In fifth grade I had a hope chest. I’m not sure if hope chests are all the rage anymore, but my two older sisters who got married in the 1980s had hope chests. These were cedar chests in which brides-to-be put household items they were saving up for when they would be whisked away by their dashing groom to enter a life of marital bliss. The goal was to gather supplies such as mixing bowls and cutting boards so that the young bride would be fully equipped–ready to keep house.
The chest was a tangible symbol of the dream to be a wife.
My hope chest was one of a kind. No, my parents weren’t trying to marry me off for money, importing some ancient Far Eastern tradition to small town Illinois. It was my original idea.
I had a horse hope chest.
Actually, it wasn’t really a chest like my sister Renee’s Lane oak creation with a country blue plaid seat. It was more of a cardboard box with construction paper covering it and words scrawled in marker “Horse Hope Chest.” It contained wonderful treasures I had acquired from occasional visits to Farm and Fleet and Blanchard’s Feed and Stable Supply. My hope chest had a silver sweat scraper, hoof pick, rubber curry comb, stiff dandy brush, a sponge and a container of Lexol leather conditioner–all the amenities a girl would need for when she finally had a horse of her own.
Today I have a new saddle that has been hanging in my garage for the last three years. A week before my wedding I purchased a hunt seat saddle for my 23-year old gelding whose back had been changing with age. The Mattes pads and extra padded saddle pad were no substitute for having a saddle with a tree that was just right for my first-love, my bay Thoroughbred DC.
The saddle fitter came out to the barn to ensure my distinguished gentleman would have the perfect fit for his golden years. A week before the saddle fitter came, the vet did a thorough examination and stated, “He’s very healthy. Keep doing what you’re doing. He doesn’t know he’s 23.” She also deemed him in good enough condition to trailer from Illinois out to California where my soon-to-be husband and I had just bought a house.
DC never made the California trip. More on that down the road.
So three years into marriage, two step children, two dogs, and a partial home remodeling project later, I am on the edge of horse ownership again. I am keenly aware of the parallels of searching for the right horse and searching for the right man, having not that long ago been a single girl, looking for “the one.”
Let the story commence.