As a child, I wanted a horse. I don’t mean casually or intermittently the way many little girls want a horse. I was obsessed. From the age of eight, my life revolved around horses. My favorite day of the week was whatever day I had a riding lesson, and while other little girls had bedrooms plastered with photos of heart-throbs, my was plastered with posters of ponies.
My parents would entertain the idea of a horse for a moment or two, but, as with most people, they always came back to the expense involved in keeping a horse. I remember when I was around twelve, at Christmastime, just when I thought I was making headway on the horse front, my uncle had a conversation with my mother that drilled the final nail in my imaginary horse’s coffin. (For this to make any sense, you need to know that my uncle was a horse trainer once upon a time.)
Mom: “She’s doing really well in lessons. You should see her ride sometime. The trainer says that the next step is a horse of her own.”
(I, of course, was grinning ear to ear with pride, even though the adults were doing that thing that adults do where they talk about you like you aren’t there.)
Uncle: “Oh Lord. Don’t do that. What is she, twelve? When she turns thirteen, she’ll get interested in boys and forget all about horses. I’ve seen it happen a million times.”
My mom sort of glanced at me and nodded, accepting his advice.
And my grin failed.
The truth is, I never did “forget about horses” or get obsessed with boys in the way he predicted. (I’m that freak who didn’t date all through high school and college so that I could focus on my studies…yup…that girl.) I ended up working for the llama ranch eventually, and, when my dad’s business hit a rough patch, I stopped taking riding lessons for a while. In retrospect, I’m glad they didn’t get me a horse, because during that year, when finances tightened up so much, I’m not sure we would have been able to keep it. And that would have broken my heart.
Instead, at 19, I bought my first llama. I think I kind of thought then that the horse dream was dead…or at least on hold until I was much, much older. But then, when I was 23, I finally met that boy that everyone had been warning my mother about since I was 13 (the one who would inevitably make me forget about horses). Turns out, he had a horse…