Many of you who know me, know that I love horses – not just a “wow, they’re beautiful” love but a deep spiritually connected kind of love. My love for them started when I was young although I couldn’t peg it to a certain time or reason. I remember loving them so much that I cut out an auction advertisement from the paper hoping to convince my parents to really buy me a pony. I remember, though, reading everything about them – the usual young girl stories like Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead included. I drew pictures of them and up until junior high remained unchallenged as the “horse lover.” That was until Michelle came along in Grade 7 and she loved horses too, and did pencil sketches of them – I can see them now as I think of that time. The horse is the one of the subjects I can draw without prompts using only the images from my own mind’s eye. I went to any and all horse shows , had pin-up boys on my wall as long as they had horses along and I bought the Western Horseman magazine, religiously.
I never lived on a farm growing up except for 10 months during grade 4 and it wasn’t a farm that had horses. I believe to this day that I am a country girl at heart yet have never been able to make the transition permanently away from the city as situation and money sometimes have a way of keeping you from doing what you truly want to do – or is that me that does that? In any case, my daughter and I did move to the country when she was in Grade 5 and we rented several different places until the year before she graduated.
However close to the country life we got it was never in such a way that we could have bought, housed or even afforded to own a horse. We made our encounters though – one farm raised standard bred ponies for harness racing (not a kind sport or a kind owner – because a horse with no potential to win was as good as glue to him!). One rental was close to another stable where I worked for a while – thoroughbred horses – I loved that job, muckin’ and all! The last place we lived before we ventured back to Sherwood Park had many horses all around us, grazing in fields. It was pure pleasure to just be able to see them, watch them and sometimes go up to the fence when they drew near. Kelsey would go riding with a friend who lived up the road (the neighbors were all related and again, horses were possessions to them) and I even lived vicariously through her when I put her into riding lessons at Keno Hills.
Many fond memories are ones that involved horses – pony rides a the Exhibition; the Musical Ride in Calgary when I was a teenager; capturing a photograph of running horses while on family vacation; the huge Shires in the field in southern B.C; the herd of pinto ponies along the highway near Rocky Mountain House; riding the ridge above Jasper with a group from Pyramid Riding Stables; a romantic ride along the Bow River with a guide; and an amazing opportunity to work at Cavalia the summer I was in Toronto. Although I did not work with the horses, as employees we got an opportunity to see the show several times and I just loved the production. The horses were treated as they should be – with respect and as magnificent beasts who deserve our respect. The riders who worked with the horses likened themselves to “horse whisperers” and with hand signals and low-toned words there was an exchange between them. The horses were free, unleashed and full of spirit yet willing to do for their masters.
I have a Facebook friend who owns horses in Dubai and they also have a wonderful horse show along the same lines as Cavalia – he said he’d heard of the show which originated from Quebec. He has posted awesome pictures from the show in the Arab Emirates. I hope to see another such display some day.
I believe I have more of a connection, though, with the wild horse. Yes, that would be why I choose the surfing moniker “wildhorse” because of the free spirit these animals have, despite their obstacles, namely, humans. I chanced upon a web site while reading a news headline on MSN as I choose not to listen to the news and usually don’t read newspapers. I can scan the headlines on the Internet then choose to read, see or hear what I need to stay informed. This headline read “Arrests Made in Horse Shooting” – it makes me ill to think that someone could shoot such an animal. This involved the shooting of a wild horse in the Sundre area of Alberta.
Hopefully, charges will be laid however lame that is in relation to the crime. Our wild horses in Alberta are fewer in numbers than they ever have been although small herds they still exist. Reading the information posted on the Wild Horses of Alberta Society blog site makes you realize how ignorant people are – the horse is a historical foundation of Alberta and the government refuses to see their significance in sustainability planning. They were transportation and ease of labor and yes some ended up running free as “feral” animals but that does not mean they should be shot. They are not pests. I don’t believe in shooting or hunting any animal – but there is just something inside that jabs me when horses are abused. My connection to them is in my very soul.
It can be the only explanation for the shivers that run down my spine when they run and their beauty and stature so grand that it brings me to tears. It can be the only explanation that makes me feel like I was with them in some way before and will always be with them in some way now and in the future. I remember riding as a young woman on several occasions and knowing that the power beneath you had the ability to get rid of you if they chose – but I also remember the feeling I had riding… calm, connected to my mount, and sure in the saddle as if I had been born there.
I know others who know what I mean and feel as I do – it’s like writing and writers – you just know, just because. It’s almost like you don’t have to explain, yet if you do your words aren’t enough and they don’t seem to do justice – it’s like explaining how you write from your character and let them do the work. You won’t know what it means unless you have that connection.
A feeling for something can be as easy as saying you love it but in the same instance, can be as complex as saying those same words. In those words lie a world of difference for each of us who utter them. We have in our minds certain things that must be true to honestly say you love something. It’s almost not good enough to say you love it – you have to like it, you have to understand it, you have to feel passionate about it and it has to be a part of your life in some way, always. A love this deep for something cannot be explained and often you just simply accept it as being so.
So my love for horses is not something that “just goes without saying” if you realize how many words can be said and how many more I am prepared to say. As a writer and an artist, the horse is a true inspiration to me. It is the subject for some of my work, although not as much as I would like … but there is always more to come.