From the time that I was a *cue Scottish accent* a wee little lad, I can remember my life being surrounded by giant animals that would forever have a lasting impact on my life. I started riding before I could walk, and I started falling in love with them before I'm sure I even knew was love really was. Most of my memories from childhood involve a horse in some way, and now in my adult life, I am fortunate enough to get paid doing what I've always loved. I wake up every day knowing that I get to walk into a barn to see several faces who are just as happy to see me as I am them (though, most of the time they're just happy that seeing me means they get food). However, for a period of time, I thought I'd never get to sit on the back of a horse again.
You see, my parents are divorced, and both sides of my family are very different. I grew up on my mother's side riding, and when I moved with my father at the start of high school, I gave all of that up. For five years I yearned to get back in the saddle but just wasn't sure how that was going to happen. I came into college as a pre-law major and realized pretty quickly that was not what I was meant to be doing. I came to the conclusion that I needed to go back to where I was comfortable, where I knew the most - as an animal science major.
Thankfully, I have been given several opportunities in my sophomore year of college to start riding and being around my favorite animal again, and even get paid while doing it. I've noticed that I'm the happiest I have been in such a long time and that I never want to part with this aspect of my life again - around a horse is where I am truly comfortable.
I remember my first horse, and quite honestly my first love, quite well. He was a grey retired thoroughbred gelding who wouldn't move quickly even if the barn was burning down. He was the perfect horse for a little girl learning to ride, and he was the gentlest soul. His name was Badger, and I loved him with my entire heart, and he is some of my first memories growing up. He was loaned to us in order for me to start learning to ride, which I always am grateful for my grandpa for - because without him, my love probably never would have blossomed, I think he just knew that on the back of a horse is where I belonged.
After Badger came the first horse that I owned, Popular. He was a huge sorrel quarter horse gelding who was also very quiet and very calm, one of my favorite things to do was braid his tail because I couldn't reach his mane. Popular was the first lesson in dealing with loss, I had never lost an animal or family member, and I can't say I was really prepared for it at that age. I was extremely broken at his passing and the image of him laying there, eyes open while I cut a piece of his mane, will forever be in my head. Popular was a horse that deeply rooted my love for horses, and I'm grateful for the time I got to be a part of his life.
While we had Popular we purchased another horse, a buckskin mare named Sandy. Now, Sandy was my first taste of a horse that wasn't exactly the most fun to deal with. She was the epitome of a mare with attitude and her favorite thing to do was run me under trees until I cried - I truly believe she got satisfaction out of it. As most mares do, Sandy hated Popular and we continuously had to keep her from bullying him. She was the first horse that introduced me to patience, and what it meant to own a horse who needed extreme work. She, however, prepared me quite well for my next mare, Popcorn (don't judge these names, I was in elementary and middle school).
To say Popcorn was work is an understatement. After Sandy had been given to my cousin with special needs, and Popular had passed away, my grandfather decided it was time for me to get a horse that was under 20 years old and had a little more "get-up-and-go." And, oh boy did she.
This was the first horse that threw me (multiple times), the first horse that broke a bone (my tailbone, nonetheless), made me question my love for horses, and made me realize that not every horse was easy to deal with. After a few years, though, we learned to love each other and she made me learn what it meant to love something so stubborn. She was the last horse I had before I moved, and I still miss her and think about her quite a lot. However now, I get the awesome opportunity to fall in love with 30 more horses at my work, and it's amazing to experience all of their different personalities.
Horses have taught me so many things as I've gotten older. They have taught me loss, success, failure, stubbornness, hard-work, and overall they were my first experience with teamwork. Working with a horse is a joint effort. Some you hop on and go, they do all of the work - but even then someone had to work through the bad habits to get them there. Some of them you have to lunge until they're more sweat than they are a horse so they can't even conjure up the energy to throw you.
I always joke that horses are oversized toddlers, and I think many would agree. However, they're toddlers that I love and don't see a life without. Throughout my writing, I hope to bring light to my experience, my views, and opinions on horses, horsemanship, and everything in between - because to me, writing is just another way to connect to these beautiful animals.