NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS
A young girl’s unwavering passion for riding and jumping horses.
. . . INTRO TO A MEMOIR
When I began writing my memoir, it was hard to go back through the years earlier than five-years-old. Horses had become my life, but I began to wonder where this addiction came from? My family didn’t ride horses, so how did this passion in me get ignited? When writing my life story, it has got to be quite a struggle to think deeply about the choices one makes, I questioned what were the circumstances that gave a little girl like me the courage to do what I did? Come with me on my journey because I have discovered how this all may have started . . .
I remembered a photographer and a pinto pony walking through our neighborhood. This man was encouraging people to have their picture taken with the horse. They stopped right in front of my house. I don’t know who they were, but somehow I was dressed like a cowgirl and placed on top of the pony to have my picture taken. I have that photo, and the look on my face was one of surprise and wonder.
Then a few years later, I found myself mesmerized by this big, strong, white horse that pulled a heavy milk-wagon. I remember distinctly that ‘Netherlands’ was written across the side of the cart. For a little girl, just eight or nine-years-old, this horse was huge! I remember how intent I was to feed him a pear from the tree in front of our house. I would bravely stand on my tippy-toes right in front of this big horse, reach up high while holding a pear, but when his head came down I got nervous thinking that he may bite me, and quickly aborted my plight.
There was a kid that I used to play with from the neighborhood whose uncle also drove a milk-wagon. Sometimes the uncle would stop the horse and wagon right outside his mom’s house to get a cup of tea. One day this kid and I climbed up onto the cart, we picked up the reins pretending that we were driving, suddenly the horse started moving down the street. We looked at each other fearfully, not knowing what to do and immediately jumped off. Lucky for us, one of the neighbors sitting on his porch saw what happening and quickly ran over to stop the horse. He was successful but yelled at us furiously, we were scared and promptly ran away.
The more I think back, most impressionable as a child, my love for animals will be forever magnified in my mind. Like seeing the movie Lassie and half-way through walking out. When I got home, mom was surprised and asked whether I had gone to the movies? I remember telling her that it was too sad, and I left because I couldn’t sit there and watch Lassie getting lost, trying to find her way home. It showed her never giving up, walking over rough terrain and rocks, she was tired and limping from the pain of both feet bleeding, it was too upsetting for me.
My journey became all about my quest to be the best rider/jumper I could be. I will take you through the years, getting my first horse, learning how to take care of it, teaching myself to ride and jump, watching videos of riders, their form and positioning, accumulating books and magazines, competing in horse shows, my successes, and my disappointments. I had what can only be described as an “addiction” that I had pursued feverishly from the time I got my first horse at eleven-years-old right up until I got married in 1964.
For the following eleven years, I devoted my life to being a homemaker and raising two children, my first child came along in 1966, four years later my second daughter arrived in 1970. My addiction had been put on hold, but when my first-born was around eleven-years-old, she talked to me about her desire to take riding lessons. I quickly found a barn where she could take lessons. Soon after she told me how she wished she could have a horse . . . That was all I needed, twelve years after selling my horse, the journey started again.
I never realized until years later that I got my drive from mom and dad. The way they had worked in the business relentlessly got to be something that I lived with day after day, I guess it was only natural for me to continually keep striving to be better. Even during those homemaker years when I had taken up golf, I was committed to learning, attempting to be better and better. I’m sorry I stopped playing because I had been good. Getting my daughter’s horse changed all that. Golf would take a lot of time to play, and I didn’t want to sacrifice time away from the horse. Looking back, my husband approved of me getting babysitters when I needed to play golf, however, that didn’t go over well when I wanted to ride a horse.
My most significant accomplishment: Competing and riding with the best riders of my time. I was introduced to two professionals; one was regarded as the best jumper rider, and the second another acclaimed rider, they often came to our area to show. There were not a lot of places to show horses at that time. Another man, I remember the thrill of riding against him vividly. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around for a long time because he got killed in a tragic accident.
My determined goal: Teaching myself how to ride and then going on to win large classes. My biggest dream . . . When I heard that anyone could go and try out for the United States Equestrian Team for the Olympics. I wanted to train with a man highly recommended and looked upon as world-renowned in the jumping world. He came from Hungry, and one of the best trainers at that time. I longed to be as good the other riders.
I hope you will enjoy my story and for all the little girls or boys who read my book, you will learn that in life when you want something, never give up on your dreams. I never gave up, I made it happen, and I lived my passion. Horses were very much a part of my life for forty years.
You have one life . . . Live it well . . . I did!
The memoir is not available to the public, my client wrote it for her grandchildren, however, this lady went on to jump The Big Wall in the Syracuse PHA class. Here is an excerpt of that moment in time for her . . .
The first time I tried, the mare refused on the second round. The jumps started off around four to five feet high. My horse stopped out in the second round at the Wall, so I sat down and watched how other people rode to the wall. They rode fast down to the jump holding their horses and then released when close to take off point at the base of the, The Big Wall.
The last show was called the Stake class, the big money class. It had fourteen jumps in the ring and the last jump was The Wall. The ring is not too big for that many jumps, so they came up fast. Each time the riders compete and go clean over the jumps they are eligible to go another round, but only after the jumps get raised. We jumped that course seven times, they went as high as they could with the standards and couldn’t raise them anymore, the last jump being The Wall got to be 6’7” everyone called that the Puissance class because The Wall got included.