Today I turned 57 years old! All the adages of “where did the time go” and “wasn’t it just yesterday” run through my head. I look in the mirror and I can assure you I don’t see the face everyone else sees, no I see the big laughing smile of a little girl sitting on pony. I see a little girl who cannot wait until Saturdays so she can have her riding lesson on the big, gentle bay gelding named Billy.
The passionate love of horses has always been present, literally born in my blood, but it ignited, unwavering, after one little pony ride at the neighbors’ who took care of the Como Zoo ponies through the winter.
After much prodding of my parents they gave in and took me out to a stable where they had gone on hay rides. I vividly remembering that car ride out to the barn, those twenty-minutes seemed like forever to my 5 year old patience, but as we turned off the highway on to the dirt road my heart began to pound with excitement. And then I saw the sign to our destination, Merrywood Stables. What was meant to be a simple trail ride to appease their daughter turned into weekly riding lessons. I remember that I was so tiny that there were no English saddles made that small back then. I had to ride in a little western saddle until I grew (which wasn’t quick I might add).
I became somewhat obsessed, if I wasn’t riding a horse I was either playing with them, pretending to be one or making my dog act like a horse! I had Barbie dolls simply to ride my statue horses. I was never difficult to buy gifts for; as long as it had something to do with horses I treasured it.
Birthdays came and went and along with each passing one my one true wish, having my very own horse, became more and more my plea. Between my ninth and tenth grade year, ten years after that fateful first ride on Billy, my dream came true. There are no words adequate to thank my parents for finding a way to answer that dream.
Enter a plain bay Thoroughbred mare, from Wolf Point, Wyoming. Her name was Count Me In and to me she was the absolute epitome of beautiful. Because of that little 15.1 hand mare I had a strong reason not to party and other temptations some of my fellow classmates had found. Nothing was going to cause me to have my horse privileges taken away.
A few more birthdays and suddenly I was leaving home for college, and not taking Count. I leased her out to a young girl while I figured out how to get a degree.
First job out of college lasted a year, it was much too mundane for me. I like variety. So by my next birthday I was teaching beginner riding lessons for a friend of mine since her horse business had started to take hold and grow. Game changer!
Over the next thirty years of celebrating my birthday I have owned more than a dozen horses/ponies, shown in shows in many different states, had the privilege of teaching many people to ride, and made many special friends!
This is my second birthday celebrating in Nebraska. I’m back with horses full time, thanks to my cherished friend and her family for bringing me aboard to be a part of their team. On this 57th birthday, as you can tell, I’m reminiscing of my life’s path. Where it has lead has held many surprises, joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, and always, always a grateful, full heart!
To the horses I get to see and touch everyday, you are my treasure and I do not take any of it for granted! My life has somewhat come full circle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So what’s another birthday? For me, another reason for me to say thanks!