Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a big beautiful dream, she wanted to ride like the wind and to some extent live dangerously. She loved horses and admired their amazing strength, beautiful coat, luxurious manes and long tails. She wanted a horse so badly it became much of who she was. She lived and breathed everything horses, read horse magazines, collected horse figurines and helped out at the local 4H club – even though she was not amongst one of the youths fortunate to have a horse of her own.
After much pleading, begging and persuading, she convinced her parents to let her take riding lessons, hoping and wishing that if she proved herself well enough with the lessons, her folks would give in and accommodate her wish.
You may have already guessed who the little girl in this story is… and the dream of having my own horse was so consuming that it was all I thought about at 11 years old.
The riding lessons were the most exciting experience ever and the smells of the stables is a distinct scent; a sweaty, salty, alfalfa, hay and manure infused smell that you either love it -or- you hate it. I loved it. My desire for riding lessons was one for the love of the sport of horse racing. I suppose there were other styles of riding sports like vaulting or equestrians, but the large arena of the track and the rush of the speed and a winners circle was most exciting for me.
For those of you that known me for many years would agree that I would have been the perfect candidate for being a jockey, I had the racing attitude, the perseverance, the need for adventure and a (slight) element of living dangerously.
But most importantly, professional Jockeys range in height from 4’10” to 5’6″ and in weight from 108 to 118 pounds. I would have been perfect at 5′ tall and averaging 105 lbs. I have been the same size since I have been in high school (yeah yeah, before you call me names and say you hate me) let me just say that I highly respected this sport especially pioneering women like Robyn Smith, the first woman jockey, who inspired me as a young girl and made me want to learn more and succeed. I was learning more with my riding, technique and gaining confidence, the basics on saddling the horse, washing and grooming them, all becoming part of my environment. Wanting to be the next Robyn Smith, to have no fear, have a job where you can ride a horse, get dirty and carry a crop, the ultimate thrill!
As time passed, and as a vulnerable 13 years old gullible kid at this point I was very impressionable and malleable determined to know what I wanted at 13 , so when a grungy stable guy asked me why I was learning to ride and why such an interest if I did not have a horse? My answer was simple “I am going to be a jockey and I want to learn as much as I can and be the best jockey ever, and not all jockeys own their own horses”. I can still hear his cynical nasally annoying laugh like it was yesterday, he followed by saying “what? a jockey? You? Are you kidding, if you wanted to start learning to train and ride to be a jockey, you should have started riding at five years old”. He walked away snickering and shaking his head.
I was crushed.
I went home and kept asking my parents if I was too old like the dumb stable guy said and unfortunately they simply did not know. Those were the days when you had to really research answers, there was no Google or internet at that time and what became my quest for answers quickly became my disappointment and disenchantment. Sadly, I never got my own horse, but that would be another lesson learned in my life, you don’t always get what you so desperately want. My parents were very frugal and wanted me to know this and understand this. Sometimes in life you know that you can’t have everything you want, no matter how hard you work, it’s just life.
The moral of this story is simple. You have a dream, a vision and an attitude to fulfill something of your utmost desires, do not let anyone stifle you or stand in your way, persevere and gallop forward no matter what. Reflecting back on this encounter, this was probably one of the best experiences I had at an early age so I can have this as a life lesson moving forward.
After all, would you take advice from a stable boy…. seriously, I often wonder whatever became of the guy shoveling all of the crap at the stable?