Most people are eleven in the sixth grade, I was ten. I dreamed of horses, I drew horses, I collected Breyer horses. I lived in the city. I did not have access to horses. They were viewed as a fleeting, expensive, fantasy of a little girl. My parents had no idea.
Nearly every summer, my family would pile in a wood paneled station wagon and drive the obligatory long haul from Portland to San Diego to visit my grand parents. As we drove seemingly unending miles down the coast, I imagined riding a horse, just outside the window of the car. We were galloping along, wind in my hair, jumping shrubs as they whizzed past the window. Nothing gave me more pleasure on a car trip than that little private game I played.
I didn't have many friends in school, as I suffered the near annual fate of being the "new kid". However, in sixth grade I made an equally horse crazed friend, who's name sadly alludes me thirty years later. She had horses. We spent our lunch time in the library drawing horses and discussing them, every day. We became boosom friends.
For my birthday that year my parents allowed me to go to her barn and go riding. I didn't know what I was doing, but all those years of imagined obsession seemed to have prepared me; that or i simply had an insane amount of natural talent. We galloped our ponies, helmet free hair blowing in the wind, bareback up a field and through tree lined trails, jumping fallen logs. It was pure joy. Innocence. Fearlessness. Elation. Happiness.
It is that simplicity and happiness that I want to regain in my relationship with horses. This is my current riding goal. A bronze medal will come someday, but happiness needs to come first.