December 29, 2010

The Early Years, Part I

Merry Christmas, readers!  My Husky and I are at my parents' for the week.  My childhood room, still with my collection of Breyer's that I sadly don't have room for in my husband and I's tiny apartment, holds many memories of my often-frustrated childhood in respect to horses.  I realize that I haven't shared the story yet on the blog, so here's an annotated glimpse into my past.

It starts with my mom, who was horse crazy from a young age, in spite of her upbringing in a suburb of Chicago in a family that had had nothing to do with horses for generations.  Her childhood, as she tells it, was spent either babysitting to pay for lessons, begging those with cars to drive her to lessons, or at the barn.  Her parents tried to understand, buying her bridles and bits for her birthdays and sitting in the cold at her night shows to watch her compete in a sport they didn't understand, but that was just it - they didn't understand, as evidenced by questions like "Can't you stop taking lessons now that you know how to ride?"  But they supported her in spite of that.

I was lucky in some respects:  I didn't have to deal with parents that didn't understand, but I had to deal with busy parents and my location.  I lived in the land of weekend trail riders, and the closest stable was over an hour away.  Never mind that I had a horse in my backyard: my cautious mom thought he was too green for me and wouldn't let me ride him unless she had ridden him, and she gave up riding around the time I was 8 or so.  There was one lesson stable, and it was even English, about a half hour from me, and I had one glorious lesson there before the trainer's dad died and she closed her stable and moved from the area. 

There were other fits and starts in my early riding career, but I was mostly relegated to sitting on the donkey, caring for my Breyers and playing SIM horse games.  So much of my early education was gleaned from more experienced girls taking me under their wings in those SIM games.  I learned how the real horse world worked, outside of model horses and fluffy movies.  For years I depended on those games, and the books I pored endlessly over, to satisfy the hole in my heart, but it wasn't enough.

Then one day, my dad told me that someone had bought the old Graham standardbred stable on the south side of town, and a racing stable was moving in.  My heart jumped to my throat, and I asked if they might need help, "I don't think so," my dad said, "It seems to be a family-run operation.  They do have a daughter your age though."

And that began the best five years of my equine life, and the beginning of my real equine education.

To be continued....

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