Little girls and horses.
Back in the golden, olden days, almost every little girl wished for a pony for Christmas. A real, live pony.
What do little girls wish for these days? Apparently, Barbie stuff.
I walked through the toy department of a large discount retailer last week, and was surprised to see that the toys were all tie-ins to some kids’ television show, movie or other product line. There were very few generic toys. Even puzzles were tie-ins to Sesame Street, Transformers, or Barbie. No generic flowers, puppies or race cars. The coloring books and crayons were also marketing tie-ins; I had to search to find a plain old coloring book for a four-year-old.
I grew up in the late 50′s and 60′s.
Stop rolling your eyes! It wasn’t that long ago. It was only……no, it couldn’t have been……..50 years ago???
I always asked for a horse for Christmas, and for birthdays. That was always the item on the top of my list. Most of the time I received a Breyer’s model horse. I had several. I loved the Palomino best, it was a beautiful yellow-tan, with a flowing light-colored mane and tail, and it was rearing up, front hooves flailing in the air. I dreamed of having a horse like that.
When I was in the eighth grade, we moved to a very small town. I became friends with Jan. Jan had two horses, Blue and Mister. She was kind enough to invite me to ride with her. We went all over the countryside on those horses. We followed tractor paths around corn fields, and discovered cow paths in pastures. She lived at the end of a very long dirt driveway. When the horses saw the driveway, they knew they were nearly home. We flew on those horses-often hanging on for dear life-until we reached the yard. Heaven.
I’m still not exactly sure why or how it happened, but after I’d been riding with Jan for several months, my dad decided to buy a horse. This was completely out of character for him. I still can’t explain it. He bought a small corner plot of land right on the edge of town. There were some trees, grass, and a small stream that crossed through it. Perfect for a horse-at least in the summer.
My dad and I looked at a few horses. He and I knew next to nothing about buying horses, but we found a three-year old mare, very tall and calm. I think he paid $300. 00 for her. That was a lot for him to spend on anything. She was not a Palomino, but a bay.I named her Sadie. I think she came with a saddle, blanket and bridle. I bought some brushes and combs.
My sisters and I rode that horse almost daily during the summer. We found new tractor paths. We visited friends who lived “in the country”. We rode into town, and allowed her to stay overnight at the house, in a large, empty dog run behind our garage. My father found other folks who wanted to summer their horses on the little pasture, and we were allowed to ride those horses as well. We took friends riding with us. There are many family stories about our riding adventures.
In the winter, I had to figure out another option for Sadie. A small farm was next door to the school. Each morning I would stop at the farm and feed and water that horse. I didn’t clean out her stall quite as often as I should have, but I worked hard to keep her well. We couldn’t ride much in the winter, so by spring, it was a little challenging to start riding again. The following winter, I found a farmer who agreed to winter her in exchange for my help in baling hay. I worked harder to earn that board than anything else I’ve done before or after. Standing in a dusty barn, lifting hundreds of heavy bales during a day of 99 degree temperatures gave me respect for farmers I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
When I went to college, my sisters were not interested in taking care of Sadie, and I couldn’t. My dad sold her to a girl who wanted a horse to use for a 4H horse show. The land was sold off when my parents divorced a couple of years later.
My four-year-old granddaughter loves horses. She knows nothing about Barbie. She plays with model horses. She pretends she is a horse. She went to the Cavalia horse show, and she now produces and stars in horse shows for the adults in her life. She would dearly love a real, live horse for Christmas.
Me too, sweetie, me, too.