I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer, or to be around horses. However, I do remember when I combined the two for the first time. I was ten-years-old and my dad had bought me a two-year-old mare for my birthday. Now, normally I was not the kid who got a "pony" for her birthday. It just so happened that my dad was talking to a guy who had an Apaloosa from great bloodlines who he needed to get rid of. My dad should have known when the guy told him that he could have her for a hundred bucks that this could signify a problem. But Dad said that he'd take her based on her breeding.
When the trailed rolled up to the house I grew up in and the man unloaded my birthday present, I can remember the gasp my dad let out and the words he said were, "That is the ugliest damn horse I've ever seen." My dad wasn't thinking at the moment because I was standing right there and I immediately jumped to her defense and said, "No she isn't. She's beautiful." Frankly, I was ten and any horse was beautiful. My daughter's instructor says that I still think that way.
I loved that mare and I named her Dandashell and called her Dandy. I combined my nickname of Shell with Dandy. She didn't have the pretty spotted blanket so many Appies do. She was a roan with about two spots on her rear, and she was gangly and gawky. But she actually grew into herself and was over sixteen hands high. Even my dad to this day will tell people that she was an ugly duckling who became a swan. I don't know that she actually ever became a swan, but she was a great horse, who was also the fastest horse I've ever ridden. I used to ride with a group of little girls growing up, and we called ourselves "The Billy Dal Gang," (another story for a future blog), and my friend Stacey owned this little Arab named Zelle. When my dad wasn't with us, we'd take those horses down to the river bottom and our friend Renee would clock them. We always wound up in arguments over who was the fastest horse. To this day, i think Stacey and I would still argue that, but I know that Dandy was the fastest. LOL.
Dandy was also the inspiration for my first horse story. I wrote a story for a magazine about my favorite horse. It was all about how my dad called her an ugly duckling and how I thought she was beautiful. I went on like little girls do about my pretty horse and then I submitted it to the magazine. I can't remember the magazine, but I think it was called Horse of Course. Does anyone remember that magazine? There was a section for kids in it with stories about their horses. I checked every month for about a year and my story was never published, but I didn't care (not too much anyway). I still had my swan of a big roan mare. I had Dandy until she passed away, just like Charlie and Ivan in my previous post. I swear my parents' place could be full of equine ghosts at night. There are six horses buried out there and quite a few dogs too. I have nothing but great memories from my swan. She was smooth and even-tempered. She was trust worthy and willing--she was simply a great horse to grow up with. She never was much to look at in hindsight, but that didn't matter to me, because I always thought she was the most beautiful horse in the world. Little girls and horses--sigh--perfect fit. Dandy happened to be the perfect fit for me, and I finally am "publishing" her story (thirty years or so later than expected).
How about any of you? I think all of us here at Equestrian Ink would love to hear your "favorite" horse story. That's what we're here for--to share the love of our animals and our writing. Feel free to share yours.