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.