This post was first published June 27, 2010
Confession time. As a kid, I had an infatuation. With horses. Startling, no? I read about them, played with likenesses of them, cut out and saved pictures of them, dreamed of riding them -- even dared to dream of being a jockey. With others, I played at being them. Yes, this quiet, shy girl became one bossy lead mare on the playground.
I knew with the inevitability of moon and stars I would own them one day.
But my family was entrenched in suburbia and we moved around a lot. Plus, while I didn't want for any of the essentials, I had very few nonessentials. And horses were a HUGE nonessential.
Time and childhood passed, horseless. The desire, though, never passed. I took animal husbandry classes in college to get my accreditation as a vet tech and got to be around horses a couple of hours a week for awhile. But I wound up working at a small animal clinic and so missed out on them as a career.
In 1989, I set out to make my dream come true by purchasing 14 acres south of Fort Worth. By then, however, I had left veterinary medicine behind and was working in advertising for a large company headquartered in town. The hours were brutal, the commute long and, though there was a large pole barn on the property and I had built out 6 stalls in it, I never felt I had the time to properly attend to horses. After 5 years, I moved back, defeated, to suburbia.
But I never gave up the dream.
The first horses I would get would be "practice horses." They would be smaller versions of the "real" thing and they would be healthy horses that didn't need special care so I could become accustomed to what normal health and behavior looked like before attempting to rehab abused individuals. But I was still determined to get older or younger horses that would be harder to place.
The brown-and-white paint mare was on the tall side of miniature standards, but still much smaller than a pony. She was a good mother, and rightly so as she'd been having babies yearly since she was 4 or so. I felt good I could at least get THAT cycle broken. And while she hadn't been completely neglected, it was clear she only got cursory attention. Still, except for some minor hoof issues, she was in good health. It also became obvious that aside from her colt, she had only one other motivation in life: she was a food junkie. Her name, as it said on the registration papers that I didn't really care about otherwise, was Alyssa. I shortened it to Lyssa.
While Lyssa seemed quite content to simply hang out with Cody and eat all day, Cody was obviously missing a playmate. Plus, I figured having a playmate other than me would help run out his energy and settle him down quicker. The single playmate I decided on quickly became two -- but I'll have more about that, and them, in another post.
Turns out my little practice horses helped us practice something far more important than simple husbandry. They helped us practice how to live again.