Unbroken Dreams

When I was a young girl, I was what was referred to as “horse-crazy,” meaning I was obsessed with horses.  As a young child, my favorite outing was a trip to the local pony track, where a dime would buy me five laps around a small corral on the back of a Shetland pony.  When I was older, I would nag my parents into taking me to riding stables where I could go for hour-long trail rides through the woods, and also saved my allowance until I had enough money for a few riding lessons.  Growing up in the city in a barely middle-class family, I understood that I couldn’t have my own horse, but reading horse books, collecting china horses and getting to see a real horse only once in a while just wasn’t enough.

And then, wonder of wonders, my family moved to a small town in rural Kansas when I was eleven-years old, and having a horse of my own suddenly became possible.  A few months after the move, a family friend appeared in our driveway, towing a horse trailer behind his pick-up truck.  He told us that he had found me a horse, which he would keep at his farm until we found a place closer to town to board her, and that we could come out that night to meet her.  And just like that, Gypsy was mine.  My dreams had come true: I finally had a horse!

Sadly, things didn’t go exactly as I had hoped.  My first meeting with Gypsy went well, and so did my first ride.  The second time I rode her, she bucked me off and I landed so hard that I was knocked out for a few minutes.  I think we all hoped that was an isolated incident, but it wasn’t.  She threw a fit whenever I didn’t let her have her way when I was riding her, and she had a nasty habit of biting and kicking when I was in her stall.  It wasn’t long before I was both scared of her and ashamed that I couldn’t handle her.  This was not what I had dreamed it would be like to have my very own horse.

Me on TonyThat could easily have been the end of my obsession with horses, but it wasn’t.  The stable owner kindly stepped in, offering to find a more experienced owner for Gypsy and helping me find Tony, a good-natured Welsh pony, to help me regain my confidence.  Later, I got Prince, who was as close to the horse of my dreams as any horse would ever be (you can read his story in A Prince of a Horse), and I was lucky enough to share my life with Prince until he died, almost eighteen years later.

There’s no doubt that I would have been spared a lot of physical and emotional pain if I had never gotten Gypsy, and if either Tony or Prince had been my first horse instead.  But in some ways, I’m glad she was my first horse, because I learned a lot from Gypsy.  I learned that the things we dream of don’t always match reality, and I learned that there are always going to be some situations where my best just isn’t good enough, no matter how hard I try.  I learned that sometimes reaching our goals means being willing to make some necessary adjustments, and that there’s nothing wrong with accepting help when it’s needed.   Most of all, I learned not to give up, even in the face of failure and humiliation, when we’re chasing our dreams.

Life, just like Gypsy, is going to knock me down hard some times.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t get back up and try again.

 

 

33 thoughts on “Unbroken Dreams

  1. I have three nieces, triplets, who wanted a horse more than anything. They pestered my sister none-stop until one day out of total exasperation, she told them to pray for a horse.

    They immediately dropped to their knees and prayed up a storm… and this is the absolute truth, within an hour a quarter horse trotted up their driveway.

    “IT WORKS!” they screamed, “praying works!!”

    My sister was stunned – but not too stunned to call around to see whose horse it was.

    The story had a happy ending though, the owner was so impressed by the girls, she invited them to exchange help around the stable for riding lessons.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I loved your story Ann and can very much relate. My daughter (who is nearly 18) has always loved horses and when she was 13 we bought her first pony, Sparky, who she adored. When she outgrew him we bought her Montana who turned out to be a crazy mare. She bucked her off, scared her and stripped her confidence. We sold Montana and eventually bought her Merlin, who she still has to this day. He’s been a wonderful horse and her confidence grew with him from day one. But it took a lot of work after her bad experience with Montana. But just like you and Gypsy my daughter has learned and grown so much. Thanks for a lovely post Ann.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Miriam! It took me a long time to get my confidence back, too. But I knew if I wanted to have a horse I had to get over my fear. I don’t think I could have done it if the stable owner hadn’t helped me find Tony. I’m glad your daughter got Merlin! The right horse makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved this story, and can’t wait to read about Prince! I, too, was horse crazy but never was able to have lessons. When I had children I determined if either one wanted lessons they would have them! Both daughters wanted riding lessons, but it was my youngest who had the passion for it. She began begging for her own horse at the age of eight. Of course, I told her she needed to wait. She began to save her money. When she was fourteen I leased a horse for her. Great way to introduce a kid to what it’s like to own a horse! And, finally, at the age of sixteen, she purchased her very first horse! After much searching, and disappointment, she found her heart’s desire – an off the track thoroughbred mare. Paid for with the monies she earned and saved over eight years. I’m sure there will be a blog about our horse hunting/buying experience one day. 🙂 I never did learn to ride, but this Mom enjoyed the many days and years at the barn/shows just being around them. Maybe one day………….. Do you still ride today?

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a smart way to handle your daughter’s passion for horses! Buying her own horse was a huge accomplishment, and probably made her appreciate it so much more. These days I ride very little, as I’m back in a large city where it’s difficult and expensive to have a horse. But I still love them, and I still miss Prince!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like he way you used your experiences with your horses and applied them to life and the lessons we learn from them. When were in the middle of these difficult times, It’s hard to see or appreciate how we might benefit from riding through these storms. But we do and when we come out on the other side, were usually better for it in some way. It’s not easy. It’s just life..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! It was horrible at the time, but in the long run, I learned to have a more realistic expectation of owning a horse and also that I’m stronger than I thought I was. So having Gypsy as my first horse had definite advantages.

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