I love horses. I was one of those girls who grew up wanting a horse, dreaming of horses, reading about horses and believing I would one day have a horse. I lived in the country, on a farm and we had lots of critters. I remember having dogs, chickens, turkeys, orphan lambs and baby pigs. I almost forgot the rabbits, we had 52 baby rabbits one summer! My Dad milked Holstein cows. But I wanted a horse.
As parents do, they decided to get me a goat, if I took good care of a goat.......... well, maybe they'd consider a horse. That poor goat had a definite identity crises. I was too big to ride her, but I set up jumps for her to go over. She was pretty good about doing what I thought she should.
When my parents and grandpa weren't watching, my brother and I would get in the feeder steer pen and ride the steers. You understand they were pretty confined, the object was for them to gain weight and be sold. There were often 25 at a time in the steer pen. We'd drop down from the hay mow on the back of a steer and ride it around the pen until we were thrown off. Great fun!!! We knew the ones we could ride and the ones that would always throw us off. We got caught by my Grandfather one day, got in big trouble for riding those steers.
One day my Dad came home and told me to go check out what was in the barn for me. I couldn't get there fast enough. I found a donkey!!! I was in LOVE. He had the most beautiful ears and he was the perfect size for me to get on from the ground with no saddle. We traveled many miles together, I loved him dearly.
An old family friend gave me my first horse. I was probably 15 years old. My horse was named Swift. That was the perfect name, we ran everywhere we went! I rode bareback, no time for blankets and saddles. I did have a bridle, being rather clueless about tack, when the chin strap broke, I just removed it and continued to ride. For those who don't know, chin straps are critical to stopping a horse.
I didn't care to share MY horse with my brother and sister. One day my Mother said, "It's not just your horse, you let your brother ride her today!" I was crushed, probably had a major breakdown, but it didn't change things, my brother was going to ride MY horse to the farm to feed his 4-H project. In all the trips I took to the farm to feed my 4-H steer, I pretty much took the same way through the woods and then to the cow pasture. But, there were certain places I would lay on the neck of my horse to avoid branches as we ran under them. And when we came to the cow pasture I had to get off and open the gate. I would always open and close the gate and then step up on the gate, Swift would "side" over so I could get on and then we would do the dash to the barn at top speed!!!! We did this every day, it was a pattern and we liked it. But my brother didn't know the routine, he was quickly knocked off by the low hanging branches, when he finally caught MY horse and was on his way again, he came to the gate. Let me tell you, he had no idea how fast you have to get on the horse at that gate, because she is gone if you miss getting on. Well, needless to say, he walked from that gate to the barn, Swift was grazing quietly while she waited on him to catch up. Do I have to tell you no one rode MY horse after that day.........