lot more but appreciating what I had as it took so long to get it. My pony years ended as my education took over and knew that I had too many things on my plate.  Misty was sold.  I never saw her again but I love her as much as I love the three horses I now have.

Now firmly planted in middle age, I appreciate my time in the ring more than most, as I often think about all those years of longing to ride under the oaks at Upperville, at Warrenton, Keswick, all the places I read about in my youth.  When I jog into the ring at those places now with Alfie in tow, sometimes I want to pinch myself. And those ribbons hanging in my tack room really belong to me, not a girl I read about in the Chronicle.  Is this really me?   Wishes are horses - for a horse crazed girl and for a somewhat astonished adult.  I did get my entire dream after all, even though it took quite a long time.  It was worth the effort.  Never ever quit dreaming.  Ever.


  1. I didn't get my horse until, by 'good' fortune, someone rear ended my car 'totaling' it but leaving it still drive-able... the obvious choice to that new college grad was 'buy a horse!'.
    22 years later, and 4 years into his retirement, I'm seriously contemplating whether it would have been better to have never loved at all, for surely our days together on this Earth are numbered and the choices before me are hard ones.
    I never got to those places of my childhood dreams [Devon for one, though I was there as a groom at DAD], but the places my horse did take me were probably more rewarding than my dream places would have been. It's about the journey after all, right?
    Thanks for sharing the story of your journey... it was a wonderful way to start this day.

    1. It is totally about the journey. Some are short, others not so much...

  2. This is wonderfully written. So lovely that you made your childhood dreams come true. Not many do...

  3. What an absolutely lovely story! I was blessed to grow up in a horsey family, but I try not to take for granted every day I have with my four horses. Thank you for sharing!

  4. What a great story! I just picked up the book "The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses" and I am really enjoying it and learning a lot. For some reason, now that I am 38 years-old, I seem to have a strong desire to be around horses as much as possible. I go to my daughter's riding classes and and help the instructor when I can. I am going to start riding lessons next week. I am nervous and have some fears I need to conquer but, I am also so very excited. It is inspiring to hear your story and see what other strong women are capable of doing. I am definitely behind on the game but, I am thrilled I have found this connection with the horses that seems to give my life a little more meaning.

    I hope you are healing well and back out there soon! I really enjoy your blog and hope to continue learning more about the horse world every day.

  5. that was, once again, a beautiful story.

    I too, was a horse crazy girl. I can relate to your story well :) We were poor, and you would think it wouldn't turn out well, but I ended up having an International career that I have never regretted, with several self produced OTTB's.

    I started at a later age, and my first show was 1972 :) I did not win but the next year at the same show, I did. It was my first cup and I still have it as well. A silver mug for hunt seat equitation. Some things are unforgettable - like watching Secretariat live....or winning your first win. hahahaha.

    It is great to hear how you never take it for granted. Me neither, and I am soooo appreciative of the road I chose. It has made my life complete.

    I stumbled upon your blog and I am always refreshed by it. Thank you so much for your efforts.

    "Pearce" (aka)

    1. I love your story too! Those memories never fade do they? We're lucky we have them aren't we?


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