Faith, Friends, and a Filly
Do you remember your first crush in school? Mine was a brown-headed boy with bright blue eyes named “George.” What I loved more than anything about this boy was his sense of humor. He could charm his way to any girl’s heart, especially mine.
George was so funny that he knew how to make any day better. Even when I didn’t feel good or the world was unkind, I could always count on him to make me smile. I remember the day that George face planted right into the mulch on the playground. I knew he was hurt, but he popped up, laughing at himself, and acting like nothing bad happened.
Sure, I was only in fourth grade, but he showed me what it meant to have the tenacity and the ability to laugh even when things weren’t so good. I often wonder about George and where my life would be if we had gotten married, but he moved to California during my fifth-grade year and broke my heart. Part of me grieved for the loss of my friend, and I knew then how powerful emotions are even to a small child.
Finding My True Love
I discovered the next best thing when it comes to love, horses. Though the pangs of the loss of George were real, the love I developed with equines took the place of that anguish. My first lessons were from a woman who was a 3-day event competitor, and she had a track record for success.
I don’t remember much about my first riding lesson other than I was afraid I would fall, and I was on information overload. However, I couldn’t remember anything because I was so enthralled with this horse. Every time the instructor would turn her back, I would pet the horse and snuggle against it. It brought me comfort, and Ginger didn’t mind.
The next session came with 52 other pointers and tips, which I am sure I didn’t remember any of them the next day. What I did remember was that by that second lesson, I was feeling the pain of losing my first love melting away as I was entangled with my new love. It was as if Ginger could feel my hurts and wanted to make things better.
In the equine world as in the human one, it wasn’t the smoothest relationship. Ginger, like me, had a mind of her own. The first time my trainer thought I was ready to trot, the horse wasn’t obliged. As I rose out of the saddle, Ginger got away from the holder and took off towards the ravine. I hit the ground so hard I was sure I broke something. Since I was such a tough girl, I don’t think I even shed a tear.
We caught the frolicking gelding who enjoyed her moment of freedom. The trainer told me something after this incident that was so profound. I’ve remembered it all my days. She stated that if I wanted to be a good rider, I would need to fall at least ten times. Well, it was inevitable that I had the first fall in the books.
Steps of Faith
It took a lot of faith to get me back on a horse, but the instructor had become a friend, and I trusted her. I ended that session on a happy note, and I knew I had found love beyond what I shared with George. I also discovered that there were many parallels between horse riding and men.
Ginger and I had a bond, but she wasn’t the best riding horse. She had a wild streak that would come out at the most inopportune times. However, the little filly named Rita was the one who truly stole my heart. Many horses came and went during my childhood, but each left an impression with me.
Oak Haven Acres, a Place of Refuge
Through my lifetime of experiences, I never forgot all the horses that impacted my heart and my life. Some got sick suddenly and didn’t live long, while others stayed around for the long haul. What urged me to start Oak Haven Acres was the many equines that fall through the cracks after exceeding their prime.
Many folks in the racing arena don’t keep horses that long, and if they’re not winning and bringing in money, they don’t hang on to them. While you won’t see me riding the retired horses through the meadow, you will see me loving on them. Every day, I make it a point to tell them how much I love them and what they mean to me.
I sort of feel like a nursing home of sorts. Many people in these homes are lonely and miss their families. A great responsibility falls upon the staff to care for them and help with emotional needs. I see myself in a similar role in the animal kingdom. I take the animals in, love them, and let them live out their best years in peace and tranquility.
It’s my gift to them and the loving families who need care. If you know anyone who needs a home for their aging equine, be sure to send them my way. Here, our horses are family, and we care about each and every one.