February 14, 2010

My First, My Best Teachers

At that point, I had already been enrolled in lessons for about four years. When we moved to Kentucky in 1987, my mother had found a local barn where I could learn to ride. Once a week for the next seven years, I met with my instructor and occasionally her German trainer and learned about dressage, a smattering of jumping, and perhaps most importantly, how to adapt to the horse of the day.

Like Lucky, this shiny bay who carted me around for many a lesson. Note my awesome dressage attire; even then I flaunted the DQ's. I loved my cowboy boots, dammit, and wear them I WOULD! The school horses were just boarders who wanted a half price discount, hence the permission to use them in lessons, or my instructor's horses over the years. Which meant I could be riding a TB who had just come back from a three-day event or there might be a 4-year-old Arab just learning the ropes or I might be riding a one-sided kid's QH who liked to buck at the canter.

A blurry capture of one of my first jumps. It appears to have been ridiculously cold. Northern Kentucky sits in the Ohio River valley and it was not unusual for us to see winter days 10, even 20 degrees below zero.

I grew up in this beautiful barn and it was more like home to me than anywhere else. I rode in it as a kid and worked in it in high school. I can still hear the sweet rumble of its stall doors, the soft, heavy footfalls of horses in the arena, the sound muffled by sand and bouncing gently off of heavy wood stall fronts, the soft munching of the horses in the stalls at their hay while I rode, and the rustle of the sparrows in the hay loft. I will always carry it with me in my heart, unchanged and undimmed by time and distance. These were the sounds I lived for every week and that hasn't changed two decades later.


  1. I loved this post. I'm a little jealous of your childhood horse experience. I was one of those especially pathetic little kids who thought that riding on the carousel was a huge treat because HORSES! RIDING! and yes, I would practice heels down, head up, straight line from shoulders, hips, heels...everything I'd read in my 500 horse books :) The sounds & smells of a horse barn are things you never forget & they bring such a feeling of peace!

  2. Haha -- I also practiced my equitation on carousel horses and looked scornfully at the kids around me who didn't keep their heels down on the bobbing ponies, LOL. It was great to be able to ride as a kid and I was very lucky. Of course, it didn't compare to the joy of having Solo -- but I don't think I would appreciate what I have now so much if I had always had a horse of my own.

  3. Ah, yes, I have similair memories of my childhood barn. I spent more time there than I did at my own house, so the sights and scents and sounds will always be with me.
    You're lucky that you have so many pictures -- for some reason, I have practically no horse pictures from my childhood. I often times wonder how many horses I have ridden and completely forgotten about because I have no documentation.

  4. Frizz, sadly, these are about all the pictures there are. I thought I had zero and only found these by digging around in my mother's basement. I wish I had some of the little shows we did, but ah well. I have more than made up for it with pictures of about every square millimeter of Solo, LOL!