It was a hot July evening. We were heading to the barn for my lesson, and I was excited. Andrew Jackson was now living at the stable where I rode, and there was a good chance I’d be riding him on this night. Andrew was a tall rawboned chestnut Thoroughbred, of the sort you don’t find very often any more (at least not in the U.S.), but was rather common in those days. He had a long head with a handsome blaze, and several white socks. Andrew had been a young girl’s Eventing horse, competing at least through Preliminary, but he was now for sale. We could never afford him, but I still dreamed of tackling cross-country on the back of this tall, sturdy chestnut.
As we pulled into the driveway, there was a small group of adults standing around a little white horse. He looked like an overgrown Shetland, with his round belly and bushy white mane and tail. I wasn’t even curious about the new horse – my mind was set on getting Andrew out.
As I got out of the car, the adults motioned for me to come and look at the little white steed. They began asking me what I thought of him, and didn’t I think he was cute? I just shrugged. Apparently not satisfied, one of the adults told me to watch him move. She sent him out on a long line around her, asking him to trot and canter. He was rather out of shape, and out of balance. He was certainly no Andrew Jackson!
I was puzzled by the interest in this horse, when someone (can’t remember if it was my mother or another woman) let the cat out of the bag – this little white overgrown pony was my new horse! “Oh” was my only response, as they handed me the lunge line. Disappointed looks on adult faces all around!
It’s not a moment I’m proud of, but when you’re twelve and dream of a tall handsome chestnut, and someone hands you a dumpy little white horse who could have walked out of a Thelwell cartoon … even as an adult, I have trouble making that sort of switch gracefully!
Lest you feel too sorry for my mother, or for the little dumpy horse – all ended well. Life might have been very different with Andrew as my horse – but he might have been wasted on my at that stage. Sure, I jealously watched others get lessons on him, for a few weeks, while I rode my little “pony” – but that little white horse was probably the best thing that could have happened to me! He taught me so much, and we had great times together.
This weekend, I was thinking of that moment when I first met Wicki – and how life seems to have come full circle. I now have the tall, handsome chestnut with the white blaze and socks that I’d dreamed of as a child. In some ways, I feel a bit like the middle aged man who couldn’t afford the Mustang convertible when he was a teenager, so he buys it later in life to fulfill that unfulfilled fantasy. Only my convertible talks to me, follows me around, and breathes in my ear.
But, I find myself once again longing to ride the tall chestnut (who happens, in this case to not be old enough), while facing the realization that the horse I may actually need at this very moment is a small, rather tubby, nearly white Appaloosa. Talk about deja vu! More on this development to come in the not too distant future. In the meantime …
Be good to your horses!