When and Why you Started Riding
I started riding real horses when I was about seven years old. Before that, I galloped down the dirt road by my house on Thunder. Thunder also took me back into the woods, along a creek and across little wooden bridges. Thunder was usually a beautiful black horse, but sometimes he was other colors, too. He jumped twigs across our path like a champion, and could out run anything, except my sister. She was four years older than me, so her horse was pretty fast. Whenever they passed us, I would pretend that Thunder and I were taking it easy, not that my shorter kid legs couldn't keep up with my sister's longer legs.
As I got a little older, my sister tried to convince me that my bike could be a horse, too. I wasn't too excited about learning to ride a bike, but eventually I learned. After that, I could pedal super fast and then coast with my eyes closed, feeling the wind rush past my face and pretending that Thunder was causing it. He was a good horse, until having an imaginary horse just wasn't good enough anymore.
Then I started taking riding lessons from a lady named Patti, who had a program called Horses for Hearts. She did group lessons where she taught safety, grooming, and eventually, riding. They were group lessons, but I only remember being there with a group for the first time we went. That was the day I raised my hand to ask if we would be galloping that day. I was seven. Patti started to chuckle until she saw how serious I was. I was worried about it but thought it would be exciting; I wanted to know if it was on the agenda. She choked back a smile and told me no, no galloping today.
The horse I took lessons on was a Welsh Mountain pony aptly named Snowball. Snowball was technically gray, but I would call her white. Most of her coat was white, except for her black nose. She was round and sweet, a perfect child's beginner pony. As I learned more about steering and control, I was able to ride Pepper a few times, her slightly bigger Pony of the Americas. My sister got to ride Reggie, and I was super jealous of her. Reggie was a tall, elegant black Tennessee Walking horse. I thought he was the most beautiful horse, and quietly pined to ride him. He was for older kids though, and I never got the chance.
|Me on Snowball, my sister on Reggie|
Before I married Justin, I had my horse conversation with him. Patti's story stuck with me as such a tragedy, I couldn't get married without making sure that Justin would know exactly what he was signing up for. I told him that I would be willing to make compromises, and work things out to the best of my ability, but the horses would stay. I told him that he could never tell me to get rid of them, and if he did, he probably wouldn't like my answer. I was scared to have this conversation, but more scared of not having it and regretting not being more clear down the road. He told me he understood, he loved that I was so passionate about horses, and that he would always support me in having them.
I have loved horses since before I can remember. I read every horse book my elementary school library had, and even convinced the librarian to purchase more. I was a lucky girl that my parents were able to give me riding lessons starting at such a young age, and I am a lucky woman to still have a horse in my life. His name isn't Thunder anymore, but he's beautiful, black and best of all- real.