I remember that barefoot summer day that a teenager invited me aboard her horse for a short bareback ride. I sat in front of her mesmerized as she taught me how to use the reins, my voice and legs to communicate with the soft yet strong animal beneath me. I still remember the girl's name, Loretta, although that one ride was the only time we connected. I doubt if she realized what a huge and life transforming impact her kindness that day did to this snotty nosed brat.
After that experience began the daily question of, "Can I have a horse?" My father hated to tell me no, so my dad's usual answer was always 'ole Mr. Will C. But 'will see' gave hope and so every night I said my prayers and asked God to give me a horse. Not the most humble of prayers I realize now!
A year or so later, a friend of my dad's came by selling tickets for a raffle the local rodeo was having. So I asked my dad," if you win would you buy me a horse?" I still remember his slow smile as he sat at the kitchen table with his friend sharing ice cold mugs of beer. "Sure honey, if I win I will get you a horse. But if I don't I want you to stop asking me." I agreed to his terms and my nightly prayers increased in fervor. And don't you know, he won!
The next week, the paper had an ad for a horse in the exact amount of his winnings, so he went and got it for me. And that was the beginning of my horse craziness. I sometimes think I need one of those shirts that say, "just one horse away from being the crazy horse lady!"
I love all the equines we have on the ranch. They might not be fancy but they're family. Here is Burrita the donkey, aka mama, her little man Macho, aka Racing Stripes, who always runs up to your vehicle and begs for treats. Most of time this is what you will see. Then there is the newcomer,young Ms. Rylee who our farrier says is sweetest mule he ever met. Tono, is a boarder and belongs to our friend Casey. He is a real cuddler and he always calls out to me when I start down to the barn; he is the kind of horse who wants to eat out of your back pocket. Stormy is probably the best trained horse we have. She can spin, side pass and back fairly quickly, do flying lead changes, chase down a cow and is still safe for most kids to ride. You just don't want to let her get in a revved up mode. Lately Casey's cousin Ricki has been riding her regularly and they are becoming quite a team. Eric's horse, Shy-Anne, lives up to her name as she is a sensitive and responsive girl. She is also very athletic on these hills. I can never forget old Charlie. Our 26 year old Arabian who is still going strong and has found a new friend, Kris, to add to his long list of admirers. Honestly, Charlie even gets fan mail! And finally there is my personal mount Mustang Buddy Boo. He can be misunderstood, and he is suspicious of strangers, but for me he's the best. My buddy.
Horses turned out to be a good thing for me. My horse kept me busy while other kids were often getting into trouble. My horse listened to my tears of adolescence and seemed to know just when to nuzzle me or offer an encouraging nicker. He taught me responsibility and how to have wholesome adrenaline charged fun! Today, I tend to ride a bit slower than I did in my youth and I have found that an easy ride along a trail is more my speed. I also really like sharing the love that horses can give with others. There is just something about an animal so big, powerful and strong responding to the needs and requests of someone so much weaker that always gives my heart a stir. Kind of makes me think of God bowing down to answer my prayer so long ago and still today.