For those who are "horse crazy," you know, we aren't crazy...just madly in love and passionately incapable of living life without our horse(s).
But what is "horse crazy?"
It usually all starts as a very young child. Or in my case, it did. I had a plastic bouncing horse from the 70's, that painfully would pinch your skin when riding it too rough into a 'gallop.' Other times, it would hit me when walking into a hobby store in Northern Michigan, while on vacation on Mackinac Island, my eyes widening to see the shelves fully stocked of the beautifully carved Breyer toys, begging to be bought. The collection of your first Breyer (John Henry was mine), to in your mid tweens having waaaay too many, and now the want becomes to have a REAL horse. My own horse to love, groom, feed apples and carrots to, brag to your friends and say "YES..he's mine" and to take the very best care of him. For me, it was never to have the horse to show successfully and have a wall splattered of blue ribbons (although that is great too), it was to care and connect and bond with that magnificent animal. To have a horse know me well enough that it nickered at me, that my name was on their halter, that his name was on his very own grooming brushes. It was deep.
Even before the extensive Breyer collection, the obsession grew rapidly when starting my riding 'career' as a 7 yr old and trusting my life to a gentle giant Belgian cross, by the appropriate name of "Tiny." He taught me that riding horses is as magical as seeing a dinosaur up close and being able to feed it a carrot. Thankfully, I had supporting (not always fully understanding but supporting none the less) parents that allowed me to take lessons for years on many horses that continued to steal a permanent place in my heart. From "Tiny" I graduated to "Peanut," who was a feisty Shetland that taught me size doesn't matter and being bucked off a pint sized demon was no fun, but gave me a better seat and legs that could grip. "Sugarplum" showed me don't pet a horse while their ears are pinned back, or else your undeveloped chest will get a huge bite in it!!! "Topgun" was one of my all time favorites, he was an older bay gentleman OTTB that was my first jumping companion and no matter how poorly I steered, he felt my heart and heard my brain screaming "Juuuuuump, Topgun, juuuummp!" and always did. There was stubborn "Juliet" a QH mare who didn't put up with any wrong cues, and made me work harder, and let me cry on her shoulder when I didn't place in a show. To "Montami," "Willow," and "Allegra" three graceful TB geldings that taught my hands to be more quiet and gentle.
The years of that riding always bought the same question to my hard working parents, "WHY CAN'T I HAVE A HORSE?!?! I promise to love it and take care of it" And I meant that but growing up in beautiful Evanston, IL, the closet area to ride was about 20 minutes away and about a mortgage payment to board, not to mention all the other items that come with horse ownership. But to a child's ear..that doesn't mean anything but a broken heart that only a pony can fix. "Can't I empty the dishwasher to earn enough? Can I PUH-lease just have ONE tiny horse?! Seriously, Santa, if you forget one more time.."
But, years went on, and though I continued riding, I also continued to grow in school and other things. Once graduating high school, I headed to Central Michigan University for College. What wonderful years those were, and I was busy as a student and socially, though I tried to always find time to fit in that zen smell and breathing of riding and horses. During one College summer, I worked at the Double JJ ranch in Rothbury, MI and I was a turned barn rat hunter/jumper to a full-out hay baling, tanned and toned 8 hr a day riding cowgirl and couldn't have worked harder and have been prouder. My three steeds that summer were as different as could be. "Sassy" a Chestnut Arab that spooked to keep herself interested on trails, to "Doc" a 2 yr old sweetest Buckskin that would nibble and suckle on my hands, to my favorite beast "Custer" a draft cross with an attitude and the worst gaits to sit. I loved them all and each one taught me so many different ways of riding and dealing with these amazing animals that allow us to ride on their muscled backs. That summer gave my riding a confidence boost like none other. Other than that summer, my horse time was left for when vacationing and being able to love on a random horse in Mexico, England, Belgium or in the Caribbean. (yes, I know my parent's didn't buy me a horse, but by no means did I have a suffering childhood!!:)
So after College graduation and working for several years in the real world in Metro Detroit, last summer, I had an itch.
The itch..the horse itch. It was back and it was back BAD. I told my husband, "I think I want to start riding again" but what I meant was...the sickness is back and this time I think there is no cure. It had been about 10 years since I had really ridden constantly and through the randomness of Craig's list, I stumbled upon a very sweet girl (now a friend) who was looking for someone to lease one of her many rescues. So, hello, I thought..HERE I am!! What fun last summer was, riding her beautiful rescues and chatting with ladies my age with the same love and obsession. Things started shifting from "Oh, I love that new Givenchy handbag" to " Oh, I need a Crosby saddle!?"...er any tack for that case, I had found myself years behind on my collecting!
Later that summer, a twist of fate happened when a trailer hauling in several race horses came in and dumped them off for the Fall/Winter. Some were to be raced still, others to try and sell, and if not successful with that...god knows what. As luck would have it, the horse I was leasing came up lame...and now a pasture full of Thoroughbreds faced me. So I rambled into the pasture to meet and greet these new faces, noses blowing with curiosity. Thin bodies, but pure raw athleticism.
One smallish, thin, bay horse slowly walked up to me and I just melted into his chocolate brown eyes that though, I knew he was an OTTB (off the race track Thoroughbred) he had the most amazing round Arab-ish eyes, kind eyes. It wasn't a scene from a movie, where the black HUGE stallion comes galloping over to the small helpless child and blows gently over their head. No, but it was just as magnificent to me. I said outloud to this strange horse (and to myself), "I'll ride you sweet eyes." And I did...that evening, and the next day, and the next and basically refused to get off his boney back. I couldn't sleep at night anymore, thinking, what will happen to this little ex-racer? Where will he go? Who will or would buy him? Will he go to auction and live a miserable life? The same answer kept coming to my mind, but for some reason this new voice of reason kept saying "Now is not the time, you want to start having children. You can't afford this. You don't have time" and then there it was...the little voice, the 7 yr old girl that simply said, "I love him."
And it was done. Years later, about 25 to be exact, I got my wish of a owning a horse...a dream I never let go of. In this past October of 2008, my husband and I, rescued my first horse; Lazarus.
This blog is dedicated to Lazarus and my husband and I, our ups and downs as we learn together a partnership in horse and horse crazy. I know I am starting this blog late, as I now have owned him for approximately for 9 months but I thought I would not lose another day and get going. We've already come a long way, from loading Lazarus up in my friend's trailor to bring him out to Howell, where I currently board him at a (now very dear friend's) private farm. I had a horse and a halter and not a whole lot more but a lot of support, and that is all I needed.
So (cluck cluck) here we go...