Posted by: chlost | December 4, 2011

All I want for Christmas is……..

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.

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Responses

  1. Aren’t rare kids like your granddaughter a real treat? I hope I have a grandchild like that. I have one young niece that is all into computer games and electronic toys….and she is not even 10 years old…. I have another niece that is just into “anything and everything Princess related”….and she has no interest in any of the new gadgets. I love spending time with her because it reminds me of my own childhood when I was tickled pink just getting Lincoln Logs for Christmas. I think being a kid was actually much more fun back in our age before electronics messed everything up. Wanting a real live breathing Horse is so much more fun than wanting a computer video game.

    • My son and d-i-l are trying very hard to raise their girls in a more natural way than most parents. They don’t have television, except to see videos, so no advertising. They have mostly blocks, art supplies and animals to play with, so there is much imagination and creativity in their play. They are amazing kids. But I will admit that when my granddaughter pretends she is a horse, her name is “Princess”. 🙂

  2. If you ever decide to act on that wish, I could get you one for free, or nearly free. That is wonderful that you have a little horse girl in your life. I really enjoyed this post.

    • I wish that I could. But we have nowhere to have one now….my husband is boarding his cows in two places, but we are too far from the granddaughters to add a horse/pony.

  3. Your post brings back so many memories. And smiles at your memories. Very cool that your dad got you that horse! I wasn’t horse crazy as a little girl, but I love animals and enjoyed spending several years helping my best friend in high school train a thoroughbred (she was a bay too) for hunter/jumper competitions. I still go riding when I get the chance (usually on our vacations) and always go for the more “spirited” horses in the stable.

    • Once you are around horses, I think the enjoyment of them stays with you. It was cool that my dad got the horse. I wish I knew how that happened.

  4. What a lovely post. I was crazy about Palominos, too, and drew picture after picture of them. I never got a pony, but we’d go to some nearby stables and rent horses. Such majestic animals.

    • My granddaughter’s drawings of horses are so cute. Stick horses with beautiful tails.

  5. Yes, barbie horses here for the 6 year old. I got her books too.

    • Any books about horses?

  6. I loved horses, too, but we were so poor there was no way to own one. We did have a run down farm, though, with lots of pasture, so my folks took in horses to board and we (the kids) cared for them, rode them, and even did a lot of their training. I loved them so, but was heartbroken each time one went away.
    My eldest granddaughter loves horse, and we all chip in a bit to keep her in riding lessons. She is doing some work for the horse farm to help pay her way. I’d love to have a horse for her. There is absolutely nothing softer than the velvety nose of a colt.

    • Once my granddaughter gets a bit older, I think it would be great if she could have riding lessons. It is a great option, and I love how your granddaughter is working for the rides.

  7. I always wondered what the deal was with girls and horses, my sister was totally into them as was my step-daughter. We couldn’t afford one, but my step-daughter decided to try buying one on the “installment plan”. She bought a brush, then later a pic-thingy to get debris out of their hooves, eventually an English riding helmet. I guess she thought if she had all the equipment she would be better positioned to get a horse.

    She never did get one, though she like to pay for riding lessons. Occasionally she takes our granddaughter out to the stables and they rent/ride a horse. But the girl-horse thing still is an enigma to me.

    • That installment plan purchase is hilarious. Well, kind of sad, too. The love of horses, or anything, really, is usually a mystery to others. Maybe girls in general are more likely to enjoy something that is big, beautiful, fast, soft and friendly. Horses fit that description when other things in their lives do not.

  8. Dear Robert the skeptic.

    I will try to explain it for you. Horses are beautiful. Horses are also powerful and strong but willing to let a young girl ride on them an gallop into the wind.

    Men and boys are into cars and engines (generally) . That’s kind of odd to me. Why don’t they pay more attention to the natural world? I am not trying to cause controversy, just saying….

    • Yes, I think you’re right. Many boys like fast cars. Many girls like fast horses. There’s nothing wrong with either one. And I kind of like the idea of a bit of controversy on this blog!

  9. Oh, you’ve taken me back to a time I’d forgotten. Horse Crazy. My daughter got a pony because I’d always wanted one. I’ve never owned a horse of my own, and know I never will. But oh, the memories of that dream are bitter sweet.

    • I had forgotten the label “horse crazy”. You have lived so much of your dream….with flying, at least.

  10. Well, if you ever find your way up to the northeast corner of the state please stop in! My wife teaches riding/horsemanship to a couple of young girls. It is so much fun to see a diminutive person easily control a 1200 pound animal. Here is the farm: http://www.northcoaststables.com If young boys found out how much young girls liked horses, they’d learn to like them, too!

  11. Holy moly: you lived the dream! I was a crazy horse kid, too, but I never had one. You actually had one???

    Wow. Time for you to hit an independent toy store and look at the non-promotionally-related wonders therein–for your grandgirls!

    • There were many kids with horses in my school. Most of them lived on farms, though. I was very lucky to have a horse while living in town. I loved it.
      We get a lot of wooden toys online. My daughter-in-law has kept Etsy in business. But I find that even many of the independent toy stores (like Creative Kidstuff in the Twin Cities) now carry a bunch of crap and cross marketed items. It is disappointing.

  12. I agree. You did live the dream! I remember how shocked I was when my grandfather let it slip that my Dad had a horse when he was a kid. Except he didn’t live in the suburbs of Los Angeles, but still…

    If you want to read an eye-opening book about the Disney Princess “cult” and how it affects young girls, take a look at “Cinderella Ate My Daughter.”

  13. Great story. I was never into horses, but one of my sisters was.

    I agree about the toys. I wonder how kids can use their imaginations playing with all the crap I see advertised. When I was a kid we didn’t have many toys, and really didn’t need them. Mud, sticks, old beat up bikes my dad put together using pieces of discards. We were good at improvising

    My own kids had a lot of toys, but not the theme stuff. Theirs were mostly legos, army stuff, and matchbox cars. I just gave away most of it to a friend with two young sons. Funny how sad I felt giving away a box filled with cheap plastic dinosaurs. I used to have dinosaurs hiding and battling it out all over my house. I’ll bet you never knew there were large dinosaurs on the battle fields of many of history’s major wars.

  14. My sister went through the horse thing but it passed me by. I didn’t want horses or Barbies – I asked for a camera, an erector set, a chemistry set, a microscope, books and more books. I only have boys but their wishes have also inclined toward the active – musical instruments and science/outdoorsy things.

  15. I was never horse crazy, probably because I was quite practical in my childhood and knew I couldn’t have one, but love that you actually had one of those present dreams come true. Pretty cool how things have come full circle. I’m hopeful that lack of tv would help my non-existent kids with tie-in toys. I refused to buy the barbie books requested this year. I couldn’t do it.


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