I was one of those horse-crazy little girls who lived in town, just close enough to fields to dream about riding across them, but without the possibility of having a horse of my own. My parents indulged my obsession enough to buy me all kinds of plastic miniature horses, until I had a collection covering my long, low dresser. The prize in my horse collection was an antique china horse made from a single mold that my grandmother had found in a thrift store in Seattle. It was chocolate brown, shiny and, in my eyes, represented the perfect chestnut horse. I dreamed of that horse, and probably the most upset I ever was as a teenager was when my little brothers' babysitter's daughter (whose name was Cookie) went into my room and smashed it to smitherins. When I came home from school that afternoon and found it, I cried bloody murder so loudly you might have thought a real animal had been brutalized--and perhaps that's how I felt. Soon after, my dad put a lock high on the doors of all our rooms to protect them from the clutching hands of chubby little Cookies, but it was too late to save my beloved--shattered--antique horse.
In junior high, I also had the privilege of riding three out of four weekends a month. Loved it. LOVED it. The smell of the leather saddle and horse together, the feel of hot, sometimes sweaty horse beneath me, the sounds of the snorting and whinnying. The height from which I looked at the world on the saddle. If I close my eyes, it all comes rushing back at me. Somewhere inside there is still that twelve-year-old girl who loves to climb onto the back of a beautiful giant who will do her bidding with the flick of reins. I was even allowed to take riding lessons in a tiny riding rink in the tiny town of Albion, which might be considered a suburb of Pullman to those of you who don't know the difference. With a couple of friends, I rode in circles around an extremely dusty rink, learned to trot, canter, post and even do certain tricks with 'our' horses. My horse was a beautiful grey and white Appalousa that actually belonged to a friend. Its name was Homache, though that's just a guess about spelling. After class, we'd ride through that small town and across the fields, no matter what time of year, and it was the most free feeling, the sound of the horse's hooves and the wind blowing back my hair as we galloped. Truly my first love.
It's been years since I've been able to ride. And sometimes it breaks my heart that this is so. The nerve pain I live with daily would not allow for a hard saddle and my left leg straight down in a stirrup. But the love is still there. These days I ride vicariously through my daughters when they ride with my nieces who have had the privilege--the extreme luxury!--of riding all of their lives. I love knowing these women are horsewomen, even my city-dwelling daughters.
For me, my horse fix comes only this way:
|Petting Turk, the draft horse who pulled buggy at my niece's wedding.|
Isn't he gorgeous? How about a close-up? Even now that I'm earthbound, I hold horses firmly in my heart.
| Mick and me. Kind of like beauty and the beast...|