Friday, January 23, 2009

Reviews and Memories


I had a question a while back, sorry I can't credit you, but it was too long ago. Somebody was asking about what created a "horse person." How does the willingness to bankrupt yourself over a 1200 pound, hay-burning, patience taxing, high maintenance animal who needs more sets of shoes in a year than the Duggar family ( http://www.macon.com/220/story/596170.html) come about?

Today is a good day to explore this, because my mind is still whirling from our collection and balance talks and I need to take a breath before we continue.

Horse crazy creeps up on us in more than one way. A lucky few get to grow up with horses. Be it a ranch kid, a show family, or the child of a breeder, some just grow into it. This explanation is a bit too simple, because I see too many horse oriented families with one or two kids sadly sitting at the side lines wishing desperately they were at the mall, a movie, digging trenches, drinking bleach, ANYTHING but spending one more day smelling, seeing and talking about horses.

I strongly believe most of us who follow the way of the horse, or "Horsaii" are born with a genetic pre-disposition to lose all sense of reality when around a horse.
I was born in Wisconsin to an upwardly mobile, born to live in suburbia, Catholic family with six kids. My father's job guaranteed we would move every few years. My family is, for the most part, bookish, intellectual, introspective and not particularly animal oriented. Not the kind of environment to create a horse maniac.

I showed up anyway.

I was dreaming of horses before I ever saw a real one. I galloped and whinnied, drew them , named them, planned for a stable in the garage. I talked horses day and night and rode them in my imagination everywhere I went.

My fascination with horses has never eased. I still burn with not just the need to be around them, but to understand them.

I am a huge believer in the benefit of horses for girls. Even today, young girls end up unsure of their place in the world. Statistically, beginning in junior high many girls experience a slump in their grades. They begin to withdraw from class participation and begin feeling less sure of their place in the world. For many reasons, right around puberty, girls begin to experience a gradual draining of self esteem and confidence.

We could debate all day on why this happens, but there does seem to be a general consensus that it does, indeed, happen.

Horse give a sense of power and strength to girls that I believe can't be equalled in any other way. (Of course, I'm a horsaii) This huge, powerful, complicated animal can not only be controlled, trained and competed on by a girl, but they return her affection, they are kind and gentle. They smell great. Without reserve a good horse will share his power with a girl. His strength and speed will become hers, in a world where she often feels no control. A car can't compete. A car doesn't love you back.

I feel the best horsaii experience comes from total immersion, riding, feeding, cleaning, grooming. Some of my best days as a teenager were spent cleaning my pen, grooming my horse and making my next piece of designer tack.

Intinctively, I think most girls know this, even if they aren't bonified horsaii, even if they're destined to grow out of their horse insanity (poor things). Most girls go through at least a horse crazy phase, I think it's the desire to gain some control, mixed with unconditional affection that pulls them in. I wish all horse-crazy girls could get at least a taste.

My first meeting with a real horse was as a kindergartner. We lived in Florissant (thanks C.H.!) Missouri. I was sitting on a rock, outside a barb wire fence. I reached out and touched a barb on the fence. It was sharp and left a rust stain on my finger.

Leaning forward, my hands clenched tight in my lap I was mesmerized by the herd of horses grazing in the sun. I was determined to honor the rules which allowed me this wild, unexpected privilege. No touching. Don't crawl under the fence. Don't move off the rock.

The warm rock pushed into the back of my thighs. I scratched and wiggled, aching to run out in the field.

Slowly, slowly a black horse with a white face ambled over to my perch. I froze, willing him to come near. He grazed along the fence in front of me. With a quick look over my shoulder I picked a bunch of long grass and threw it under the wire.

He stood right in front of me and ate his grass. I drank in the intoxicating smell of him, held my hand out and felt his warm breath on my fingers. Clumps of dried mud hung from the tangled hair on his fetlocks. His giant hooves were inches from my face.
One side of his face was white, the look he gave me from his red-rimmed eye seemed friendly and kind. I fell absolutely in love.

When I got home I drew my black horse with the white face over and over, burning every detail into my dreams.

Whatever creates a true "horsaii" I think I am one. I know I wouldn't change a single moment, a single wish, a single dream.

71 comments:

mocharocks said...

Mugs-Your writing was always great, but it is now becoming absolutely amazing.

The times when I'm at the most peace with myself, my life, the world, is when I'm in the barn doing something as mundane as cleaning a stall. I never grew out of my 'horse crazy' phase as most people said I would. Here's to all the "horsaii", it's an amazing way of being.

Laura said...

Well said!!!

Dealing with horses also teaches kids to meet and talk to other people - especially adults...which is surprisingly hard for some kids. Not to mention the kids that work in exchange for the chance to ride. Shovelling manure builds character, that is for sure!

BJPatters said...

That was such a beautiful way to state what I've felt for horses as long as I can remember. Thanks for writing it so eloquently.

Laura Crum said...

Mugwump, thanks for the review of Breakaway. Sorry it creeped you out. People either love that book or hate it. I have to admit, its actually one of my favorites. I tried to take on a few difficult themes in that one.

And I'm sure you're going to get a lot of comments from all of us who grew up and (and remain) horsaii. You expressed the way we feel really well--but then, you always do.

SunnySD said...

Had to laugh reading - you know, I went to a riding clinic with my mom when I was about 9. I was already certifiably "horsaii" and I had a pony at home to ride & fuss over. What do I remember from the clinic itself? Not much, other than it was the first time I'd ever seen an English saddle taken completely apart.

But to this day I can remember the barn name of a mare (Glow) ridden by a girl of about my age, as well as the fact that Glow was sporting some nasty - but completely healed - barbwire scars. She was a lovely black bay with no white.

Can't remember much else about the day, but I remember Glow, because I got to help brush her off and hose her down in the wash stall, and then walk her out to pasture. I went home to tell my pony all about how the other half lived - a real live wash stall! Wow. We made do with splashing through the creek! LOL

Sydney said...

I think every "horsaii" can recall the moment you just described in that post.

I am terrible with names and faces. I can recall mostly every horses name from every barn in the county and even horses that are now 30 or even dead from when I was young.

My first "horsaii" moment was when I was 2. My mom and dad decided it was time for a dog in the family so we went to this rustic little farm for a Labrador. I remember the lady's husband on this chestnut gelding galloping down this fence line. He ran faster than anything I had seen in my life and his hooves never seemed to touch the ground. I didn't care about the puppy, I had to watch that horse. It seemed like that fence was miles long. Since then I have been back there to take care of their donkey they have. The mile long fence is only about 120 feet lol! Maybe I'll write about it more in my blog.

Liri said...

Like Sydney, I'm also horrible remembering peoples' names and faces, but I sure remember horses! I don't remember a time when I WASN'T horsaii (love that word), but I had to wait until I was twelve to actually get one of my own. I think my parents thought I would grow out of it...

It's been eleven years now, and I think the "disease" gets worse every year. They are my little piece of sanity and stability. In a world where people are unreliable, I at least know that my horses will never lie to me.

Char said...

Great post, Mugs.

I honestly can't remember the moment that I became "certified", but I do know that for as long as I can remember, I have always loved horses.

My Little Ponies, only the Barbies that had a horse, wearing only necklaces that were the right length to put in my mouth to pretend they were a bit, galloping around, prancing, taking myself on "trail rides" in our back field, jumping....the list goes on.

My non-horsey parents got my green ex-pony ride pony for a set of World Books.

I wish I had never sold him, but after years of lessons and patience, I did end up selling him for about 50x's what they paid for him as a really cute hunter pony so that I could afford to buy the horse I have now. My only regret is that I couldn't afford to take them both on and keep my pony.

ezra_pandora said...

I loved your description of Laura's book and how you feel about it. Makes me want to get it. One of these days I will start my collection.

I've been horse crazy for as long as I can remember, but it's because my mom was. When I finally got my own room, all of my mom's horse pictures hung on the wall and all of her statutes were carefully arranged on my dressers. I would dust them all weekly and just stare. I'd beg her over and over to tell me the stories of when she was growing up and was allowed to ride a horse named Queenie. She didn't have her own horse growing up, but was around them quite a bit, so she allowed me to be as well. We went horseback riding up on Macinaw Island (michigan) and I was about 7. My mom and dad convinced the owners of the stable that my brother and I could ride our own horses as long as they were gentle. lol!! My gelding horse's name was Zeb and he was awesome. From what I remember he was a been there, done that horse and just plodded along. It was an unguided ride which made it all the more exciting. Then as I grew up my mom made sure I was allowed to go to girl scout camp for horse programs. Then as I got older, I started making horse things happen for myself and here we are today :) Nice stroll down memory lane.

(I havn't been able to ride between the frigid weather and this horrible sinus infection that I got sunday. It's pretty much knocked me out. I really miss it and will update you on what happens when I am able to. I think I will be able to this weekend)

Shanster said...

"even if they're destined to grow out of their horse insanity (poor things)."

Well said! Poor things indeed...

Yes... horses continue to be my "Calgon take me away" time. I forget all the real or imagined stress or dark moods when I'm concentrating on my horses.

No matter how glum I was when I walked out to catch a horse, when I'm done riding or grooming or whater I am more centered and peaceful and ready to deal with whatever it was that ruffled my feathers in the first place.

I am so lucky to have them in my life.

HorseOfCourse said...

Eloquent as always.
I so love your writing.
Thanks, Mugs.
I got my first riding lesson on my 6th birthday. I had wished for it; why I don’t know, I can’t remember – but none of my parents had ever been into horses.
As a matter of fact, my mother was afraid of horses after an incident as a child. Where I had nightmares about wolves under my bed, she had nightmares of charging horses instead. Pretty generous then to let her stubborn 6 year-old go on with the project, don’t you think?
I am not a tall person, and I was definitely not raging high above the ground at the age of 6. There were very few ponies in Sweden at that time (end of the 60ies) but a lot of army horses. So for my first years as a rider I rode on huge army horses, in huge army saddles (men's size, hard and uncomfortable - my feet did not come below the saddle for many years) and was instructed by a retired major.
There was also one Shetland pony there, which you could hire for a walk around the area.
He had like most Shetlands a will of his own, and immediately found out that my father was not a horse person. So you can guess what happened. We never got out of the stable area.
But I was happy.
Any horse made me happy.
When I did not have access to a real horse, I played. Either I was a horse myself, or the bike had to fill in with a string from one side to the other on the handlebar.

We could not afford a horse when I grew up, but as soon as I had finished my studies, I went shopping.
It’s such an ingrained part of me, but I am at a completely loss as to why. I just love them, soul deep.
Horsaii. What a wonderful word.
From one Horsaii to all you other out there: To our horses, who give us so much joy and happiness!

Tina said...

First of all - from reading your blog I ordered some of Laura's books - and have loved the two I have read and can't wait for the next two to come in.
Second - I have always loved horses but stayed out of the technical - I love to ride and have owned them most of my life, but never any showing or 4H - I have two daughters and wish they were half as excited as I am about them. We worked on it last year and are impatiently waiting for spring to keep it going this year. Love to read your blog - gives me some really good insight!

stillearning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stillearning said...

You nailed it again!
One is either a "horsaii" or not. It has nothing to do with riding skill, money, or logic.

Horses are good for lots of people at different times in their lives, but only horsaii continue in their passion whether or not it's a "good time for horses". It's more of an addiction. I don't even try to explain anymore, unless I recognize a fellow addict.

FD said...

I have to agree, it's funny how horse-mania just seems to spontaneously wake in some people's blood, like an inherited addictive tendency or something.

My mother rode as a kid, but hadn't for a long time before I asked to out of the blue when I was 6. Other than My Little Pony, I hadn't ever had anything to do with horses at that point. My sisters rode, (hacking only) for a year or two when they were 8-10 ish, but other than that I'm the only horsey person in my family. I don't even have cousins or second cousins that ride, despite coming from a mostly outdoorsy background. My family lived in the city though, so it required a certain amount of determination to ride as a hobby, and yet nothing ever deterred me.

Other than books, horses were always my escape. The one distracts the unquiet mind, and the other submerges the mind into the body.
I find a lot of people I've spoken to over the years say that.

Horses are non-judgemental, and physical, and girls are so often judged on external appearances, and are not encouraged to be physical, to get sweaty or dirty. I don't think it's surprising so many girls are, even if briefly, horse-crazy.

Laura very sapiently says: "Dealing with horses also teaches kids to meet and talk to other people," so true, and I had to laugh - I specifically wanted to work with horses because I was shy of people and hated dealing with them, but to my dismay, was forced to deal with people rather more than I'd expected! It stood me in good stead - the years of placating livery clients and wheedling farriers and then teaching meant that I found a second career as a HR manager surprisingly easy to get into.

*looks down thread* I've been offline all week, omg, so much to read and digest and comment on.

Justaplainsam said...

I always said that my horsey gene just skiped my moms generation! My Grandfater (on my mothers side) was a vet and I loved hearing stories about all the animals. My dad was an AI tech and I would often spend my days, when I wasnt at my grandmothers, with him driving around the county. I think thats why I have a good sence of direction too! Even into high school I still spent saturday mornings either driving with him or riding and meeting up with him at lunch.

I think its a good thing for girls to be involved with.
Being with the horses has given me the strenght to get though alot of things. And I look at some teenages with nothing but shoping and makeup for fun and wonder where they went wrong.

Thanks for putting it better than I think any of us could! (well maybe laura could come close!!)

Charlie Horse said...

I wish I had some of the memories and experiences most horse-crazy kids have from when they're little. I've been obsessed with horses since before I can even remember, but I never had very much to fuel that fire. My dad's side of the family does NOT support what I've chosen to do with my life, and my mom, never being a horse person herself, didn't really understand me when I was little. There was the occasional 'pony ride', or constantly-begged- for, long-awaited birthday trail ride, but other than that I spent very little time around real horses as a child.

I do distinctly remember the three months of once-a-week lessons I was allowed to take when I was about ten or so, but it didn't last for long. The horse I was riding was an enormous appendix gelding (read: 17hh +) and we were doing a longe-line lesson in the indoor arena when he stumbled over his own clumsy self and went down to his knees while I was riding. My mom yanked me from the program right there. I didn't understand it at the time, but I have a second cousin who was apparently trampled to death by a pony when he was little, and my mom, not being a horse person, feared the same thing might happen to me as well.

I was heartbroken, of course, but I still loved horses. I collected the Grand Champion figurines (never got into Breyers, they didn't move enough for me to play with them properly ;) read all the horse books I could get my hands on, had candles, figurines, stuffed animals, pillows, shirts, wallpaper, bedspreads, blankets, jackets, basically anything I could get my hands on that was horsey. I read every book in the library even remotely related to horses (all the black stallion books, saddle club, heartland, pony club, etc.). Then, when I turned 16 I suddenly "grew out of it". I gave away my horse books to the little girls at church, passed on my horse toys to my nieces, grew out of my clothes, re-decorated my room... did basically everything I could to distance myself from my obsession. It wasn't much more than 6 months after that when the horse world literally fell back into my lap with the opportunity to start taking lessons again, and I haven't looked back since. When you finally put away "childish dreams" only to have them drop back so suddenly into your life, it's hard to ignore such a strong push in the right direction. There are some people who are simply born horse-crazy, and then there are those who are destined for it. Even if you try and escape, you can't get out, can't get away, and you certainly can't give it up.

Although I've only been riding seriously for just shy of three years now, I've learned more in that time than some of the people I know who have spent their entire lives on horseback.

Horsaii to the core.

(Hey Mugs, did you mean Florissant, Missouri? Just outside St. Louis? Or is there actually a Flourescent, Missouri too?)

Our Horse Curly said...

I can't claim to be a horsaii....yet. I grew up in suburbia, no horses in sight. I remember making long, long lists of horse names, however, when I was in grade school. Horses came into my life when my tween daughter started struggling with her place in this world. I was willing to do anything it took to make her happy and whole again, and horses have proven to be just the ticket.

I credit our horse with not only helping take away her sadness but with giving her an inner strength and knowledge of herself that she might not have been able to find otherwise. Knowing that you can control this huge animal is an awesome experience for a young girl. I am humbled by what she has achieved in her personal growth - and I know it probably wouldn't have happened without our 4-legged friend.

moosefied said...

It's funny you wrote about a horse's smell. I've always loved how they smell, their skin and bodies. It's comforting somehow. I never heard anyone else say that, though.

Cassandra said...

My immediate family isn't very horsey, so I am not sure where my addiction came from. As a child I preferred My Little Ponies and the like to Barbies and other dolls. My only riding came from maybe two trail rides a year, rides where I laughed gleefully when a horse spooked and would hold a horse back just so I could gallop up to the group. A couple rounds at a horse camp and I was pressuring my parents for regular lessons. I was a lesson barn junkie, hanging around to work and beg for extra rides. After a few years of this, my parents still weren't sure if I should own a horse, so I was able to lease a very sweet OTTB who taught me a lot. After two years of this, my parents gave up the idea that I would outgrow the equine insanity so they offered to help me purchase my first horse. The TB's owner wouldn't sell him, so the search began. I ended up with a very intelligent, sane minded Arab. She was a late 3 year old and had 3 months under saddle. Although I had taken riding lessons (on school horses!), I didn't realize that I knew nothing about training. ;) It was my mission to acquire as much information and as many lessons with her as I could manage on a budget. I try to stay open-minded and immerse myself in any opportunity to increase my knowledge. After 8 years with her, she will own me until it is her time to pass!

CaitStClair said...

I'm with you. There's no logical reason for my family to have produced a horse-crazy little girl but they did. My mom says that I started asking for a horse as soon as I could talk in a kidding-but-not-really tone of voice. My parents tried to buy me off with riding lessons when I was 8 but that only fueled the fire. By the time I was 12 I had saved up $550 and bought my first horse. (Technically, they bought my mare and I bought all the tack.) I had her until about 3 years ago when I had to put her down. (Still have her maniac of a daughter though.)

I won't be surprised in the least if my future daughter(s) are lukewarm about horses. For some reason it just seems to happen that way.

mugwump said...

Laura Crum-That book was scary! Didn't mean I didn't love it....
I think HorseofCourse may have defined horsaii-"any horse made me happy"
Charlie Horse-but you DO have horsie childhood memories, you were sharing them with us and they were important enough to get you your horses when you could...and I mean Florissant, just can't spell...I was little.
Our Horse Curly- You are so Horsaii.
I think everybody who plays with this blog is, to tell the truth.

Half Dozen Farm said...

I grew up with horses - my mom is a fellow horse-lover. My first real memory of a horse isn't a good one.

My mom was a teenage, single mom and there was never much money to go around. Somehow, she always managed to have a horse, but the horses she had were always the craziest (i.e. cheapest). She loves Arabs. I didn't get THAT from her though! ;) I'm happy with just about anything EXCEPT an Arab - and that's probably due to growing up with some really crazy ones.

Anyway, my first memory is of riding my mom's horse on the longe line in a pasture setting. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. Suddenly, the mare spooked at a stump, which I'm pretty sure had been there the whole time, and started bucking. I came off, and while I was still in mid-air, she double barrelled me in the chest. My aunt was watching from the gate and thought for sure I had just been killed. All I really remember is that one minute I was riding and the next, I was lying on the ground trying to cry, but I couldn't breathe. My aunt was leaning over the top of me saying, "You can cry later, baby, just BREATHE!" I just had the wind knocked out of me. They took me to the hospital and I was completely fine (maybe a bit sore!). I don't know what happened to the mare after that.

It was a few years later that I was given (as in free, go figure) the meanest, snottiest, orneriest little Shetland pony that ever walked the earth. Her name was Windy. I still to this day can't believe my mom would even let me be around that pony, let alone ride her! But I LOVED her! And she taught me to really be able to "read" a horse, mostly to avoid being bucked off, kicked, run over, trampled, bitten, etc. I have no idea why I kept going back for more! We did have good times too, and those good times must have been good enough. :)

My mom married my step-dad when I was 8, and by the time I was about 12 she (and I) had gotten out of horses. We lived in town, so I turned my attention to dogs, got involved in 4-H, school, trouble, etc., etc. I missed having horses terribly and still loved everything to do with horses.

*Many years pass*

When I was 23, I moved back to my hometown to be nearer to my family. I got a good job and a lady who I worked with had a couple of horses boarded that she needed exercised and groomed because she couldn't get out to the barn often enough. I jumped at the chance and WHAM! I was bit by the horse bug again, hard! I absolutely had to have a horse again. I bought a horse and owned her for about a year, and then my mom decided to get back into horses again too. So much so, that they sold their house in town and bought horse property 5 miles away from us. We ride together all the time.

The rest is history. Now, 10 years later, my mom owns 3 Arabs, and I own a TWH, an OTTB and a cute-as-a-bug, GENTLE, SWEET, Shetland/Welsh pony. :)

We have six kids (his, hers and ours). We have four teenagers, a 5 year old and a 2 year old. My oldest daughter LIKES horses, but she's not die-hard. She would rather just draw pretty pictures and give them carrots occasionally. I'm HOPING, CROSSING MY FINGERS, PRAYING that my 5 year old daughter will have "it". I can't really tell yet. But I bought her the pony, so it won't be for lack of trying! :)

I don't understand how this "horsey gene" is passed either. My mom is one of six kids, and she's the only one with "it" and she didn't get it from her parents. I was an only child until I was 14, when my step-sister was born. My sister is a good rider but doesn't have "it". I have four kids (and 2 step-kids) and I don't really think any of them have "it". I wish I had someone to share this with. Maybe I'll get lucky and have a horse crazy granddaughter some day! That would be cool! :)

Nagonmom said...

Great topic. I too was a mutant, born into a family who thought the "horse crazy" thing was a phase. My father had worked horses as a boy (plowing, farming) and he HATED them. I got my first horse at 13, after an eternity of longing.
So when my 3 year old became obsessed with a horse she was put on (led) to keep occupied while my 7 year old son rode, I immediately made the diagnosis!!! That was almost 16 years ago. Thanks to her passion for horses, my own interest resurfaced. And I can be much more self indulgent now!!!
Horse body odor, my daughter and I have talked about how Horse or Saddle would be great candles. But not all horses have that deep equine perfume. My guy is rather light weight in the scent department. But my daughter's Arab!!His smell can untangle the worst stress knots in my mind.

Analise said...

I'm another one. Nobody in my family (save a younger cousin, now, and even she didn't/hasn't gone into it as much as I have and do) was really into horses. Definitely neither of my parents. And yet, for as long as I can remember, I loved them. I read all the Black Stallion books I could get my hands on. I had the My Little Ponies. I used to pretend to be horses with my cousins at family reunions. I had the Grand Champions. I used to make part of my prayers every night that God find a way to get me a horse. My bicycle was a horse, and I'd pretend I was racing in the Kentucky Derby as I pedaled as fast as I could down the road. I devoured all the books (fiction or otherwise) I got even remotely horse related. And there was this carousel in a mall when I was in little and every time we went to the mall I had to ride that damn thing and my parents tended to humor me. I'd get on and pretend for the minute or so long ride that I was riding the real thing, that we were riding in a parade, that I could feel his warm skin under my hand and hear him whinny. When I was eight, I finally got taken to riding lessons. I still remember the first horse I rode there, a big mare named Joker. She was always my favorite after that. I took lessons and did Pony Club for most of the next several years and then when I was twelve or thirteen, my dad started driving me out to look at horses he'd heard were for sale. Finally, in a town about an hour away, we found this cute sorrel quarter horse mare. Possibly pregnant, they told us. $800 and we could have her tack, too. I had my first horse.

We weren't the best horse owners (I call that time a major learning experience) and she did, indeed, turn out to be pregnant, giving birth the next spring to an adorable little chestnut colt. Not too very long after that, my parents ended up selling them both (separately, the colt first and later the mare). I understood selling the colt, I knew I couldn't train him but the mare was sold a bit out from under my nose, so to speak. I was devastated. It didn't help that my parents had had me stop riding lessons not long after I'd gotten the horse (the idea being that I should be spending time riding her, of course). My parents didn't sell her to be mean or anything they just...didn't understand, I guess. It's quite possible there were extenuating circumstances I never knew about. We moved into "town" and out from the "county" not long after she was sold, so that could have been it.

I didn't go back to riding lessons. I still loved horses, but it's hard to do much with them when you don't have a car in a town where you need one to get anywhere.

Ended up, when I was looking for colleges to go to, I had my heart set on going to one with a riding program of some sort. I ended up going to the state university that offered me the full scholarship (which, in retrospect, was one of the best decisions I could've made). But there weren't, really, horses there, so aside for the occasional trail ride somewhere, I didn't really ride again until I was out on my own "for real".

Now here I am, spending my weekends either as a working student at a lesson barn or volunteering at a local horse rescue and two weeknights (usually) riding in my lesson or at the rescue barn. And constantly fantasizing about having a horse who can truly be mine.

I just haven't found the right one. Yet.

Analise said...

Oh yes, and horse smell? Every time I think about it, I think about a line in Carousel where one of the characters is talking about a fisherman she's in love with and says, "and fish is my favorite perfume...."

That's the way it is with horses. Best. Smell. Ever.

Even when I'm away from them, if I'm wearing a jacket I wear to the barn, I catch myself sniffing it for that elusive whiff of Horse.

Joy said...

Reading all of these experiences from everybody made me get all choked up. Everyone comes from so many different places and we're all so different, but the same.

Nagonmom, when you said "But my daughter's Arab!!His smell can untangle the worst stress knots in my mind." That made me catch my breath. You expressed that thought so well. I know just what you mean.

Esquared said...

I can remember when I became horsai as you call it probably b/c it wasn't quite as long ago for me & I have a strange memory. In AK (pre-kindergarten) I was a whale freak, wanted to grow up to be a whale, live with the whales, or at least follow them in a boat. Then my parents announced we were buying a farm when I entered kindergarten and it was all over then. They had no intention of getting a horse but all of a sudden they had a kid who finger painted paint ponies, wrote illegible horse stories (I couldn't read, how could they expect me to spell...), loved "Billy & Blaze", checked out all of the non-fiction horse books (even though I couldn't read them very well), and drew horses, alot. They caved after two years and got me lessons for a month. Then after riding off and on for a few years I was finally out of horses. Yep, I was one who almost stopped being horsai... I still liked them, but my parents weren't supportive and I was a very practical kid. Anyway, one Christmas I really really wanted a puppy... they got me riding lessons at a stable a few miles from our house. I wasn't ecstatic (I really wanted that puppy) but from that moment on I was permanently re-horsaied. After a few lessons I got to ride for free (mostly the horses that bucked constantly) and eventually was given my 38 y/o gelding. He was free, pretty sure that's the only reason I got a horse! Yep, that's my horsai story... & I deffinately didn't get the gene from my family b/c my moms afraid of them & only distantly related family members regard it with anything other than unsupportivness and exasperation.

ANH said...

I am lucky to be born into a ranching family. My dad isn't interested in the horses but my mother and her family are ranching stock. I think my 'horsaii' started in the womb. My mother rode late into her 3 trimester with me. I have always been deeply drawn to horses. I have been lucky to have my horse needs supplied and indulged by my family. I went without daily horse fixes for two years in university and I think I just about died. I know that my stress levels sure peaked. I can remember walking to exams running reining patterns and practicing one tempi lead changes! Great stories.
Adrienne.

HorseOfCourse said...

My horsaii daughter really didn’t stand a chance, poor thing.
I kept on riding all through pregnancy, and actually had made an appointment with one of my friends that very day we had to go to the hospital. Giving birth took forever and ever - she just didn’t want to come out. Afterwards I’ve heard that female riders have stronger muscles in the pelvis area that can make giving birth more strenuous. (Any comments, anyone?)
I waited the 6 weeks the doctors had said was needed to settle the pelvis after birth, and then went on with the riding.
My baby slept peacefully outside meantime, well tucked in since it was early spring.
When she was old enough to sit, I took her in front of me in the saddle (yes I know. Not the safest thing, but a sensible horse helps) and we went riding.
To her, it was like a sleeping pill. We barely got off the premises before I felt that she turned into a sack of potatoes on my arm, and fell asleep. When she got older we borrowed an old Shetland pony, and I ponied her. Problem was that she got just as sleepy when riding herself, lol. Good memories.
By the way, I have had so much fun exchanging thoughts here that I’ve decided to start up an English blog in addition to my Norwegian one. If anyone would like to know what goes on in the head of a Scandinavian horsaii, you’re welcome to check it out. http://horseofcourseeng.blogspot.com/
And horses do have a wonderful smell. The very best is that sweet breath from a horse on grass. AAAh.
(Poor bastards, I wonder what they save about our mix of carnivore and old coffeee, lol)

HorseOfCourse said...

save=say :-)

lytha said...

I have a question about this mutation that makes us horse crazy. Is it universal?

I think we can safely say it's mostly a girl thing, but is it a girl thing the planet over?

Are there little girls in Brazil, Cambodia, Kenya, Hong Kong, South Korea who have this mutation? I really do wonder if it's in our blood, and how it gets there, because it has nothing to do with exposure to horses, we're just born this way. Are we related somehow?

Sometimes I wish I didn't have this mutation, because it's all-consuming and obsessive. The other day I was walking hand in hand with my husband, saw a hoofprint, and stopped so suddenly I jerked his arm and hurt his hand. "Sorry, I just saw a hoofprint!" sounded really pathetic. My obsession diminishes my family relationships when I skip family gatherings to go ride. I can't help myself.

All of you will understand why I was offended recently when someone called it a "hobby." It's NOT a hobby. Sheesh. Lord help me if I ever can't have horses in my life, then I'll be truly crazy.

~lytha in germany

LongTrot said...

My mom told me my first word was "horse." I can't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with horses. And yep I'm the only one in the family.

Like many of you I lived in a non horsey family in a non horsey neighborhoods. I saw my first horse at age 3, watching a parade. i remember willing the horse to come over to me....he did, sniffed and snuffled my hair while his rider smiled.

We could not afford a horse, but I surrounded myself by all things horse. Never owned a doll. I always managed to somehow ride, at my mom's friends houses, working for rides at public stables, etc. Sometimes I would hike a couple miles to the horse part of town and just watch them through the fence.

At one stable the old man would pay me five dollars to groom the rental string and then let me ride Saphire, a somewhat pissy pinto mare. She'd rear and try to tosss me regularly but I didn't care. I remember one time while riding I came open a gal riding her very own registered quarter horse. I was awestruck...someone my age owning their own horse, and it was registered. Almost too much to comprehend. I looked at these people like they were so special, in a world far beyond where I could ever be.

I even bough some tack...I remember hanging a bridle on my doorknob of my bedroom. Crazy.

When I was 18 my boy friend bought me my first horse. Couldn't afford a saddle so rode bareback for a few years.

And so it goes...a lifetime of horses. Never was great at any dicipline. Showed a few times and won some ribbons, but my love for the trail was bigger than the arena....so that were all my hours on a horse have been. I do some distance riding. Nothing like being out there alone with your horse...miles from everything.

I make my living in equine services, so horses are a huge part of my life. I have three at home...never tire of all the work. Just can't imagine being without them. And yes, it is a lifelong passion and quest to understand them.

BarnHag said...

Mugs – you nailed it.

I grew up on a small ranch in Wyoming - the daughter of a government hunter and a spirited Irish warbride my dad fell in love with while stationed in London during WWII. There was no extra money - but like most kids, I didn’t know we were ‘poor’. Dad kept his work horses and when I was about 6 he got me a little sorrel Welch cross named Shorty.

My mother used that horse to teach me everything I ever needed to know!

For instance, I longed for a pair of white go-go boots (yup – I’m dating myself) but there was no money for such a frivolous thing at our house. When I complained that all the girls ‘in town’ had them, my mother (without lifting her head from peeling potatoes) just matter-of-factly said, “well, I guess you could trade Shorty for a pair of them if they’re THAT important”. (They weren’t!)

Later, I longed for a bareback pad at the feed store in a gorgeous royal blue for the staggering sum of $18! By that time my dad had gotten sick and mom had to go to work in town as a waitress at a little café. I didn’t even ask. Instead I made a ‘bank’ out of a mason jar in the corner of my closet with a piece of tape running up the wall (think kids growth chart) with hash marks for each dollar I would have to earn/save to get to the $18 mark. Mom found it and began to throw the pennies (and sometimes nickels) from her ‘tips’ in there after her shift at the café. Funny, I don’t remember ever buying that pad but I remember working for it – and waiting until I could afford it. That trait remains with me to this day.

Shorty is long gone. Sadly, so is my mom but the two of them really shaped my perspective on life as a kid.

Heila said...

I didn't grow up with horses. At the age of 30 I was diagnosed with depression and as part of my rehab my psychologist encouraged me to try new things. So when my family went we away for the weekend and my brother and I wanted to try some new activity, we ended up horseriding. Knowing what I know now, it was horrific. The hats were old and had no straps. The person who took us on the outride told us nothing, not how to post to the trot, not what to do when the dogs barked and the horses shied... and yet I was hooked.

I decided to learn how to ride so that I could enjoy doing it occasionally and started weekly lessons at a local riding school. The first few months was physical agony. I would ride on Saturday and be unable to climb the stairs at work until Wednesday. Yet mentally I was on an incredible high after riding. I got well and truly addicted and instead of just having a few lessons to learn the skill, three years later I bought a horse.

Things have been tough lately. Among other things my beautiful little girl who just started grade 1, may be losing her hearing. We need to save up in case she needs a cochlear implant. My dream of switching to a half day job, or at least finding a job I like even if it pays less has gone out of the window. My depression has flared up. On Thursday morning I sat in my car in the work's parking garage, head resting on the steering wheel, wishing I had never bought a horse. I didn't really know how much maintaining a horse costs. I didn't understand at the time that a horse is almost like a child, you become responsible for it for life, you cannot just let it go. I didn't know that you can love a horse like you love your family members. I didn't know...

Thursday night I went to the farm. My horse stuck his head out of his stable when he heard my voice, nickering for carrots. I groomed him a bit, treated a cut on his foot, checked him over. I jumped up bareback and we rode round the farm, playing a bit, schooling a bit, chatting to a couple of people. Slowly the tension left me and a fragile peace took it's place. Horse time is safe time. It's the one place I can forget about my worries and lose myself in the synergy between me and this amazing animal. I didn't know my horse would heal... I didn't know that every time he lowers his head to blow in my face and breathe with me it would feel as if someone gave me a precious gift. I didn't know that a horse nibbling softly at the back of my neck while I'm grooming him could make me bellylaugh and feel as if I don't have a care in the world. I didn't know that the more I learn about horses the more I would want to learn, that I would go on a journey which sometimes takes me very far away from the things I was taught in the beginning. I didn't know how rewarding all of this would be.

I do know that I cannot imagine not having my horse.

HorseOfCourse said...

Oh, Heila. You made me cry.

mugwump said...

So we at least know the horsaii gene runs in South Africa, right Heila?
I have been fretting over the cost of my horses. It's killing me to keep up. Then I read Heila's story and I get it. If I didn't have the horses I wouldn't be OK. I wouldn't be who I am. So I guess it's not a choice. It's who we are.

Laura Crum said...

Heila--I went through a severe depression and financial struggles when I got divorced from my first husband. I wasn't sure if I could or should keep the horses, but I hung in there, one day at a time, because I couldn't imagine selling them. They were horses I'd owned for years, that I'd trained myself, they were my friends. I felt I needed to persevere for their sakes, find a way to keep them and give them the life they deserved. I wanted to honor my responsibility to them. And this feeling helped pull me through. After a year or so, things smoohed out. My depression lifted. My situation improved. I didn't sell my equine buddies, and we're all OK today. Hang in there. I hope and believe that things can smooth out for you, too.

Aylin said...

So true. I love that word, horsaii. I think I'm one, and it's amazing how all of you tell the same story. Different, but still the same.

The first horse I remember was a lesson horse at the barn my aunt's horse lived at. I was 2 and got to sit in front of my aunt on that huge, gentle and impossibly furry animal. It was winter, snow everywhere and the horse's breath turned his whiskers to little icicles. The thing I remember most clearly is the swinging motion that made me feel safe. Probably reminded me of being carried by my mom or something like it, but there's more. It's the same feeling I have sitting at the bow of a boat or up in a tree (I did a lot of climbing as a kid and still do sometimes) - it's a simultaneous feeling of total freedom and perfect unity with everything, wind in my hair and the rolling motion of the waves, the branches, the horse under me. More alive.

Maybe there is a horsaii gene, maybe not, but I was delighted to find out that though most of my family has been lawyers as far back as I can count there has also been a veterinarian and a consulent (or something) with a breed society. Plus several of those lawyers were hobby riders - when I started riding I did so in my grandmothers boots and wore her fathers riding gloves to the barn though they were way too big for me to ride with.

My aunt with the horse lived far away, and where my family lived there weren't any horses around to be seen, so I didn't really think about them for many years. I was animal crazy and would walk the neighbours' dogs and trade posters of anything furry with friends. My father is allergic so I couldn't have a pet. But my mother had also ridden as a girl, and when I was 10 she took me to a riding school and said she was sure I would love it. I don't think she ever realised how much though ;) But it was only a few years later when my mother had started to ride again and we had bought a horse that I really became a horsaii. I know the exact moment: My trainer was riding our horse in the arena and I was transfixed. I loved that horse but had always thought him a little humorous looking with his gangly limbs, long head and nearly nonexistant mane. But suddenly, as if by some magic, he was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, floating around hardly touching the sand at all, his expressive eyes shining with happiness, he was so proud to be showing of everything he knew (turned out he was trained to PrixStG). His expression was what did it for me - I wanted to be able to make that transformation happen, to be the magician. It opened up a whole new world for me. Before, I had mostly thought of horses as simply cute but there's so much more. Mugs was right - it is largely thanks to this horse I was able to grow from a shy, nervous girl to a confident, strong woman. Relatively speaking that is, there's still so much to learn from horses. They have a wonderfull sense of themselves for one thing, a certain security and comfort in their horsiness I can't ever match. I hope you are able to keep your horse Heila.

My favourite smell is the breath of a horse who has just eaten spruce needles :)

mugwump said...

I think this has become my favorite post ever. Because of the comments. There is no competition, no one-up-manship, nothing except how we're all the same.
I don't mean to go all deep and sappy on anybody, but I have been blown away here.
I hope we keep this feeling going. I don't know about you guys, but I'm learning a bunch more here than just how we approach teaching our horses to take their leads.

Heila said...

Thanks guys, that was very difficult to share but I'm glad I did.

Mugs you're so right, it's who we are. My non-horsey husband gets it and so do some of my non-horsey friends.

Some pics of my kids, human and equine:www.horsejunction.co.za/bragPages/viewThread?topicID=8544

horsesandturbos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
horsesandturbos said...

Another horsaii here...there is even a photo of me about 3 or 4 with my plastic horse I loved...and I still have the scrap book from when I was a kid with all the horse pictures (that was when Secretariat started out!)

Horsaii story about me...when I was 8 years old, I had *severe* stomach pains. Everyone thought I had the flu or something (kept feeding me crackers). That day we went to a country fair...and my parents realized there was something very wrong when I would not get out of the car to see the horses! They rushed me to the emergency room...and it turned out I had an appendix that nearly ruptured...and back then (44 years ago) that could have been deadly.

So, horses saved my life from the start!

We too are struggling with possible financial woes...but I know I won't give up my mare, even if I have to pasture board her somewhere for a while. Hopefully it won't ever come to that.

Jackie

Justaplainsam said...

I will say that boys can have it too. My brother got draged to lessons with me just about his entire life! (I told him it was good training for when he gets a wife and kids that like horses!!)

Anyways I would say that hes hooked :) although he doesnt ride on a regular basis, he does like to ride and has helped me on more than one occasion running some of the barns I've worked at.

Ginger102005 said...

Mugwump, I would love your opinion on my bloodline post that I did today on my blog. And any others who wish to comment with their opinions, that would be great.!!

Now I'm gonna have to read some of Laura's books! lol

http://ginger102005.blogspot.com/

love to ride said...

My first (imaginary) horse was a beautiful white stallion. I was five. My girlfriend and I would trot along the playground fence at school with our horses. The white stallion would gallop beside me. He would go anywhere I would go.
Although I grew up on horse property, we didn’t have horses. My parents definitely did not want a horse and all the maintenance that goes with one. I asked for a horse every Christmas and never got one. I can understand this now as there were five kids in the family and college is expensive. None of my siblings were bitten by the horse bug, it was just me.
This didn’t stop me from wanting a horse. I used to save my school lunch money up so I could go to the mall and buy a Breyer horse. In those days, it was very expensive for a Breyer. I would save one dollar a week until I had the nine dollars it took to buy a Breyer *grin*. This worked until the school nurse called my mom and told my mom I wasn’t eating lunch. My parents just didn’t get the horse fixation. I would ask for Breyer models every Christmas and birthday and never receive one.
Growing up, my exposure was limited to walking the family dog along the bridle paths so I could look at all the neighbor’s horses. Riding was limited to a few trail rides.
In school, I remember drawing horses on everything. All the margins in my school work sheets had horses drawn on them. All my art projects were horses.
In my preteens, my girlfriend and I would draw out barn/paddock plans for our future ranches. We would spend hours doing this.
In my late teens my horse fixation abated. I gave my beautiful black Appaloosa stallion Breyer to my cousin’s daughter. Then college happened, marriage, children and a divorce.
When my daughter turned eight I signed her up for horse back riding lessons. I didn’t have the money to get us both lessons, and I figure it was a gift I could give her that would last.
When I started dating again, my boyfriend, now husband, asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I told him, so he planned a beautiful sunset ride for us in Sedona. It was lovely.
When we married, we sold our respective houses and bought horse property. Now I am living the dream. My husband, who never had a horse fixation, loves trail riding his horse. I wish I had a picture to share that showed how much his horse loves him. It is a unique bond that is a joy to see.
My daughter is now in high school. She takes lessons once a week before school. Last week, when I dropped her off at school, she told me, “My horse put me in a good mood” as she was getting out of the car. This is priceless as she struggles to understand her place in society.

OldMorgans said...

There is a photo of me in a playpen clutching a toy stuffed horse. When I was 5, I received at Christmas a large doll & baby carriage and a rocking horse. My parents couldn't hardly get me off the rocking horse but I never touched the doll & carriage. And things just rolled on from there.
My parents and grandparents were not especially interested in animals. I ended up with horses, dogs (but no dogs now,) and then discovered cats & am now also a cat nut. My sister has always been a cat person. My brother ended up becoming a veterinarian. My siblings' children are not particularly interested in animals.
Go Figure.

sagebeasties.blogspot.com

Jesse said...

I don't remember my first horse experience, but my mom likes to remind me of it.

Apparently, I was barely 2. My dad took me and my brother for a pony ride. This was 1987 and it cost 25 cents per trip around the track. My dad put me on, my mom took a picture and off we went, my dad holding on to me as we went.

They tried to take me off the pony. I threw a temper tantrum. So, my dad not really wanting to deal with me screaming the whole way home figured he'd just let me go again.

So we went again.
And again.
And again.

Each time I'd start screaming bloody murder when they tried to take me off.

My dad spent $20 in 25 cent pony rides. :D

My brother, apparently, saw the pony and started crying. (He's still afraid of horses.)

Aylin said...

Justaplainsam: Yes, boys can have it too. Although my brother is going to honor the family tradition and become a lawyer (sigh) he has been riding most of his life and probably always will. He is a horse person, he's just not a horse crazy person like me.

Charlie Horse said...

Mugs - Tehe... I think it's rather hilarious that you had your first lasting, memorable horse experience in the same place I finally found my way into the horse world. Funny, you'd never know Florissant used to be mostly farm land, but I distinctly remember when we moved here that most of the surrounding area was farmland and apple orchards. Now the wide open fields, beautiful spring blossoms, and wonderful pungent smells have been replaced by crowded, bleak little subdivisions. You'd never even know, just to look at it, that there might still be a few tiny oases of 'horsedome' nestled snugly between neighboring subdivisions. It's sad how much has changed in just the few short years between gradeschool and college.

i know nothing said...

I absolutely believe that we are born this way. No one in my family was interested in horses, except for a great aunt who still had one that used to work on the farm in Idaho. Yet, when I was three, I knew I had to have a horse. I had a whole herd of Breyer horses and my older brother would cut up a wire coat hanger and pound it flat and glue little bitty shoes on my horses so they would leave hoofprints in the dirt when I played. I finally got a horse when I was in high school and haven't been without one or more (lots more!) since. They are a huge part of who I am.

Double A Training said...

I have always told people that it is a disease I was born with. I have OLD family videos of me when I was 2yrs old. We had a swingset and I would tie up my 2 invisible horses while I would swing. Then I would take them out and let them graze. I always told my dad that I was helping him cut the grass with the horses. Their names were Beauty and Lopez. I have NO idea where those names come from....I was 2. I harassed my parents enough that I started lessons at 5.

Heidi the Hick said...

Gorgeous post.

I dont' remember not being horse crazy. I grew up without a lot of money but it didn't cost much to keep a couple of hayburning horses around when the barn was already full of pigs.

My mom tells me that when I was very little, I kept wandering away from her... very unsafe habit, being a farm baby. Many ways to get killed on a farm. She'd turn her back and I was gone, which was quite a feat considering how protective she was. She'd find me snuck under the fence, staring at our little Quarter horse, or reaching up to touch her belly.

Clearly this story tells a lot.

I was always horse crazy.

To the point of danger.

And I started making mom's life difficult very early.

She's so so awesome, by the way. I can't tell you how often she caught a runaway pony after I hit the dirt, and even now she's the Best Dining Room Window Horsewoman Ever. She has supported my horse addiction my whole life.

She knows.... she just knows...

autumnblaze said...

Okay, well then... that about brought me to tears.

How eloquently you put the feelings I've had for horses sicne I was kid in such a compact pretty package, Mugs.

Whenever I was unsure of myself the security of a warm neck curled around me with the warm grass/hay smelling breath... little, if anything is more comforting to me.

I agree you're born with it in your blood, through and through. My dad did all he could to discourage me from horses. I think it made it worse. His flaw we EVER taking me to my grandfathers barn. That's where I learned the smell of a horse... though puppy breath is a close second when it comes to smells.

My new husband (thank God) is becoming accustomed to my constant horse chatter. The significant others who put up with our horse obsessions are angels, I swear.

P.S. I just applied for a new job... if I get it, I just know I can afford Gator, hands down. :)

autumnblaze said...

Oh... and my moments I barely remember. First was sitting on my grandfathers horse in a stall and learning how to feed them (Keep your hand flat!!!). We lived on a hill and across the main road our neighbor had a couple bay something or other horses. I can't tell you how many times my bike was me pretending to run across the road, jump the fence and hopping on. I just watched them down below, from my hill.

It was all my little ponies until I went to college... I've been around them in anyway possible since. :)

Horsaii indeed! I get it from both sides of the family but grandparents, not parents. Well, my dad WAS as a kid, but he won't admit it. He did sit me on a horse the first time though and probably has regretted it ever since. My nephew apparently screamed his head off the first time on a horse. I cried because they took me off. I wanted to braid his mane.

kel said...

My dad and grandfather were horsemen. My grandfather drove a supply stage in the day. His team was his life. I have 4 older brothers, none of which even remotely liked horses, when I came along my mom joked that my first words were "horse". She said that I was born with the "horse gene" and it was just best to feed the beast and be happy it wasn't something worse. When I got married and had children, I tried tons of things to keep my mind off horses (because I really couldn't afford to have them) and it worked for awhile. Now that I can afford them and am back riding daily, I couldn't be happier or more satisfied.

Anonymous said...

My first horse memory is being on a runaway pony with a small dog running and barking beside it. And the saddle was slipping sideways too.

It still didn't stop me from becoming horsaii. It must be embedded at the genetic level....

rheather(who now has a pony again! whoooohoooo!!!)

Adrienne said...

My horses have given me the power to survive so many ups and downs in my life. I know in my heart that I wouldn’t be here today without the broad backs, strong legs and soft muzzles that have carried and pushed me. I am lucky to have found a partner who wants the ‘Horsaii’ life as much as I do. I have so many feelings of gratitude towards my horses and on so many levels. I love my horses and everything that they represent: freedom, power, grace and strength. I am a dog person too, but there is something about an animal that withholds themselves until you are proven that wins my heart and makes the relationship even more special. That withheld until judged has been a handy tool in my personal relationships as well!

Holly said...

"Horsaii"

rolls that word around in my mind, savoring it, tasting it, feeling it. Luscious, eloquent, rich.

I have always wanted to immerse myself in animals. Dogs, cats, horses...anything furry and four footed. I was always that kid who played at being which ever animal I wanted that day, kicking up my heels as a horse, saving my friends as a dog.....although life has taken me in other directions, I should have become a behaviorist. That is where my passion lies.

My daughter tho.....oh my. Eighteen months old and we put her up on my mare. She grasped that saddle horn and I had to pry her tiny fingers off, while she screamed like someone was skinning her. Life happened and the horses went by the wayside with the marriage. The year she turned 16 I was worried about her, how she would cope without her sister who was going off to college in a year. They are that close, Older Sissy a mother hen, Younger sissy depending on her. And a friend called. "I found a horse for your daughter". "I don't have any money" "It's a hella deal" "I don't have any money" "She'll take payments" "Is she broke?" "Nope". I bought her anyway. I had the experience, my BO and long time friend was 35 years into horses....we could do this but I did not tell Younger Daughter, I wanted it to be a surprise. Older Daughter knew, Younger Daughters boyfriend knew, 2 Best Friends knew....they all told her she was going to faint when she found out what was happening. After several false starts the mare arrived at 2am on a cold and windy November day. I will never, as long as I live, forget the strangle hold Younger Daughter had on my neck when she saw that horse trailer pulled up beside my vehicle in a Country Fair gas station just off the Interstate. At first she couldn't process it, then I told her, her new mare was in there. I will never forget the woman who owned the mare, her friend, my friend on the phone, Older Sissy on another phone, me and younger Daughter all crying hysterically in that parking lot at 2am, or unloading this green green mare in the dark and cold, or that she walked along confidently till it was time to go in the stall (well lit, go figure) and she stopped and quit. We had to push her in.

Oh the memories.

And I am certain beyond measure that Younger Daughter will keep this mare till she dies...and I will help her to do so.

This, of course, led to me getting back into horses too. And I would not trade one second of the time we shared at the barn for anything else.

Horsaii.....yum.

mugwump said...

Everybody is a writer when the right subject comes along. I keep thinking I should post, but I love reading these beautiful stories. Every time I look there is another wonderful little nugget waiting.
I like the fact that here in this post I have met more people who feel like I do than I have in my entire life.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

I was born this way. I have a Christmas list I wrote up when I was three - the first thing on it was "ponny." (No, had not yet developed spelling skills!) My mother considered it to be a birth defect and hoped I would turn girly when I hit puberty. Didn't happen. :-)

Anonymous said...

I wasn't into horses as a kid. I didn't know anyone that had horses. I was a city kid, living in a trailer park with my Mom and brother after my parents' divorce. My mom had cats that I loved and my dad was anti-animal. He didn’t dislike them, he just didn't seem to get it.
Fast-forward 30 years. I'm all grown up and not particularly close to my dad. I'd talk to him occasionally and see him holidays. This explains why I don’t know all of the details of his metamorphosis. It started with Peggy. I'm not sure what type of horse she was, or even why he decided to buy her, but all he seemed to talk about was Peggy. Peggy and he went jogging (side-by-side). Peggy was jealous if my step-mother came too close to him. Peggy liked beer. He’d talk about competitions, and dressage and use terms that were completely meaningless to me. Somehow between Peggy and now, he learned a lot, he bought some land and started boarding and training horses. I was somewhat aware of this but it didn’t have anything to do with me or my life.
Then my eldest boy was born and it turns out could benefit from some OT. Dad suggested riding a horse. Hmm, I thought. I guess I could drive out there. I got directions (I’d never been out there) and made the 40 minute trip. The experience was okay but it was a lot of driving for 10 minutes on a horse. Dad had another idea. How about driving the horse? My boy could benefit from the movement of the cart. However, I would need to be in the cart as well. I got in, and dad handed me the reins. “What” I asked, “was I supposed to do with these?” “You might as well learn something” he responded.
It is now a year and a half later. I bring my boy every week for “his” OT. It is the best day of my week. My dad and I talk (and talk), and I learn how to control a 650-pound pony with a wicked sense of humor. Last week I realized I had the disease for two reasons. First, I asked someone how long she’d been riding and she said that she started at the age of seven but it didn’t count because she only came out once a week. I was shocked about how much her response bothered me. With two small special needs children, that’s all I can do. Second, I realized that at some point in my life, I was going to own a horse but I don’t have enough knowledge or time to do it right YET. I called my dad and told him (jokingly) that I hated him because I realized at some point I was going to be spending a lot of money on horses. His response? What’s wrong with that? You can’t take it with you!

slippingsweetlena said...

My first horse was an unregistered mare that I got for my birthday (named Cindy) when I was 9. I remember begging my mom for every christmas and birthday for a horse. She finally gave in. My mom had a horse when she was little. My dad tolorated the horse, but that was it. On days that I wanted to ride and mom was too busy doing something, I would ask to go ride and then just put the bridle on and scramble up on her back. I was NOT very big at 10 and I could NOT put a saddle on no matter how hard I tried. At 10yrs old I very small for my age. SO 90% of the time, I just rode bareback. I remember there were many times that I would go galloping across the hills and cindy would shy at something and I would usually end up on the ground. I finally learned how to hold on with my legs. I didn't take lessons until my second horse when I was 14. since I was 9 I have not been without a horse for more than a few weeks time. Oh the memories of my sister and I racing down the vineyard rows bareback, taking them to the river and swimming the horses...That was a scary thing when I learned that my second horse didn't know how to swim! I walked him out there and let him get used to the water and finally got him to go out all the way. He realized that he couldn't touch anymore and his head dissappeared from above water, I sank to my chest in water and grabbed onto his neck and prayed that he would come back up. He did a few seconds later blowing water out his nose, coughing and shaking his head...I could do nothing but laugh and say, "Ahhh...you are SUPPOSED to keep your head ABOVE water DUMMY!!" I never swam him again after that...but my sisters horse, we couldn't keep him out of the water!! thanks for bringing back the memories mugs!

Fyyahchild said...

I'm another one who wasn't born into a horse family. Heck, my parents never had any kind of pets until I was older and started begging. I don't remember ever not loving horses. I came out of the womb with dreams of them in my head and it seems like I already knew their smell. I also filled my room with posters, calendars, My Little Ponies, Barbie horses, and every figurine I could get my hands on. One of my only fond memories of actually doing something with my dad was going to our local farmers' market/swap meet where he bought me little unicorns made from brass. I still have them.

I think my mom figured I would grow out of it. All my city friends thought I was certifiable. Even now my best friend will look at me from time to time and just mutter, "horses, horses, horses". She knows I rarely think about anything else. But I never did grow out of it. There were breaks when I was out getting into trouble but my best times always included horses.

When I was 12 my parents divorced. My dad's best friend somehow ended up with a little bay Arab, Mozart, that has gone through a barb wire fence with a rider and hurt himself and the rider pretty badly. I have NO idea what my dad was thinking and I still think he was mostly trying to get back at my mom by bribing me into liking him more. He bought me a little saddle and started taking me out to ride the horse. I had some falls and one really close call that nearly ended up with both of us dead. Nothing ever stopped me from getting back on that crazy, green Arab.

Mugs - thanks. I rarely look out a window of a car without seeing my own black horse running cross coutry leaping all obstacles. Its nice to know I'm not the only one. :) I used to roll my window down and stick my arm out. I'd keep my hand flat to follow his progress and cup it slightly to sail over anything my horse had to jump along the side of the road.

kel said...

FHOTD said..
My mother considered it to be a birth defect and hoped I would turn girly when I hit puberty. Didn't happen. :-)

My mom made the most amazing Barbie doll clothes, evening gowns, wedding dresses, etc. My grandpa made two story doll houses completely furnished with working fireplaces. All I ever wanted was a horse. They tried so hard to change my interests. They would tell me that "all little girls play with dolls". I would have been so happy to have little stable blankets for my plastic horses and miles of fence and a barn, but noooooo damn Barbies and custom homes.
They gave up when I was 7 and bought the horse. I think that the kicker was when grandpa saw that his custom two story dream home out on the lawn with some make shift fencing, it had been turned into a barn with hay on the second floor, little card board stalls made in the dining room and a tack room in the kitchen area. Barbie was no where to be found. :)

HorseOfCourse said...

Kel, that was so funny! rofl

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I was definitely born with horsaii. My mother rode horses as a young woman (she, too, is horsaii) but until I was twelve I was never near a horse. We moved a lot, Air Force, and when we arrived at a base with stables, my dad was overruled between my mom and I, so we bought our first horse, which quickly multiplied into three. I have had horses ever since, with only a few years of horselessness.

As a little girl, I always wanted horse stuff, books, plastic models, you name it. My Barbie's could ride, bareback, sideways, with their straight legs sticking out on one side. I had three Breyer model horses: a Clydesdale mare and foal, and a gray Arabian for them to ride. My Barbies were often Bedoins, dressing in scarves, or princesses being rescued on horseback.

I read so much about horses that actually getting one just seemed natural. I learned to ride from books.

It's good for teenage girls to have horses. It gives them self esteem and companionship, they have someone to confide in and love.

Good post!

Pipkin said...

Great term, horsaii. Sounds like the wind through my mane....
Before I began riding horses, I was often a "blue bay" (that would be a bay with blue instead of black points) winged horse named Brimstone who flew to the elementary school and back every day. I was superlative in every way, just as my grounded yet fantastical horse is now.

And if they didn't smell so nice, would we permit so many indulgences? I think....not.

Heila said...

I've had a bad, bad day. I'm changing from one kind of antidepressant meds to another because of bad side effects from the first one. Turns out the withdrawal symptoms wasn't going to be much fun either. Nightmares, irritability, aggression, emotional, crying, light headedness, nerve "zaps"... huge fight with my daughter about stuff I should have taken in my stride. Tantrum like a toddler. Bad, bad day.

Hubby tried to send me to the farm. Wise man. I finally jumped in my car after the fight, barefoot, no bag, no cell, NO CARROTS. I made it round the corner and realised I was too dizzy to drive safely. Stayed there for a while, expressing my anger in the privacy of my car. Went home.

Hubby drove me to the farm. What a saint, he is allergic to the horses and seldom goes. And my horse worked his magic... What is it with these animals? Or maybe, what is it with us horsaii? How can just being with a horse put things back into perspective, calm you down, put a smile on your face? How does that happen?

I am infinitely grateful to whatever deity came up with the idea of horses.

Original L said...

Mugs - This post and all the comments inspired me to write a whole blog post on my horsaii story. I love that word!

http://me-mira.blogspot.com/2009/02/i-am-horsaii.html

Gemmers said...

I was the random horse crazy person in my family. Had lots of my little ponies before I ever got to play with the real thing. My brother took lessons for a while too. He was good but not crazy like me.

Funny thing is, I just moved out of Florissant, MO a few years ago. Still renting the dumb house though, want to move back? I'll sell it to ya! We got lucky and found Old Halls Ferry Stables, just a mile from our house. Boarded there until we moved to IL and got our own farm.

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