Sorry I'm so behind guys. I was out of town for a bit, then slammed. So I'm a little behind. But I should be back on track.
Hope always springs eternal.
We have an extremely heartfelt story today. It's amazing how horses shore up the girls who are just not getting a fair shake in the world. There are so many of us who are damaged or in turmoil and we end up saved by our horses. I can't help but wonder if you have to be an outsider on some level before you even get invited in to be Horsaii. Am I nuts?
This comes from "forever indigo." I hope she comes back with a blog address.
I have decided to share a personal horse story with you.
It's not something that comes easy for me...I learned at a very young age to keep things you cared about close and private and at my age now (32) I still have trouble telling others about some things.
I can remember my first encounter with a horse or rather horses. It's emblazoned in my mind and will remain treasured for my entire life.
I was three years old when I came nose to nose with my first horse and from then on I knew my life had to include horses.
Sadly, no one else in my family agreed. My mother and I have never truly gotten along. Maybe it was that I was an unexpected baby and rather than going on with life as she wanted, she had me to now take care of.
As we grew up, my siblings seemed to have a much easier time with things...it was just me that my mother always chose to pick on. It was always my toys that got taken away, never my sister's or brother's even though they we had all gotten in trouble for the same thing. It was always me that got the yells and screams for not making that A in a class when my sister or brother had failed the exact same one. I was constantly put down and the victim of many objects thrown in anger.
My father always seemed to be working but when he came home each day he made a point to take time for me.
Due to the treatment from my mother I had a hard time making friends. I also had a hard time keeping the few friends I had if they did not meet her criteria. She is a horrible perfectionist and seems to be almost obsessive about what people think of her. She is all about the image.
When I was 14 I met a girl in school named Sherri who had 3 horses. She used to show them in local 4-H shows and she did fairly well with them.
One day at recess I finally got up the nerve to ask her about her horses. It was like a dam had broken...she would talk for hours about them and bring pictures of them or ribbons that she had won at the weekend shows.
She asked me to come to the barn and ride and I was on Cloud 9! I went home all smiles and couldn't wait to ask permission. When I arrived home both my parents were there, Dad had taken the day off to do some work around the house. He could tell I was excited about something so he called me over and asked how my day went. With my mother there all I could do was stare at the floor, feeling my cheeks turn red.
He finally coaxed one sentence out of me..."A girl at school has asked if I can go and ride one of her horses this weekend."
My mother's immediate response was of course no. Unbidden tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks and from the corner of my eye I saw my father's face turn stony.
I was told politely (with a little squeeze from Dad) to go on to my room and get started on homework. Of course an argument started up as soon as my door was shut but it didn't seem to last very long and after an hour or so my mom huffed into the doorway and I was given permission to go for a ride! I learned something valuable that day...that my father was on my side.
My parents never came to the barn to watch me ride. I had been riding off and on for a few months, getting pointers from both Sherri and some others around the barn. Everyone seemed to be impressed with my riding and didn't believe I had only ridden a handful of times.
My mount was a trusty teen-aged dapple grey Arabian named Indigo. He was an old hand at the show scene and new his cues like I know the back of my hand. He was one of those good, honest horses that I have come to adore.
Every ride was treasured because I didn't know how much longer I would be allowed this personal privilege. Out of the blue one day, Sherri asked if I would like to come help out at the upcoming weekend show! Once again I was caught up with conflicting emotions...excitement at finally getting the option of going to a show, and that stomach-churning feeling I always got when I knew my mother wouldn't allow me to go.
When I got home and asked about it she glanced over at my father (who was watching over the top of the newspaper) and grudgingly gave me her permission. I was taught all that was required to prepare a horse for a show....the bathing, clipping, preparing for trailering..my mind was a-whirl with new info! I groomed Indigo till his coat gleamed and he stamped at me in impatience. He went into his class looking like a million bucks rather than the scruffy buddy I had come to secretly love.
He didn't win...we lived in a QH town and when you showed an Arabian against a bunch of QH's you just weren't going to win unless you were spectacular, but he still was the best in my mind. I collected him as Sherri left the ring and gave him a rub on the forehead telling him he was a good boy.
Sherri looked at me and had that look in her eye she always got when she was up to something. "How would you like to take him in a class?" she asked. "You can take him in the Western Pleasure class and I can ride Sam and we can show together!"
I think the world slowed to a crawl at that point! We excitedly ran back to the trailer and started trying on different outfits...thankfully we seemed to be about the same size. Once dressed we tacked up the horses in their gleaming silver show tack...I still love the look of an Arabian in western show tack to this day.
Indigo seemed to feel all the excitement and once I was securely in the saddle he arched his neck and I swear pranced to the warm-up ring. Sherri's mother took care of signing me up and paying for the entry fee.
I was just about to burst from excitement and I am sure a lot of it transferred to Indigo since he seemed to be jogging on air, ears pricked forward, neck arched like a seahorse. I tried to ignore some of the looks I was getting (remember I was on an Arabian in a QH town!) but I was still nervous.
Then I happened to glance over at a group of people who where standing along the warm-up fence...and saw my parents standing there! My mother's jaw had dropped open...she looked stunned. My father, on the other hand, was beaming...grinning ear to ear. I had reined in Indigo and he was standing, chin tucked to his chest, pawing a little in excitement. I was suddenly terrified...what would my mother say about this?!
I didn't get a chance to find out because they called our class and it was time to enter the ring! Sherri rode up next to me and told me to just follow her lead and the judges directions and things should go fine.
I reached down and patted Indigo on the neck, smoothing his mane. He flicked an ear back at me and mouthed the bit. Once again we started that smooth, prancing jog and he and I just CLICKED. Every move was perfect...we nailed every lead, every transition. The whole time Indigo kept his ears pricked and that chin tucked...he was fabulous.
At the end of the class we all lined up...the judge made his decisions and handed them off to the announcer. One by one the numbers were called out...none of them ours. When they got to third place I again reached down and patted Indigo...he had given his best and I wanted him to know I appreciated him. They got to first place and our number still hadn't been called...Sherri had placed fourth and was waiting for me outside the arena.
I was getting ready to turn Indigo for the exit gate when they called our number out. I was stunned! We had won!
My father stood up in the crowd and cheered, Sherri yelped and came back to give me a hug! When I went to pick up my ribbon from the judge he complimented me on a fabulous ride. He told me that both Indigo and I were a very well matched team and it showed how proud I was to be riding him. He patted Indigo on the neck and I thanked the judge. I was so proud of him I leaned down and hugged his neck. He bobbed his head and wiped his nose on my knee then slobbered on my arm...what a good boy!
When I rode back to the trailer I found my parents already there. My father's face was lit up like a Christmas tree but my mother's was stony and closed. I slunk from Indigo's saddle and handed him over to Sherri's mom. I stood staring at my feet while my mother looked me up and down.
"Is this what you've been doing at the barn?" She snapped.
"Practicing for this..." she waved toward the show arena "this...horse show stuff??"
I mumbled some reply.
"Well..." she hesitated.."Keep it up. Seems your good at it."
She turned on her heel and made her way back towards our truck.
I went on to show Indigo in several more shows until he was retired. He lived to be a great old man of 34 and I thank him every time I set foot in the stirrup for teaching me how to ride. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think of him. I eventually went on to get some horses of my own...one of which I will have to tell you about. But that is another story for another time!