I can’t say my love of horses was anything my parents particularly encouraged. My three siblings had no more than a passing interest in all things equine. In my family, horses were definitely my thing, while the rest of the kids pursued other hobbies.
As a teenager and into my early twenties I owned horses. Or should I say, my parents enabled my horse habit. My husband’s family had horses too, until he and his brother discovered motorcycles. As an adult, limited time and money have curtailed my ability to own horses. I rented a horse for a trail ride here and there. It wasn’t the same. I pursued a lot of other outdoors activities, but I always felt a little tug in my heart when I drove by a pasture full of grazing horses.
Then my twelve-year-old granddaughter attained the Age of Horses that many young ladies go through. She started riding lessons three years ago. Due to schedule issues for her parents, it appeared she would miss lessons this summer. I jumped in to offer my chauffeuring services. And as long as I was at the stable, I might as well take lessons, too.
We became a team of four, as the eight-year-old granddaughter, and my home-for-the-summer college student stepdaughter expressed interest in lessons.
Lara came recommended by a coworker. What you need to know about Lara is that she’s a real cowgirl. This is not the kind of stable where the instructor brings a groomed and saddled horse to you. Included in the lesson is brushing, cleaning hooves, lifting the heavy saddle onto the horse, and in general getting your hands dirty while getting a workout. My older granddaughter even went into the pasture to round up horses.
Only after this does the lesson start. Lara gives praise when it is earned. Under her expert guidance, you must be truly dense or inept to not learn, and so the praise does come eventually. She managed to end most lessons on a high note, after the student finally demonstrated a technique.
I consider the Summer of Horses as research for my short stories and novels involving cowboys and cowgirls, donkeys and horses. Write what you know? I grew up around the genuine article, and we have family and friends who qualify if you count New West editions. Real cowboys and cowgirls still exist, but they have changed with the times. And that’s a good thing.
One of the most welcome changes is the theory of natural horsemanship. I’ll talk more about that in my next blog. Until then, who remembers the early reader series Cowboy Sam by Edna W. Chandler?