I feel as if I have scored the post position for the Belmont horse race.
Let me explain, please. A week or so ago I volunteered to write a monthly blog for Prairie Rose Publishing and chose the second Monday. Little did I know that two days before my blog was due American Pharoah would win the Triple Crown of horseracing and thus thrill millions of horse lovers.
The race and its incredible winner (yes I'm gushing) has given me the perfect opportunity to wander down memory lane about my love of horses. I have an early memory of sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table with a collection of small plastic horses in a variety of poses. As I moved them about the table I imagined my tiny steeds racing with the wind. Some belonged to Native Americans, some to pioneers. Some were valuable because of their speed while others pulled covered wagons or helped plow fields.
Another memory: my sister and I are straddling the wooden railing on Grandma's front porch pretending we're on horseback. Those particularly horses weren't comfortable to sit on which made fantasizing about racing them difficult. Maybe that's why we came to the absolutely logical conclusion that we WOULD own and run a large thoroughbred farm once we were grown up. We glossed over the financial considerations and our laughable knowledge of how to train a race horse because we were convinced that our love for the animals was all we'd need.
A very few years down the road we actually owned a mare—or I should say she owned us. As I recall, our mother used a $25 savings bond to buy a three year old mare 'guaranteed' to be gentle and broken to ride. Not. Of course we in our ignorance didn't know we were being scammed. My mother was overwhelmed, my sister afraid of the big beast, and me enthralled. I was also nervous, not that I let them know.
Love didn't win the day with Trixie—so named because she loved to pull a fast one on us. She hated to be caught, either that or she knew she held the upper hand in the game, but once I'd finally gotten my hands on her halter, she pretty much did what I wanted her to. Unfortunately I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Because I fancied myself an Indian of course I wanted to ride bareback and often barefoot. One of her favorite tricks was to clamp the bit between her teeth, take off at a canter, and head right for the low-hanging branch on an oak tree in her pasture that she used to scratch her back. Off I went. Repeatedly.
About the barefoot—I was leading her along the country road where we lived when a car pulled around us. Either Trixie was startled or I pulled on the rope to get her closer to the side. Whichever it was, she stepped down on both of my feet. Crying, I shoved and shoved until I got her to move. Then because I knew I had several broken toes, I clumped along on my heels guiding her to a wooden fence and used that to climb on her back. About the only good thing that came out of that accident was that I had a perfect excuse for going to school scans shoes for several weeks.
Of course my sister and I wanted Trixie to have a foal so we kept after Mother until she agreed to have her bred. We weren't allowed to watch the deed being done but it took, and eleven months later Beauty was born—the most loved-by-girls-filly the world has ever known.
Two days later Beauty was dead. I found her in the pasture on Valentine's Day. Trixie grieved as much as we did and went into what I'll inelegantly call major heat. The leader of the local 4-H group brought a stallion to Trixie and Trixie just about ravaged the stallion. My sister and I got a lesson in the birds and bees that day all right.
Eleven months later Misty came into our lives. We nearly lost her to what we called joint evil but the three of us took turns being in the stall with Trixie and Misty, getting the little filly on her feet and supporting her every few hours so she could nurse. Misty never got as big as her mother and wasn't solidly built but she considered my mother, sister, and me part of her family and loved us as much as we loved her.
Maybe that's why I watched American Pharoah cross the finish line with tears in my eyes.