I have always loved horses. When I was nine years old, my parents sent me to Pioneer Ranch Camp near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. It offered swimming, crafts, archery, and horse back riding. I was so excited! First day of arrival we were given our horses...and lo and behold, there before me stood my mighty steed - Crash. Who names a mighty steed Crash? I won't belabor the fact that I hated camp with a vengeance, was desperately homesick, and never did make friends with the bow legged, sway backed, big bellied old nag they had saddled me with! Crash's sole mission at camp was to unseat me. And this she did successfully at least twice a day.
Oddly enough, I stuck Crash in a forgetaboutit compartment with all the other hateful old nags, and retained my love of horses. At university I was fortunate to have a friend who had a boyfriend who had a father who had money...and lots of it. And he also had Tennessee Walkers that needed regular exercise. These are magnificent animals with five gaits- walk, trot, canter, gallop and a special fast walk that makes them excellent horses that you can ride all day without having your innards completely jiggled away. They're used by the judges in competitive bird-dog trials. I never owned one, but I decided upon graduation that once I was settled I would have my own horse some day.
That day eventually arrived, and I was so excited! Perhaps I was guilty of putting the cart before the horse, as I really didn't know much about quarter (or whole or half) horses, and when I met this crusty old horse trader (who I must say, was a bit of a horse's arse), he promised me that Cinder was an excellent horse...maybe a little long in the tooth, but this was a one horse town, and I was champing at the bit. Cinder came home with me. I lived in an old, square timber cottage at the time. Cinder lived, uh, outside. As we didn't have a barn or anything. What was I thinking??
This horse of a different colour was dapple gray and as gentle as a lamb with any child that came near her. A two year old child could sit on her back for hours, and never, ever be in danger. But an adult? Hah! Memories of Crash, and then some! Cinder simply would not submit, nor go gently anywhere if a human weighing more than 50 lbs was on her back. This deplorable situation lasted about a month. As fall was approaching, it became imperative to find her a barn to live in for the winter, and a local farmer who just happened to love horses, offered to board Cinder. He took her out into the bush almost daily, had her hitched to a wagon that we used for sleigh rides, and just generally gave her a life she loved. Come spring, rather than pay for her room and board, I got off my high horse, and gave her to him.
I still love of horses, but now that means riding them on occasion, and taking pictures whenever I happen upon them. Like the wild horses of Assateague, that we saw this past October in Virginia, and the draft horses that I found just down the road last weekend.