When you're a kid living in a city or a suburb, and horses are a rare sight, let alone an animal you could possibly own, you make do with what you've got. I vaguely recall making a life-size horse to put on the basement wall, carefully cutting its parts out of construction paper and taping them together. I made a smaller clay horse, too, as well as its barn and paddock, and dutifully filled its hay net with grass every morning and evening. My small Britains horses and the larger Breyer horses got names and bloodlines. I frequently brought carrots to Whiskey, a chestnut horse who lived alone at a camp next door to my junior high school. And I wrote a stirring saga called Diablo, all about a wild black stallion, who thundered across 60 pages in company with just about every stereotype you'll find in the world of horse and pony stories.
|Me on a pony for the first time, age 10, near Lake|
George in upstate New York. Yes, I know. What grace!
What style! What form! I recall being transfixed with joy.
Which would account for the generally dazed expression.
I can still remember nearly every horse I rode there: big, rawboned, jugheaded Harley, who had scarcely any tail and was surely part Percheron; clever, responsive Charger, a flea-bitten gray who was usually a joy to ride but got the bit in his teeth one day and ran away with me; clueless Snowflake, who reared up one day when I was completely out of control, causing me to tumble off backwards; British Sterling, a beautiful, young, dark gray horse who I don't think spent much time working as a school horse and went on to a more showy career; and beloved High Step, a willing, patient, but skeptical chestnut. High Step trod on my foot once, and I jagged his mouth with the bit once (an action I still regret; but I guess we're even).
On vacations, my parents dutifully sought out opportunities for me to go on trail rides. They also rose early on occasional Saturday mornings in summer to take me to Belmont Racetrack to watch horses work out before the morning mist evaporated. This treat was part of a program called "Breakfast at Belmont," which included marvelous swag such as booklets about racing, buttons featuring Belmont Stakes winners, and the like. I remember seeing the great Forego striding through his workout.
Ahh, but raising another horse-crazy girl--that was the ticket. Now I get to see horses every week just by virtue of driving my daughter to and from riding lessons.
I no longer feel as if I want to ride horses anymore. (Which may be the result of nearly getting bucked off by one a few years ago--I'm just saying.) But since my daughter's planning to own an equestrian center someday, maybe I'll at least have a horse I can groom--she's promised to board it for me. Mostly for free, I think.
Well, even if I have to settle for a Butterscotch Hasbro pony, I'm very pleased to have written this book. I hope it brings a lot of joy to the latest generation of horse-crazy girls.