One of the highlights of my Mother's Day weekend was taking a lesson at Waterloo Hunt Club during a hunter/jumper show. My mom rode at this exact place back in her horse showing days, and riding there made me reflect on how grateful I am that she has always nurtured and encouraged my love of horses, even now that I’m an adult.
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved horses. I had an epic My Little Pony collection, then graduated to a herd of Breyers while always yearning for the real thing. When I was 8, my mom inherited her farm, and my little girl dreams came true - the farm came with horses, and my mom bought us a crazy little pony named Chiquita (because that pony was bananas).
We had many horses through the years - Jazzman, Sis, Pockets, Moon, Jazzy, Stitch - but my horse was a black Arabian named Lee-el that my mom got as a two year old and we trained together. I grew up with that horse and loved him fiercely. He was my heart horse - my bond with him was so special.
I stopped riding regularly around my junior year of high school, and even though life got in the way, I never stopped loving horses. But when Lee-el died unexpectedly (and much too soon) in 2008, I didn’t know if I would ever have a horse in my life again.
Fast forward eight years, and I hadn’t been on a horse since Lee-el died. Graydon, my oldest baby, was three years old, and I had just lost my second child at 21 weeks pregnant. I was devastated, heartbroken, shattered.
And then a friend of mine invited me to go riding with her. It had been at least eight years since I sat on a horse, but the second I got up into that saddle, I felt like I was home. I didn’t realize how much I missed that feeling, or how much I needed it back in my life. My dear friend brought horses back into my life when I needed them most, and I am eternally grateful to her for that.
Shortly after that ride, my family and I started looking for a new house, conveniently much closer to the barn where my friend had just taken me riding. I was determined to start taking lessons as soon as we moved.
When we bought our house in Ann Arbor, my mom gave me riding lessons as a housewarming present - I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better gift. I got pregnant with Finn shortly after that, so I didn’t get to use those lessons until after he was born, but I’ve been riding ever since.
Now I’m getting ready to ride in my first horse show in more than 20 years, and I’m hunting for a horse to call my own. I can’t describe how good it feels to have this passion reignited, how happy it makes me to have horses back in my life. I feel like I’ve reclaimed an essential part of myself, and I’m never letting go of that again.
Once a horse girl, always a horse girl. 🖤