My Life As A Child: Stomped, Bitten, Kicked, And Bucked Off by Horses
But what the hell. I still wanted one of my own.
When I was three years old I was already fixated on horses. I had a stuffed horse given to me by an aunt (actually, I stole it and threw a tantrum as only a three-year-old can throw until she let me keep it.) I named the toy horse Billy after the boyfriend who had given it to her. I played with Billy for hours on end, clacking his plastic heels together until my mother would scream “shut that thing up or it goes in the trash!” Once it did. But I found him. Even a determined (irritated) mother cannot separate a young girl and her horse.
Billy was made of red and white gingham, had a string on his back and a yarn mane. He was not real. But he was mine. Even if I could never ride him he slept with me at night and together we dreamed of running wild in fields with real horses.
At age 50 something I decided it was time to allow myself the dream of horses to finally come true. Before I began my middle-aged journey my previous experience with horses included:
- Pretending I was a horse, pretending dogs were horses that I could lead around and canter with, pretending my bike was a horse, and in a pinch, I found you could make a horse out of your hand and gallop fingers across the dinner table. I even tied sticks together and made imaginary horse corals in the yard (eventually I saved my allowance and bought two small plastic horses to put in the stick corals.)
- A few one-hour group lessons one summer at a private camp where I was bitten, kicked, stomped on, fell off, and ended up hanging upside down from a Percheron’s neck when he refused a jump at a full canter. Note: I did not jump and I did not know how to canter. This was a case of “horse gone wild.”
- Half a dozen times bareback and bridle-less on my grandparent’s semi-feral farm ponies, where I was bitten, kicked, and bucked off (after a few times, I gave up.) I do not count this as a true riding experience since 95% of the time I was actually on the ground covering my head as ponies jumped over me.
The only horse related lesson I really learned, I learned in hindsight:
What the hell were my parents thinking letting me hop on wild ponies barefoot and without a helmet?
The Kitchen Chair Horses, And Blue
Despite all my early near-death experiences my love for horses never waned. I read every horse book I could get my hands on, played with the two horse figurines I had for hours on end, stole kitchen chairs and rode them around the house (towels became saddles and scarves tied to the back of the chairs were my reins.) My mother was not pleased with these chair horses, especially when I would post a trot on them and leave tell tale marks all over the floor.
My bike was named “Blue” and he was the fastest “horse” around — he could rear pop wheelies and daredevil his way down stairs, ramps, and jump over speed bumps.
When I was not riding chair horses and bike horses, I was a horse. I ran around the neighborhood jumping all the hedges and neighing, pawing, and snorting. But I never refused a jump.
Some (normal) children skip. I cantered everywhere I went.