Years ago when I was a youngster I had a fascination with horses. I read books about horses, I talked about horses, I daydreamed and dreamt about horses. Like my grand daughter Madison says "I NEED a horse. Grandma you understand that a need is different from a want? " I understand that line of thinking "I needed one too." My only opportunity to ride was at a neighbors two miles away, Joe had a bunch of horses, and his children didn't like to ride. In the summer I would hop on my bike and pedal over to his farm and ride in his pasture. He had several horses that were gentle enough for a thirteen year old to ride, Joe would call one in from the pasture and taught me how to put on a bridle. Off I would go, bareback, that's how I learned to ride, feeling every muscle on the horse move beneath you. There is an art to riding bareback, you learn to use your legs to stay on the horse, there is a no other feeling that compares to riding a horse at a full gallop bareback with the wind in your face and the landscape flying by. Years later I had to re learn how to ride with a saddle, I never did like riding with a saddle as much as I did bareback.
My parents finally decided that I could buy a horse of my own. They had grown up with work horses, any horses that didn't work were called "hay burners." Dad and I went to the sale barn, I wandered up and down all the stalls, I visited all the horses tied up and spoke to some of the owners. I finally spotted the horse I needed, an older mare, I had no idea what kind of horse she was, she was brown and not too tall with kind gentle brown eyes. She nickered softly when I approached her. She nuzzled me when I stroked her head. She was just perfect. I showed her to my Dad..and declared that she was the horse I had dreamt about. The one that would take me on many adventures but always get me back home safely. I was convinced this horse would be my best friend.
We sat in the bleachers, the horses were brought in one by one. The Auctioneer would sing the praises of each animal. My Dad was interested in a horse that was good with kids. I was interested in the horse I made a connection with. My Dad bid on a very tall Appaloosa Mare that was about four years old and good with kids. He bought her..I was excited..but sad that my dream horse would be left behind.
I do not even remember what her name was, she was not good with kids and she hated me. She was a biter, and would bite me every chance she got. While I was riding her she would try and reach around to bite my foot. She would try and buck me off..she was a pain in the neck horse. When I brought her a bucket of grain she would either bite my shoulder or my boob..yes she was a boob biting old nag. I was black and blue all summer from her bites. By the end of the summer I was back riding at Joes, appreciating a horse that didn't bite. The boob biting old nag of an Appaloosa was sold..and I didn't even say goodbye to her. I continued to ride at Joes every chance I got.
Joe still has horses, he is now in his eighties. He rode in a wagon train on a trip throughout Minnesota one summer. The kindness he showed to me as a teenager I have never forgotten..we shared a love of horses. Since his children didn't share his interests he shared with me. I still ask him "How many horses do you have Joe?" He never quotes a figure, cause his lovely wife thinks he only has a few. Sometimes I drive out to his north pasture and watch the horses, and remember sunny summer days feeling free as a bird flying along on one of his horses:)