Thursday, June 4, 2015

On growing up with horses.


It's pretty much a universal dream for a little girl to grow up wanting a pony. I never had to dream about it, because I actually had one. His name was Bingo. I was four years old, and I was in love.

When I was eight, we bought Jet. He was meant to be mine and my dad's horse, but let's get real, he was mine. I named him, after all. My mom always thought I named him Jet because he was jet black, but in reality, I named him after the Famous Jett Jackson. I dropped the extra 'T' because it was tacky, obviously. What can I say? I was eight, and it was relevant at the time.

Growing up, I took riding lessons and loathed every second of it. Every Saturday was spent at the barn, and being the spoiled little brat I was, I resented my parents for making me go. I hated wearing thick riding pants at noon in the dead of summer, I hated flies in my ears, I hated my riding instructor who very well probably hated me back. All my parents ever wanted me to do was to grow up to love horse back riding the way they did, and had I stuck with it, I just might have. To be honest, I really wish I did.

Fast forward a few years and we moved from the beach to a relatively "redneck" part of town about 30 minutes away from where I grew up. We started with two horses, Jet and Tess. A few years later, we bought Lee for my dad. Then my mom's best friend started keeping her horse, Reata, with us. Then we bred Lee and got Smithy (pictured above). And then we got Finny. And now we have six horses in the back yard. Goooood lawwwwwd.

I continued to take riding lessons for a few more years. I entered a few dressage shows, won a few blue ribbons. I cleaned stalls for $20 a week as my "first job." Eventually, I stopped taking lessons altogether. I stopped cleaning the barn. I went on maybe three trail rides a year with my mom. Meanwhile, my parents' love for all things equestrian grew, and has continued to grow. They're both members of the county's Equestrian Board. They both take lessons. They both ride in the evenings. It's something my mom has always loved, and it's something my dad grew to love (almost more). It's something I think I could grow to love again.

When I mention that I have horses at home (and as I've gotten older, I do this less and less, as I don't want to appear braggy), I'm always asked "do you ride all the time?" and right now, I say no, and that kind of kills me. Because I don't. I grew up a spoiled kid who had the opportunity to have the life every little girl dreamed of, and I didn't take advantage of it.

Yesterday, I had the day off of work. I went home to my parents early in the day, and my mom and her friend, Karen, were getting ready to ride when Karen asked me if I'd like to join. For the first time in almost a year, I said yes. I put on my yoga pants and my mom's old boots and I hopped on Jet (who is 27 and has a small case of arthritis, but that never stops him) and on to the trail, and it felt so good. Yesterday, I realized that it didn't matter how much of a brat I was about horse back riding as a kid. If I want to start riding again, I can start riding again. If I want to start taking lessons and doing horse shows again, I can start taking lessons and doing horse shows again.

Growing up with horses, I never realized how lucky I truly was. Nearing 24, I'm just realizing how lucky I am to have the opportunity to pursue such a rewarding hobby once again. Maybe not all at once, but one ride at a time.

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