Natural-born Horse Lovers 10-04-10

...and on the eighth day, God created WILD HORSES in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever they darn well please, in divine grace.

"I should’ve been a cowgirl, just like Annie and Dale. Singing those campfire songs and riding my pony on a cattle drive...

Oh, I should’ve been a cowgirl, should’ve learned to rodeo..."

Youngsters are naturally drawn to animals, and horses are always a good choice during a campaign on acquiring one of their very own.

Posters of horses running in meadows or by the seaside can be inspiration for a good daydream, and books are always recommended to pique the mind and imagination for what could be.

Manya-summer-afternoon was spent with my cousins at my grandparent’s lake house at Pymatuning, playing "wild horses," or discussing literary equine legends like "The King of the Wind."

From the age of 4, we raced and galloped, jumped the creek that ran through the middle of the yard, and tossed our long hair, as if it were the manes of steeds gone wild.

If it were raining, we moved the equine event indoors, but the herd was always corralled on to the sun porch, and no stomping of hooves was allowed.

We would also bring out our latest Breyer Horse acquisitions, rounding up a herd on a table top, using popsicle sticks for fence.

Johnnie and Jane West owned the ranch, and we thought their daughter was the luckiest girl around, though we never knew her name.

Just imagine waking up everyday to the neighing of horses, just imagine riding all day long. These were the best kind of horses to own; they didn’t eat or drink anything and there was never any manure to muck out.

Anyone foolish enough to bring Barbie, my Pittsburgh cousin’s doll of choice, to the Wild West party, was automatically told there were no loaner Breyer horses available to ride, but that the popsicle fence could probably support her white, skinny butt.

Barbie didn’t make many horseback riding appearances at Pymatuning.

We had regular cowgirlonly Wild West adventures all summer long, for years on end.

Funny how if some of the male gender suddenly showed up, cowboys and Indians had to get into the mix. Hats, boots and cap-gun Six-shooters appeared in the fray, usually causing the wild horses to spook and run away, our polite way of saying "gals only."

County Fairs were so exciting to all of us, our parents patiently taking us to each and every stall, at each barn, at each and every fair in the tri-county region. We could never decide which horse was the most beautiful, and always took note of the ribbons hanging on stall doors.

This, years before hauling 10 head somewhere for a week and none of the help showing up.

Books like, "The Black Stallion," series, "Justin Morgan," "Misty," or "Black Beauty," were read and re-read again and again.

Of course, we all wanted a Black Stallion of our own, foolish girls.

Dreams of big, beautiful horses galloped through our dreams every night, some so real we just had to look out the window the following morning, sure it was no phantom, but a living, breathing equine tied to our fence.

We even got to keep some of Don Weyel’s Park Ponies one winter.

"Frosty" and "Buckeye" were friendly and smart, and the Weyel twins let us feed them some apples.

Eventually, we bought Foxy, a real, live, Registered Morgan Gelding, and kept him in training out at Cecil Brown’s old Hospitality Stables. Lessons with Cecil Brown and the late Joe Higgins helped us stay on better.

Old Fox was a joy to have around; we had him 23 of his 28 years.

I always encourage parents to get lessons for their kids, with a goal of buying a first horse later on.

Reading books on horse care is essential, as is safety. Knowing how to keep an animal makes for good Horsemanship; animals shouldn’t suffer because of our ignorance.

Breyer Horse Collections are a great hobby, though they can be expensive. Kids who have a nice hobby like model horse collecting or reading books are more likely to pursue intelligent interests throughout their lives.

Something is wrong with a kid who never read "Black Beauty."

On the real-deal, buying an older, more quiet horse or pony for a novice child just starting out is a better idea than buying a yearling colt with no training. There is plenty of time for fancy horses, shows and competitions later.

Don’t overmount a small, short child on a big Appendix, either, that just looks stupid.

If the child is not interested in showing, the trails or horse camping can be another option.

The responsibility of keeping a horse, feeding it and cleaning up after it, can help a child become a productive citizen in the community. Doing chores is always a good idea for kids, anyway. Read what is written in Proverbs.

Under the right kind of parental guidance, children can develop a loving attitude towards horses and all animals. They can learn patience, set goals, become accomplished equestrians and have something positive to say about themselves.

Animals are always happy and refreshing; horses are especially good because they are always "in the moment." Your focus must remain on them constantly while handling them and that is why they have earned the description as being therapeutic for the soul.

Animals don’t care what you look like; they don’t care if you’re fat or your hair is rumpled. They are always happy to see you and can cheer you up if you are sad or had a bad day.

They bring out our good side of patience, soft speech and caring.

It all sounds like a winner to me.

The article contained herein is meant as a guideline AND advice. DON’T consult a Vet if you suspect your child is reading Black Beauty or is running through the yard like a wild Mustang.

Community News is NOT responsible should you find one of Don Weyel’s Park Ponies tied to your fence post and just remember, the hardest thing about riding is the ground.

Leaving you pondering the name of Johnnie and Jane West’s daughter, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."