Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Crash of Thunder

Why I Love My Horses

There is another storm coming. Reports vary on what it will be, but right now the best description seems to be a "winter hurricane." Snow? How much? Who knows. Six inches according to one report, but another says, "Potential for heavy snow." Either way, it does not explain why I have been hearing the crash of thunder in my computer headphones. Since I don't have my speakers hooked up, the sound is faint but unmistakeable.

Turns out that after you load the Weather Channel forecast to your desktop, the sound begins. If I understand what I read, it's basically there to warn when there is a severe weather alert in your area, but I'm pretty sure I was hearing it on clear days as well. It's kind of neat, but I'm sure in the long run it would get tiring. I found a link that tells me how to shut if off, so that's fine too. At least I know I am not losing my mind as I wasn't sure at first if it was my imaginination working overtime in this neverending winter.

But on to the topic of the day, since it's so soggy out there horse efforts will once again be curtailed. Although I do have to go get feed and figure out how to back the truck up to the tack room without totally destroying the very wet lawn underneath. Ah well, I'll cross that hurdle when I come to it.

And I do love my horses. I would probably love any horse I'd own, and most horses I don't own as well. The fact is, that for as long as I can remember I loved horses, even before I knew one personally--or is that horsenally.

I've often wondered about that. My paternal grandmother was apparently a horse addict of sorts, so it's possible the trait is inherited. All I know is that from the first time I remember seeing a horse, I was in love. Every year, at the County Fair, I somehow managed to convince my parents I needed a pony ride and when I was a bit older, I think I spent one whole evening leading the pony rides just to earn a ride as payment. I don't recall seeing anything else at the fair that year, just the ponies. It was more than enough for me.

Still down in my basement is an antique rocking horse worn to a frazzle by the hours I spent galloping the plains with him. And from who knows what age, I have a collection of model horses of varied quality many of which are now displayed in my living room cabinets. I used to eagerly shop in the toy department of JJ Newberry's in New Brunswick--a store long gone now because they had the nicest little plastic toy horses you could ever want. I'd save up my pennies until I could afford a new one, and my mother would set me free in the store to shop till I dropped. I still have the collection I amassed. I suppose they might be worth a little money now, but sometimes fond memories are hard to part with.

When I was about ten years old, one of my cousins inspired me with a brilliant idea--to start a savings account so I could buy my own horse. For over tweny years, I put every spare coin I had into that account, building it up to a nice tidy sum for a kid.

When I was in the 7th grade, I entered our then 7-12 year high school and met the art teacher of my dreams. She had horses, and even better, ran a school riding club taking students home with her to give them riding lessons after school. (This was in the days before anyone ever thought of lawsuits.) I was in heaven and convinced my poor mother it was the only thing I'd ever really wanted to do. Since, for the first year or so, I fell off pretty regularly, my mother would come to pick me up after the lesson and sit in the car with her hands over her eyes. I think I all the years I rode, she and my Dad came to perhaps one horse show to see me ride. Other than that, I can still hear her voice nearly every time I head out to saddle up, "Be careful with those darn horses."

And yet, when I had to send my sweet Si--the young horse I later lost on the surgery table--for colic surgery, it was my mother who bailed me out with the large vet bills. She never said a thing but just gave me the money to save my horse's life. (Si died after a second colic surgery some six weeks later.)

When I finally graduated college and was hired as a teacher in the school I stayed with for 38 years, I was ready to buy my own horse. Since I had leased a horse for many years, I was fairly competent at that point, and fairly well prepared for ownership.

I won't in this post, go into detail about my horse search, but I ended up with my Russell R., and that was the beginning of a "love affair" I've never quite gotten over. My time with him taught me the full power of my obsession with horses and how potent that kind of love can be.

Now, horses are a part of my life as essential to me as food and shelter. I thinkt that's why even when the weather is too horrible to allow me to ride, I am essentially content. All I need to do is go out to the barn and drink in the smell of horses. Just seeing one of my Boys walk across the paddock or take a drink of water makes me smile. Better yet if I go out with carrots and listen just one horse bite down and crunch I am delighted. And, oh, I relish the thrill of having a horse lean into my hand as I scratch his chin. Getting slobbered on is a joy and ducking a bite is a just another one of those pleasures I can't seem to escape--my Boys can be quite naughty. My body just "knows" how to move around my horses, nine times out of ten stepping aside just in time to avoid a hoof or swishing tail. While they do "respect my space," the Boys are still horses and sometimes forget me a little. I am ever watchful of their body language, but it is second nature to me, almost as if I am part of their society.

Yes, I wish Tucker were less difficult to train. Yes, I wish riding were easy and we could look like one of those top riders in the Olympics. Yes, I wish I had an indoor and tons of money to throw away indulging my Boys with every luxury a horse could ever want.

And yet, these are my Boys. I would not trade one of them for an Olympic mount. We have a kinship and a mutual understanding. I take care of them and they let me into their world.

It's almost as good as that first pony ride at the fair.


  1. I've been obsessed with horses since I was very young. Got it from nobody in my family that I know of. Got my first (and only) horse when I was 36. I wish he wasn't lame most of the time and I wish he was more fun to ride... but I love him and wouldn't trade him for a million dollars.
    Through the years there have been horses I haven't liked at all... but I still love them because they're horses...
    Just watching the horses here out the window makes me smile : )
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  2. Anonymous11:38 AM

    I've been riding since I could hardly walk, and have always loved horses. I know what you mean about being with them - that is my chief satisfaction - and knowing how to move around them does become automatic. You have lovely memories!

  3. I think this is my favorite post you've done so far, because it so echoes my own experience. My first memory of a horse was a ride on a black shetland pony at the circus when I was 4 years old. I remember cutting open my knee on the way to the pony ride but insisting that I HAD to ride a pony (despite never even seeing one in real life before). It took many years after that before I was able to spend any amount of time with horses, but I read books and collected models in the meantime. There's nothing like listening to my horse crunch on a juicy piece of apple and I love the wrinkles over his eyes, his long ears.....

  4. glad you found a reason for the thunder... was half expecting to find you developing tinnitus of no known cause, which would have been NOT good...

  5. As soon as you started talking about thunder I started looking out the windows wondering what on earth was going on! With the weird weather we've been having, thunder wouldn't surprise me at all!

    Your post was excellent, it made me tear up (I blame pregnancy hormones!). I've lived with horses my entire life, I think sometimes I take them for granted. They've just always been there. But when they aren't there or I can't be with them, there is certainly a hole in my heart.

  6. There is something compelling about powerful four footed giants who accept our companionship with such grace.

  7. Lovely post. It moved me quite a lot. I also recognised the burning passion. It is also a fairly destructive passion and very hard to share with family life.
    I know that my son keeps me to give myself in at 300%.

    I do spend 70 % of my time at the yard. People think I am mad, because I would take a book a go read in my mare's stall.
    I hope that I would end my days in their compagny.