By Sherri Lyons
Growing up I was like every other girl—I wanted a horse. The only difference was I was obsessed. I thought about horses every waking hour and at night I would dream about them. While most girls had pictures of boys on their walls, I had pictures of horses. My parents didn’t have to worry about me taking candy from strangers. They had to worry about me taking rides on strangers’ horses. And, I did on occasion.
When I turned thirteen, my dad bought me a pony; I think he paid a hundred dollars for it. We didn’t know if you could ride it, but it didn’t matter to me, I had a pony. I can remember going to school the next day and not being able to concentrate on anything the teacher said. All I could think about was going home and being with my pony.
That pony was the beginning of many things in my life. That pony taught me more responsibility than mowing the grass a thousand times. I knew that my pony depended on me for its food and for its shelter. It also gave me freedom. I was too young to drive, but I could ride it in the fields behind my house. I spent many hours outdoors in the company of my pet.
After the pony, I graduated up to a horse. Not just any horse, but a show horse. This opened up an even bigger world and more responsibilities for me. Not only did I have to feed my horse, but I had to practice with it. I had to make sure I was ready for the shows.
When I joined the showing community, I was pleasantly surprised. I was still learning about horses and the community gave me encouragement and helped me with questions that I had about showing and horses in general. I felt like I belonged to this great bunch of people.
As show seasons came and went, I realized how much getting that first pony had changed my life. I became more confident and sure of myself. I knew I could handle a thousand-pound animal in front of a crowd of people. As I grew older, I learned how to pull a horse trailer and now I’m able to take my family to shows if they want to show their horses. I even married a man who had horses and lived on a good-sized farm. Although, I don’t ride horses as much as I did in my younger years, the lessons that I learned from owning them will be with me for the rest of my life.
Sherri lives with her husband on a farm in the foothills of the Appalachia Mountains. They raise a garden every year and have many animals including horses, cattle, rabbits, chickens, and of course, the always-present farm dog. You can follow their adventures on her blog at www.smallfarmgirl.blogspot.com.