Growing Up Horseback, or Why Horses Are a Girl’s Best Friend

When I was young, I had a horse named Piggy Joe. Piggy Joe was a buckskin gelding with the unfortunate habit of being good with kids, or more to the point, tolerant of me. For the longest time, he was my best friend. I remember once wanting to run away and live in the pasture with him. (Yes, it was summer when I concocted this idea.) He would let me ride him all day, didn’t bite, got along with most other horses, and didn’t spook at much. Unfortunately, Piggy Joe had only one natural speed: amble. When you’re a girl on the go, ambling just doesn’t cut it. I wanted to gallop gallop gallop, the faster the better. It was a banner birthday the year I got a crop. However, there were very clear lessons on when that crop could be used:

  • Not on my brother
  • Only after I’d kicked him and he wouldn’t go
  • Only on his hind end
  • I could only use the crop once

I’d kick, and if he didn’t go, I went for the whack with my Go-Piggy-Joe stick. Piggy Joe would give a crowhop (sort of like a cross between a kick and a tiny buck) and then he’d move into a slow lope until he’d had enough and would rate back to his natural, slow state. I think I liked the crowhop as much as anything. It made me feel like I was living dangerously.

This is Makenna and her friend Jessie. As you can see, Jessie is a lovely, tolerant soul with a kind heart. She’ll make an excellent baby sitter for Makenna as she learns to ride without mum in the saddle next to her.

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Makenna and Jessie, Feeling the Love (photo credit Gwynn Tobel)

Despite being no relation whatsoever, Makenna has a lot of me in her. She’s fearless, loves all animals, and would probably try to hug a tiger if she found one. Fortunately for us, Jessie was nearby and more than happy for an extra snuggle. Something tells me, however, that Makenna will be riding on her own this summer, and I sure hope that Jessie does more than amble because I think my Go-Piggy-Joe stick was worn out!

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