Sunday, December 05, 2010

Thoughts about horses

Warning - exceedingly long, meandering post ahead! Since this is my journal, sometimes I like to write down my thoughts so someday I can look back on them, and see just what the heck I was thinking.

Since I was a little girl, I have loved horses. Don't most little girls? I read books about them, drew pictures of them, collected Breyer horses, and in general obsessed about them, to the point where in 5th grade my teachers told me I couldn't write anymore stories about horses! My parents even had the supremely bad idea that they would get me a pony when I was little, and took me to test ride a friend's little shetland pony, which I fell off of, prompting my overprotective mom to forbid any pursuit of my horse interest again as too dangerous.


I still have mixed feelings about this. Like, if I had somehow gotten access to horses and learned to ride at that age, it would have been wonderful, and a skill I would have enjoyed my whole life, instead of merely longing to be involved in horses from the sidelines. But my parents were not the sort of attentive folks who could have taken me to riding lessons, nor could they have afforded it. I don't know what they were thinking when we went to check out the pony - we lived on a small lot in the suburbs. Maybe they figured it could stay on my grandparents larger lot. At the time we were unincorporated, and there was a horse living right down the street from us, so it's not too crazy an idea, but for them to have taken care of a horse? They couldn't take care of themselves, their children or their dogs, a horse would have been a disaster. But I'm sure their hearts were in the right place. Actually, I'm sure Dad's heart was in the right place, because I would just about bet it was all his idea, and Mom went along right up to the point where I fell off. For a long time I couldn't help but blame myself for missing my only chance to have a horse by being too clumsy to stay on!



I never got closer to a horse than petting one over the fence, until i took a trail ride with the outdoor club in college. Then nothing again for a long time. I have friends with horses, but they never actually ride them, they are just pets. A couple years ago I finally took the leap to get involved, and took lessons for about 6 months until my teacher quit and moved to another barn. It was fun because I really liked my teacher, there were some nice calm lesson horses, and the stables was literally around the corner, with a big covered arena to work in. She let me stay as long as I wanted and only charged me for the half hour, and sometimes I'd be there for two hours, just hanging out and talking and riding around the arena. I finally had my fix to my horsey longings, and I looked forward to my lessons every week.  I even went in on the weekend to help her out and muck out the stalls. Yes, I am so horse obsessed that I enjoyed mucking out the stalls!



I learned some important things about horses. They're big - bigger than you think until you're up close to them, or on top of them. Riding is a lot higher up than it seems - and yes, I did fall off to test that distance. Horses can be unpredictable and spook and test your balance and ability to stay on them. They can also have fun horsey personalities that test your balance and ability to stay on them :) But they are also wonderful, and warm and there's something really amazing about sitting on one, even just sitting still and having that connection with this huge animal.I enjoyed getting to lessons early and brushing the horses out, and if the horse I rode was already brushed out or working in the arena, I'd go brush out some other horse. It's just fun to be with a horse.


The real downside is that everyone I know who is involved in horses has stories to tell about horrible accidents they've had with them. After my riding teacher moved I hadn't heard from her in awhile so I got in touch and found out a horse at the new barn had tripped over his own feet while she was riding around the arena and fell on her, crushing her leg and leaving her laid up for months. Another friend's horse got spooked by someone using a leaf blower, and he spun around and kicked her in the stomach, resulting in emergency surgery. Another friend had been kicked in the jaw and had permanent scars from having her jaw wired shut while it healed. It seemed everyone I talked to about horses had a story like that, but they were all very upbeat about it. It happens, they would say. It's not the horses fault. I did something to cause it, I should have known better, I should have seen that coming. Getting seriously injured or being hospitalized or bedridden for a few weeks or months could be financially devastating. I decided riding horses was fun, but not worth the risk to our family and all we've worked so hard for. I sold my riding boots and helmet, and wrote off horses forever.

Well, sort of.

I still have that longing for a horse of my own. It's the future I saw when we bought our three acres of beautiful pasture. I've had llamas, goats, and sheep, but I still have that itch for a horse. Of course, there's another thing I didn't see when we bought our acreage, and that is that it is very wet. Part of the main pasture is unusable all winter because the swale runs through and floods it. The rest of it gets muddy easily. Even the sheep made muddy paths in the pasture during the rains last spring. A big horse would destroy it. I've seen my friend's horses beat the path to the barn into such a swamp of mud that they sink in it up to their knees. I can't have that. Without thousands of dollars in investment in making a proper winter yard for them, I don't think I could keep horses here.

Not a big horse anyway...


This is my friend's miniature horse.



She is a neat size. Standing next to her I can comfortably lay my hand on her back. She is a rescue. Who could have abandoned such a beautiful girl?


My friend warned me she can have a pony attitude, but I think she's just cute as can be. I went over to visit her a couple times and give her scratches. I think this might be the perfect size horse for me. Unlikely to seriously hurt anyone. Small enough she wouldn't turn our pastures to mud pits. Less horse to feed. Could be happy with the small shelter we built for the llamas. Just as much personality as the big horses.

What can you do with a miniature horse? How about this?




It's all just dreams right now, maybe someday I'll finally have a horse of my own. I just wasn't sure how until I met a miniature horse. Now that sounds like a good idea for the future. Something to work towards. Until then at least I can go visit my friend's horse and enjoy her company.

_

2 comments:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it and can relate on many levels. Mini horses are adorable! I've often thought about having a couple. Maybe one day. :)
For now, I'll look forward to reading about your own experiences.

~Lisa

annaliese said...

I am definitely coming back to visit if you get a mini horse!!! love this post :)