I was one of those kids who really did get a pony for Christmas. It wasn’t because my family was wealthy, definitely not, we just lived in the country and my dad got a good deal on a slightly older model Shetland. I was 8 years old and I recall writing a Christmas list with just one request: a horse. And then I talked about it. Over. And over. And over. (On a side note, how could I possibly still have believed in Santa Claus? I was sheltered, people.)
Now I have a daughter who adores horses. Her tiny heart beats to own a black and white paint horse. Just yesterday she was perfectly fine one moment, then got this horrible look on her face that turned into a “My life is crap!” crumple. I thought her stomach had started aching, or her head, but alas, it was her heart. “I just want a horse so baaaad,” she whispered earnestly. “I just want a Paint. I’ll name it Crayon.”
It made my heart hurt, too, because I remembered well that intense, burning desire to be a horse owner. I even pretended to be a horse until the age of… well, let’s just say I too old to be whinnying and galloping around the school playground. But I also know what it takes to be a horse owner: the expense, the time, the appropriate land to horse ratio. The latter being the biggest hurdle right now. Ladybug begs us to move to the country or nearer to my parents who have a fenced pasture just waiting for a Paint to poop in it.
For now, we’ve decided to let her take horseback riding lessons. She went to a horse camp last summer and happily mucked out stalls with the mostly 8-year-old girls.
Ladybug and I recently stopped by a horse farm I’m considering for lessons. Lo and behold, there was a black and white Paint that a teenager said would probably be used for lessons with someone my daughter’s age. You could have knocked Ladybug over with a feather. Her obsession was just fueled.
On our way back to the car after visiting with the owner, girls and horses, Ladybug picked up a partial horseshoe caked in dirt. She asked if she could take it home to commemorate our visit to the horse farm.
When she got home with her treasure, she proceeded to wash off the grime with hot water and soap. Which revealed its true identity: a horse toenail. I explained that when a horse’s hoof grows too long, they trim the too-long part off. Suddenly the magical horseshoe was diminished to a disgusting partial toenail. And even though it had once belonged to a horse, she was still a little icked out.
She conceded that it should be discarded. Then, later, I was horrified to see that the dog had fished it out of the trash. Num, num. Ewwww.
Later that night she told her dad about the horse hoof and the Paint.
After she was busily playing elsewhere, her dad and I decided we really should try to find the best place for lessons for her age. While they’re just a tad expensive (read: I may need to sell a kidney), she’s not in any other after-school activities right now and it’s something she truly seems to love.
Time will tell whether she’s interested enough to have a horse of her own or if she switches to some other passion. I know for me, having a horse to love and take care of was a good distraction from the pressures of school and life. It was just me and my horse. And freedom.
What were your passions as a child? Are you still able to enjoy some of the activities you were passionate about as a child or teenager?