When and Why I Started Riding:
I think I learned this passion from my mother. She has a picture of her riding a horse when she was pregnant with me. She rode a lot when I was young. And she was always supportive of my obsession, even when times were really tough. She was the why.
My very earliest memory is of riding. My parents had a friend who owned a horse breeding farm. I knew him as Uncle Merrill. He raised Appaloosas and we would ride on the weekends. My mother was always given this big black mare with a light white blanket named Button, probably close to 16 hands high, who absolutely refused to stand still for my mom to mount. She would wait until my mom got her foot in the stirrup and then she would sidle in a circle while my mom hopped on one leg trying to get enough momentum to get on the horse. My father and Uncle Merrill would stand around laughing their heads off.
You'd think that would be enough to turn me off of riding.
My second memory was the weekend I turned six. Uncle Merrill decided that was the age at which I should ride a horse by myself. I was put on a three year old Palomino mare named Muffin. We rode up behind the ranch and Muffin turned downhill at a run. My reins were way too long and I had zero control. She ran me down the hill, through a ditch lined with Russian olive trees and ended up on the dirt road leading to the ranch, hair tore up, my arms and face scratched to pieces, in tears. That's when Uncle Merrill braced me up, told me to stop crying and shorten my reins. He told me if I didn't he wouldn't let me ride. At six, I knew I would die inside if I wasn't able to ride.
That was then.
I was told by my Doctor when I was thrown from the horse in Yellowstone that I should never ride again. He also told me I shouldn't do anything physical. There was no pain management and after months of waiting for the pain of a ruptured disc to resolve itself, I didn't ever want to ride again. All I could think of was the pain I had experienced while riding. That was all I could see. For five years I only focused on the pain.
And then I started to talk to Lisa about her horse. She invited me out to ride with her on a horse named Twist. I went because I wanted to know if I could ride or if my Doctor was right. I discovered I could ride. I discovered that I wanted to. I started talking to J about getting a horse. And then I was given Ashke and I discovered all over the joy and deep soul relief of having a horse in my life.
J told my doctor that the reason we got Ashke, even though he is still absolutely against my riding, is because there is nothing that makes me as happy as that.