I love horses! I have always loved horses!
In my family there is this famous story of me running away during a visit to the Christmas market in Dortmund, Germany. I was about four years old and through all the delicious smells a Christmas market throws at you, I found one smell utterly attractive. Not the honey milk served by the nuns, or the smell of cotton candy and sugared almonds. No, it was something far more delicious to me! The smell of horses!
Have you ever seen these small corrals with lights and music and grumpy looking Circus people, leading small Shetland ponies to walk around and around and around all day so that small children like I can enjoy sitting on a horse for a few minutes, while all the parents surround the corral taking pictures of their youngsters (maybe) first horse back ride ever?
The problem was that my parents were not up to putting me on the back of one of those little ponies, for whatever reason. If I wanted to ride that pony, I had to fix it myself somehow, so at the first given opportunity, I dropped out!
The 4-year-old-me made it’s way through the thousands of people visiting the Christmas market. Being about the height of everybody else’s kneecaps, I had nothing else to follow than the smell of the horses. And guess what…I made it!
When my totally freaked out parents found me, I was already on top of one of the Shetland ponies. I felt the movements of the little fella walking slowly and lethargically close to the bum of his other completely will-less friend, soaked in the smell of the horses, felt the little fella’s thick fur and was all around the happiest girl alive. Nobody knew who put me on that pony and I can’t remember it either, because normally you have to pay out front, but at an age of four, this pretty much doesn’t concern you at all.
That was my first and last ride! But I loved horses more than ever!
But my Mom was afraid of horse and my Dad, well, he never really bothered about anything, except when it came to money. So when I was in my teens and wanted to start riding lessons, it was a big NO NO! Too dangerous, too expensive. I kept on begging for years. At the age of 12, I was introduced by a friend to a woman who saved horses from various places. By then she had eight horses that needed to be ridden every day, so little girls like me could pay 8DM (Deutsche Mark) for a one hour ride through the forest.
I got her telephone number and asked, if I could come along. She asked if I could gallop. Ummm, sure! Yeah, absolutely, I can gallop!
I don’t see this is a lie, it’s just that at that age, still being a fearless child at the bottom of it all, my only thought was:
Of course can I gallop, how hard can it be ?!?!
So I went there with my friend and just copied everything she did. How she brushed her horse, how she put on the saddle, how she bridled the horse. I thought by then that they might have found out how inexperienced I actually was, but nobody asked me to stop. My horse was called Fola, a 28-year old Thoroughbred. She had been saved from a place where children could ride and where she was punished with heavy beatings when she did something wrong. Poor thing.
After we all had saddled up we made our way into the forest. Fola was a doll, she trotted calmly behind everybody. After about 20 minutes of walk, we started to trot, I didn’t fall off. After the trot, we galloped up a hill. Fola passed all the other horses at a speed that felt like lightning to me. On top of the hill I managed to stop her slowly and we waited for the others to catch up. Yeah, I knew how to gallop, just not in a controlled way! My heart was pumping, I was afraid that it might have shown.
Some more rides followed, but I estimate the number being below twenty. I did not get any pocket money from my parents and always had to ask Mom for the money, this wasn’t popular. Even though I tried to do all chores you possibly can think of and tried to convince my mom to pay me for them, it soon came to an end.
The next year I tried my luck at a local stable. I offered to do everything necessary, from mucking out stables to cleaning tack and preparing horses if I could get some riding lessons in exchange. I worked there for a month, every day during my school summer vacation. But I never received a lesson.
The years went by and I had given up hope to be able to be around horses. It hurt, every time I saw a horse, a horse trailer, somebody riding a horse, horses out in the pasture…it hurt. I hated people with horses, because I envied them so much!
I met the right guy at the age of 23. He is from Sweden, just six months into the relation ship I moved there myself. I got a job right away, I started to get comfy, learned Swedish pretty fast, got more responsibilities and more work, was diagnosed with burn-out syndrome, was away from work for 3 months, started working again only part time, got back on my feed, got more work and responsibility again, was 18 months later diagnosed with burn-out syndrome again and was on sick leave for 4 months this time. The last time was in 2011.
During the time of my sick leave I made an acquaintance with a woman that had two western horses, just a few minutes from where we live. Unna is an artist and we were at her place initially to look at her work. I was unaware that she had horses. Of course I wasn’t able to hide my affection for horses and she noticed. I was thrilled to pieces when she asked me, if I could ride with her, because she didn’t have time to two horses daily. In Sweden it’s just the law that you must have at least two horses when you want to keep your horse privately. So after 16 years I was back in the saddle again and this time the saddle was much bigger than the ones I started out with….and I liked it. It was comfy! For three months I rode with her daily, there were not many days I missed. Then it was time for Unna to go with one of her horses to a western clinic at a place about two hours drive from our home. An instructor from Switzerland came there and I was told that they had this clinics for years already, about 3 times a year.
We went there as well, I was intrigued to see how every body was riding for a real instructor and how they all tried to bring their riding to perfection.
It was great. I tried to soak in everything the instructor said, all the good advice and instruction she was giving to everybody in the group, when Unna passed by and pushed her elbow in my rips and said:
That little red roan there is for sale!
And then she was gone. First I tried to disregard it. Thoughts tumbling over in my head. You don’t have the money or the experience to buy a horse. Don’t get your hopes up, stay with the feed on the ground, be happy with what you have. Shut up, keep listening to the instructor and try to learn something instead!!!
Suddenly Boyfriend approached with the little red roan lead by it’s breeder.
Didn’t you hear what Unna said? He is for sale, don’t you even want to look?
I felt a slight panic coming up, no, I don’t want to look, when I look, everything will be over! I will fall in love at the first glimpse and I will be heartbroken if it turns out I can not buy him.
But they both didn’t leave me alone. They “forced” me to take a walk with him. I loved him! He was gentle and very sweet, it felt like he was trying to figure out what I wanted him to do, so everything he did, he did in slow motion. The next day I should return to ride him between the lessons. So we did. It was a long two hour drive back there, with the mantra “Don’t get your hopes up! You won’t be able to buy him!” repeating itself in my head like a broken record.
I watched him all morning during the lesson, he was so cute. I waited impatiently (on the inside) to be able to ride him. When it was lunch break for the others, I got my turn, the breeder A-K stayed behind with us. It was a disaster. I mounted him, alright, but everything after that moment can not be called “riding”. He ignored my legs and my pulling on the reins completely. I wanted to go left, he went to the right instead…straight to the barrel…to lick on it. I wanted to go to the right to walk beside the long side of the arena, he went left to go over the poles that were lying on the ground from the previous trail lesson. He likes poles!
But I loved him! I blamed only myself, since I was the inexperienced one and not him. Well, he was just 3-years old but I know that I was not a “rider.
And then Boyfriend started discussing the price and by the end of they day we started to write the contract on the hood of A-K’s Mercedes and had agreed on a date when we would drive up to Tierp for the veterinarian inspection. I just went along, but I didn’t really understand what was going on. Boyfriend had decided to buy me a horse!!!!
On October 26th,2011 passed with flying colors and on October 28th, 2011 A-K drove up with the horse trailer in to Unna’s drive way, where Barley (his calling name) moved into the stable.