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equestrian [equus, horse] 1. adj. of horses or horsemanship 2. n. a horseback rider

Like many girls, I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. Unable to satisfy this desire due to my location (horses simply do not do well in residential neighborhoods), I survived by reading every Marguerite Henry book I could get my hands on, collecting models, and forcing my parents to pull over every time my sharp eyes spotted anything remotely horse-shaped grazing near the road.

Around the time of my 11th birthday, I discovered a stable that offered riding lessons at an affordable price. My parents agreed to pay for me, and before long I was spending every Saturday morning in heaven, surrounded by a few shaggy Welsh ponies and a friendly gelding or two.

If I was exceptionally good in that day's lesson, I was even allowed to go on a ride all by myself in a nearby pasture!

Two glorious years later, I decided to quit in order to save the $10 a week toward my goal of joining my class in a trip to Washington, D.C. My horse-craziness had to be satisfied in some other manner, so I returned to my models. Almost by accident I stumbled upon model horse showing, a hobby which tried to copy every aspect of the real horse world, except on a smaller scale. I learned to craft miniature saddles and bridles from leather... well as harnesses.

I tried my hand at re-painting pintos...

...and several tiny (3" tall) models of various breeds.

I even prepared a Thoroughbred racehorse as a visual aid for a school project on Kentucky!

Then my fortunes began to change. I had the opportunity to ride a bratty little Spanish Mustang mare for one of my father's friends, and when they moved, it was decided that I could keep her as long as I could pay for board. Enter Gatan, also called 'Tani, the fulfillment of my long-held dream of owning a horse.

I coerced my high school into letting me count horseback riding as P.E. during my freshman year, and rode as often as I could convince my mother to drive me out to the boarding stable. 'Tani and I explored the 3,000+ acres of a nearby nature preserve, climbing hills of sagebrush, ducking beneath oak trees, and crossing creeks on whose banks delicate wildflowers grew. I learned the joy of galloping bareback with my arms flung out for balance and the wind whipping her mane into my face. I even taught her to jump small obstacles in the arena, where we reached a height of two feet before running out of things to stack.

All good things must come to an end, so they say. After a year and a half of calling her my own, I decided that I couldn't afford the $125/month cost of board, so I gave 'Tani back to her original owners. I did have one consolation, however: I spent that summer working at the horse stable.

They rented horses as well as boarding them, so I was able to return to the trails I loved as a guide for customers who wanted to ride.

There were other good times, too... like exercising a mare for a friend who'd had back surgery...

...riding in the mounted color guard (that's me on the right) during the end-of-the-week show at a summer horse camp where I worked as a wrangler...

...and a glorious trot along the beach. Who knows what the future has in store?

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This page last updated at 2:03 a.m., July 19, 2002
Copyright 2002, A.J.S. All Rights Reserved.