From age 10 to 15 I dreamed of, prayed for, and saved up for my first horse.
Daytona’s Derby Bid, a 3-year old American Quarter Horse gelding became my first horse circa 1985, after I had saved enough money from my job as cashier at the mom and pop grocery store in town. Those paychecks and many monetary gifts from birthdays and Christmases from previous years enabled me to enter the ranks of horse owner as an teenager.
I loved that sorrel gelding dearly, but he was a stinker! I remember many an open, wet welt on my right hand thanks to the burn from the nylon lead rope that slid through my grip as he darted off in another direction (probably to go after food).
He would lower his head and buck when I asked him to canter; he pretended a slight nudge with my outside heel meant, “Rodeo!” That was unfortunate because he had a canter like a gentle ocean current.
Later, when I found a skilled hunter/jumper trainer and we worked over fences, my horse would many times decide it was easier just to plow through the low wooden poles. Why expend the energy to actually jump up and over?
Although his modus operandi was to avoid work at all costs, I recall one surprising scene when I turned him out into the empty indoor arena one winter night. He zipped around the arena in glee and for some reason, actually jumped over a fence that was set up for a course. Very out of character.
I remember the 4-H show at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St Charles, Illinois. He peed in the middle of the halter class (yes, he literally let it all hang out in front of the judge) and inched so close to the horse in front of us that the horse squealed and did a mini warning kick, which caused Daytona to jerk his head back. I temporarily lost the reins. Not a great way to impress the judge.
Daytona mellowed with age and my horse skills improved, hence our relationship grew less rocky.
I believe he helped shape my character by teaching me perseverance and patience.
Perhaps Daytona’s the one who shaped me to be a middle school teacher–where both traits are absolutely necessary.
What was your first horse like? Or if you haven’t owned a horse, what would your dream horse be like?